THOUGHT 4 THE WEEK
Our single most important perception in life is to possess the courage to change the things we can change, the grace to accept the things we cannot change, and learning and applying the wisdom to know the difference.
Almost 2,000 years ago, Epictetus put it this way, “Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own …”. (Discourses, 2.5.4–5)
There is no better time than the present to practise this philosophy.
Pandemic self-isolation is upon us. Right now, Right this moment. And, if it isn’t yet where you live, there is a high probability it will be. No amount of shouting at news bulletins will make it less than it is. Blaming the origin of the virus, making racist remarks, inventing conspiracies, and hoarding toilet paper will not make one jot of difference to what it is. Neither will sticking our head in the sand and pretending it’s not real.
It is what it is!
None of us control external events. But we can control how we respond to what is happening around us. This means staying informed and not jumping to the conclusions of high street hacks. Researching reliable advice both current and historic from reputable sources is essential to remaining accurately informed, and in the case of pandemic, remembering that people have fallen victim to various types of ‘influenza’ for countless generations.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), since the turn of the millennium, more than half-a-million of the most vulnerable people around the world succumb each year, even when times are ‘normal’.
Sanity is learning from every situation we find ourselves in, especially the uncomfortable ones. Too many people are cavalier about life. They waste the time others have paid dearly for. Let us find the grace to accept that which we cannot change and the courage to learn from experience ~ painful though it may have been.
Let us remain calm in the face of adversity. Let us put aside petty differences and irrational thinking to develop a plan that keeps us all moving in the right direction. Let us spread the only positive form of contagion worth spreading ~ peace and calm. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, “No role (situation) is so well suited to philosophy as the one you happen to be in right now.”
So, seek to play your part well. Put your positivity into practise as you inspire others to do the same. Choose to be part of the solution and never part of the problem. What you need to learn for yourself is: the courage to change what you can change, the grace to accept the things you cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day …
“The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” Seneca
Are You Now Depressed? Read on …
Two Millennia ago, during patriotic celebrations on the return of a Roman General from a successful military campaign, the people would line the victory route and shout and cheer his name in triumph. Only a few may notice a lowly slave at his shoulder who whispered into his ear, “Remember, thou art mortal.”
What a timely reminder at the height of his glory! A reminder of mortality that all of us today would be wise to reflect upon every day of our lives. But, sadly, a reminder that most would rather ignore.
Too often, the human ego withdraws from anything that reminds it of any reality that threatens its existence. This is probably why most who will read this paper won’t have yet made a Will! You are petrified to look mortality in the eye. You must surely die but, will you truly live?
What if instead of being unwilling to face and accept this inevitable truth, you choose to embrace it? What if reflecting on the end of your life is the actual key to living it more fully? That accepting your mortality is freedom.
Michel de Montaigne wrote, “To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” (emphasis added)
Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You could leave life right now. Let that (thought) determine what you do and say and think.” In short, continue living a life of virtue NOW, and don’t wait around for what-ifs, maybes, some-time, never!
Reflecting on your mortality is depressing only if you miss the point of these meditations. Reflection on your mortality is your tool to your becoming. A tool to effective collaborations and perspectives, sustained priority and meaning. A tool to accepting the gift of time as precious, and to not waste it on triviality, vanity and illusion.
Rather than the thought of death making life pointless, it makes it purposeful. This simple reminder brings you closer to living a life that leaves a legacy for others to enjoy and follow. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how many things you have not yet done.
You can discover such refection is evocative, even humbling. It is not surprising that one of Seneca’s biographies is titled Dying Every Day. After all, it was Seneca who urged, “You may not wake up tomorrow,” when going to bed tonight, and “You may not sleep again,” when waking up tomorrow.
“Keep death and exile before your eyes each day,” wrote Epictetus, “along with everything that seems terrible ~ by doing so, you’ll never have a base thought, nor will you have excessive desire.” (emphasis added)
Let these thoughts be the building blocks of living your life to the fullest by not wasting a single second of it.
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
How you measure your progress of becoming will determine whether or not you achieve it!
Maybe you have been taught to set goals to improve your productivity. Task goals that are simple to define, easy to measure and do-able.
But do you also set goals that involve your becoming? Goals that focus on you. Goals that change you for the better. That improve recognition and accommodation of the four primary personalities. This becoming includes goals to be more disciplined, more patient with others ~ and yourself ~ dumping compulsive bad habits and becoming more like the worthy people you admire.
Doing all this can get complicated, because measuring personal growth is particularly challenging and may even take a lifetime. So, what can get in your way?
The Winning/Losing Dilemma
Perhaps the biggest problem to personal growth is that measuring progress can get us into a winning/losing mind-set ~ an off/on, yes/no, pass/fail predicament.
Too Much Losing
On the one hand a win/lose mind-set can make you feel you are succeeding only after you have fully obtained what you’re seeking. That until you entirely obtain your desired outcome, you are losing. And, if you feel like you’re losing a little every day, it’s not long before you quit trying altogether.
Too Much Winning
On the other hand, a win/lose mind-set can keep you from becoming as too much winning can make you feel enough is never enough!
Why Each Mind-set Can Get In Your Way
For nearly 4-decades, my coaching has centred on helping others reach their true potential in their career, in business endeavour, AND in their domestic lives. Most people I work with set: Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Reachable, Timebound goals just as the time-management manual presribes.
But, if S.M.A.R.T. goal works, why do as many as 80% fail to succeed? What do the other 20% do different?
The reason that goals per ce don’t work in isolation is that they foster the win/lose mind-set dilemma. This is so unless you set them in harmony and cooperation with the four life-skills of Emotional, Spiritual, Mental and Physical. Without this balanced approach, it feels like you are driving on a flat tyre ~ maybe more than one? When faced with the realisation that you are slowing down, you may be tempted to give up.
This logic applies to all becoming. If your goal is only to multiply your income, you may feel you are winning right up to the moment your spouse walks out on you.
A Better Way of Becoming
This singular win/lose mind-set, therefore, is essentially self-destructive. Let me be clear. I’m not saying don’t set goals. I am saying setting goals across all four life-skills as part of the greater dream is the surest way of becoming your best you. Rather than focusing solely on the outcome of S.M.A.R.T. goals limited to your work or business, pay attention to all four life-skills making every task count:
- Acknowledge the feelings of small daily becoming at work AND at home
- See every little set-back at work AND at home as becoming
- Be grateful at work AND at home for the opportunities of becoming
- Trust that as long as you are becoming across all four life-skills, your dream will become a reality
The Process for Progress
In your journey to become, try these tips to help you avoid getting caught in the winning/losing dilemma:
- If you know the kind of person you want to be, imagine a few daily habits you can engage in that will help you keep moving in that direction
- Invite some people you admire into your life who will hold you accountable by participating in your process of becoming.
- Review where you are right now and where you want to be, by asking yourself: “What single, small decision can I make right now to move forward in my process of becoming?”
- Remember, inch-by-inch it’s a synch! Yard-by-yard is hard!
- When you trip up, get up. Think about what led to the fall and what to change or modify to prevent it from happening again.
- Keep moving forward with persistency and determination.
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
In the modern Olympics, the opening ceremony concludes with a ‘sacred’ flame being lit by the last runner who received a lighted torch through a succession of others.
This custom was taken from the ancient Greeks when bare-foot runners raced through the streets of Athens in a relay called lampadedromia until the final runner crossed the finish line.
But the prize was only awarded to the first team who crossed the line able to light a scared flame, so their torch had to be burning.
There is an evocative truth here. While it is important to commence your race, it is even more important that you finish it with your torch still burning brightly!
Finishing Your Race
How many times are we like the dog lying next to shredded pieces of paper, which once read, “Certificate of Dog-Obedience Training”?
We started something with good intention and somehow got distracted. It could have been a healthier eating or regular exercise regime. Or, to get better at what we do through Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Or, to read more stoical material and watch trashy movies, TV and SMS less.
Yet, the flame of our commitment diminished like a burning candle until what remained was cold, hard wax ~ and no wick.
Nothing True Is Ever Lost!
It’s human nature to falter and even stop doing what we know we should be doing ~ for a while. Such pauses can be good for introspection. To make sure our ladder is leaning against the right wall. Once in a while, we may even ask ourselves, what's the point?
But when we truly have a purpose beyond selfish satisfaction that transcends self-imposed limitations, we discover a passion within to run and finish our own race with the torch still burning brightly. In an oft quoted new testament scripture we read, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (see Matthew 24:13).
Whether a believer or not, let me paraphrase what these evocative words promise. If you keep on keeping on in the pursuit of a worthy ideal, you must finish with your torch still burning. You will have lived a meaningful life, which is one of mortal man’s greatest rewards.
Continuing With Purpose
Sometimes after pausing for a while, you may feel discouraged and believe your flame has gone out. That your race was just a forlorn hope. But can the light of any truly worthy purpose really be so easily extinguished?
Speed in your race is rarely, if ever, important. Direction is all that matters and sometimes that means changing running lanes. The only way to lose is to drop out of the race. As long as you continue to check yourself and run in the right direction, you must finish with your torch burning brightly.
Every purposeful motivation shines in the darkest hours to light your way if only you incline your heart to recall with ever increasing clarity your worthy dream. No matter how often you slow down to a walk, the light of your passion burns brightly. If you continue in faith, that light must consume the shadows to reignite your own sacred flame.
Think of it this way: your light is not really about you at all. It is about what you leave for others who will follow on. Such a sacred light can never really be extinguished. It is that light that swallows darkness, heals wounds and blazes even in the aftermath of the deepest tragedy or regret. It is that light that surpasses all understanding.
May you find and finish your race with the help of your truest friends and family to be joyful together with everyone’s torches still burning brightly.
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
Pursuing a lifestyle contrary to your primary personality and situational motivations tends to lead to fatigue, anguish and ultimately, burnout.
The early signs of burnout include feeling lethargic and snappy. It reveals itself in falling productivity and an overwhelming feeling that you can't cope. This is a condition more common than we might like to suppose, but it is definitely not a desirable one.
In 2018 Gallup surveyed 7,500 full-time employees to discover nearly 1-in-4 (23%) felt burned out always or very often. A further 4-in-10 (44%) felt they were sometimes burned out. This accounted for a staggering 2-in-3 (67%) of the surveyed workforce ~ and mainland Europe and the UK is not so different!
The Right Career Choice Makes A HUGE Difference
With the appropriate qualifications, skill-sets and motivation it is possible for any of the four-primary personalities to perform just about any job-role ~ for a while.
But, as we have explored on many occasions there is compelling evidence that each primary personality performs more effectively, more appropriately and more sustainably within complementary job-roles. This is not at all strange when you consider a specified job-role actually demands specific 'behaviour'.
When high accuracy is critical to quality work outcome, the personality traits of lower emotiveness with lower assertiveness fits well allowing the incumbent to focus on the detail of the task without the need for much human interaction. Think of a lawyer, accountant or surgeon as obvious examples.
In selling and direct customer services the opposite tends to be true. Personality traits that combine higher assertiveness with higher emotiveness fit well allowing the incumbent to engage with customer rhetoric.
The other two of our four primary personalities have their complementary workplaces, too.
Horses For Courses
Discovering horses-for-courses is first about assessing the 'course' requirements ~ or behaviour ~ of a job-role. Then, and only then, comparing the job-behaviour with each candidate’s individual personality ~ or behaviour ~ together with their situational motivation i.e. what rewards are they seeking just now?
This may sound obvious, but you would be staggered how many organisations fail to do it, too often resulting in unnecessary loss of productivity plus the additional expense of recruitment and training a replacement. It is estimated that having to replace one lower-middle manager actually costs an organisation £1,000 per day in lost productivity and additional recruitment costs.
Sleep, Diet & Exercise
Let’s say you are the 1-in-3 (30%) who love your job and never want to do anything else. Yet, you are finding it increasingly difficult to get out of bed each working day or, when you get home, you seem to want more undisturbed time away from the family. Why?
Psychosoma ~ defined as 'mind and body as a functional unit'
Though your personality fits well with your job-role, maybe you are just not looking after your physiology. The essential elements of keeping your body healthy. Perhaps, you are snacking on too many brown lunches and taking too little regular exercise!
Taking care of your mind as well as your body is both work and home related. A balanced lifestyle is critical to coping with everyday stresses and strains and the 3-pillars of psychosoma are sleep, diet & regular exercise.
Sleep ~ Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) indicates as many as 1-in-3 (33%) adults are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours sleep each night. And, when sleep-debt builds up, moods swing, there is a loss of productivity and the inclination to make correct lifestyle choices diminishes all due to exhaustion. A poor sleep pattern interferes with self-control and increases irritability, which leads to inappropriate responses ~ even crime. The body's physiological ability to balance life is impaired.
Diet ~ When diet is inadequate, the bad bacteria in your gut (candida) overwhelms your good gut bacteria (mitochondria), leading to illness and ultimately, chronic decease if not corrected.
Exercise ~ And, when exercise is inadequate, muscles atrophy, bone density reduces and blood flow to vital organs is impaired.
In short, get your job-role and psychosoma wrong and you could be the most job-dissatisfied chronic disease case on the ward!
So, choose the right career for your personality and motivation(s), and take good care of yourself!
To explore your primary personality and avoid burnout, text 0044 7900 251258 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!