THOUGHT 4 THE WEEK
The 19th century American humourist Mark Twain (1835-1910) quipped, I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.
And, the 20th century American futurist Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) wrote, The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. [underline added]
Why Learn-ing To Unlearn?
Have you ever read something or heard someone say something you knew was simply un-true? Yet they knew what they knew.
Have you ever written or said something you later changed your mind about because you came to know it was also un-true? Maybe you even changed your mind yet again, based on gretaer understanding. And, this is the reason all of us must remain eager to unlearn. Unlearning is essential to learning as not everything we think we know is actually true.
So, How Do We Know What We Know Is True Or Not?
Schools, colleges and universities teach what they suppose to be true based on the accumulated knowledge of those who have gone before. Libraries are full of the stuff! But all too often we are not being taught the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth because it isn't known at the time. We are simply being taught the consensus of what learning institutions want us to know.
The voyage of unlearning-discovery commences when we start to sincerely question what we have been taught. And, if you doubt this, consider that it is only for the last 300-years we have known the earth is not at the centre of the universe.
The Habit Of Unlearning To Learn Is Critical
A habit is something we do automatically and is mostly performed unconsciously. We learn to move, say and do something by doing it the first time ~ usually under tuition ~ and then repeat it again and again hopefully getting it right, eventually. Good habits help us improve our position in life whilst poor habits maintain a level of sublime ignorance ~ the stuff we think we know.
Reflect on Mark Twain’s opening comment about education for a moment. To know the truth of something, we must constantly challenge what we think we know. We must persistently ask questions, politely, of everything and everyone with an interest until we know what we know, what we know. We owe it to ourselves to maintain an enquiring mind or risk lapsing into the high probability of remaining deceived.
What we accomplish, as quickly as possible, is to make the old habit of accepting everything on face value ~ because the source is ‘impeccable’ ~ redundant. Think about the ‘science’ that placed the world at the centre of the universe for example.
The Shortcut To Unlearning
Unlearning to learn is one of the most essential skills in a rapidly accelerating 21st century world. Consider the apps, websites and technologies today that simply did not exist before the last 2-decades. No iPhones, no GPS, no Instagram, no Facebook and yet today all of these seem commonplace. We handle it all reasonably well - or we don't.
Though unlearning to learn keeps our integrity assured, rather than focusing on simply unlearning per ce, we must focus most of our attention on the new discussion, idea or action we would like to take its place.
Take, for instance, the simple physical habit of replacing coffee with carob by steadily reducing the consumption of one in favour of the consumption of the other. And, if it is a paradigm we wish to confirm/unlearn/learn, keep studying that subject using all available reliable sources. Become expert – even if we will change our mind later based on more understanding.
With this approach of flooding our old routine with newly desired actions, the process of unlearning to learn and relearn makes redundant the old actions we want to unlearn. We will simply get there faster by dwelling on which drink we take in the morning. The choice of where to focus our attention and energy will affect the speed with which we will unlearn to learn and relearn again.
Flood your brain with what you want to know, and you’ll get there quicker enjoying the road of discovery along the way.
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Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!
“It will all work out in the end. And, if it hasn’t worked out yet. It isn’t the end”. Hindu saying.
Why do some people become old well before their time? At 40, they look 60! A sad expression on their face. A laboured walk. A half-hearted smile as they chant their ‘organ’ recital; “O, my poor stomach” O, my poor lungs” “O, my poor back”.
Most people start out in life with hopes and dreams; this is called optimism. Success is only achieved through on-going optimism!
Watch any child at play with a discarded cardboard box and you’ll see it in abundance. A feeling of being king of the castle. Of being invincible. Of being Dennis the Menace or Beryl the Peril (does this show my age?)
But then, we get older! Life’s little ‘failings’ come along with each chipping away at our resolve ~ and failing when not effectively managed, is often painful.
The human mind stores every memory, which helps us choose right from wrong, good from bad. It is a survival mechanism. Instinctively, we do whatever we can to avoid revisiting pain. Yet too many people abandon hope rather than prepare for any possible down-side ~ the stuff that might hurt for a while.
One way to work it through is by following the ancient maritime law of survival at sea of “Planning for the Best and Preparing for the Worst”, which means carrying a metaphorical life vest and survival suit.
Never, ever hear yourself justify failing with, “I knew this would happen!”, which is only a losing strategy that, if continued, becomes an entangling web beneath your feet that roots you to the spot, thwarting any forward impetus until you change.
Eventually, you'll find yourself thinking only about failing and decide it’s not worth trying at all. You'll become bogged down in the mire by your perpetuating fears followed by the ultimate surrender to failure ~ and looking old before your time.
Henry Ford (1863-1947) of the Ford Motor Company had a saying, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, You’re right!” Now, I am not advocating building a manufacturing empire ~ unless you want to ~ but re-read Henry’s philosophy again, and again and take it to heart.
The positive side of the what you think is what you get strategy always moves you forward with confidence and if things don’t work out quite as you expect, honestly review your new situation for better opportunity beyond any limiting vision.
With such an attitude to the inevitable hiccups along life’s journey, you will succeed beyond any temporary failing, staying younger for longer ~ all the way to your very last breath.
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Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!
Arguably, the acceleration of the 'motivation movement' occurred just 60-year ago in 1957 following an American broadcast by radio speaker and author Earl Nightingale (1921-89). *‘The Strangest Secret’ earning him the very first Gold Record Award for selling over 1-million recordings of the mindset of becoming your best by loving what you do.
But what does it mean to love what you do? And, if this is true, why do the majority of people in the western world never seem to obtain that fulfilment after 6-decades?
The mind of man demands purpose or meaning! It must pursue a worthy ideal or it stagnates and dies (read ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’ by Viktor E. Frankl). True fulfilment is real happiness and can be stated as that persistent feeling of self-fulfilment. That one’s worthy hopes and ambitions are at the top of the ladder they are climbing right now, and which is not the direct pursuit of riches or possessions but of seeking other people's happiness, first.
If one is to realise their ladder is leaning against the right tree, appropriate work-choice plays a critical role in providing opportunity to draw on the qualities of personal character within an environment connecting similarly like-minded people. Choose wisely and your emotional and financial wellbeing is highly probable. Choose otherwise...!
So why ~ according to US Gallop ~ were more than two-thirds of workers dissatisfied with their engagement, meaning they felt no real connection to their job-role displaying low self-esteem that all too often resulted in low productivity or multiple job-moves?
In a recent blog I provoked some heartfelt response following my claim that a typical working-life is over after 500 salary cheques! All work done without love is hard-labour, a sort of day-prison. Your stuff of life emanates from you when you love what you do for the people you are doing it with.
Psychologist's agree mental health is maintained by doing what you love to do, making you an ambassador for those who pay you, or within your own business enterprise. Balanced mental health derives from that sense of meaning and purpose, we spoke of earlier, which determines your entire psychological well-being.
Those at home, at work and at play want to be ‘taking’ whatever you are taking. Your demeanour remains attractive. Your family is happier. You get noticed within your job-role and, maybe, by other organisations prepared to head-hunt someone just like you, raising the probability of higher financial as well as emotional reward.
A Word of Caution
Do you have to love, or even like every part of your job-role? Not at all, and this crucial awareness is important because all work has elements that may be unpleasant. Think of what a medical doctor must encounter and you’ll get the message about really loving the good bits.
Loving what you do, and doing what you love, includes politely ignoring people who tell you not to do it, even if they claim they have your best interests at heart. You must know what fulfils you to truly place your ladder against the right tree.
To explore what motivates you and what satisfies your behaviour requires appropriate professional profiling and effective career counselling.
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When the excellent Stephen R. Covey first published his 7-habits of Highly Effective People in August 1989, I wonder if he imagined it would remain a consistent best seller for 3-decades?
Though many people-coaches have built their career upon Stephen's original work, his simplicity stands as testament to his insight.
How do you measure up against these 7-Habits?
Honestly, score yourself 1(lo) - 5(hi) for each habit. Maybe ask a close friend or a colleague for their perception of you, too:
1. Being Proactive ~ do you anticipate or create and control your consequential situations rather than merely respond to its outcome?
2. Beginning With The End In Mind ~ do you start each day, task or project with a clear vision of your desired outcome, then progress sequentially by flexing your proactive muscles (see 1 above) to make things happen?
3. Putting 1st Things 1st ~ do you action important matters ahead of other things?
4. Thinking Win/Win or No Deal ~ do you maintain an open mind and heart that constantly seeks mutually beneficial outcomes in all human interactions, or agree to disagree agreeably?
5. Seeking 1st To Understand, Then To Be Understood ~ do you stop yourself thinking about what you want to say and genuinely listen to truly comprehend another person’s perspective or paradigm?
6. Synergise ~ do you combine and coordinate your activities with other peoples activities to produce a joint outcome greater than the sum of individual effort?
7. Sharpening Your Saw ~ do you have a balanced programme of self-renewal in the four life-areas: physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual?
If your honest score is above 26-out-of-35, congratulations you are in the rarefied top quartile. But, keep practising to improve your effectiveness 'habits'. It will pay dividends both emotionally and financially!
Major on any individual ranking of 3 or less, conscientiously striving to improve each in the order as written above (Habit 3).
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
Last Sunday November 10th, 2019 marked 100-years since the proclamation of King George V of Great Britain to remember our glorious dead.
Whilst the King was not glorifying conflict, he was asking his peoples to remember why they would enjoy freedoms after that most terrible war.
Following the Kings proclamation on the 7th November 1919, the first observation throughout the British Commonwealth was called, “Armistice Day”, which commemorated the armistice agreement that ended the First World War in 1918 ~ on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.
To appreciate our freedoms of today, every man, woman, boy and girl are wise to remember King George V words that, “all locomotion would cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”
Sometimes, in our perceived struggle to obtain more and more stuff, we allow ourselves the indulgence of self-pity.
- Woe is me
- My lot is hard
- I never seem to do anything but work
- The cost of living is spiralling upwards
- My spouse, family, boss just don’t understand me
Try pausing, not just for two-minutes once a year, but for that moment every single day to remember what you actually have going for you. And, if you can’t think of anything, at least remember those who die, are maimed or suffer mental trauma so that you may have the freedom to become.
The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments. Dieter F. Uchtdorf
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Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!