What If I’m Just Not Good Enough? – Day 123 of 365 Days to a Better You

Do you measure up? Can you really achieve this crazy dream you’re working on? Such thoughts terrorize every dreamer, at least the honest ones. No one escapes the inner voice that painstakingly dismantles you and your little dream for the fraud it is.

“Who are you?” “What makes you think you can be the next great…?”

Your heroes have done you a great disservice. They didn’t do it purposely and they didn’t do it to hurt you. They emerged into your world as these amazingly talented and successful people. That’s probably what made you aspire to be like them.

The part you missed was the years of hard work and devastating failure they went through to get where they are today. From your perspective, they’re like an iceberg. You see only the shimmering white part towering above the water. You don’t see the much larger submerged side hiding their challenges.

LeBron James was not LeBron James the first time he picked up a basketball. He had the potential to become the player you know, but you didn’t see the hours and years that went into becoming the planet’s best basketball player.

Steve Jobs was a super-smart tech geek. There are a lot of super-smart tech geeks. Some were way smarter than Jobs. Why was it him that transformed our technological landscape? Jobs spent his life working toward and honing a big vision. We all know the story of what Apple became, largely because of him. Yet, we don’t see the crazy focus and determination. We forget that he was fired, at one point, by the company he founded. Talk about a devastating setback. Many people would have folded up the tent and gone home.

The true “overnight success” is a remote rarity. “The only place where success comes before work,” multiple teachers have pointed out, “is in the dictionary.”

You need to stop comparing yourself to your heroes. It’s not a fair fight. Rachel Hollis counsels her audience, “Stop comparing your beginning with my middle.”

Your heroes are a dicey proposition. They can inspire you and deflate you all at the same time. You must remember they had the road to their mountaintop the same as you’re walking now. They had heroes they aspired to be or exceed. They had moments of doubt when throwing in the towel would have made total sense. Aren’t you glad they didn’t?

The way to reach yours is not to let your hero’s greatness paralyze you. Rather it’s to keep on walking your path so that some day someone else will see you as you see them. Then the world will be glad you didn’t quit.

Your greatness is NOT a myth!

Ray

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You Are Better Off with the Truth – Day 122 of 365 Days to a Better You

We unconsciously become our past thinking until we consciously choose new thinking.

Let me ask you a question. What good is truth, if you won’t shift your paradigms?

I found the cartoon in the image above some years ago. It was one of those things that immediately struck me as a fundamental fact about human nature or at least unenlightened, unaware human nature.

Please know that some of what I’m about to say may seem like an attack on your beliefs and ideals. It is not. It is an attack on your unwillingness seek the truth, as much as you can understand it, beyond long-held and cherished ideas.

Every single human being – including you and me – has blinders and goggles on. The blinders are those things we simply refuse to see because they challenge our paradigms and our comfort zones. The goggles are tinted to show us the world through prisms acceptable to our biases. Both leave us, if we allow them to persist, far from any semblance of objective truth.

I believe truth is the highest principle we can strive to attain. Absolute truth may very well be beyond the capability of piece parts of existence like us. That kind of truth may only be attainable by the whole of existence. In fact, there is an argument that we may be here for the very purpose of experiencing things from differing perspectives.

To be a “truth-seeker” you must commit to this idea that truth is a higher ideal than the tribal concerns of groups you may belong to. If you’re not willing to concede that point, you probably can stop reading this post right here.

Power hack: For those intrepid souls who kept reading, you might have some very logical questions.

  • How can we know what truth is?
  • How can we recognize lies?
  • What difference does it make if I seek truth, but the rest of the world continues to bound by its unquestioned biases?

These are great questions. I’m sorry to say that I cannot answer any of them for you. What I can offer you and what will help you answer these questions for yourself, is this.

  • Blinders – you must do the work of understanding what your blinders are. Remember, I’m defining your blinders as those things that prevent you from even seeing truths you don’t want to see. What are your blindspots? You may need help from others to identify these.
  • Goggles – get clear on what political, religious, cultural, and educational, and class goggles you wear that color your vision of everything you see in the world. This may take some deep thought and time. Some of your biases are so baked in, they’re almost invisible to you. You must be willing to see that others may hold pieces of the truth you lack and you must be willing to adjust your point of view accordingly.
  • Generalities – biases and blindspots thrive in generalities. Truth exists in the crevices of specificity. I often say that any statement you find coming out of your mouth or wafting through your mind that begins with a generality like the following is probably an area of exploration for you.
    • Black people are…
    • White people are…
    • Fat people are…
    • Christians are…
    • Jews are…
    • Muslims are…
    • Men are…
    • Women are…
    • Rich people are…
    • Poor people are…
    • Democrats are…
    • Republicans are…
  • Insight and wisdom – as you begin to sharpen your thinking through work on your blindspots, biases, and generalities; you begin to see the world more clearly. You begin to see a less biased and more balanced version of truth. It still may be unfinished and unpolished, but you’re beginning to clarify the picture. This insight and wisdom also gives you the ability to better assess new and incoming information for its alignment with your clearer picture of truth.

I want to offer one final thought. As much as I love this cartoon for the point it makes, it’s wrong about one thing. Not all truths are unpleasant and not all lies are convenient.

Despite a massive human bias toward a negative view of the world, many truths are very pleasant. They even open us to a far better world than the convenient lies we may have accepted.

Conversely, many of the lies we have accepted are not convenient at all. They’re, in fact, very inconvenient and even destructive to us as human beings and to our civilization on this planet.

Is your endeavor to follow the truth wherever it leads challenging? Absolutely. Might it take years, decades, or the rest of your life? Probably. Yet, you have these wise promises to guide you.

  • Three things cannot long remain hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. ~Buddha
  • Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear. ~Mahatma Gandhi
  • The truth is found when men are free to pursue it. ~FDR
  • The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it. ~Ayn Rand

Have an amazing day, truthseekers!

Ray

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Note: I did not tackle the issue of objective and subjective truth in this article. I will address that in future article. For now, simply begin the process of clearing your eyes and your mind to see things without your blinders and goggles.

 

 

 

Celebrating The Life Force – Day 121 of 365 Days to a Better You

Celebrating fertility, rebirth, and the life force.

Happy May Day or, as Celtic and Pagan cultures refer to it, Beltane. This holiday has been celebrated throughout Europe going back to Roman times as the midpoint (cross-quarter) between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.

year-celebrations-3088405_640Along with its opposite on the wheel of the year – Halloween – this day was considered by the ancients and some modern observers as one of the two times each year when the veil between our world and the spirit world thins.

Beltane is a Celtic fire festival that celebrates both the rebirth of the world around us, since the beginning Spring six weeks earlier, and the life-force within us. Observance involves noticing the small things that bless our lives every day, understanding their fleeting nature, and finding the joy in it all.

May Day is a celebration of fertility and the color and life that has now returned to the Earth. It is a celebration of warmth, positive energy, and the coming abundance of summer.

Power hack: What can those of us who don’t celebrate this day religiously take from these celebrations and apply to our lives?

  1. Pay close attention to and enjoy the way the Earth has come back to life. Feel yourself coming back to life. Stop and smell the flowers…literally.
  2. Feel the warming sun on your face and the fresh green grass between your toes.
  3. Notice the small blessings that fill your life and the people who share them with you.
  4. Consider, as we discussed in the Easter post, the power in this motif of rebirth and new life. Look for ways to use that metaphor in your life and endeavors.
  5. Become very conscious of the life-force that courses through you and everything and everyone around you.
  6. Absorb the positive energy of this time. Life is at full force and death has been conquered.

Some may be uncomfortable with playing too much into these celebrations for religious or scientific reasons. I’m a fan of making use of anything that comes your way to remind you of the power of the natural world and your connection to it. You don’t have to be Wiccan or Celtic to see the good in that.

Have an amazing day and thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read the blog!

Ray

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Finding Your Purpose: Three Ways to Know – Day 120 of 365 Days to a Better You

Everyone has a purpose. What’s yours?

We’ve touched on this subject a couple of times previously in the 365 Days series. I came across a fantastic video by Bridget Nielsen on three ways to know what your purpose is.

I thought these provided great insight and expanded on what I’d share previously. Take a look.

The three ways to know your purpose.

  1. Passion + Talent. Discover your passion. Discover your talents. Cross-reference the two to find where they sync. This is a great first clue to your purpose. I’ve often said that your purpose lives at the intersection of Passion and Talent streets. Do something you’re truly great at doing.
  2. It doesn’t feel like work. This is great if you’re just pursuing your passion as a hobby. If you’re doing it as a business, this is an absolute requirement. What’s the point of taking the risk to operate outside the relative security of the corporate world if your passion just feels like another job? You must find what you REALLY love doing.
  3. Does the world need it? This is the one I’ve probably overlooked the most myself. If you’re trying to make a living with your passion, it’s got to be something that the world wants and needs. You might be very passionate and very good, but if no one is interested it won’t matter.

Powerhack: Find a passionate talent that doesn’t feel like work and is in demand by the world. This is the key to making your passion your career.

Stay inspired to be great and do great!

Ray

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Repetition is the Master Teacher – Day 119 of 365 Days to a Better You

Perfect practice makes perfect.

~Vince Lombardi

I’ve always wondered how mountain goats survive on terrains that would terrify humans and most other animals. They live on sheer cliffs and expertly leap and grab to move around in this treacherous terrain. That expertise is practically born into the species, as it has adapted to living that way. Repetition and the fact they have no choice allows them to thrive on sheer mountainsides.

Repetition is the the master teacher. I was driving April to Boston Logan this morning. I was thinking about how when we moved here four years ago a trip downtown or to the airport seemed like a dicey adventure. There’s no amount of driving in Kansas City that really prepares you for Boston traffic. Not knowing which lane to choose makes life harrowing.

Now we drive into Boston every morning to take April to work. We’ve been to Logan more times than I can count. The Drivers Ed video hilarity of what can pop out of nowhere on a Boston or Cambridge street has become commonplace. I’ve become a Boston driving mountain goat. What used to phase me is now just part of the fun.

You often hear sports announcers talk about the value of an athlete having been in a big situation before – the experience advantage. Think Tom Brady or Serena Williams. What a huge advantage they have over beginners on the biggest stages. Experience doesn’t guarantee victory or eliminate human mistakes, but there is something that gets into your DNA and gives you a huge mental advantage when you’ve achieved time and time again.

Power hack: Anything you want to get better at can be achieved by repetition. Talent and knowledge are plusses, but there’s no substitute for doing something and doing it often. Whatever your goal practice, practice, practice and perfecting that practice, as Vince Lombardi said, can push you to the highest levels.

The cost? You have to be willing to to try and to fail, maybe many times, to earn the experience repetition has to offer. I’ll return to a sports metaphor. Think how many young teams have to get to a championship game and lose to set the stage for their greatness. The next time they return, because of repetition, their talent can shine with the backing of experience.

So, whatever your goal or dream, start doing it. No matter how bad you are at first, keep at it. Soon you’ll be navigating the sheer cliffs and crazy streets of your chosen field like a pro.

THANK YOU each and every one of you for reading the TAS blog and for sharing it with your friends. Have an awesome day!

Ray

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Today Is The Yesterday – Day 118 of 365 Days to a Better You

Today will be the yesterday you long for tomorrow. Make the most of it while it’s here.

Do you ever long for the “good old days” when things were somehow simpler and life made more sense? It’s a universal human tendency to long for the past as an escape from the present.

As you age and as the world continues to speed up, the past may seem an appealing respite from the challenges of your present. Yet, you are making more pasts all the time. Today, this moment will shortly be in the past. It will join the sacred narrative that tells the tale of your life.

The question is what kind of a memory will this day be? When you’re rocking in the chair of old age, will today be a day that makes you close your eyes and smile with pride?

Power hack: Live now while you can. Make every day a past worth cherishing. One day your days of action will be complete. You’ll only have memories of what you did and what was left undone.

The 17th Century English poet, Robert Herrick penned perhaps the quintessential of this concept in one his poems.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

You and I are citizens of eternity, but this form, this now has its limits. Make the most of this day while it’s here.

Thanks for reading the blog and for sharing it with a friend!

Ray

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Be Still and Know – Day 117 of 365 Days to a Better You

What can you know? How can you truly know anything?

You’re born into this world like a blank slate and at first all you know is what the people around you tell you. That’s based on a combination of experience and what other people have told them.

You don’t know if they’re sages or idiots. Yet, what they know begins to form what you know. As you get older, you encounter friends who have their own vision of what there is to know that they got it the same way.

Eventually, you begin to consume spiritual traditions, education and media and they impart what the wider culture believes it knows. Even the best-read religious teacher or pHD, without further reflection, is only teaching you to know what others have taught him or her to know.

Even the best science, while many consider it the standard for rational unbiased inquiry, often results in the scientists finding what he set out to find.

What can you really know and how can you really know it?

I’m not saying that you don’t listen to our parents, friends, science, the media, or religious teachings. I’m saying that you must understand that each of them is filled with the biases of your culture, the biases of your five senses, and the biases of a hundred generations before you and what they thought they know.

Power hack: All the ways of knowing listed above have one thing in common. They all encourage you to look outside. There is a way to know, but it come by looking within. Why? Whatever the ultimate reality of all you see around you is, you are of it. That means you’re connected to the rest of it and can know whatever it knows.

There is a knowingness that pervades all that is. That nine months you were in your mother’s womb neither you nor your mother controlled that process. The Universe knew how to birth you. How does the bee know to pollinate the flower? How does the cloud know to rain?

There is a knowingness that pervades all that is. To hear it, you simply need to be still, listen, and know. Turn off the outside noise and the century’s old opinions. Look for guidance within the part of you that is connected to the knowingness that guides the bee and the cloud. It can guide you too.

For some of you this might sound a little woo-woo. That’s OK. You’ve been biased toward a world that tells you the answers are out there when they are really in you. Be still, listen, and I promise you will know.

Here are five ways to access that knowing within.

  1. Meditation
  2. Contemplative prayer
  3. Connect with nature
  4. Turning off all the noise, sitting, and just listening.
  5. Asking questions out loud.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it on social media or with your friends. Thank you all for reading and for your support!

Ray

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