Leadership

As a kid you feel like remembering birthdays is something adults do.

You might wonder to yourself at what point do you need to start giving cards or other gifts.

But the truth is that it’s never too early to start remembering birthdays.

They’re important to people.

And it means a lot to celebrate with someone the day they entered the world.

It’s the kind thing to do because it makes them feel special.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. – George Bernard Shaw

Shaw is right.

Progress demands originality.

But originality might lead to friction.

People might not accept you.

So those willing to be criticized, disliked, or even hated are the harbingers of innovation.

Change the game. Embrace the haters.

My dearest friends recently told me that I shouldn’t write about the negative aspects of human nature. They suggested that most people already know that a lot of people suck, and it’s far more effective to give folks something to aspire to rather than something to fix.

I recognize that I’m probably not doing you any favors by focusing on the negative at length. After all, it is unlikely you can do something about the issues occurring in your life. If you call out those close to you for their bad behavior, you risk damaging the relationship, and people rarely listen to unsolicited advice from strangers.

I haven’t settled this yet. I’m not sure about the nuances between social commentary, elucidation, known issues, and harping. At the end of the day, I’m going to write the truth that’s in my heart and my perspective as I see it. I can’t change my message according to what my audience might prefer. That’s the definition of a hack artist.  But I realize that almost everyone is hungry for hope and encouragement and that it’s probably better for me to be a beacon instead of a critic.

The best I can put forward on this now is this: when possible, I will strive to give examples of goodness.

 

Just BS it.

How many of us follow this line of reasoning?

If you do, it says a lot about you that you might not realize.

It says that you’re not comfortable saying “I don’t know.”

That you are okay stretching the truth.

That you don’t value integrity.

So instead be honest and upfront and do the work beforehand.

 

Courage is action in the face of fear, not fearlessness.

Greatness is the consistent pursuit of self-improvement, not perfection.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel good enough. Success often isn’t what you think it is. It looks a lot like just giving it your best shot.

It’s likely going to be messy.

Too many people go through life without seriously considering the perspectives of others. Our snap judgments are particularly detrimental to youth. So many kids are labeled troublemakers and bad apples because they act out. They are seen as needing to be chastised or requiring a lesson rather than someone to be thoughtfully listened to.

It’s possible in the immediate intervention that they might not be able to articulate their perspective. Don’t get upset or feel like it was a wrong approach. Striving to be more understanding is almost never the wrong approach. A lot of people lack the self-awareness to eloquently articulate trauma or abuse or their general source of self-destructive tendencies. Therefore, it’s necessary to be patient and to try to get a sense of the context to eventually help guide them toward insight. In this regard, you become someone slowly shepherding toward greater understanding rather than a part of the problem.

A last important element in this process of perspective taking and helping is the notion of fundamental attribution error. This is a common bias. It’s seen when we believe someone is behaving some way because that’s who they are rather than because of their circumstances. If we can remember that someone is behaving some way because of the accumulation of their circumstances, we can be more empathetic.

I know that what I’m saying is easier said than done. Some folks, especially bratty kids, seem to just be totally self-centered and terrible. But remember that it’s almost never okay to treat someone badly just because they’ve treated us badly. Showing kindness, forgiveness, and understanding when we’ve been mistreated can be immensely powerful. If it’s not immediately, it might be later. And if it’s not, oh well, it’s better to be kind than to be mean – even if it’s just for our emotional health.

 

Please accept my apologies for not getting the daily blog out lately. I have just returned from an intense conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I am back now, though! So back to it. In the future, if I’m about to head out for a conference, I’ll give a heads up. I had no idea my networking activity would be so demanding.

A consistent theme I saw while networking was competition. The entire time I was there I witnessed it – competition between schools for ranking, between journals for prestige, between students for job placement, and between colleagues for publication. (I’m preparing to go into academics.) The takeaway: I’m about to set forth into an incredibly competitive climate.  But I have a secret weapon; that is, the awareness between the difference between hierarchy and territory.

In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art it’s said that “In the animal kingdom, individuals define themselves in one of two ways – by their rank within a hierarchy (a hen in a pecking order, a wolf in a pack) or by their connection to a territory (a home base, a hunting ground, a turf).”

To sum up Pressfield’s argument, most of us define ourselves hierarchically, and it’s likely that we don’t even know it. This is because school, advertising, all of the materialist culture tells us that we need to define ourselves by others’ opinions.

He says that this definition of our identity, which you will notice breaks down in places with a ton of people like Manhattan, is detrimental to our creativity. You will witness the development of the following characteristics:

  1. You become caught in a vicious cycle of trying to elevate your position in the hierarchy and defending against those beneath you.
  2. You come to define your happiness by your rank in the hierarchy, feeling satisfied at another’s defeat.
  3. You treat people differently based on their rank rather than other, more important, factors.
  4. You act, dress, speak, and think for others.

So we must live territorially.

What’s a territory?

  1. It’s the place that gives us sustenance, the core element of our soul’s nourishment.
  2. We love our territory alone. We don’t need anyone else to claim it. The work itself satisfies.
  3. It is something that takes work to be claimed. It doesn’t give, it gives back.

I’m going to leave his line of reasoning here. There’s more to it, but for the rest, I suggest you read the book.

In close, don’t get caught up in the competition. Just do the work you’re passionate about. Try not to think about the competition. Just have fun. Don’t care how praised someone is or where they stand in whatever fabricated pecking order exists. Just search for two things. First, who has interests that overlap with you? And second, are they a good person?