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Life

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“You are not_________” Add YET: I am not_________YET.

Not Yet is a concept popularized by American Psychology Professor and Researcher Carol S. Dweck Ph.D. in her TED talk titled: The Power of believing that you can improve. Carol Dweck researches “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems. In her TED talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet? 

In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she argues that there are two types of mindset: Fixed and Growth Mindset. She writes:

A growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. People with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities are carved in stone. It creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over again.

 ‘Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.’ – Marilyn Monroe

We live in a perfection-obsessed world where everyone has figured it out but the reality is that everyone is winging it and trying to figure it out. Perfectionism is at the root of our present age mental health crisis, with rising suicide rates, depression, and anxiety. According to a 2016 research study conducted by Thomas Curran (Department of health at the University of Bath, UK) and Andrew P. Hill (York St. John University, UK): self-oriented perfectionism, socially prescribed perfectionism, and other-oriented perfectionism have increased over the last 27 years.

Perfectionism is broadly defined as a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations (Frost, Marten, Lahart, & Rosenblate, 1990).

“It marks a big step in your development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you could do alone.” – Andrew Carnegie

One of the recurring factors I found attributed to the success of great men and women is the value of luck. The luck of who (people, family, friend, partner, spouse, mentor, boss), where (environment) and their ability to seize the day when the opportunity presented itself. Luck they say is when opportunity meets preparedness. These individuals were at the right place at the right time. The best-selling author of Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about the concept of “Who Luck”. In a Knowledge Project Podcast session with Shane Parish, Jim said:

People think about luck as kind of “what” luck but I’ve had great “who” luck in my life. And “who” luck is when you come across somebody who changes your trajectory or invests in you, bets on you, gives you guidance and key points.

Who” luck is when you come across somebody who changes your trajectory or invests in you, bets on you, gives you guidance and key points.

Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom. – Jim Rohn

Winter is coming is a euphemism for “trying times are ahead”.  Winter is the coldest season of the year in polar and temperate regions. Winter is associated with snow, icy weather, freezing temperature and it is also associated with the tough and trying times in life. I grew up in the tropical climate of Nigeria where we had only dry and wet seasons. I did not fully experience seasonal winter until I relocated to the west.

Life is a rollercoaster of circumstances, challenges, crises, ups and downs, frowns, and smiles. As Musician John Lenon once noted: “Life is what happens to you while you‘re busy making other plans”. When the challenges of life happen, they often happen so fast. No one has a problem-free life, tough times do not last but tough people do.

“If you can’t pay it back, pay it forward.” — Catherine Ryan Hyde

Pay It Forward is an expression for when the recipient of an act of kindness does something kind for someone else rather than simply accepting or repaying the original good deed. It is synonymous with the concept of Enlightened Self-Interest – behavior based on the awareness that what is in the public interest is eventually in the interest of all individuals and groups.

 Giving back is very important and the need to pay it forward cannot be over-emphasized. No one is self-made, we all get some help from the society and the onus is on us to give back to the society by becoming a mentor, leading by example, volunteering, sharing, and becoming the change we want in the world.

“You Can Have Everything In Life You Want, If You Will Just Help Enough Other People Get What They Want.” – Zig Ziglar

Pay It Forward Movie

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel Pay It Forward was published in 1999 and adapted into a movie of the same name in 2000. In the movie, Social studies teacher Eugene Simonet (Kevin Spacey) gives his class an assignment: look at the world around you and fix what you don’t like. One student comes up with an idea: #1 it is something that really helps people; #2 something they can’t do by themselves; and #3 do it for them, then do it for three other people.

“If you can’t pay it back, pay it forward.” – Catherine Ryan Hyde

In the movie, 7th grader Trevor implements the plan himself, forming a branch of good deeds. His first deed is to let a homeless man named Jerry live in his garage, and Jerry pays the favor forward by doing car repairs for Trevor’s mother Arlene. He further pays forward by preventing a woman from killing herself.

There’s no such thing as bad weatheronly bad clothes” – Scandinavian maxim

Life is going to happen to all of us at some point. Life is not a bed of roses; it is a roller coaster of challenges, changes, life-defining moments: sometimes you are up, and other times you are down. Whatever would go wrong would eventually go wrong (Murphy’s Law). It is easy to be optimistic and upbeat when things are going right; the real test is how you would handle the trying times. As British writer Vivian Greene once noted, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King

  In life, you are either coming out of a storm, heading into a storm, or going through a storm. The key to weathering the storm is to understand that the storm is a season of life. As the bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “To everything, there is a season, A time for every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, And a time to die”. A time to sow and a time to reap. There is a reason for every season.

“Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances.… Strong men believe in cause and effect.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author Earl Nightingale defined success as the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. This means that any person who knows what they are doing and where they are going is a success. Any person with a goal towards which they are working is a successful person. Success is personal and subjective hence what I think to be success might not be success to you but no matter what your definition of success is, you still need to aim for something. Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success in life is just showing up. It is the writer who sits down every day to write, the entrepreneur who is always growing his business, the salesman who is always pitching, the artist who is always rehearsing, the sportsman who is always at the gym training, the student at the library studying, the creative who is always creating.

80 percent of success in life is just showing up. – Woody Allen

If you want to change your life and maybe the world—start off by making your bed! -William H. McRaven 

Four-star retired United States Admiral William H McRaven delivered an inspiring and thought-provoking commencement speech to the  2014 graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin.

Taking inspiration from the University of Texas slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career but also throughout his life. At the core of his message is the principle of Laying your Bed daily. In his speech, he noted:

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

In his book inspired by the commencement speech, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, Admiral William H. McRaven writes:

 In battle soldiers die, families grieve, your days are long and filled with anxious moments. You search for something that can give you solace, that can motivate you to begin your day, that can be a sense of pride in an oftentimes ugly world. But it is not just combat. It is daily life that needs this same sense of structure. Nothing can replace the strength and comfort of one’s faith, but sometimes the simple act of making your bed can give you the lift you need to start your day and provide you the satisfaction to end it right.

Remember… start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then you can change your life for the better… and maybe the world!

The Admirals’ advice of making your bed every morning is on point. I have experimented and included the practice in my daily routine and I can confirm that it is transforming my life. Making your Bed could be seen as a code for simple task completion. A similar concept of task completion was proposed by author Dr. BJ Fogg, in his book: Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything. He called the art of laying your bed, tiny habits. He writes: Go Tiny –

If you haven’t gotten off the couch in a year, don’t start with seven minutes of strenuous activity. Start tiny instead. Shore up the weakest link in your Ability Chain by making your new workout habit radically easy to do. Scale back to doing one wall push-up. Just one. When you run into a setback—a cold, for instance—you can still manage to do one wall push-up, stuffy nose, and all. By going tiny, you create consistency; by staying tiny, you get your new habit firmly rooted.

We feel so pressed for time. This pressure leads to a scarcity mindset—we believe that there will never be enough time, so we say no to changes because we feel like we don’t have the hours to cultivate new positive habits.

With the Tiny Habits method, you focus on small actions that you can do in less than thirty seconds. You will quickly wire in new habits, and then they will grow naturally. Starting tiny means you can begin creating a big change without worrying about the time involved.

The more stressed you are and the less time you have, the more appropriate this method is for you. No matter how much you want to cultivate a healthy habit, you won’t be able to do it reliably if you start big. When you go big, the new habit probably won’t stick. In many people’s lives, tiny isn’t just the best option, it might be the only option.

By going tiny, you create consistency; by staying tiny, you get your new habit firmly rooted.

Aim Small

Canadian clinical psychologist and author of “12 Rules for Life”, Jordan B. Peterson shared the same sentiment on aiming small:

You don’t want to shoulder too much to begin with, given your limited talents, tendency to deceive, the burden of resentment, and ability to shirk responsibility. Thus, you set the following goal: by the end of the day, I want things in my life to be a tiny bit better than they were this morning. Then you ask yourself, “What could I do, that I would do, that would accomplish that, and what small thing would I like as a reward?” Then you do what you have decided to do, even if you do it badly. Then you give yourself that damn coffee, in triumph. Maybe you feel a bit stupid about it, but you do it anyway. And you do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. And, with each day, your baseline of comparison gets a little higher, and that’s magic. That’s compound interest.

Do that for three years, and your life will be entirely different. Now you’re aiming for something higher. Now you’re wishing on a star. Now the beam is disappearing from your eye, and you’re learning to see. And what you aim at determines what you see. That’s worth repeating. What you aim at determines what you see.

What could I do, that I would do, that would accomplish that, and what small thing would I like as a reward?

Daily Rituals

Author John C. Maxwell noted “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” We are what we do and not what we say. We get rewarded in public for what we consistently refine and master in private. These are the ways I make my bed on a daily basis:

Lay own Bed
 One of the first things I do when I wake up is to lay my bed and in the process have a little sense of task completion. The sight of a well-laid bed makes me feel I have done something already.

Meditate

 I started meditating consistently during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and that downtime came with anxiety and fear but with meditation and mindfulness, have learned to radically accept whatever comes up on a daily basis.

Journaling

I use two journals to record my thoughts and priorities: A daily planner and a gratitude journal. I record the top five things/priorities for the day in the daily planner and I use the gratitude journal for things am grateful for, daily affirmations, things I want to achieve for the day, and ways I can improve.

Calm Stretch/Press-up

 After meditating, I use the Calm Apps morning wake up which is a    combination of standing sequence and breathing exercise. After the stretch, I do some press-up.

Dress for Success

 One routine I added to my daily ritual earlier this year is the way I dress when working from my home office. I started dressing up like am going to work and it has had a significant effect on my physiological and mental outlook.

Long-Form Writing

 The first thing I do when I get to my office space is to do long-form writing (writing with a pencil on a yellow pad). I write about topics have read about, things that fascinate me, and topics I want to know more about. Most of the articles on this blog come from my daily morning-long form writing.

 I am not close to where I want to be with my writing but the daily practice of sitting down to write for 30-40 minutes has been significant on my writing journey.

“It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.”  – Ernest Hemmingway

Start work

 I start work after eating breakfast/brunch.

Listen to Audiobook

One activity I have been consistent with in the past 9-12 months is listening to audiobooks while working on a daily basis. It has been a game-changer for me as I am able to read more books and get things done in the process.

Outside walk/Gym Session

 I try to incorporate an exercise routine into my day either by going to the gym during the cold seasons or by taking a walk or run during the warm seasons. I am always preparing for a marathon.

Listen to podcast/Documentary/Movie

On weekdays, I try to see a movie, documentary, or movie before I sleep. I have loads of programming I wish to watch about things that interest me such as Entrepreneurship, the 4th industrial revolution, Artificial Intelligence, Sports documentaries, etc.

Sleep

I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Some days I do not get that much sleep but I try.


Repeat

 I try to consistently follow through on my daily routines and it has made all the difference. I am conscious of how and who I spend my time with as Life is Short and fleeting.

Following through on your goals, intentions, and aspiration can be tough as there is always something to distract you: the Internet, social media, news, entertainment, etc. The key to getting things done is to follow the Make your Bed strategy: Aim Small, Take baby steps and follow through. Decide what you want to get done, commit to getting it done and execute.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

You are free to choose whatever action you want to take in life but you are not free from the consequences of your actions.

Sixteenth-century English Mathematician and Physicist Sir Isaac Newton theorized in his 3rd law of motion that “For every action, there is an equal (in size) and opposite (in direction) reaction. It is this action-reaction force that makes it possible for cars to move along a roadway surface. Every one of our actions has consequences, good or bad – Our habits, words, thoughts, affirmations, etc. You are free to choose whatever action you want to take in life, but you are not free from the consequences of your actions.

 Like in real life, our actions have consequences: If you work hard, what is hard would eventually work, but you would be cut short if you take shortcuts. What you give in life is what you get back, garbage in garbage out; if you give out a positive, radiant, optimistic outlook, people would mostly reciprocate by being cheerful. Whether it is working hard, training relentlessly to master your craft, setting healthy boundaries, or getting things done. Actions always have consequences. If you cannot pay the price, you can not win the prize.

You cannot play with the animal in you without becoming wholly animal, play with falsehood without forfeiting your right to truth, play with cruelty without losing your sensitivity of mind. He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn’t reserve a plot for weeds. – Dag Hammarskjöld

Social Media is a means of interaction among people that facilitate the creation/sharing of information, ideas, career interests, insights, and other forms of expression across virtual communities and networks.

Social Media is by far one of the greatest innovations in the past 50 years and, like any invention, can be used for advancement or used for unintended purposes or consequences. For instance, Nuclear Energy can be used to electrify communities, or it can be used to create atomic bombs; books can change your mindset (Think and Grow Rich) or can be read/written to cause harm (Hitler’s Main Kampf or Karl Marx’s Das Kapital). Social Media is a great source of joy, entertainment; we meet most of our friends and even get married through the platforms, business empires have been built, and great ideas exchanged, careers built, hobbies formed and nurtured.

One in six smartphone users say it would make them uncomfortable to miss a day’s updates on social media.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Life is short, we are all supposed to know that but unfortunately, we don’t. My first vivid recollection of grieving due to the death of a loved one was when I lost my paternal grandmother in 1998. I wept for a couple of days and kind of moved on eventually as we all do. I have lost 3 of my grandparents, recently my mum ( 2019) and my closest cousin (2013). The degree of my grief was kind of based on their age, my closeness to them, and the stage of life I was at the moment of their death.

   What these deaths have taught me is that no matter how long I live, I am going to DIE too. Death is the ultimate equalizer in life – The old, young, sick, healthy, slim, selfish, famous, selfless, healthy, narcissist, psychopath, sociopath, cheerful, depressed, gregarious, everyone is going to DIE at some point. The late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs quipped in his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

Most of us lead our lives like we are coming back (Jesus), would live longer than Methuselah, like we are promised tomorrow, hence we delay, procrastinate, temporize, stall, we overestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years, and underestimate what we can get done in a year. We say to ourselves “Someday I’ll“, we wait for the perfect time, the perfect mate, the perfect weather, business environment, job, career move, you name it. Knowing that we are all going to DIE, I wonder what we are waiting for.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world; most people just exist.” -Oscar Wilde

Mental Conditioning/ Programming

One of the greatest challenge for most of us is that while growing up we have been mentally conditioned and socially programmed with self-limiting belief systems such as You are here to pay bills, amass worldly possessions, Go to school, get good grades, find a suitable mate, procreate 2 or 3 kids, pay your mortgage, stay in that location for the next 25 years while working for organizations you are not excited about with colleagues and bosses you can not stand, save for retirement till 65, get ill at 70 and DIE before your 85th birthday if you are lucky to live that long.

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.” – Les Brown

Your Time Here is Limited.

  The average life expectancy in developed nations like Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland is around 84-85 years while the life expectancy in third world nations like Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Yemen is around 51-65 years. If we use developed nations’ life expectancy as a case study, the average human would live approximately 30,000 days (84 years x 365 days) = 30,600 days. As short as these days are, we still waste it on trivial issues because we think we would live long and we still have time.

Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need.” — Voltaire

 We spend one-third of our lifetime sleeping – 10,000 Days

We spend around 3,500 – 4,000 days working

On average we spend half of our lifetime sleeping, working, and commuting.

What do we do with the remaining time- We gossip, spend endless time surfing the internet and social media comparing our lives with those of our family, peers, and friends, we fight, litigate, have fun. recreate and little time examining our time here or deliberately working on our legacy.

“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

Most of us live a life of quiet desperation tiptoeing towards our graves. We follow and adhere to the scripts and belief systems handed to us by our parents, school, religion, peers, society, media, and the internet. We do not take the time to slow down and smell the roses. We are busy doing nothing, rushing through the maze of life like rats. As Lily Tomlin observed, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” Why become a rat when you are supposed to be a lion. As the African proverb says “The lion and sheep may lie down together but the sheep won’t get any sleep”. You are here to be extraordinary, stop settling for less, please, Go do epic shit.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..”― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

Social Media is Messing You Up

Social Media is by far one of the greatest innovations in the past 50 years and, like any invention, can be used for advancement or used for unintended purposes or consequences.  As with any innovation, Social Media is also beginning to mess us up as a generation with rampant division, misinformation, fake news, depression, wasted time online, decreased face-to-face communication, suicides. Lazy thinking, fakeness, narcissism, cyberbullying, to name but a few. As Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once quipped, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Social Media is one of the major time waters for most of us as we prioritize sharing over creation, likes over self-esteem, retweets over self-care, Instagram stories over self-growth, and personal development. We are constantly comparing other people’s well-curated highlight reels to our own life. Instead of becoming of service to our community, we are obsessed with how we are perceived by the outside world. We spend an average of 1,000+ hours on social media/internet, which would amount to around 50,000 hrs (5-6 years) spent online.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Growing up most of us get asked a well-intentioned but somewhat silly question by adults: What do you want to be when you grow up? Really! How is a 10-year old supposed to really know what they want to become at that stage of their life unless they are a genius? The Irony of that question is that most adults are still trying to figure out what they want to do with their adult life but they expect a 10-year-old to answer the question.

 Young children answer the question with much self-assuredness and confidence, believing that anything is possible. They come up with answers such as I want to become an astronaut, engineer, medical doctor, lawyer, footballer, or basketballer. They answer the question based on their mental conditioning, media programming, societal indoctrination, religious dogma, and most importantly they aspire to be like their parents, caregivers, teachers, and their environmental definition of success, prestige, and honor.

 From a very early age, we aspire to become what our parents expect us to be. Sometimes our parents live their lives through us, they want us to do well and conform to the dictates of the herd, the group, and the society. The challenge most of the time is that we live the role self instead of following our bliss to find our true north or true self. The result is a life lived in apprehension, anxiety, fear, obligation, shoulds, musts, guilt, shame, and conformity. Based on our answer to the “What do you want to become when you grow up question? We try very hard in adolescence to be consistent with that answer, even when the reality is now different. We continue to want to become a lawyer even though, we are a not passionate about the profession.

At every stage of our lives we make decisions that will profoundly influence the lives of the people we’re going to become, and then when we become those people, we’re not always thrilled with the decisions we made

So young people pay good money to get tattoos removed that teenagers paid good money to get. Middle-aged people rushed to divorce people who young adults rushed to marry. Older adults work hard to lose what middle-aged adults worked hard to gain. On and on and on.

The question is, as a psychologist, that fascinates me is, why do we make decisions that our future selves so often regret?” –Daniel Gilbert, Harvard Psychologist

  We get sucked into the societal lies that we are here to just pay bills, drop two or 3 kids, pay a mortgage for 25 years, save for your retirement till 65, by which time you would be dealing with health-related issues. We slave our youth in the rat race of life, busy paying bills, working in jobs that are not fulfilling for us and we settle for less than we can become. We continuously put on the mask, play the role expected by our family, society, religion, and the world at large. We are afraid of becoming the black sheep, scapegoat hence we lack the courage to live life on our own terms. We settle and do not follow or explore our passions and inclination to become great.

“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” – Lily Tomlin.

In our bid to live up to the expectations and obligations of the world around us. We use the mask as a coping mechanism: we pretend, lie, mask, create a persona, project, gaslight, fake it, and we do not show our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. We want to fit in with the crowd, the peer and societal pressure are very strong, hence we conform and settle for less than we can become. We project an aura of perfectionism based on the fear of failure in the world.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

 In his thought-provoking and inspiring commencement speech to the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University, Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Jobs was right; almost everything falls apart in the face of death. He probably had this conviction based on his scare with pancreatic cancer that eventually took his life. We are all going to DIE at some point in our brief stay here on earth. It could happen any time; the challenge is we do not know when; hence we waste our time believing we still have lots of it, we procrastinate, we fail to prioritize, we major in minor things, and at the end of our life we are filled with regrets, should have and could have.

“There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin

Know Thyself is one of the Delphic Maxims and was the first of three maxims inscribed in the pronaos (forecourt) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The Delphic Maxims are a set of maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The two maxims that followed “Know Thyself” were  “Nothing to excess” and “Surety brings ruin”.

Knowing oneself requires becoming more self-aware of ones strengths and weakness. As American clergyman Henry Ward Beecher once said “Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.”

 “To know that one does not know is best; Not to know but to believe that one knows is a disease.” – Lao Tzu

One of the ways to know thyself is to have the humility that you do not know yourself as much as you think. To know yourself requires radical humility and recognizing your ignorance of yourself. Most of us are putting up a front/ a mask, our life is based on living up to other peoples expectations and opinion of us. To get to the root of who you are, requires understanding yourself, reflecting on your childhood because that is where you got domesticated like we do to cats and dogs. We got sociallly and mentally conditioned with rules, fears, obligation, guilt and belief systems.

 Most of us do not get the chance to know who we are because we get sucked in survival mode. We believe the lie that we are here to pay bills, drop 2 or 3 kids, pay mortgage for 25 years, work in a shitty job till retirement, try to impress colleagues and bosses you despise at work, put  on the mask with your family and friends day in day out. We tiptoe towards our graves not discovering who we are, what we were put here for and we die with our music still in us.

The graveyard is said to be richest place on earth. As motivational speaker Les Brown once quipped: “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

Who am I?

Author Eckhart Tolle, writes in his book: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose:

Know Thyself: What those words imply is this: Before you ask any other question, first ask the most fundamental question of your life: Who am I?

Unconscious people – and many remain unconscious, trapped in their egos throughout their lives – will quickly tell you who they are: their name, their occupation, their personal history, the shape or state of their body, and whatever else they identify with. Others may appear to be more evolved because they think of themselves as an immortal soul or living spirits. But do they really know themselves, or have they just added some spiritual-sounding concepts to the content of their mind? Knowing yourself goes far deeper than the adoption of a set of ideas or beliefs.

Spiritual ideas and beliefs may at best be helpful pointers, but in themselves, they rarely have the power to dislodge the more firmly established core concepts of who you think you are, which are part of the conditioning of the human mind. Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with whatever ideas are floating around in your mind. Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.

You may not want to know yourself because you are afraid of what you may find out. Many people have a secret fear that they are bad. But nothing you can find out about yourself is you. Nothing you can know about you is you.

Most people define themselves through the content of their lives. Whatever you perceive, experience, do think, or feel is content. Content is what absorbs most people’s attention entirely, and it is what they identify with. When you think or say, “my life,” you are not referring to the life that you are but with the life that you have, or seem to have. You are referring to content – your age, health, relationships, finances, work and living situation, as well as your mental-emotional state. The inner and outer circumstances of your life, your past and your future, all belong to the realm of content – as do events, that is to say, anything that happens.

Self-Awareness is Key

In his book, Emotional Intelligence, author and psychologist Daniel Goleman shares a zen parable to illustrate the importance of self-awareness. He writes:

A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. But the monk replied with scorn, “You’re nothing but a lout—I can’t waste my time with the likes of you!

His very honor attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled, “I could kill you for your impertinence.

“That,” the monk calmly replied, “is hell.”

Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight.

“And that,” said the monk, “is heaven.”

The sudden awakening of the samurai to his own agitated state illustrates the crucial difference between being caught up in a feeling and becoming aware that you are being swept away by it. Socrates’s injunction “Know thyself speaks to this keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.”

Self-awareness is not an attention that gets carried away by emotions, overreacting and amplifying what is perceived. Rather, it is a neutral mode that maintains self-reflectiveness even amidst turbulent emotions.

“Psychologists use the rather ponderous term metacognition to refer to an awareness of thought process, and metamood to mean awareness of one’s own emotions. I prefer the term self-awareness, in the sense of an ongoing attention to one’s internal states. In this self-reflexive awareness mind observes and investigates experience itself, including the emotions.”

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Be Yourself

In his book, “What You Do Is Who You Are” cofounder and general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Ben Horowitz writes:

In 1993, the professional basketball player Charles Barkley famously said, “I am not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean that I should raise your kids.” Many people thought this statement was clever, and it led to a Nike ad campaign. After the campaign became wildly popular, a reporter asked Barkley’s teammate Hakeem Olajuwon if he, too, was “not a role model.” Olajuwon replied, “I am a role model.

Olajuwon explained that Charles Barkley was one person in private and a totally different person in public. As maintaining a dual personality was extremely stressful, he said, Barkley was constantly looking for a way out. Because he did not feel he was really the person the NBA wanted him to be, when he went out partying, he did it to the extreme. Olajuwon said that he himself was the opposite: exactly the same in public and private. As a result, he was indeed a role model.

This interview revealed a key to leadership: you must be yourself. Other people will always have ideas of what you should be, but if you try to integrate all those ideas in a way that’s inconsistent with your own beliefs and personality, you will lose your mojo. If you try to be someone else, not only will you be unable to lead, but you’ll be ashamed to have people emulate you. In essence, Charles Barkley was saying, “Don’t follow me. Even I don”t like me.”

If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

In his classic text, Art of War, Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu noted:

So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

When you know others, then you are able to attack them. When you know yourself, you are able to protect yourself. Attack is the time for defense, defense is a strategy of attack. If you know this, you will not be in danger even if you fight a hundred battles. When you only know yourself, this means guarding your energy and waiting. This is why knowing defense but not offense means half victory and half defeat. When you know neither the arts of defense nor the arts of attack, you will lose in battle.

Knowing oneself is a lifelong journey of introspection, reflection and relentlessly trying to get better. You need to be patient with yourself, listen more to the whisper of your intuition, follow your bliss and have the courage to live life on your terms.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’ – C.G. Jung

I have often been fascinated about why we act the way we do, why we comply or settle for less than we can become, and how people influence us consciously or unconsciously. In my research, I have found that the 3 major tools used for influencing people or emotional blackmail include Fear, Obligation, and Guilt. The people that easily influence us and know the buttons to press are the people closest to us, our family members, parents, siblings, spouse, and friends.

Emotional Blackmail occurs when someone uses your empathy and care against you. It is a state of haze and confusion, emotional deregulation, you can not see things clearly because of the manipulation and control of the abuser. The favourite tools of the emotional blackmailer include Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG), threat, future faking, love bombing, or withholding, triangulation, gaslighting, projection, crazymaking etc

They use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to influence, emotionally blackmail, gaslight, project, split, triangulate and get their way with us. It all started in childhood, we get domesticated the same way cats, and dogs get domesticated. We are handed scripts that influence our worldview about almost anything from finance, health, religion, marriage, etc. Our caregivers were masters at using FOG to cover up, mentally/socially condition and program us. We do not question these belief systems. Hence they continuously direct our lives.

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were soppy-stern And half at one another’s throats. Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf.” –  Philip Larkin, High Windows