We all present different versions of ourselves to the world, to others, and to ourselves. We all wear masks and act out various roles in lives.
So, who are you?
I think its safe to say we are the personas we display each day and this is not a negative thing but in reality a useful way to navigate the world. One of the keys I think is understanding what persona or mask is appropriate and how our various masks are perceived by others, in short, how do others see us.
I know a common message heard today is that “we/I don’t need others”, “I can make it, do it on my own”, “I can thrive on my own.” Really? Aren’t there always others involved in some way in the successes and failures of our lives? If so, then being aware of how our personas impact others is a key to understanding our relationships with others.
I am not saying we should be acting like someone else and not being ourselves, whatever that means, instead, I think we should closely monitor our interactions with others, good, bad or ugly. In this way we can hopefully begin to see patterns in our relationships that are likely impacted by the personas we present in given situations.
Wearing masks does not always have to be disguises we hide behind instead our masks can help us present the best/most appropriate versions of ourselves to others, embrace your masks, it’s who you are.
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Points of view inform our opinions, thinking and decision-making. We all have different points of view related to the many facets of our lives. I am particularly interested in points of view and mental models that “assume positive intent”, something author Daniel Pink talked about on the Tim Ferriss podcast. This point of view is similar to the ideas that people are generally good and do not wish harm and that often when things that we don’t like or are harmful happen it is better not to attribute malice to quickly when stupidity or a mistake might actually explain what happened (Hanlon’s Razor).
Okay, so I know on the surface this sounds like a “Pollyanna” points of view but I think that is a simple conclusion and one that could stand in the way of possibly changing our points of view as it relates to other people.
So, assuming positive intent and not attributing malice when ignorance or stupidity might be a better explanation is a way to relate to others with less hatred and paranoia. I think its safe to say in our world that less hatred and paranoia is always a bonus.
We live during a time when more information is accessible than any other time in human history. The pace in which this information is disseminated is faster than ever and our world moves equally as fast. I personally wonder about my pace, slow-ish in relation to the world around me, and I question whether or not I am missing out on something or if I should speed up to match the pace of information?
So I am coming to the conclusion that I don’t need to speed up, which isn’t likely to happen any way, instead I need to master ways to process and use the information I digest using an approach that suits my slow-ish pace.
My solution of sorts when it comes to reading as an example is to process better. I am a slow reader so I am not going to digestive a lot information in a given time period but what I can do is make the most of what I am reading.
My approach: I take notes in the margins of the books I am reading and I pay attention to what I am reading and learning. I am always looking to use the information in different ways, my goal is to synthesis and make the information personal. So I might write a blog a post and or create and present the information to others in a workshop or class. I seek out related content, this is a lot easier in the world we live in with google, amazon and algorithms. Ultimately, simply sharing what I have learned with others, I think this has something to do with brain plasticity and neurons and stuff, is a good way to process and hopefully I gain some useful feedback and that will spark more learning.
Okay, so slowing down the world is not going to happen to but slowly down me is a solution that is actionable and it feels like I am mastering a little part of the world in the process.
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The advice I would give my 16 Year old, 21-year-old, 30-year-old, and my 40-year-old self.
There is a pattern here.
It’s simple, “try stuff dude!”
The bottom line, I am just like everyone else, I think, I often have made decisions in an effort to avoid fear and suffering, the dynamic duo. Of course, in the process I am not trying all the stuff I could be trying.
So my advice to myself to try stuff is about exposing myself to fearful situations and potential suffering.
Okay, so I am not going to stick my head in a lion’s mouth or take up high wire walking. My fear and suffering typically has been related to relationships, romantic and platonic, honestly, my biggest challenges in the past have been in this area of my life.
Try Stuff Dude! Fail along the way, learn somethings, try some more stuff. Realize that fear and suffering is going to come in some form and trying to avoid this dynamic duo is holding me back from experiencing life to the fullest extent.
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KISS, is an actual principle developed by the U.S. Navy in 1960, which explains how I learned about the principle while serving in the Marine Corps for many years. It is a principle that is easy to remember and can be applied, not surprisingly, to many areas of our lives.
I am not sure where to go with this but I like the idea of a simple formula for complex problems and KISS is reminder to look for the simple solution.
I seem to remember on more than one occasion when KISS was used someone was tying to show how smart they were by adding more complexity, I think the opposite is often true.
If you are so smart then you should be able to keep it simple for us less smart folks.
Image retrieved from here: KISS
Stress is something we need to survive and something we live with. There is good and bad stress, obviously we want more good and less bad happening, along with stress we need rest also. I find it interesting that most of us would say, if surveyed, that a stress free life would equal happiness. But I think stress free would get boring quickly for most people. Instead, I think a better approach is finding a good ratio of good and bad stress with frequent rest periods.
If stress is here to stay then instead of eliminating stress we need to management it. We want more good stress and less bad stress and we want and need to rest and recover.
This got me thinking, what is the difference between good and bad stress?
Good stress challenges, motivates and drives us. Good stress is short-term, it’s the good aspects of fight or flight mode. Good stress enhances our feelings of control.
Bad stress is distressing, makes us feel out of control, and unmotivated. Bad stress can be short-term or long-term. Bad stress can impact our emotional, psychological, and physical health in negative ways.
So if stress is something we live with and is not going away a better way is to manage it. To this end I am pondering the stressors in my life and asking the following questions.
- How do I increase my good stress?
- How do I manage all my stressors?
- What does rest look like for me?
- How much rest do I need?
It’s funny now recalling my time as Marine and later as Marine Drill Instructor hearing the phrases, “stay motivated recruit, stay motivated” or “get motivated Marines.” Understandingly, these encouragements and pleas came during moments of weakness or at least diminishing motivation and in the Marine Corps, in the past at least, it was common to attribute failure with lack of motivation, you just haven’t done enough, worked hard enough, or tried hard enough. But is it that simple to get motivated?
Interestingly, we can get more motivated through choosing and practicing our “internal locus of control — a belief that we can influence our destiny through the choices we make.” According to Charles Duhigg in Smarter, Faster, Better in order “to motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.” The author did not write we must be in control but instead feel like we are in control, this is an important distinction, and one that anyone can take advantage of. We can feel more in control when we make choices and the more we practice making choices the more control we feel over our lives and the outcomes that result.
To over simplify things here is an equation: Choices + control = motivation.
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