The Pit

Nobody likes the pit. It isn’t a pleasant place to be in, but when you look back more often than not you’ll have a different perspective of the pit. The pit isn’t always an intended destination, but it can turn out to be for your good. The pit is the place where despair and desperation marry, their union seeks to take control of your life and smother you with their baby, depression… if you overcome this trio however, the pit will be where your character is built and you develop the traits required for you to flourish when you achieve what was once thought impossible. If you let it, the pit will weed out all of your shortcomings and jumpstart your transformation to being that man or woman you aspire to be.

One of my favourite true stories involves a bragging annoying teenager who was loved by his father above all his many brothers. He was egotistical and vain and would often share what he envisioned himself becoming, demeaning his siblings in the process. What did they do when the favourite child’s pride became too much for them? They threw him into a pit and told their father that he’d gone missing. In the pit the arrogant teen’s pride was instantly stripped away, replaced by a deep appreciation of life and everything that he had and a realisation of the value of others. In the pit he stopped envisioning things falling into his laps and developed a mentality of discipline and hard work steeped in iron-wrought principles that would not bend under intense pressure. It was in the pit that the metamorphosis he needed for his visions to come true occurred and years later when he was promoted to be the most important man on earth, the pride he had prior did not destroy him. On top of that he went on to forge an unbreakable, genuinely positive bond with his siblings. The pit gave him humility and the ability to forgive. That guy was called Joseph.

So the next time you find yourself in the pit, a pit you could have fallen into because of your own ignorance or poor decisions; or one where you might just be a victim of circumstances, look up and grasp the image of the sky above knowing that…

the time in the pit could be what propels you way above the clouds, far beyond the stratosphere to leave you dancing among the stars.

This marks the conclusion to the Individuality series. I will definitely return here once I’ve completed reading ‘Slight Edge’ and implementing more of these techniques in my own life. See you tomorrow for the start of the Creativity series.

Lying Is Good For You: Building Habits

Starting a habit isn’t always easy. The proof is in the number of people who say they want to start a new habit who don’t actually end up doing so. Or maybe they’ll start but stop before it’s really become a habit.

Habit – a regular tendency that is hard to give up.

Lally’s study claims that it takes anywhere between 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit.

How can one actually achieve such a feat that requires an incredible amount of discipline? First of all we have to acknowledge that it is difficult to maintain something just because we see the benefit of it in the future. If you are one of those people that can do it by just intentionally making the decision, kudos to you! If you are like me then you have to use a different way. The good news is it works just as well. Here it is… it’s time to lie again!

There’s this story about a mouse that’s put in a cage. Scientists would ring a bell at a certain time and then put cheese in the cage. Over time the mouse associated the sound of the shrill bell with cheese and would come out of its little house when the bell was rung and wait, even if the cheese wasn’t forthcoming. The bell didn’t sound attractive but the cheese was attractive. Over time the mouse would come out for the bell because to it the bell = cheese. We’re not mice though so what can we do? We use the horse and carrot stick method.

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Looks ridiculous right? The carrot is the reward after you’ve done the hard work of doing whatever the new habit requires you to do. This way we associate the reward with the work. For example, I love movies! When we got back from a service on Sunday that’s the first thing that I wanted to do. Unfortunately for me, I lived with very wise, orderly parents who would have me do the dishes first (after we’d made and eaten breakfast) before watching any film. Doing the dishes was work. Watching the movie was the carrot. My love for movies was so strong that I would speed through the dishes to have my carrot – ahem – I mean watch my movie. You couldn’t motivate me to do the dishes because it wasn’t something I looked forward to, but because I looked forward to watching movies, the labour of doing the dishes was no longer as hard as it seemed initially. Over time I stopped doing it as an inconvenience and started viewing it as a sort of key, a key to me watching the movies that I wanted to watch on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve used this same trick to exercise daily, write more consistently and to drink enough water each day – all things I never used to do.

So what are the practical bits you can use for you. The only thing you need to do is to make a list of the things you love. Lie to yourself until you believe that you can’t do one of those things until you’ve actioned out the habit you’re trying to build, then reward yourself with the thing you love at the end – and repeat. Make sense?

A short real-life illustration of the effectiveness of this technique:

Mom: Where are you?

Me: I’m in the kitchen. I’ve just started doing the dishes.

Mom: We’ve started watching a movie, come watch with us – you can do the dishes after.

Me: I don’t like doing dishes well after we’ve eaten. I’ll finish up fast then come watch when I’m done.

True story.

I’m a dish dog now!

See you tomorrow for Lying Is Good For You: Trumping Fear.

 

 

Man In The Mirror

“I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life.”

– Michael Jackson

If you’re going to have a positive impact on anyone else’s life, why not start with yours? You know by now what’s holding you back. Make that change!

“It’s gonna feel real good. Gonna make a difference. Gonna make it right.”

So do it!

Just…

Start with the man in the mirror.

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Thank you for your time:)

How To Show Off Right

Don’t you just get so annoyed when people show off? I do. A lot actually. I grow very annoyed at the beginning – it’s both intense and internal – then I’m at peace again afterwards. I let it go after telling myself that they don’t know what they’re doing.

I do wish I was always calm and nothing ever annoyed me but show-offs do… then when I found out I was one of them (albeit unconsciously) I was shaken to the core!

“I show off?” I asked increduoulsy.

Couldn’t believe it! So I started paying closer attention to myself… eventually I started noticing when I did.

What helped pick it up was that I was blessed with people that would let me know when I was doing something wrong (only after I’d given them permission to share such opinions… that makes me sound intimidating doesn’t it? But I’m a nice guy. Believe me.)

I got the hang of knowing when this awful behaviour would happen. Turns out there was a common theme.

I would show off with things that were given to me in some shape or form.

That’s stupid isn’t it? Well I came to realise that I came with nothing into this world… so everything that I have/had was given to me by someone else. Everything I’ve achieved is through someone else’s help whether I acknowledge it or not. So I have no right! I never did. Neither does anybody else… no right at all to show off.

“But it was all me. I worked for this so I can show it off.” I hear you say it. Don’t act like you don’t. Well at the very root of it all you’re a grown zygote that originated from a male and female, then there’s even more to that equation. Time to be grateful as well as humble.

But you still want to show off your ability. We’re ambitious us humans, we have an ego. I know that… I feel you. Lucky for you there’s a right way to show off. How? Well – not showing off. I know it sounds ludicrous but stop for a second and listen to this simple instruction.

Don’t toot your own horn. (Except perhaps as a confidence booster within yourself when you really need it.)

Work as best you can to perfect your talent in whatever role you play… once you do that – someone will inevitably do the tooting for you. And trust me, they’ll do so much – MUCH better than you ever could.

Why

Why?

We all die in the end right?

So… tell me: Why?

Why wake up in the morning?

Why make friends?

Why strive for anything?

Why try to stay alive?

After all in the end no one survives it – death.

So – why?

Why work hard?

Why fall in love?

Why do all of this if the end is inevitable?

Why?

 

The Response

Why not?

 

Rejected

“Unfortunately you’re not what we’re looking for at the moment.”

“You have shown great credentials but unfortunately you will not be…”

“You’re great but…”

No.

 

Rejection sucks! There’s nothing like giving your best or opening yourself up only to have someone else decide you’re not good enough. Very few of us take rejection well, I’m definitely still learning and have a lot more to do but I’ve been given some advice that has helped make it easier. It’s still pretty damn hard though.

Rejection comes in all forms… maybe even literal ones. You apply for a job, scholarship, internship, raffle prize – and you’re told you won’t be receiving it. Sometimes you don’t even get that courtesy and you’re left guessing for ages until you figure out that it was a “no”. Humans don’t like hearing that, “no”. It hurts. How most people circumvent the painful feelings is by saying things like, “I never wanted it anyway.” or even “I’m too good for that place.” Although it may numb the heart a bit to the pain, this is one of the worst ways we can react. It is widely accepted that a key component of growth is, ironically, acceptance. You know who reacts badly when not getting what they want, every single time? Babies. As we grow we have to learn that sometimes things don’t always go our way. At some point in your life you will get rejected. #Fact

I guess rejection helps give life purpose. If you had everything at your disposal at all times, with no effort required – what would be the point? I know you’re probably saying “I’d rather have things fall on my lap all the time than feel the sting of rejection even once,” I sympathise with you even as I type this, but I believe it’s something programmed deep inside of us that makes us want to succeed and break barriers. How can you succeed when there is no competition, no opposition? What barriers are you breaking when everything goes your way instantly?

The good thing is this and I’ll ask that you hold on to it.

‘Rejection will let you know that you are aiming high enough’.

If everything is moving smoothly without a hitch then you aren’t extending yourself. It’s like going to the gym and doing a session with 50 g masses. It will be easy to do because it’s not hard for your body. The heavier the weight the more difficult it is to complete sets. You know you’re at your level when you can just about finish/fail to finish. Anything less is too lightweight for you. So rejoice for a little rejection, you’re in good company.

Then comes the matters of the heart. I so wish that love was a feeling that one could concoct in a pot and dish out at parties. I wish cupid actually existed and would shoot love arrows at whoever you aimed at. But that’s not how things work, those are just wishes. Regarding this sensitive issue, there are several definitions of love. I have one that I think is consistent with how people that say they love each other act (or should act). Here it is:

Love is wanting to do what’s best for someone at all times. Love is a choice, not a feeling that just magically happens.

If love is a choice, if you have to choose to do the very best for someone at all times then surely you can choose not to? As beings of free will we deal with choices daily and therein lies the conflict. I could want to do the very best for you, always… sometimes you may even know it, but you just won’t have it. It’s your choice. You may be the best thing for said person in the whole wide world – but even though we know broccoli is really good for us, many people still despise it.

So sometimes you will get rejected. If there’s anything you’re going to take from this blog post, take that! Everyone gets rejected. Even though you may feel like you’re alone – like your pain is your own and no one else feels like you do, the person you’re looking up to right now was rejected one way or another. This should help you to move on and try again with even more zeal, more enthusiasm. The feelings of pain and frustration, use  them to motivate you so that you don’t feel the same way again. After rejection ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • “What is it I can improve?”
  • “Am I the reason for this rejection?”
  • “Is it worth trying again?”

The last one is a bit tricky but unfortunately sometimes we reach that crossroads when we need to know to let something go, especially when it comes to relationships. Human beings are stubborn creatures, sometimes they won’t budge no matter how much you shower them with love and attention. It’s funny how a majority of us are attracted to those who don’t care at all about us and sometimes don’t even acknowledge our existence yet there’s someone out there willing to love you as much as you’re willing to love your “crush”.

In the end, failure or rejection doesn’t define you. ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ It’s not that you were rejected that matters… It’s all about what you do after.

 

Slow To Anger Quick To Apologise

I’ll keep this one short.

The tube. A truly magnificent place. No? You disagree? Well one can’t deny it’s effectiveness. I was using the tube to get to Angel Station yesterday evening. Spiderman: Homecoming was only showing at their Vue cinema, the others had called it quits for the night. In typical London fashion people were rushing even though it was past ten in the evening. Several of them were in a rush. When people are in a rush tempers are quick to flare… most of the time. This was one of those times.

I myself was in a bit of a hurry. It was very wet, the first time it had been this wet in quite a while in the London summer. A brief respite to the heat was more than welcome… except this was more than brief. It rained for 24 hours straight. I’d treaded through this rain without an umbrella because in my head I’m some kind of power ranger I guess. Anyway I was in a rush and I moved about the tube as I typically do. Wherever there are steps I will climb them, be it on an escalator or as an alternative to the elevator. I’ve actually always been one to fancy a race with the elevator. With this mindset I moved about Angel Station as I typically do. People usually are in a rush and I am usually a tad faster than they are… Only yesterday I wasn’t. This one guy moved a lot quicker than me. I had no idea what he was heading towards.

Let’s call this stranger John. John stepped on my heel as he tried to overtake me. To be honest it took me slightly by surprise but I didn’t react adversely towards the action. I ignored it and soon noticed in John’s body language that he had acknowledged what he had done. It was eating him up. Proof of that came when a couple of seconds later he doubled back and apologised very softly saying he hadn’t meant to do what he had done and he was sorry. Pleasantly surprised I tapped him on the elbow and said, “It’s all good man, don’t worry about it.” I let it go. John continued on his way up to the next escalator where he walked up a few steps then stopped.

Normally I walk up the escalator steps but in the current situation that would mean encountering John again, John who looked troubled as well as remorseful. He even looked back and met me in the eye. I could tell that he was considering walking up the rest of the steps to remove himself from the place as soon as possible but for some reason decided against it. So as not to fuel his obvious guilt or cause an awkward moment I decided to let the escalator do the moving and stayed in place a few steps behind him. This would be a peaceful night… that’s what I thought at least.

A hulking figure, let’s call him Pete, seemed to be in a bigger hurry than the rest of us. He came bumbling up the escalator like a mad bull. His right shoulder clipped John in the face and he barely turned back, although looking at his body language the impact had registered in his mind but he decided he wouldn’t own up to it and chose to continue running up the steps instead. Now… John was furious. I honestly don’t know what was going on in his life but John was clearly distressed for some reason. Even as he had been standing on the escalator he seemed to be contemplating his life. He was far above the rest of us so he can be forgiven for standing in the middle of the step (standing in the middle is normally frowned upon, you should stand on the right and climb up the left). It’s not often that someone runs up the escalator like I tend to do, or Pete chose to do on this occasion but it happened – and John paid for it. Unfortunately he didn’t like what he was paying for.

John wasn’t scrawny by any means. He had a tough gangster look about him, the kind belonging to someone raised in a tough neighbourhood. But Pete looked like someone who slept in the gym. Either way, an enraged John chased after Pete hurling a barrage of obscenities at him. Pete looked back at John then continued his trek up the escalator, hoping to run away as he had done initially… but John was quick, quicker than Pete even and caught up to him near the very top. They exchanged blows. I half feared one of them would come tumbling down the long escalator. But they moved to the ticket platform and began to shout unintelligibly while Pete held his chest out trying to intimidate with his soft voice… I don’t know what happened next.

Perhaps I should have stayed and played peacemaker. That was my thought in retrospect, a minute after I’d walked away. I had Spiderman in mind and I wasn’t about to be embroil myself in something that could involve the police, not in this foreign country. “Security will handle it,” I thought. Yet the guilt still followed me. Of all the people in that station the best person to defuse the situation was me. All I needed to say was:

“Hey John remember when you stepped on my heel not to long ago? I forgave you when you apologised. Hey Pete, just say sorry to the man. I saw you bump into him and not give him a second thought. Just apologise and let it be over. Nobody wants the police involved.”

Even enraged sense would have prevailed, at least in my mind it would have but thinking about it a minute after you’ve walked away isn’t good enough. I guess if these guys had been slow to anger and quick to apologise they would have gone home with far fewer bruises and a lot more joy than they eventually did go home with.