Random Thoughts: Humility and Potential Paradox  

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I need to remind myself to stay humble. The work I do is yet fairly insignificant what it could be.

Do you see your potential? Even as a collective human species we barely manage to make a dent in the universe. Space is vast and unknown.

This morning, I was listening a podcast where the theme was The Big Leap Book by Gay Hendricks. There are four levels of achievement: the zone of incompetence, zone of competence, zone of excellence and zone of genius. Where would you put yourself?

I mean that is pretty eye opening, because we often settle for competence or even excellence, where the genius would be where we would thrive. Surrendering to the genius is a wonderful idea, yet our egos are terrified by that very same idea.

Humility and the potential, what a paradox.

Light in Blight

 

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Life is full of uncertainty and unexpected. Some of this makes it joyous and exciting, while at times it can be difficult to deal with.

Most common forms of obstacles are failure or experience of failure. Failure is impermanent and there is always something to be learned.

Success is nice when we reach it and while at it, yet success is as impermanent as is failure. If we forget to stay open and humble we will inevitably fail. Thus the success contains a seed of destruction within.

Failure either as it is or after a great success can get us to a dark place. Yet in the darkest days, the rays of hope can be seen most acutely: there is always hope as long as we are alive.

In fact most of the life is like that: we are facing something, then we fail and it is literally what we do after the failure that defines and makes us. It’s how we respond to the failure. If we choose to learn, stay humble and keep building ourselves up, we will succeed – there is no question about it.

Most importantly we shouldn’t be doing anything for success or not, we should do it for the greater good, for the opportunity to do what is true, right and beautiful. We should do the right thing because that is in our potential, that is the virtuous action in practice. That is our best godlike nature in action.

Conscious Growth for the Benefit of Others

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Conscious growth means taking responsibility and meeting challenges head on. It means facing the challenges and recognizing that there Is “little that I know already.” With the growth, means that we can tackle greater challenges, which then in turn eventually lead to a position where you do not honestly know.

According to the Peter Principle “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.” I think this applies to our personal growth as well. Eventually we will run into things in which we are incompetent. So we grow and still are incompetent at the same time.

Becoming something more than we were before is rewarding. It’s even more rewarding to see results in our own growth to benefit other people. Perhaps something that I learned will benefit you as well.

Thus the efforts to become incompetent in something, do not go in vain. Instead it is something for others to step on.

Do not hurry to become incompetent. Take your time, nurture your own growth so that in time your turn will be to nurture the growth of others.

Return to the basics every day. Masters worship the basics.

Become the Programmer of Your Life by Reflecting on Your Stress Responses

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When we are born into this world and grow up, we cannot choose the environment much at all where we are brought up. From the environment where we grow up, we inherit, learn and copy models for responding to stress. Let’s call these learned models scripts from now on.

Script is essentially a sequence of thoughts, emotions and actions that happen automatically and effortlessly in mostly unconscious mind.

Stress should be defined as influence that alters an existent equilibrium. Therefore inherently stress is not good or bad, it’s merely a sign that something should be done and thus triggers thoughts and emotions in us.

So when we grow up, and a stressor enters our world we automatically take actions according to the learned scripts. If we get hungry, we may go to the fridge and grab whatever we would like to eat at the time.

Since life is complicated, these scripts that are drilled into unconscious mind save a lot of time and energy for us. Yet to live a happy and productive life, scripts we have inherited, learned and copied may not always be optimal. The reason is simply that we are the very first version of ourselves the moment we become aware of this. Before we are aware of this, we are a product, not a programmer.

When we become aware, we become the programmer of our lives. Conscious time and space for reflection is one way to be aware. I write journal every day and try to meditate as well. From these activities I write down all thoughts I can get.

Best of all habits is to have time during weekend for such reflection, because then we can contemplate more deeply on what actions we have taken and have they been optimal.

As an example today I had such a reflective day which I spent mostly in quiet long walk. It’s during this walk I happened to go upon sea where I rested a bit and start my mobile phone and entered upon the realm of social media where I saw an update by a friend.

My reaction then and there was rather negative since the emotions like  uncertainty, inadequacy and jealousy a rose. I caught myself a few minutes afterwards thinking, why would I choose an emotional response to that?

I had to accept that I had a script that lead to rather unskillful stress response. Now that I had become aware of such unskillful script and accepted its existence, I could do something about it. Since I knew, I could choose the way I respond to stressors, I began to think what would be mature way to respond to this? I quickly found more positive things such as happiness for others, belonging and acceptance.

Actually it is through this reflection that changed the whole lense I am looking now at the happiness of others that is shared often through social media. I have to admit my ignorance: it’s a bit scary that I haven’t noticed this earlier in myself.

During the walk, I also decided to start practicing and deepening my bond with the virtues even more. In 2013 I used the virtue list, an idea from Benjamin Franklin. Yet now in 2017 since I’ve put more thought into my values and virtues as well, I thought I need to start practicing these in the same way, one virtue each week. Humility is on that list too.

Remember as long as we live, we are never the final versions, we are always under development. Are you a code produced by the chance and the environment or are you the coder of your own life?

Be Prepared to Give Up Small Picture That Does Not Serve Big Picture

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Today morning I had to accept that I wouldn’t be much of an asset today at my work community. I considered my options for a minute and had to admit that I probably serve everyone the best if I just do the necessary things from home office and rest for the day.

In the big picture I felt this was common sense and a right thing to do.

Still somehow in the smaller picture, I felt the need to show up and push through.

With quiet observation and reflection I came to conclusion that these small picture thoughts might be right if it were some sort of crucial key moment in my life. Yet there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do by telecommuting, so it was just rather outdated way of thinking and feeling working inside of me.

We are not that important in the big picture of all things. Where we can make a small dent in the universe is in our own big picture, our own purpose. We should focus on fulfilling that, whatever that may be. That will take all we’ve got.

Give Up Wants and Find Out How Little You Need

 

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One of the authors I’ve been fascinated with past year and half has been Neil Pasricha. Especially the wisdom of positive psychology what he has summarized very well in his book the Happiness Equation: “Happy people don’t have the best of everything. They make the best of everything. Be happy first.”

In life you get what you are willing to give up. You always get something you really need in turn for what you are willing to give up. It takes a lot of humility and also presence. Often when things happen quickly, our minds have tendency to cling on then our capacity to prioritize and on to give up is also measured.

If we really try, how much we are willing to sacrifice for our wants? What we truly want to get accomplished, we can, but what price we are willing to pay? Those with a true purpose, mission or calling know this intuitively: they are willing to give up much for something greater story.

We all have the capacity to delay the gratifications of lower level needs, for the higher level gratification. For what story are you delaying gratification? What story is worth the sacrifice?

Learning More Intently

 

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I feel humbled on how much there is to learn.

Sometimes, I feel envy towards the (often) younger people who are happily optimistic and ignorant of so many things.

This is explained by the Dunning-Kruger effect:

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What I am trying to say is that best moment to learn is now.

Learning is repetition.

Ignorance is one red flag.

Arrogance is another.

Therefore when around others, lean in, listen more intently, take notes more fiercely, be more present and ask better questions. You will learn more intently.

Compare your notes after wards with others. Discuss.

Revise your notes regularly.

You will learn more intently.

Illusory Superiority

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I’ve been pondering upon the Dunning-Kruger effect among others in the recent days. It is easy to observe Dunning-Kruger in action in other people. In myself it has been much harder to notice this in action despite my best efforts.

Humility as a habit and guiding value does help though.

Another interesting point of view is the culture: when we are in the culture we know and those we are not just seem to be so outside.

And those who come from outside, think they know, but we know they don’t.

This is kind of awesome and scary thought at the same time.

Where does your illusory superiority lie?

Model for Long Lasting Happiness

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I decided to take upon this heavy question this morning after writing two drafts about learning. At the end of the second draft, I realized that I can summarize the happiness to one word: learning.

Learning is happiness, because if learning is really happening, learning leads to right action and right results.

Definition of happiness could be for example “a state of well-being and contentment” like Merriam-Webster dictionary it defines. To be in the state of contentment, requires that your so called needs and wants are met, so that in a sense nothing else pops in your mind that you could be needing, wishing or wanting for.

In human mind of course such states do not last for long, because soon mind is bored and to satisfy the bored mind we need to be in the creating something meaningful.

To create something meaningful, we need the results. And to get to the results, we need learning. We need to learn right things.

Learning is simply action, result and feedback loop. This loop can be observed from many levels, i.e. single, double or triple loop learning.

Even though we might be aware of some of these levels, we will always hit a new ceiling so to speak. There is always something to learn. It calls extreme humility to accept this.

Humility Unlocks the New Level

I remember several times in my life, I’ve felt that “I’ve already mastered this”, that “there are nothing more to learn.” How wrong I could’ve been.

Few times, I’ve found my humility and through that I’ve been able to continue learning and focusing action. When I’ve found the humility, I’ve found results, passion and purpose.

On other times I do not know, perhaps I’ve continued the ignorant state and maybe even still do. When I am soaked with ignorance the results are not there, but the fault is elsewhere.

Often the responsibility, or lack of it is the cue, that has allowed me to rediscover my humility. Complete sense of responsibility, ownership of the problems can feel daunting at first. What happens if you succeed? It’s satisfying feeling right and above all: meaningful.

Learning brings right results which brings happiness. There is always something to learn, on every level we can improve.

Humility is the Way and Acceptance Our Ally

 

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Where Ryan Holiday has the awesome book “Ego is the Enemy”, which is true in a sense. I dislike the words that prime towards anything that has to do with violence.

So therefore I was thinking flip the thinking from what is undesirable to what works and that conclusion is that humility is the ally. Even ally does have some undesirable associations, however in my mind it is already a leap ahead.

What does humility in particularly allow us to do? First and foremost, to learn. Without humility, learning in deep or broad, or actually in any meaningful level is impossibility. We need humility to really dig into both deep and broad levels of learning.

We need to acknowledge, how limited our knowledge is and how limited we are in learning. This is a practice we must do each day of our lives, until the end. Even if we knew everything we have ever known, yet there is so much to learn. Acknowledging this requires the humility.

Humility is the way we need to go; to make that journey more bearable is to add a dash of self-love and acceptance for our fragile ego. When we walk the path of humility, our ego is naturally threatened. To mend this, we need acceptance and care for ourselves. With this combination we are able to be more humble and learn faster, become the best versions of ourselves so to speak.