HOW TO GET A PAY RISE (7 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF)
With several thousand articles on pay rise, I am guessing you might be asking yourself what I have to offer that others haven’t said. I guess the only thing I have to offer in a real sense of it , is experience of trying this out. In terms of value of this experience, I will let you be the judge of its value.
As some people that know me can testify, I am a big believer in experiential learning. In the past I had read way too many “personal narratives” of the way to success and I realised that while there are some similarities, there are many ways to the same goal. I am also a believer that people should not talk about something they either haven’t experienced in their lives as if they have or dish out directed advice (i.e if you do this, you will get this )
This brings me to the topic at hand, about 2 years back I decided to undertake a bit of a social/work place experiment on what I felt to be a very tricky issue. As you have probably guessed from the name of this, I decided to try to get a pay raise. After all, what did I have to lose?
Now before I continue I would like to quickly put a disclaimer out. I am in no way saying that this is a guaranteed way to get a raise however this is what actually worked for me. Also as you will soon be able to tell, I am not a writer nor am I an aspiring one. I am simply someone with a story to tell. I also would never ever advice anyone to experience something in order to know if it was true in all circumstances and to discard written work (some of which is based on good research). That is simply bad advice. My advice here applies mainly to me and my experience in seeking a raise.
Now, let’s go back to where I was. I have chosen the road of writing about the 7 most important questions that guided my “quest” for more money for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t think you will get much value in me talking specifically or in detail about what I did every day . Secondly, there is a good chance you would get bored and scroll to the end if you are anything like my loving wife (see what I did there J ) so I will keep this short and reader friendly. Thirdly, while this is from experience and at no point from beginning till the end did I refer, read, watch or listen to any other writing, articles, peers, videos or audio advice; I am not so brave or silly to not give this some thought before attempting to proceed.
To cut a long story short, while trying to get a pay rise these are the 7 main questions I asked myself and a brief outline of why.
1) Are you really worth more? (Honestly?)
Let’s be honest here, most people think they are worth more than they really are or worth less that they are. It is very important to use your introspective skills (Introspection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings). Do a personal combined analysis of past achievements, professional accomplishments and development and your present value to the business compare it to similar businesses and similar jobs in those businesses (try to compare apples for apples if you can). It’s important in determining if this might not be the right time to ask for a raise. Your chances are quite slim or I dare say would be based on luck if this isn’t asked first.
2) Can you prove you are worth more?
While it is all well and good that you think, feel or even know something. In today’s world nothing means anything if you cannot “prove” it. Now I did not go creating a super power point presentation of why I was worth more but, a few things like feedback from colleagues (seniors and direct reports), past reviews, attendance history and lateness records would help a lot. What would help even more is if there is something to compare it to. Now, I must state at this point that I am in no way talking about showing how much better you are than specific colleagues as that would be very unprofessional. If you must compare, make sure it is generic data, such as average statistics for that department (present and future).Make sure it is relevant also.
3) Exactly how much more do you want?
Everyone would like a million pound pay rise. Yet there are very few occupations in the world where you could actually be asking for that and it would be realistic. There is no point asking for something and not knowing exactly how much more you want. It is usually best to keep it in percentages (10%, 15%, 20%) etc. Also ask yourself, Is it feasible or unrealistic for the company? This for me tied directly with the questions of worth. For every business there is an expected return on every pound or dollar spent. You need to know if you can deliver this back. It’s called human resources for a reason (hopefully that doesn’t sound too harsh). Do not be un-aware of it. I was taken more seriously because I had an exact figure I wanted and why I wanted it.
4) Who should you be speaking to about more money?
Now this one is something I honestly did not know mattered at all. I always felt that if you wanted a pay rise you should simply speak to your manager. However, 8 out of 10 times, this is probably correct but in my case it really wasn’t. Unfortunately sometimes your boss through no fault of theirs is more a figure head than anything else. Find out who determines the acceptance of your case and build the earlier steps again for that person also. You would still need to speak to your manager even if they aren’t the ones that determine if it is accepted or not but there is a good chance it could be more to inform them than anything else. It could be your bosses boss or even HR that determines this (though extremely rare for the latter)
5) What is the overall perception of you?
Now let me start by saying that there is a real difference between your real self (who you are) and your ideal self (who you aspire to be). Some people have managed to become who they aspire to be but for most of us, this is not the case. It is also important to note that just as a perceived grievance should be treated as a real one. It does not matter if who people think you are, is not really who you are. People would always treat you based on who they think you are. I guess a simple explanation is would you allow a perceived (not a convicted) serial killer into your home? Does it really matter that there is no proof to support your belief? Try to find out (using a soft approach) about who people really see you at work. You might need to fix an image problem before proceeding. Do not under estimate the power of the “right impression or perception”. Are you seen as a model professional, lazy, difficult, a work complainer or untalented?
6) Are you ready to negotiate?
Let’s start with a quick reality check. You are in an office that only stays afloat and profitable by their ability to mitigate risk, manage costs and expenditure effectively and negotiate its existence amongst competitors and new entrants and now you are asking for more money to do the exact same job. You must be prepared to have a conversation or a few about your request. Do not expect to win or get what you wanted just because you asked. You are attempting to navigate the ever tricky waves of price versus value. You must treat this as such. Be prepared and in my case it ws very beneficial to ask for slightly more than what I would have been okay with.
7) Are you prepared to fail and try again?
No thanks is a very real possibility. Think of this like the first time you met a person you were interested in. Now unless, you think you are God’s gift to the dating world or have an over blown ego, there is a chance you knew you could get shut down. There is also a chance you knew you would have to reattempt the exact same thing again. The main difference between this (looking for a raise) and that (dating) is If at first you don’t succeed, make sure you find out why. Dont just say “it’s okay, thanks for looking at my proposal”. If possible get a review date.
Now in my opinion, by combining this 7 things I managed to get almost 50% pay rise in 2 years (two different pay rises).
Be prepared and good luck with yours. Please feel free to let me know if this helped and better still if it worked for you.
“You are pregnant,” The words I heard and couldn’t believe at 18.
I couldn’t believe it, I was 18 and going to have my second baby. What would everyone say? How would i cope?
my head was full of emotions, Going home looking at my Calvin, my first baby, I got my head round the idea that
in 8 month’s I’ll be having another..
My first scan was great at 11 weeks 4days gone, no sickness no nothing I felt brillant. As time past and my bump grew all our family knew that there was going to be a new addition to the family, I couldn’t have been happier. Thinking back I wondered why I was so worried at the start.
At week 16 my Back had got really sore, migraines, was being sick and tired constantly, the doctors had put it down to being pregnant and with my first child just being run down a bit, giving me iron tablets, I went home. Something to me still didn’t seem right.
Having my next scan to look forward to i put it to the back of my head. Two days later I was at my midwife. asking how I was, I explained how I was feeling, asking if she could take a few swab tests and urine sample I thought it was just procedure. Then she hit me with the most shocking thought that could have ran through my head. Group B Streptococcus or “Strep B” is a more common name for it.
I had never heard of it so she told me not to worry and read through a few pages of information, Going home ringing my mum and granny explaining to them. They had never heard of it either, so I just carried on, taking things easier.
Then it was finally time for my “big” scan. I was so excited, my mum and partner came with me, as we sat round looking at my baby bouncing about sucking its thumb. Then, “Would you like to no what your having?” looking at my mum and partner sitting at the end of their seats I knew that we all couldnt wait, “A very healthy Baby Girl,” I was so happy My first baby was a boy, we’ll have a “gentleman’s family.”
The minute I got home all other thoughts went out of my head, all I could think of was names. At the end of that week I had 2 names picked. My phone rang, “Hello, its Charleen would you be able to come into the surgery, your results have came back, getting Calvin babysat I went up, my partner was at work, so I just went myself, nothing to worry about, the sonographer said a healthy Baby Girl after all.
As I walked into the midwife’s room she brought me down to a room at the end of the hall, walking in my heart sank, ” Hello, I’m a Doctor from Royal Hospital, please take a seat.” “your results have came back, You have Strep B and, we want you to go for a scan”. I explained that I had my scan at the hospital at the start of the week, everything was okay. “For the results that we need you need more of an advanced scan, we can do it now, or you can travel over, and get someone to go with you.”
Knowing that nothing was wrong I got it done there.”Im afraid you have advanced Strep B, in this case 1 in 32,000 people get this, it has been passed on to your unborn baby.”Asking what that meant, and what I had to do I stared to panic. They gave me strong antibiotics to take to try flush it out of my system and had to go back three days later.”please don’t panic about this, your baby needs you to stay relaxed.”
That night I sat and cried, then I decided on a name, “Chloe” meaning, A strong little flower. Going back to the doctors, they explained the antibiotics didn’t work, my other options where limited, “Carry on with your pregnancy and get antibiotic injections every week, but there will be a strong possibility that your baby will be seriously disabled and a lifetime of health problems, also it will be very dangerous for you to have a natural labour, What we suggest is you having a late abortion and although this will be very hard, we think it will be the safest choice for you.”
At that moment my world fell apart I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, then “kick” my baby was trying to tell me something at that time, “I’m carrying on with this pregnancy, Whatever way my baby is i’ll love and care for her as much as I can.
And that was that, I carried on with the injections, praying that my baby will prove them all wrong I took things as easy as I could.
1st June came round and going out to my mums house to leave anniversary cards to my aunty and uncle for the next day I still had over a month to go.
The sun was shinning, at my aunts I was walking about, couldn’t sit still. Later that evening mum asking was I okay, I told her I had cramps. drinking hot water, and lying down, they wouldn’t budge. Going home later, I got in and packed my hospital back, just in case I remember thinking. 6 o’clock in the morning, I woke my partner and told him to ring his mum and get her to mind Calvin, we had to go to the hospital, the baby was on her way.
In the car the contractions where getting stronger. I could hardly walk to get in. straight down to delivery, the baby’s crowned.
Looking at the clock it was 6:16 am on the 2nd of June, getting into delivery I thought back to my first labour. 38hours 43minutes, not this time though 6:30 am I was holding my Healthy Baby Girl. 6lb 13.5oz at a month early she was as healthy as any other baby.
I remember looking at her, “We did it baby, we proved them wrong, she was brought for tests and everything came back fine.
Chloe is now 15months, has been walking for a month and doing what all other baby’s her age should be.
She will always be “Mummy’s little strong flower,”
I came across this quote recently and felt that I must share it with you. It is beautiful and thought provoking. I hope you enjoy it.
“The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
― Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council
I remember the very first time I came across Emotional intelligence. I was so fascinated by it as it tied in with the ideas I felt my life had been teaching me. It seemed like someone had taken my mistakes through wrong reactions and tested them and after doing that he came up with a theory. It was brilliant yet so simple. I had made so many mistakes and taken so many wrong turns. I wished there would have been an easier journey to make this conclusions but I guess I learnt so someone else does not have to.
I should probably point out that these are just the opinions of one man and as such there is a high probability you might not agree in total. If you don’t then please by all means share with us all (in the comments section). After-all isn’t that the whole idea behind this site.
I guess before I start to talk about emotions and gaining control I should at the very least talk (even if ever so briefly) about emotional intelligence and what it really means.
Here it goes, please try not to fall asleep just yet. 🙂
Emotional intelligence is a form of intelligence rising to fame by Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book rightly called “Emotional Intelligence”. He defined it as Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage, understand and explain emotions.
Goleman identified the five ‘domains’ of EQ as:
Knowing your emotions.
Managing your own emotions.
Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions.
Managing relationships, ie., managing the emotions of others.
Emotional Intelligence embraces and draws from numerous other branches of behavioural, emotional and communications theories, such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Transactional Analysis, and empathy.
Goleman believed that IQ contributes about twenty percent to the factors that determine life success.
Whether you believe that emotional intelligence as an idea is real or that it determines success in life or not, the fact of the matter remains. Human beings have over 6,000 emotions and you either control your emotions or they control you. The way I see it, emotions must be controlled to avoid making potentially bad decisions. I learnt that this unfortunately is not a magical process that occurs as you grow up. It takes time and willingness to try to achieve this and nothing shows you just how much you lack this as a relationship that doesn’t go how you want it to.
To be able to control your emotions you must first of all truly get to
Know your emotions. There are probably over a million ways we feel, but scientists have classified human emotions into a few basics that everyone can recognize: disgust, joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, anger, and anticipation.
However according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association there are four major emotions that give us the most trouble, These are anger, fear, anxiety, and depression.
After knowing your emotions we must accept that that emotions don’t just appear mysteriously occur. In other words you were not born angry or in-love. Many times, we’re at the mercy of our emotions on a subconscious level but by bring them to consciousness we are better able to control them. I have never advised anyone to repress their feelings or ignore them as it always inevitably means that it gets worse and could lead to a psychotic break (in extreme cases). A simple exercise could be to try to keep a small diary of your emotions and what triggers them and rate your emotions on a scale.
Try to be aware of what was happening at that time and what was going through your mind. Find out what triggers that emotion. Sometimes it could be as simple as the look in someone’s eyes. Whichever way this will help you also determine if your emotions are irrational or provoked.
At this point I will have to trust that you have your best interest at heart and would like some help on this so I will need you to write down what evidence (proof) supports this emotion and to also write down what evidence supports that this might be incorrect or misplaced feelings.
Now we must move on to a little bit of introspection. Ask yourself if there is another way to look at the situation that is more rational and more balanced than the way you might have seen it before? Keep in mind first glance can be very deceiving and you just might be surprised at your own honesty and result.
Next I will need you to take time out to consider your options. There is always an alternative way to re-act even when someone tries to kill you so know that there is always an option. To be perfectly honest in most cases there are three main possible options. The first being react, second do not re-act and the third re-act in the opposite way of what you normally would have done.
After you have considered your options on how to re-act to the situation or feeling. You must make a choice. Your choice will usually be based on principles or logic. In other words what matters the most to you or what is the most rational way to re-act.
Finally, the above steps show how to not let your emotions control your behaviour, but not how to change the emotions themselves. If you want to control your emotion you must change the way you see the world.
I borrowed some of these quotes from a personality test I developed when at University and I believe that every item here is a lie
I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. The simple fact is that not a single person can ever be perfect
Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. We all know that change is possible and our past does not guarantee our future. People change and sometimes they are completely different from who they were. In thoughts and in actions. It’s simply the truth.
I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. A simple fact of life is that not everyone will love you at least not the way you might want them to; you either accept it or be destroyed by it.
I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. I think it is quite likely that nothing will drive you closer to despair and depression like doing absolutely nothing or why do rich people still work?
Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. I accept that it isn’t always our fault when things don’t go according to what we want but we must learn that how we deal with it is ultimately our choice.
When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Let’s be honest everyone is a mixture of good and bad and that includes you, so don’t be a hypocrite as we all make mistakes.
If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. I learnt that worry adds nothing to you. Not a single thing so it surely does not help solve a problem.
It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. I agree that it is easier but the truth is that it is not wise as we are who we are because of what we have been through and sometimes we learn life-long lessons in some of our most painful times.
It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to. No one can predict with accuracy the course of their life so it cannot be terrible if it is not something peculiar to you;.
You see controlling your emotions can change your life and gaining a new view on life will dramatically redirect your life. The first time I noticed this was when I went to a church in Edinburgh and I was completely baffled at how the people in the church seemed to not have a care in the world when they sang praises to God. No-one spoke to me but I could see it in them that this was real unexplainable peace. Something I had longed for, for so long and was struggling to find. I was very certain that these people had the same anxieties I possessed but dint understand how it seemed to all dissolve and then it hit me. It dissolved away because their perspective on their life changed. Their problems did not magically disappear. Their life did not change but what they felt because they knew God was in control of their life affected their outward appearance and demeanour. This is what happens when broken relationships and marriages get mended. They simply got a new perspective and then they learn to appreciate what they thought was a failure. Sometimes this is all it takes to see what was there all along and what was obvious to everyone but you.
Surrounding yourself with positive things and looking at life form a different view will certainly help you live a happier life and review everything you once thought was a train wreck. It’s simply like someone with cataract getting a new pair of eyes.
I learnt that we can spend our whole life looking for something we felt was missing and return home to find it was always right beside us. I also learnt that irrational emotions is often the reason why we never see it.
I will end this post with a story I read as I think it best describes what I hope you (the reader) will get out of this
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, “With all your money you give me a Bible?” He then stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and a wonderful family, but realizing his father was very old, he thought perhaps he should go to see him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make the arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he was reading, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words… “PAID IN FULL”.
How many times do we miss blessings because they are not packaged as we expected? Or love because they don’t look or act exactly as we felt the package would be? Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Sometimes we don’t realize the good fortune we have or we could have because we expect “the packaging” to be different. What may appear as bad fortune may in fact be the door that is just waiting to be opened.
—— “Essay” China Daily
If you are lucky to have a job, work hard at it. If you are lucky to have friends, cherish them. If you are lucky to be loved unconditionally by someone embrace it and don’t look back, no one said life would be easy they only said it would be worth it. All you have to do is enjoy it.
I hope in some small way I helped make your life just a little bit better and give you a little more perspective than you began reading. I hope that after reading this you would look back at the number of times in life that you fell down and see it as the number of times you stood up and fought. Reading this was another step in that direction so take heart in the fact that you chose to try and not to lie down and drown.
Ideologies separate us, dreams bring us back together
When I was only a few years old I started to ask myself questions about life. I wanted to know everything, the evolution of man, the differences in skin colour, creation of the earth but as I grew older my questions became more specific. Like what motivates us? Who are we? If not who are we then why are we the way we are? Why are we the same yet so different? Why are we (i.e humans) here? This eventually led me to pursue psychology as a first degree.
I wanted to know everything so I read about religion, not an in-depth reading but a fundamental understanding and just as each religion provided solutions they also raised questions. So I looked at science and that just seemed to complicate things even more. What was I to do?
Then a few years ago it hit me. The problem wasn’t the information I was getting but the way I was interpreting it.
This might be a little complex to understand but I will try to simplify it as much as possible. This is something I think I can term Multiple Directions theory (MDT) I realised that as I was being fed different information about different causes my brain almost quite automatically kept some aspects of the information (each theory) without necessarily synchronising it as a whole. The more I tried to synchronise it the less sense it made. My only option was to either build a hybrid theory (mixture of the two) or discard every information obtained and start again.
Maybe an example might help to explain this a bit better. If I was to explain a flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam and I start to go into details as to how the pilot controls the aeroplane, the engineering mechanisms involved, the aeroplane speed and what makes it glide successfully, what altitude then I suddenly tell you that it goes out of the earth close to the moon, then down again directly into Amsterdam.
As a whole you should discard my theory and want nothing to do with it as you might be aware that intercity planes don’t fly out of the earth’s atmosphere but subconsciously your mind would have recorded the parts that make sense. The next question would be filling the gap/ the missing information (not starting again).
The next assumption is when you hear another theory that supposedly provides a different view of a flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam. Your mind might seem to process the information as a whole, but in reality what we do not know is that we are processing this information in relation to our previously accepted information and trying to correlate them (It’s like hearing two different witness testimonies and trying to find out what parts are the same). Ideally as a rational being if a story is not totally complete and consistent it must be said to lack validity and reliability but I appeared to disregard that rule and piece things together based on my mixed information. This is something we are not aware we sometimes do
This basically means the more we hear, the more explanations that are provided. The less correlation we would be able to make and the further away we get from the answer we previously set out to get.
We do not realise that our confusion is not always necessarily brought about by the inability of each explanation to define a situation holistically (in wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts) but by a lack of synchronisation from the little parts of “accepted” information.
This view is in many ways different from the Gestalt theory (is a theory of mind and brain that proposes that the operational principle of the brain is holistic, parallel, and analogue, with self-organizing tendencies; or, that the whole is different from the sum of its parts, The word Gestalt in German literally means “shape” or “figure”) in psychology.
I feel I must at this point state that I do not disagree with the gestalt view of a holistic approach but I do think it applies more to visual situations than mental cognition.
In simpler words, our perceptions are more individualistic and units related than we consciously realise. This can be found in situations where we say one thing and do another.
All I am trying to explain in simpler terms is that the way we interpret the information we receive is what forms our understanding of the world, it determines what we believe and what we act upon. Not the information we receive, so take a moment and realise that sometimes our interpretations might not be right even when the information is the same. It will help you avoid conflicts and lead to greater self-development.
When we mis-interpret information it often leads to mistakes that we sometimes blame ourselves for. Think of how many questions you answered wrongly during your educational development that you know were because you dint read the question right (interpretation) and how many times you blamed yourself for it.
Don’t be afraid to take a minute to re-think of an answer you think without a shadow of doubt to have gotten right. You just might have interpreted the question wrongly.
Build you competence by being willing to go back and take another look at what you think you know. Things are not always what we think they are. Trust your instincts if you have good ones. It sometimes helps.
NB: These are just my views feel free to disagree to give your own views. I am always open to a good logical disagreement.
COMMENTS AND OPINIONS ARE WELCOME
FALLING IN LOVE OR PICKING WHOM WE LOVE
It is an age old question. Do you fall in love (spontaneous) or pick who we love (spend some time to consider everything)? Which one is forever?
While some people never have to ask this question (lucky ones) for some of us we need to decide. It might seem like quite an irrelevant question but it is a very important one. Do you let all your emotions do all the work in your love life or do you give your brain a chance to help out?
One sunny afternoon while in university, two of my female friends came over to my house in school because it had been a while since we were able to catch up. I was so excited to see them. The only thing was that they had forgotten to tell me that they would be coming with someone else. Where do I even begin to start in describing this lady? She was so beautiful to me. She had the perfect smile, the perfect size, the perfect height and she even dressed perfectly. Her name was so unique; I had never heard it before. Ooh! It was love at first sight.
Days after the visit, I could not get her out of my mind. I just had to see her again. I asked my friends who eventually introduced us. I spent every day over the next 3 weeks with her. We had exactly the same experiences, our families were alike, we coped with things the same way and even knew exactly how the other one felt about certain things even before we discussed it. It seemed like we grew up together and saw the world the same way. It was so exciting I missed classes just to be with her and I simply could not get enough of her. Everything you can imagine you feel during love. I felt it all (heart beating fast, nervous to the point it becomes draining).
We started to date and within a month she said “I love you” and I said the same back. I was so happy I cannot even begin to express by how much.
One evening while at home I decided to give my new love a call (just to see how she was doing), we had only been dating for about 3 months then. It was a short call and at the end I parted with the usual “take care of you, I love you”. Then I waited for the reply but all she said was “take care, ok”.
This was a little weird but I could not make a big deal out of it. I ignored it and tried the same thing the next day. I got the same answer. I tried it the third time and I got the same answer. I could not ignore this anymore so I gave her another call and asked if there was anything wrong or happening with her that she wanted to talk about. After several reassurances that her life was fine, I asked her why she could not say “I love you” anymore.
She simply replied that “she did not know if she still felt the same way anymore”. I was relatively calm when I was told this and I asked her to take time out to figure this out (obviously assuming she would come back to me) and to tell me when she is ready to start dating again).
Two and a half years later I still did not get that phone call. Talk about a long wait, right?
I expect everyone would have their own example of a time when they fell hopelessly in love at first sight and how it ended. It might have taken longer to end than mine but ultimately it must have happened in the same cycle ( Meet, like, love, reason, end). No matter how much you care about a person today it could all be over in a month. That’s just life.
I had spent all my time concentrating on the emotional side of things. The excitement and everything that love at first sight came with had completely clouded my reasoning. When I take a look back, this girl could not have been more wrong for me. Her history and signs showed so much and to be honest I should have known better. I got so lost in feeling lived that I forgot and made excuses for everything I had seen. I learnt it doesn’t matter why someone is the way they are, it just matter who they are now. If you are selfish from being alone, you are selfish and that’s all that matters, after-all every character a person shows gets there somehow. Remember humans are born with no character at all.
You see the main problem here was we had the same characteristics and my chance of becoming emotionally whole would have been eliminated. I am a big fan of being an individual and that’s not what I am talking about here. I know it would have been comforting to have someone who thought like you but it would have inevitably been crippling to have someone who never criticised or challenged you.
As I grew older I learnt to discard all those attributes and things we feel when we meet a new attractive other and focus on the things that make her “perfect for you”. It is important to be attracted to your partner but it is not the most important thing. This is simply because as human beings we already have the ability to identify and be passionate about even the simplest items (like a pen or book) if it is presented to us with the right perspective. So worrying about attractiveness is relatively unimportant.
Each and every one of us holds an innate psychological design containing some-what exact details about our life and the scars left by our experiences. This contains our fears, anxieties, defence mechanisms, our coping mechanisms and in some cases it is something we are not even aware about ourselves.
The amazing thing about this innate item is that it works like a scanner and gives us the capacity to identify another person’s psychological map. I believe that the people we are most attracted to are the people whose psychological design complements our own. We are often searching for similarities but we should be looking for differences. Please note that I am only talking about complimentary differences, nothing else.
I think I must state at this point that we should have already differentiated between our “real” self and our “ideal” self before thinking about this. If we do not know who we really are we might be searching for the wrong type of complementary characteristics. Like I tried to explain earlier If your first reaction to a very complex situation is anger even though it might be advantageous to see yourself as being gentle do not deceive yourself that you are gentle. This could result in you making a terrible mistake in relationship choices. We usually know ourselves best by how we re-act when we hit rock bottom not when things are great for us.
Now here is the kicker believe it or not but opposites attract. The purpose of this unconscious fit is to find someone who can complement our experiences. This could be someone who’s the same as us, but most likely we would be looking for someone we think we might be able to learn a thing or two from; someone who has developed coping mechanisms and defence mechanism that are different from our own. This would be someone that can provide a different perspective to any problem we might find ourselves. This is often someone who has struggled with similar problems along the course of life but has come up with a different way of dealing with it. A way that we personally can appreciate them for. To put it quite simply, our ideal partner would be our best chance of becoming psychologically whole. The sad part is very often he could be the one you have trained yourself to ignore because her/his words are too close to the truth.
Although no two relationships are ever the same, there are still some ways to classify them. These classifications often happen unconsciously and shape our roles in our relationships.
Idol and worshipper– This happens when one partner puts the other on a platform, this often indicates an issue with competition or a fear of failure. To avoid any form of comparison, both partners unconsciously agree to play this game.
Master and slave–This is often found in relationships that existed before the feminist movement. There is uneven distribution of authority and control. The partner who avoids responsibility often obeys the rules of “Master character” and they often describe this as a laid back attitude and describe their partner as control freaks.
The run-a-ways– This type of relationship typically exists amongst teenagers but is not exclusive to them. Both partners have a fear of intimacy and in some cases rejection and they keep chasing each other. Occasionally the chase will swap around.
Birds of a feather– This is typically the couple that most people love to hate. They often believe they are in their own perfect world. They dress like each other, finish each other’s sentences, they hate the same things , share the same interests and believe it is them against the world. Chances are that you know at least one couple like this.
Parent and child type–This is actually more common than you might think. It is a relationship status characterized by dependency and trust in which one partner takes on the role of a child and the other the parent. The general idea here is that if they act needy and dependent their partner would take care of them. This however this often leads the “Parent partner” to deny the need for dependency and thus create later problem if they ever feel they might need it.
Warriors – on the surface these partners look as though they should never have even met. They argue incessantly over anything. They both avoid intimacy by living in a war zone. This are very intimate people and it usually a very bad idea to take any sides during an argument or to attack any one as they very often gang up when threatened.
My classifications are a little un-orthodox, based purely on observation and it is very possible to see some elements of your relationship in all or some of these categories. For example, in a time of grief and vulnerability you may act out the parent and child model, while many couples become like babes in the wood following the birth of a child. Or in times of financial struggle take on the warrior role.
Good or bad chemistry?
All categories serve a single purpose. They are designed to protect ourselves from potential anxiety. Chances are that we are not aware of this until something happens to change it. We all grow and mature, our needs change and our relationships need to adapt to those changes.
Very often in life we spend our time growing up through the years and we look for characteristics that complement our view of our self when we were kids (our ideal self) and we never remember to discard some of this as we grow up and become who we really are.
This often leads to varying interpretations of chemistry. What is good chemistry? Good chemistry is really simple to identify. It is when your relationship is simply effortless. When you feel like you could be naked and have a body full of embarrassing illnesses and still be able to show your SO (significant other). This is very rare to find and should be cherished when we are lucky to find that person.
Most people confuse an effortless relationship to signify a boring relationship. I believe it is quite the opposite. Along life either through television, books and instruments of socialisation we have been conditioned to believe that all the attributes associated with anxiety (such as a fluttering heart, butterfly in your tummy, getting hot all over) are actually signs of a fantastic relationship. While they may be signs of passion they are not signs of a lasting relationship and this is why very often when these feelings disappear people often assume their relationship is heading for the gutter. Understanding that an ideal partner is simply someone that is good for you, someone that makes you feel safe, someone you don’t have to be polite around or mind your quirky habits around, someone you can always count on and someone who you know will do anything to keep you safe. This would normally be someone that can see things differently from you and can provide you with a different perspective on any issue without disregarding your opinion. Like having two sides to a coin they are the ones that give you a shot at being psychologically and emotionally whole. This could be the difference in finding happiness and remaining happy. Let’s face it, people like that (designed specially to deal with you and all the additional stuff you bring) do not come very often.
However be alert and try to see people for what and who they really are. Do not project characters onto people just because they seem like they should be the one.
Most people learn this the hard way and very often they learn this is when the “ideal partner” has come and gone. This usually happens because as we grow up we often forget to discard the information we thought we knew about ourselves. We see the perceived best of us (based on our aspirations and what we feel we need to succeed) and often ignore the reality.
To explain that statement let me use an example. Stephanie wanted to become a singer when she was only 4 years old. It is all she has ever wanted to be and with every passing day her desire to be a world famous singer starts to grow. She spends every day practicing her tones and training her voice. The only problem here is that no one told Stephanie when she was growing up that she could not sing to save her life. Stephanie grows up projecting certain characteristics that are found with singers onto herself. She thinks she sounds marvellous, is very composed, courageous, very hardworking, very dedicated and a bit of a diva.
Along life Stephanie gets several very bad reviews but she always managed to convince herself that they were all not worthy of her “enormous” talent. Stephanie spends all her life trying to make a career in music and she never succeeds. At 60 years of age it finally sinks into Stephanie that maybe she was not as talented as she felt she was.
Stephanie thinks; “It is a pity it is too late to go change my career path, maybe I could have been a success at something else in life. Why wouldn’t anyone tell me I really could not sing?”
When you think about it with that pespective in mind, who would Stephanie’s ideal partner be? Would it simply be someone that saw her for what she was and managed to re-direct her without killing her passion to succeed? Would it be someone that complements her characteristics and will help her succeed not someone who is the same as her and who deludes her into continuing on this fruitless journey all her life. Wouldn’t you agree that the two sound more likely to be true?
When you pick whom you love, remember that it is not about using a person. You have to let the person pick you and you also have to be someone that can be loved. What I am trying to say is that to have a perfect fit you have to complete each other and not just be a one sided affair.
Love at first sight is a fleeting emotion. How do you really love someone you do not know? How do you love someone you cannot yet trust? How do you love someone that you don’t know their bad side (everyone has some)? I love the idea and the concept but to pursue it vigorously is unfortunately responsible for a number of failed relationships. When you meet someone for the very first time discard whatever feeling you might have for them (if only for a little while), good or bad and learn what makes them unique and right for you.
Take your time when you find yourself attracted to a person and learn the ways in which you can complete each other. See the fun in the person and when you meet someone that makes you feel safe, someone that makes you feel like you and someone that provides you with a psychological, emotional or mental edge. Hold it tight and know that it is yours for later in life all beauty and physical attraction passes away and nothing else matters.
Most men in their forties don’t brag about having the most beautiful wife. They brag about having the most caring wife. The most devoted mothers and the most thoughtful partners. To be perfectly honest you could probably find a similar argument in women of that age.
“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of its trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse for impossibility, for it thinks all things are lawful for itself and all things are possible.” Thomas A. Kempis
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THE MEANING OF LIFE
I know what you are thinking. Another boring writer who feels he has the answer to the everlasting question about the meaning of life. Well! You know what? I think for the sake of honesty I have to be honest and say I do not have a universal answer to the question. I have no idea what you might feel after reading this but I will share what I know. You decide after, ok?
A few days ago, I read an article online written and organised by John Riley and Geoffrey Klempner that asked the 10 big questions in life. This article comprised of what the authors felt were some of the most serious questions that were asked in life (some of which I have already thought about before reading his article) . The questions ranged from issues about artificial intelligence, the big bang theory, cultural relativism, life after death and so on but one of these questions really got me thinking not because it was a timeless question but because of the question that was asked about the question (Hope you understood that).
Michael Asked: “Given that reality is immense in comparison to myself, it is obvious that I myself, am not the most important thing of all those things in existence. Therefore, what I consist of is not important — my thoughts and ideas, such as love, happiness, etc. — everything that is personal to me. Having excluded all of those personal things, what is it that is most important then, of all things in existence? That is, in the processes of our making our choices in day-to-day living, what is it most reasonable to see as taking precedence over everything else, having already established that it cannot be anything of a personal nature?”
First of all let me start by saying that deciding the importance of something is a relative question and this is why we have so many different perspectives as to what matters. We might never have the same values and if we did the amount of passion we place on it might differ. It might be easy to see and understand Michael’s point of view but I agree with the dilemma he presents.
As individuals we are probably quite aware that if we did die today? Life goes on. It might sound cold bloded but it is true. The earth was there before we were born and it will still be there if we dropped off it.
So what does it matter. On second thought if we did something with our lives then our work will at least be remembered, right? Well to some level I guess that might be correct. But what happens when our theories become obsolete? Please do not kid yourself, it will become obsolete (well unless it’s a pure science theory and even that is arguable). So what is important?
Honestly, nothing is important individually. Not a single life or a single action. What becomes important is what we do collectively. Does your theory inspire a collective response (for this is the only way it would remain absolute)?
Examples of situations like this can be found when we look at the life work of Jesus Christ. According to the bible, Jesus lived till he was 33 years old but he did not start revolutionising the world for change until he was 30 years old. By my calculations it took him 3 years to change the way over 3 billion people live their lives forever. His works stood the test of time not just because he performed miracles and gave people during his time a real reason for existing. He was truly great (by every universal standard) because his legacy ensured a collective number of people will agree on something greater than themselves and by doing this find a new meaning to life and existence.
If you are not much of a fan of Christianity let me put it in another example. Darwin’s evolutionary theory suggest that human beings as we know them today started from a single cell organism (obviously that is a highly sumarrised version of it) yet today we know that the human body consists of over 6 billion of these. Can you see my point already? We exist today as whole individuals not unicellular organisms by the collection of cells working together to form and create something several hundred times greater than themselves as individuals. This has grown to the point that if one cell dies it does not affect the system.
I believe that the real meaning of life can be found in our collective experiences. Situations like families, nations, churches, institutions.
While we are allowed to do as we please as individuals it often does not bring any sense of fulfilment if it is not collective or there is no collective gain. We find this in our search to find love, to belong to something and to share wealth. A passion to be collectively responsible for something or someone greater than ourselves gives us a reason to live. This also serves as a point of reference when we are plagued with mid-life crisis and questions in our old age.
This however, comes at a price. We must lose our whole sense of identity. At this point I feel I must state that I am not advocating that we stop being individuals. I am simply stating what should be obvious.
There is an old saying that “little drops of water make a mighty ocean”. It is important to note that you are still very valuable as individuals. All I am trying to say here is that while we can gain satisfaction in acquiring wealth and having a loving heart our lives are incomplete without someone or a group to share it with. Our life is given meaning by our existence with other individuals. Our life will be remembered through time only if our decisions today can be the light or the spark that lights a change in the hearts of people. A change that we can all embrace collectively not one that just changes the individual lives of a few.
For some people it takes a life time to discover this and by the time they do it is too late to enjoy it.
When you live life for our collective good it increases the depth, intensity and richness of your life and that of others for without it life simply is not worth living. This is where true love and happiness comes from and this is my meaning of life.
I have learned from experience that no matter what you have, achieve or what you are blessed with in life when you have no-one to share it with. Life simply makes little to no sense.
The meaning of life is to give life meaning. Do something for others and in that you will find true purpose.
LOVE AND LIFE
Not Miss perfect but Miss Perfect for me
Is it just me or is the world just full with several articles teaching you how to find and know Mr right. Almost everywhere you turn there is some relationship “guru” giving advice on how to be happy? Only one advice from me but first a question.
How can you teach someone to find the perfect one when they themselves are not perfect? If you are not perfect why would Mr perfect or Miss perfect want to be with you? When you think of it should this realisation not put a hole in what you describe as Mr perfect? After all if you were Mr Perfect why would you settle for less (you) when you can get more? No-one is perfect so do not search for a perfect person because you surely would not find one. What you need is “The perfect person for you”. Some one that compliments your strengths and caters for your weaknesses (don’t be ashamed we all have some). If you are aggressive, someone who when he speaks it simply calms you down. Someone who deals with your difficulties yet still loves all that you are. Someone that sees potential in you even when you don’t see it in yourself (this person would have seen this from the beginning of the relationship).
Dante was 22 years old and for the first time in his life he was in love. Her name was Nicole and to Dante she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He thought he could never care about anyone the way he cared about her. She was so energetic and even though she was older she seemed to have an endless amount of strength. Dante believed all of this because for the first time he went into a new relationship with absolutely no preconceived notions and no expectations of what he wanted her to be. He went in to be happy and that’s all he wanted to be. After all what better way to fall in love than to expect nothing in return.
After a few months Dante and Nicole moved in together. Dante was very happy to have his love next to him. She was anything but happy to have no choice as she had only moved in with him to make him happy not because she wanted it. This situation was one that poor Dante pretended to remain oblivious about because to him he would lose her if she left. After 2 additional years of what was the worst time of her life and what was sometimes the best of his life (two different perspectives) the inevitable could no longer be postponed.
Nicole had finally summoned up the courage to tell him she wanted to be out of the relationship. It had been over a year since she realised that she no longer had feelings for Dante and she could no longer pretend to him. When she finally told him, Dante was totally devastated. He had done everything he could to keep her yet she wanted out. He tried to improve, he tried to think more about her, he even took her out on dates a few times in what could be summed up to be a last minute desperate attempt to salvage what he thought he might still have with her. She was having none of it. For Nicole all she could see was a pointless life, a life of compromise and sadness. There was no amount of effort or change he could make right now that would make her see differently. Only real hope was a real miracle or if through some weird twist of faith; life gave them another chance.
Dante and Nicoles’s story is very similar to that of most couples in the stictest sense only (with regards to love coming and going).
This example help me to illustrate another devastating thing I learnt through life .You cannot make someone love you believe me on this I tried to once and it was no picnic as the end result was only heartache and extended pain. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. It is still up to them to decide.
I’ve learned that no matter how much you care some people just don’t care back. This means do not expect to be loved just because you love someone.
You must understand just because you love the person you are with and have given everything to your relationship does not mean they must do the same. I know that this idea might seem a little difficult to embrace but it is important to know that while matters of the heart are seemingly complex to “accept”, they are amazingly simple to understand. You just have to see it through the eyes of a true friend and not the person in the relationship.
I’ve also learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to does not mean they don’t love you with all they have for you at that time. A lot happens to people as they mature in life and very often, people do not know how to show love. Besides that there is no such thing as a universal method of showing love. Everyone has a different idea of how and what it is to show affection and what it is to be loved.
Understanding diversity in every form will help you accept things as they are and more importantly help you deal effectively with it. It caters for “individuality” in a relationship
For some people it just isn’t easy to show love or show they care, but please be careful when reading this for this does not mean that your partner that has not told you they love you after six years has the same problem. Or the guy that constantly shows you signs through his actions that his words are all he has is in the same boat. Do not confuse a good speaker with a doer. Life has taught me that everyone has dreams but not everyone does something about it.
It is vital not to make excuses for people. It is also a travesty to try to change people, it often does not work so do not even try, work on yourself only and If they really care about you they will work on themselves too. I know this because nothing in my life has ever revealed how flawed a person I was as when I fell in love and every day I just wanted to be better for her so much more than I wanted to see her change. It is also important to communicate effectively. When talking to a partner stick to the issue at hand, resist the temptation to bring in something that happened a while ago. If you have managed to get past a problem please let it rest or the issue appears to never have been solved. Do not wait for your ego to be satisfied you won first for there is really no victory when you win and hurt someone else.
Resolve things one at a time and most importantly pick your battle and learn how to pass across an important and emotionally charged message without becoming angry. Anger clouds everything (it is a black cloud). It stops you from seeing what is in front of you very much like love. Always go for only what complements you and not just what you feel you would enjoy only because what you enjoy today; you might not particularly fancy tomorrow.
Remember change is inevitable so look for things that do not change. If you are “lucky” enough to go through ups and downs before marriage (Yes! I said lucky enough). Look to see if the other half’s actions, feelings or emotions changed during your most difficult times together and if it did not. Did she hate you because you became different of did she stay despite the rough ride?
Think again before you run along because something’s are harder to find than you might realise. Situations build character but only if you let it.
It is not what you have in your life, but whom you have in your life that counts. If you are lucky to find real love then love with all your heart and all you have for we have but one life to live.
I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you.All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.
I’ve learned that no matter how much I care some people just don’t care back.
I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to does not mean they don’t love you with all they have.
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.
I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life, but whom you have in your life that counts.
I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I’ve learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
I’ve learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.
I’ve learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
I’ve learned that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
I’ve learned that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And, just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.
I’ve learned that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt, and you will hurt in the process.
I’ve learned that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.
I’ve learned that heroes are people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you can’t. What have you learnt?
Share with us all in the comments page what you have learnt…
REAL SELF VS IDEAL SELF
If I asked you who you were what would you say? Would you describe yourself based on past achievements (things like education, career and personal achievements)? Would it based on items and things acquired through the years (cars, jewellery, houses and properties)? Or would you describe yourself based on internal factors (things like interests, intelligence, motivation, values, self-concept, self-efficacy, self-esteem or personality)?
Whichever direction you choose to go you might still not be able to define yourself in a unique way. This brings the question, what makes you unique? What makes you stand out from the crowd? What is that one thing you believe others do not have?
It could be something that others have but yours is of a varying intensity. Think of qualities like courage, determination or maybe it is something eccentric or quirky. Well whatever it is when you find out it could be the thing that allows you succeed and form your own niche area.
Let me borrow 6 worthwhile quotes before proceeding to explain.
While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die — whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness ~ Gilda Radner
We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. ~ Mary Dunbar
Rejoice in who you are! It is your uniqueness that will breathe life into your art. ~ Lisa Campbell Ernst
Meeting people unlike oneself does not enlarge one’s outlook; it only confirms one’s idea that one is unique. ~ Elizabeth Bowen
Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes! ~ Bette Midler
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~The Bible Psalm 139: 14
Before we can tap on your uniqueness and turn it into your strength the first thing we have to do is to identify who we are now?
This is a lot harder than you might think. What I mean is that sometimes in life who we think we are is based on an “ideal” perception of ourselves rather than the “real” thing. When we see ourselves through our “ideal” selves we see our self “the way things are supposed to be”. While when we see ourselves through our “real” self, we see things “as they are”.
Differentiating yourself from your unfinished ambitions and dreams (ideal self) allows you to get a realistic picture of yourself and puts you in a better position to see what it is about you that really makes you unique.
Our ideal self is a fantasy about who we might be. It is important to be honest when reading this because it is the only way I can help. By comparing the ideal with the real, we begin to see the gaps in perception we have created, the judgments we have made about ourselves, and the gaps that could be preventing us from fully living our lives in the moment as the person that we truly are.
Let’s try a simple exercise. I want you to get as many photographs as you can from your past along with an exercise book. Take each photograph and sort them out into ranges of every two years and have a table of contents that has 3 parts in it, first containing time range (1987-1989, 1990-1992 etc.) the next containing attributes of what you thought you were then and the other containing everything you achieved during that range of time. Use the pictures from that time range to stir up memories of whom you thought you were.
Now cross compare, decide which characteristic you thought was responsible for whatever level of success you achieved. If you find that you constantly refer to yourself as having a particular attribute (like courage) and over a significant period of time (say 4 years) there has not been a direct relationship then it is time to discard it. It probably isn’t you.
This is a simple exercise but must be done with absolute honesty. When you have completed this successfully all that you should be left with is a real description of who you are. This should contain characteristics that showcase exactly what your strengths are (the characters that you often rely on)
Now that we have discovered what we have it is time to use what we have. Develop your competitive strengths and turn them to what gives you a competitive advantage.
Michael Phelps has been deemed the world’s greatest Olympian He cannot run a 200km race, pole vault or throw a javelin. Michael has spent countless hours (over 10,000 hours) working on what makes him unique and he has developed it into what has become his competitive advantage. The same thing goes in business and in our daily lives and even in romance (people can only love you for what you have, not what you wish/think you had).
Real success does not just come from playing to your strengths and playing down your weaknesses. It comes from self awareness and adaptability. If you overplay strength, it can soon become a weakness. What I mean by that is really simple. If you felt you were the world’s strongest warrior and you spent all you time developing your fighting skills. While you very well could be, at a certain point in your life you might find yourself getting a bit pompous and training less and this could be the difference between your continuing victory and your inevitable fall.
What could have been stopping you from arriving at your “competitive advantage” could be that you had spent a ridiculous amount of hours developing your weaknesses at the expense of your strengths. I dare you to spend time developing just one of your strengths and see what levels of change it will bring to your life.
This is a self help tool that can help bring you out of you shell but I must warn that whatever you term as a strength , it must be completely practical or it is pretty useless to develop and quite frankly a pure waste of time.
“We all wear masks and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing our own skin.” André Berthiaume.
Motivation comes in short bursts. Always act while you still are, for motivations are only useful till they have been achieved.
I remember my very first job interview in the uk. It was a hot day (unusual for Scotland). I was as nervous as you can imagine. In the middle of the interview, I was asked a question that made me ponder for a while. Little did I know it would be the same question I would be asked in every single interview throughout my life. The question was what keeps you motivated now and what would be your motivation in five year’s? The question is quite simple to answer but I think it is one of the most pointless questions you can ask a person.
My reasons are simply that whatever keeps me motivated to work now and write would most likely not be my reasons for continuing in a few years and I have absolutely no idea what my motivations would be in five years. Or can we see the future? Nevertheless, I understood her point and what she really wanted to know.
When I was 15 years old all I lived for was to find a way to buy a car. I worked to buy a car, woke up with nothing but that thought in my head, even left my home country to go abroad and work a bit so I can afford my dream BMW. It seemed like I could do almost anything for that car. Three cars later as you can imagine I did not care about that anymore. Then there was University and I thought it was all about making good grades and towards the end of my first degree. I felt it was all about self-improvement so I can get a good job. During these period/ stages in my life nothing else was more important. Today it is all about achievements for me. Constantly working to make the lives of people that I care about better and believing I will get to a point where I can help much more than that. Improving my life and learning as much as I can. Teaching with whatever little wisdom I have, how to get on and do great things in life and hopefully transfer my knowledge to someone else who might need it.
Whatever it is you feel motivated to do, go ahead and do it. Do not waste time contemplating on how you would do it, grab the moment.
That little period of motivation could be the defining point of your life and what a tragedy if that day comes and we do nothing about it. If you are artistic use your arts. If you are creative, create something. Be bold and act.
During my masters years I worked as a carer for the elderly. I remember a conversation I had with a man named Steve. Steve was 78yrs old and he had been diagnosed with dementia. He had brief moments of lucidity and when they came he spoke about his life. Steve was a former farmer who later went on to serve in the army. He had spent his whole life on the farm and his parents had died when he was young and shortly after that he enlisted into the army. According to him, he had wanted nothing more than to be a song writer. Steve confided in me and told me that he often had some very beautiful song in his head but often found out that every time they came even when it was just a few lines. He was either knee deep in Animal leavings or in active battle. He felt that he never had a pen to write things out and never managed to complete a single song. This little tragedy had haunted him all his life that his last desire before he dies was to complete just one song. I cared for Steve for almost a year and watched his health deteriorate and watched him never complete a song. The world would never get to know if Steve was right. Maybe Steve was really the greatest song writer that could have been?
I promised myself that it would never be me. I would work when motivated, write when motivated and act when motivated. Life would never pass me by with such regret. What a catastrophe if we miss out on the one thing we are most suited for.
I think the point of this is really clear and simple so I won’t ramble on about it. It is a bit of a cliché to say never give up on your dream but I believe that we should never stop for as long as we are still motivated. Aim with everything you are and work with everything you have, remember that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.
So don’t just be motivated, Work it till you have nothing left to offer.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom”. Ecclesiastes 9:10 (The Bible NIV)
AMBITION VS ACTUALISATION
Competence gives confidence.
Ever wonder why all our lives we sometimes dream of what we want to be. We spend several years trying to form our ideas of what and why that role or position is all we want to be. music, business, money, art, God. We dedicate everything we have and will ever have to it, and it always seems like a struggle. Some of us make our dreams come true, while others struggle all their life and it never happens. This chapter is for those that have not made it. Trying everything to get to what we want.
If I asked you what you want to be? I am quite certain that the answer would rarely be I don’t know. So why haven’t you made it. Please note I did not ask you why you haven’t tried. I know you have tried; the fact that you are reading this chapter is another effort towards your goal.
Let’s try a simple exercise and see what point you fall off, obviously as you can imagine I need you to be honest with yourself, After all no-one is reading this but you.
When did you get your first feel the desire to aspire to your dream? How old were you? Have you reviewed your dream and your capabilities? Do they match? How did your first rejection feel? How did you re-act? What did you honestly learn from it? Was what you learnt of any use? Did you become better or worse after? Did you implement it or discard the lesson learnt? Did you try again? How old were you when you tried again? Did you fail again? Have you given yourself another review? How did you feel? Has your desire been completely drained from all the disappointments?
You are probably thinking at this point that if you did not do a single one of these things then there might be a chance that you did not recover from your first failure the way you ought to have. Recovering and pushing on through an ambition is the only way to self-actualise.
I remember on hot summer afternoon looking at myself through the window of a car glass on the street and asking myself. What happened to you? How did you get here? Where did it all go wrong? The knowledge that I could not understand it at all was so overwhelming and so soul crushing that I don’t think my words can accurately describe it. I am quite sure that at some point some of you reading this book have felt that pain before. It could be with regards to weight gain, to facial changes, to love, even to career decision. When I felt it, it was a combination of career frustration and lost love.
I spent so long looking for what happened assuming that if I just knew how I screwed up what looked like a bright future I might find consolation in my present situation. Well, to be perfectly honest I never satisfactorily figured it out. At every point my idea of what took place was re-buffed. This was the breaking point for me. It hit me like a raging storm the day I realised that I had spent so much time waddling in my own questions ( or the proverbial pool of mud) that I had forgotten to get do something about my situation. Over a year had passed and I was not any better. The real question was not in the why. It was in the how and what. How do I get up from here? How do I move on? What do I do from here? What do I need to move on?
How do I actualise my ambition? Just this simple change in perspective led me on to great ideas. One of which is what you are reading. I had a new lease on life. I opened up my first company and I started out my long term business plan (no more short sporadic goals).
When you get to a point in your life that you genuinely do not care how you messed up or what you did wrong. The day you learn to stop condemning yourself for what has happened and for all the possibly poor decisions you have made. It is at this point that the really juicy ideas come out. It’s like your brain is on fire and ideas are the smoke. Not all of them will be guaranteed to be successful but just keep in mind you need only one to be successful to get your head start.
Like I said earlier this book is not to pretend like if you follow a few get rich ideas, you will make it as a success. I just want to guide you unto your own path and the only way to do so is to help you see what had always been in front of you. If life has taught me anything, it is that just about anyone with the right mind set a good opportunity and a significant amount of hard work can make it big in life. Why should you be any different? Or do you really believe that when you make it out of your situation anyone will ask you about your failures.
I know this to be true because after I got out of my career situation not one person I knew and I had over 600 friends (I mean actual friends) asked me about what it was like when I had no job or What anxieties I had. The problem was always my blind sight and refusal to not just see what I was but what I could still become.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” Abraham Lincoln
The quality of life is more dependent on our perspective of life than our circumstance. Inevitably we become whatever we think we are.
As everyday turns to weeks and weeks to years, we see, feel or hear things whether it is from our mentors, a stranger on the street, a person we knew only for a few weeks, a former lover and even from a foe. An action touches us and sometimes that action is so powerful that we carry it on with us till the very day we die. Sometimes the experiences are good and sometimes terrible but it is often the terrible ones that can either make or break us.
Hopefully some-one will learn from this but I must remind you that this is not designed to tell you what to do or how to live your life (eventually you will have to make that decision yourself and live with the consequences). It is designed to show you various options to any given situation by focusing on why we interpret things the way we do
Behavioural psychologists have long debated on whether the first emotion a baby feels is shock or fear. This is because of what is termed the Startle Reflex (is the response of mind and body to a sudden unexpected stimulus, such as a flash of light, a loud noise (acoustic startle reflex), or a quick movement near the face). Many researchers believe that it is the later (fear). So take solace in knowing that even if it doesn’t feel macho to be afraid sometimes, realize that you were born this way (afraid).
There are many sources of fear, some are unreasonable (to everyone else but the person experiencing them) others are considered unhealthy such as Phobias (Please note that just cause you are afraid of something doesn’t mean it can be classified as a phobia). But whatever the source – a sense of the unknown, the future, physical danger, spiritual warfare, financial crises or reputation issues – FEAR IS REAL AND MUST BE FACED HONESTLY.
By now you might have noticed that in most human beings when faced with danger/ challenges that demand a unilateral answer the two foundational responses that appear to be hard wired into our psyche are flight or fight. So are you a fight or flight person becomes the next fundamental question?
Our fears more often than not can make us or break us. In an ideal world they should be treated as a stepping stone and taken one step at a time, even if the steps are baby steps. But we all know we don’t live in an ideal world. It is simply easier to let fear consume us than to fight through fear.
In my experience the best way to overcome a fear is not through dwelling on the fear but by focusing positively on resources we have to overcome it. In my case it was rejection. I was afraid that there was something about me that people might never identify with. Something I needed to prove and show that I was good enough. I wanted to connect with the world in a deeper way but was more afraid of rejection to even try.
You see before I had gotten my first proper job after my first masters degree I had sent over two thousand applications, this was no exaggeration as the true amount is probably closer to three thousand. I had been selected and gotten to the last stage with several graduate placements and in one case I actually got to the last three out of over three thousand applications they said they received and still never got picked. I was in a world where I was good enough to go through different stages for the job application but never seen as good enough for the actual job. Eventually after several years it took me a while to realise that what was truly missing was a sense of worthiness. A sense of direction became no existent, a sense of belonging a fairy tale and a sense of true ownership had no place in my being. I was no longer courageous I had been rejected so many times I felt I did not deserve it. I stopped applying for jobs and no longer cared. I tried to start my own business but needless to say the same fear of rejection came across. This was part of my “journey to self confidence” but at the time I did not know this.
I had made certain what ultimately was not and that is why it hurt. I had believed that I was a perfect gift with no blemishes just waiting to show the world that I was the best thing since sliced bread. I had told myself I would get the job during every interview because I had read so many books about “what you believe you will achieve”. That I never realised that there was second side to the coin which one must also learn and this was the art of rejection or failure.
What was truly missing was not courage in the way we understand it today but courage in its original meaning (i.e from the latin word cor meaning heart). You see I wanted the world to see me for who I thought I was that I had forgotten to make sure I saw myself for who I thought I was. I had missed the most important foundational principle for motivation. This was courage to believe in yourself, courage to accept your own imperfection.
In order for others to believe in you or accept you, you must first of all accept yourself. This will bring about real, genuine and lasting connection with others. You see after all this while I forgot to truly embrace myself. Embracing your strengths is easy but accepting your weaknesses takes real courage. This is what makes you unique and you.
In life nothing is ever really guaranteed but having courage through your fear or vulnerable side helps you to face this uncertainty. It helps you date and interact with the people when searching for a partner even though there is no guarantee the person you meet is the perfect one for you. It helps you to seek a goal you though eluded you even though you might never live to see the extent of your own success. I am speaking about something deeper than just motivation for a project.
Fear either of shame, failure or rejection is not a bad thing. Your ability your ability to deal with it is what will ultimately make you succeed.
You see fear is not just the foundation of rejection it is also the foundation of love, belonging, ownership and true inner strength. If you are afraid to love, you might never find love even when it is standing right in front of you. If you are afraid of rejection by people you will never find connection. I am not talking about numbing fear or pretending like it doesn’t exist. As I believe that emotions exist on a continuum. (i.e removing one removes the other). If you remove the ability to feel an emotion as strong as hate then deep love is ultimately eliminated. I am talking about feeling it and accepting it. I am talking about getting to a point where you realise that you are more than enough to achieve what you want if you chose to learn from mistakes, battle through fears and accept that nothing in life is truly guaranteed, all you can do is always give it your best. What quells the motivation most people receive after reading a book is fear that they might not succeed. What should keep you going is understanding that just because you did not succeed immediately does not mean you will not be a success.
Please remember I can only tell you the truth, you will ultimately have to decide what to do with it. My real turning point in life started the day I decided to let myself be myself. To be seen, heard and hopefully understood regardless of what may come. I dropped so much emotional baggage that day and haven’t looked back.
This did not mean I no longer faced disappointments but I had found a new way to accept disappointment.
When we face disappointment and adversity how we handle them is more important than the disappointment themselves. There is an old Japanese proverb that says “Fall Seven times, Stand up eight times”. This proverb emphasizes getting up more times than we fall. Life will always have trials, it will always contain problems. You will be hurt more than once and disappointed more times than you care to count. This is almost a guarantee because life simply is unpredictable.
However, our survival tomorrow is largely dependent on how we solve our problems today. If you believe you can achieve it, you will most likely try to find a way to achieve it (This is no way means that believing is all that it takes to achieve, it is just a part of the process).
I have learnt that the result of letting a fear consume you is too painful to explain and the feeling when released from that fear is too amazing to be ignored. Life will always throw challenges our way and as we grow older our fears change and anxieties morph but when we decide to face the fear at any given time we can be empowered and very often we discover depths in our ability to persevere and develop patience that we did not know we were capable of.
Do not grow weary when you get afraid for every fear you manage to overcome can only prove to you just how much you have to offer this world. Please note that when I speak of fear I am not making reference to just things we can hold but sometimes to intangible things such as a false belief system based on anxieties. A good example would be a lady that never goes out for dates because according to her all men are losers when the truth might be that she has a deep fear of rejection.
One thing one must put to mind is that “Courage is not the absence of fear but the realisation that something else is more important than being afraid.
You see fear ultimately can cripple you. Fear ultimately has two mantras
a) You cannot do it because of ……..?
Then just when you manage to get through it all then comes the second part
b) Who are you and why do you deserve it?
The two answers are simple.
Answer to A: Despite my fear of …… I can still make it. My fear reminds me that I am human.
Answer to B: No-one deserves success as it is not a gift but I am worthy of it because I believe in myself and what I am doing.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”- Lao Tzu
I have a very good friend who has an almost irrational fear of germs and this affected every area and every aspect of her life. She cannot enjoy outings like most people and even though she always tried to ignore her fear it seemed to take so much from her and she never really felt any sense of relief till she got home and took a shower.
It wasn’t just about her outward appearance but it affected every part of her and every time I watched her do what with any additional intensity could easily be called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and often wonder how much more at peace she would have been if she faced her fears rationally. The fact is the human body can deal with more germs than she cared to admit.
This does not mean that I think she was irrational. Her situation was neither good nor bad, it was what it was. I just observed as it seemed to completely possess her to the point when she was constantly on the lookout and often distracted because of this. This example is only used to put additional emphasis on the fact that fear is sometimes more than just external and can have internal and extended implications.
Dealing with fear is like greasing the machine of motivation. Embracing fear allows you to finally be in a position to take action.
A belief is not just an idea the mind possesses but an idea that possesses the mind– Robert Oxford.