Month: February 2017

Mastery of Self or What is My Meaning of Life

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“The first and best victory is to conquer self. To be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile” – Plato

“What I am looking for is not out THERE, it is within me” – Helen Keller

So, firstly, “Self” has conquered me so many times I can’t even count them, so I feel a little dirty writing this per Plato above. Some questions I keep asking are:

How do I master self?
What do I stand for?
If what I am looking for is not out THERE, but within me, how do I tap into it?

Identify the Problem
The biggest problem is I feel like I have lived a great portion of my life as a chameleon… shape shifting and changing masks as needed to fit the world’s needs rather than doing the much harder work of doing a deep dive to figure out who I really am (I can’t blame it all on life as a salesman and marketer, can I?). This keeps those that I should be closest with at arm’s length, never able to really know me. Instead of being authentic, I have created a world of surface level interactions and relationships. Time for something better…

I have heard it said that one of the greatest regrets of the dying is that they let others determine how they lived their life. Socrates stated that a truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery… those who will not govern themselves are content to find masters to govern over them…yikes!!

How to be Better
Where to begin…maybe I start with what are my beliefs, values, and ideals? Are there traits I don’t possess that I would like to and how do I go about it? Everybody has superpowers, right… what are mine? How do I identify them, harness, focus, and magnify them? More importantly, how do I become more authentic, admitting that which scares or bothers me. Should I rely on my own feelings and thoughts or ask friends and family for honest feedback as they probably know better than I anyway. How you see yourself and what others perceive you to be may be two completely different things. I really like this quote from Chris Ryan, “you’re always digging into your own authenticity through your own b***s***!”…nasty indeed, but way true.

Approaches
Some say the best way to master self is to start by serving others as the meaning of life is in who or what you love. Some say you can condition yourself to change your beliefs and ideals. Some say life’s experiences shape who you are and others say no matter what you experience you have the freedom to visualize those experiences as you choose. Some say self-mastery is a moving target that you must continually adjust for. Most everyone agrees that the idea of self-mastery will be different for each person. I like the way this is stated…” everyone has his own specific vocation in life… therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated” -Victor Frankl. But, lastly and most frustratingly, some say you may not know if you have mastered self until your death bed, if ever… it is like a nasty circle in that you have to live life to give it meaning but that meaning may not reveal itself until the very end…no freakin’ way, really?!?

Could this be it
So maybe the best approach is to write down my hierarchy of values, ideals, and beliefs, and decide who and what I love, how that differs from what I want, and to look at life from my death bed to see if that which I crave in the moment gives me the end meaning I truly want (decide what I want in life and create my world around it…not really finding myself, but instead recreating myself!). Then ask myself every day thereafter, who am I and try to go a little deeper every single day… eventually along this path I should reach enlightenment, right? Maybe it won’t be until my death bed, but that would sure be a peaceful way to go.

”It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique” -Conan O’Brien

An amazing book on the subject:

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

 

Get Started: a Little Every Day…Inertia is Key

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“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now” -Chinese proverb

How many times have you had ideas, thoughts, or grand dreams that you never took action on. There is something to be said for having the discipline to say “No” to the majority of the flood of things that pop into your head and to focus on the few that have personal meaning for you. On the other hand, there are many things we know we should be doing, but taking that first step forward is our challenge. “Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance. Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who has never started a venture? Resistance has no strength of its own, we feed it with power by our fear” -Stephen Pressfield

You can study and study and learn and learn and with all that education, if you haven’t done anything with it, it was all wasted. Get started, get started, get started… again, start, gooooo! “It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life” -Telamon of Arcadia

Those that have amassed great bodies of work didn’t do it in a single day, but that first day was critical. “Amassing a body of work is about the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time”, Austin Kleon, “one page a day equals one book a year”.

You may say I know I have to start but I have no idea where to begin or I have never done this before… I am embarrassed, my work sucks, etc. Zig Ziglar, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great”. Here are some ideas on how to approach it:

  • I really love this thought from the Director of Rounders, Brian Koppelman…”Lower your standards enough to get started on whatever you want to do but have been waiting for the perfect time/idea, etc. Then be willing to work hard enough to honestly look at what you did and do it over and over until you are pleased. Be ruthless in making it better”.
  • Another idea is from James Altucher… start with good information. Break down tasks into smaller denominations, then work at it every day. Try to get 1% better every day (after one year you will be 38 times better).

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For some, the biggest obstacle is their current safety net… job, money, etc

  • One other path forward, although bold, is to do as Sun Tzu states in the Art of War and move to “Death Ground”… place a raging river at your back, smash your cooking pots, and burn your boats… you have nowhere to go but forward. Burn all bridges where you can escape.
  • Find the intersection of what you are passionate about and what you are good at… start there (actually put your passions on the X axis and what you are good at on the Y axis and find meeting points!)
So however you choose the path forward, begin it. Once started, you now have also allowed others to step in to help…” when we make a beginning, we get out of our own way and allow the Angels to come in to do their part” -Stephen Pressfield
You are now a magnet… herein lies the real beauty

Rage Against the Machine Guerrilla Radio lyrics…

“It has to start somewhere It has to start sometime. What better place than here, what better time than now? …”

Here is a great book on the subject:

The War of Artby Steven Pressfield

Seize the Day (Carpe Diem)

“The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people want it…they will smoke every drug lit by your fire. They will try to ignite their own fires. They will try to light up their own dark caves…the universe will bend to you.” -James Altucher

This phrase is so easily thrown around every day with a limp and barely audible, “seize the day”. However, how many really grab each day by the throat and say, ”DAY… I am going to make you my b****… anybody that is coming along, strap yourself down and hang on!” Sometimes we become so comfortable in our daily lives that the days blend into weeks, weeks into months, etc., and before you know it, we have sleepwalked through much of our life. Put some passion into this m*****f*****…”SEIZE THE DAY!”

Let’s put this into perspective too… the earth is going to be around for another trillion years and you only have maybe 100 of them to soak up all that juicy marrow of life…live boldly! Considering this, maybe we need to start at the end… how will your tombstone read and how can you impact what is imprinted on it with this day? Or, maybe don’t live life like YOU could die tomorrow, but live like those that are important to you could die tomorrow. Most importantly DO NOT wait for life to shape your day for you. Most people get too caught up in the trap of making a living rather than designing a life of their choosing… exercise your right to choose.

To do all this you have to put yourself out there and I know that is scary as hell. It opens you up to pain, struggle, even ridicule. Realize this… competition is fiercest for realistic goals as the rest of the world is insecure too… don’t overestimate others or underestimate yourself. Dream Bigger… do that which excites you. Whatever you overcome and accomplish in this day will contribute a small but significant piece to that bigger vision of what you want to achieve in this lifetime. You may even find yourself becoming a magnet,  drawing in others who want to dream bigger. And last but not least, those things you have achieved are amazing and inspiring to others, but don’t forget about the process itself as living life to the fullest is a huge part about that journey itself…enjoy the journey for it happens only once! Work hard, play hard…HAVE FUN!!

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn-out, and proudly proclaim. ‘Wow, what a ride!’’’ -Hunter S. Thompson

Some good books to follow this up from which I borrowed liberally…

Choose Yourself by James Altucher
The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss