Through My Eyes #4

Photo by Miquel Parera / Unsplash

Hello folks! Here are a few things I learned this week, internally and externally, which I hope to apply going forward.

The Basic Stuff

Social behavior is not my strongest suit — I'm not very good at reading the room, reacting to people's emotions, being empathetic, etc. However, I still try my best and have significantly improved. One of those occasions occurred this week, and I felt proud of myself for correctly handling the situation. A thought occurred to me that seemed to be very important, and I can't stop thinking about it.

I was proud of myself because I thought I did something great, unusual, and unlike the regular me. Maybe I've struggled to exhibit these virtues in the past because, subconsciously, I've seen them as accomplishments and something that I have to achieve. But they are not accomplishments. They are fundamental human qualities. This made me think that if we consider these qualities the basic norm and not something to "achieve," it becomes much easier for us to practice and embody these qualities. They become the default behavior instead of glorified behavior. People who are great at these things are that way because they see it as the norm, not an accomplishment. Maybe kindness is not a superpower. Perhaps it's basic, like breathing and eating. If these virtues (like empathy, kindness, humility, etc.) are basic, they are non-negotiable.

What are some other basic qualities that we glorify and make it seem like something far-fetched? Punctuality? Selflessness? Consistency? Exercise? Time to think!

Inspirations and motivations

Most of us have a list of motivational speakers, role models, psychologists, monks, etc., from whom we follow to draw inspiration, motivation, etc. We hear success stories of how someone built a business, a rock-solid workout routine, a writing career, or achieved mental stability. We draw from their wisdom, pick their advice and try to apply them to our lives to see if they work. The whole " self-help " genre is centered on drawing stories from others. An author (usually a psychologist, a monk, a high performer, a former athlete, or an ex-military person) cracks a new way of living, tries it, lives it, gathers a lot of research to back their ideas, and consolidates their findings into a book or a podcast.

Anybody who has tried to follow the self-help genre knows that no advice or tactic works out of the box. We can't take a self-help book, implement its ideas to a T, and achieve the results that the author did. I know from experience that there's always a mix of "me," and I have to cater the ideas to my life and circumstances. It might be obvious to some of you, but it was a revelation for me. No piece of advice, a book, or a podcast will work if you choose to follow it blindly. It might even have worked for thousands, but it doesn't mean it will work for you. The same goes for entrepreneurship and every piece of advice you hear.

At this point, I asked, "Why not? If it worked for thousands of people, what's to say it might not work for me? What stops me from forcing the advice blindly into my life?" I got the answer to this, ironically, in a podcast. Here's what I learned from the podcast, paraphrased in my own words:

"Even if you had the exact things that a successful performer did, you can’t replicate them. Because in most cases, even high performers can’t articulate how they got there. But if you ask them, they won’t admit it. They just simply construct a story of highlights, which is not enough. These are enough for inspiration, but the drive, ambition, and obsession are not copyable, transmissible or even knowable. No one is that self aware. It’s always the small things. You have to figure those out on your own."

This opened up my mind a little bit. Again, I cannot follow this blindly. Maybe it's the truth; maybe it's not. The only way to know is to figure it out myself. But it was liberating — because it reinforces the fact that no matter whom you follow, how wise they seem, or how much advice you take, you must think for yourself.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

Vivek Arvind

Vivek Arvind

Santa Clara, CA