The unexpressed goal of any life is self-actualization and “learning” is one of the key tools that help you actualize yourself.
Learning involves the process of learning, unlearning and relearning. This process obviously invites an encounter with failure and success, both.
While learning from our own failure is a great area to focus on, we cannot afford to lose the opportunity to learn from other’s failures (…or mistakes or mere lack of knowledge).
In this context, I’d like to share 7 things if I had known earlier could have made a positive difference in my being:
- It’s the question that matters, not the answer – For almost two and half decades of my life, I worked hard for finding the right answers. It worked well in some situations but not always. Sometimes, it led to situations full of stress. But from the day I learned to ask the right questions, things changed, all for good. Why? Because questions invite the answers from different sources and provide you with the mindset needed to work ‘ON’ the things in an effective way rather than working ‘IN’ the things.
- Leadership needs no titles – In my early career, I was thinking that I’ll be able to execute things well when I’ll get the title called ‘CEO’. Later I discovered that I was in total dark. I found out that everyone is a CEO. CEO of his or her own self and titles do not help you much in performing at your best. Leading beyond a title means being your best version; delivering excellence with 100% of your commitment, regardless of your title or position. It applies to personal life also. For example, you don’t need a title of ‘father’ or ‘mother’ to give selfless love to a child.
- Be a cause in the matter; not the effect – The folks who find themselves on the ‘effect’ side of the matter are the most miserable; exactly opposite to the leaders who choose to be a cause in the matter. Being cause in the matter means taking responsibility. And once you start operating from the context of being responsible, massive actions happen and results follow.
- The most effective path to excellence is Be…Do…Have – I would have loved to discover this earlier. Most people focus on first doing than being and then expecting to have but it seldom works like that. Instead, it works well when you first ‘become’ something; then your actions would be exactly like whom you have become and then you will have exactly what you need. For example, despite the non-technical academic background, when I chose to become a computer programmer, I did everything that programmers should do and got a good programming job also. More than a decade passed since then but still, I’m a programmer. I can program different things including computer software, photography sequences or marriage functions, marketing presentations or game strategy, with ease. It has become possible just because I focused on BEING whatever I had to be; a programmer in this case.
- Life is empty and meaningless, and empty and meaningless is also empty and meaningless – I searched for the meaning of life for almost 30 years to discover that there’s no meaning of life unless we (or someone) associate a meaning to it. Quality of the picture of life will depend on the lens we look from. And to assign whatever meaning we want to assign, we need nothingness. In the nothingness, there’s a space. Space which invites us to discover the realm of the possibilities out of which we’ll choose to do whatever we intend to do.
- Silence is the secret to sanity – I was shocked to discover that I invested my energies in speaking…speaking and speaking for many years to win an outspoken personality award amongst friends and family. The day I learned to become silent, I really learned to listen. Listen to the many things I was not able to earlier. I discovered that speaking took up a lot of energy which could have been used in understanding. I discovered that the Listening habit took my communication to the next level. I really became saner when I learned this skill.
- Less is more – The ‘More is more’ thinking process ate up many years of my life. I used to start 4-5 projects at a time and start working on all of them simultaneously. It means, my energies were only 20 to 25 % utilized on each project. I was proud of my multitasking ability. But I was wrong, from the context of effectiveness. This was a proven path to be ineffective. Later, on the back of several unbearable failures, I started to focus on one thing at a time and it started giving immense results. Then I made this my mantra for effectively doing anything: Laser focus on less and you’ll get more (meaningful work) done!.
Sooner is better than later and timely application of excellence leads to definite success. Excellence is created out of performance which is the result of consistent actions which are usually ignited out of knowledge, no matter experienced or gathered.
So, if you find something which you think you should have known earlier and could have made a difference, please feel free to share it in the comments.