Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you well, optimistic, encouraged and excited for all that will emerge from the unknown.
When I saw the title of this book:
“I Used To Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School” I remembered Earl Nightingale quoting the research that demonstrated the tremendous capability of our brain for learning. Have you ever stopped to think about how much you know now versus let’s say 5 years ago? How about 10 years ago? Of course you know a lot more now. But, when we hear reference to the unknown, we are more wired to have a bit more trepidation than excitement. We humans think we want certainty and conformity; Earl Nightingale calls this a problem in our world, too many like conformity digesting what’s given to them without putting thought into it- conformity is the enemy of success.
And, if we were honest with ourselves, we know we would soon be bored to tears by absolute certainty- if we mostly got only what we want. While I am a big fan of structure, commitment and discipline, a comforting known is only base camp from which we embark on the adventure into the unknown.
Who do you think came up with the phrase ‘opposites attract’- a conformist? It’s natural that we would be more attracted to those who exhibit traits more similar to us, but it is very important that we not demonize those who are less like us.
Our personalities developed as young children to help us cope with the world. Unfortunately, as adults, so many of us seek to gain a sense of superiority by focusing on others’ perceived weaknesses; this of course being more an outward focus on others, rather than an inward focus on ourselves. It’s much easier to shine a light on other people’s issues than to shine a light on our own.
This week, let’s apply more consideration for ourselves and for others. There are 5 main personality traits we humans express when encountering the world and each other. Each of us are a combination of the following 5 personality traits - each expressed in "more or less" degree.
1. Extroversion - more or less
2. Agreeableness - more or less
3. Conscientiousness - more or less
4. Neuroticism - more or less
5. Openness - more or less
“More or less” referring to how much we exhibit a specific trait. “More or less” does not define our value as individuals. It is interesting to see how some can come to literally hate another persons personality - which may say a lot more about them than the other person.
Let us consider ourselves and our own behavior more than ever this year. While we may accomplish “more or less”, let us not think we are “more or less” than another because of our differences. While there are certainly behaviors that are “more or less” beneficial to ourselves and others - let’s focus more on the behaviors.
Don’t be a conformist and think that people should simply accept you as you are. We may demand respect, but are we deserving of it?
Try to understand not only the reason for what you stand for but also the reason for what they stand for- and do it gradually.
As to our individual personality differences, consider what makes a great stew - it’s not a single ingredient - in fact it wouldn’t be stew without all the ingredients coming together.
In this New Year, let’s look more into our own heart and consider how we show up. It’s natural to become defensive when we feel under attack. And it is important to have healthy boundaries and standing up to those who demand we be more like them.
But how may we respond from a deeper center with compassion for the lost. Criticism says far more about the critic than it does about their target. Notice more when the negative feelings arise and develop disciplines to not be pulled into any negative vortex. There are no simple answers and it’s naïveté to oversimplify the solutions. While there is plenty in which to be concerned - let’s consider being more concerned with how we are showing up in the face of it all- are we more or less? How may we better model for ourselves and others a path toward discussing different viewpoints, without glorifying ourselves and demonizing individuals. Yes, there are people very misguided, lost in their ideologies, but how may we show up more loving toward these people even though we may disagree significantly with their ideas. Remember one of Lincoln’s valuable sayings: “You can catch more flies with a drop of honey than a bucket of gall.”
Consider the futility of anger at the blind for not seeing. Let’s be more mindful of ourselves and how our behavior may be helping or hurting. Thoughts can be dangerous leading us down dark paths - but the people who speak those thoughts, believe those thoughts - desperately need us to bring forth light - to shine on those dark thoughts, and why they are destructive, rather than trying to destroy the people who think them.
We all have the same personality traits, “more or less”. We also have our own beliefs that are more or less similar to the beliefs of people around us. Notice if you are imposing your beliefs on another and why you do it. Drop out of any tribe of haters and attend to your own attitude. Learn to love yourself all the more so as to be more loving toward others. Hate the ideas if you choose, but not the person who expresses them. Work on helping them understand you and possibly the hidden lies in their beliefs, or in your beliefs, and you may find you have a lot more in common.
Seeing “more or less”, understanding “more or less” is a choice.
I hope you choose to have balance, thoughtfulness and more understanding in this new week ahead.
Make it a great week,