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2 Things You Must Let Go to Find Happiness and Satisfaction

2 Things You Must Let Go to Find Happiness and Satisfaction

Have you ever wondered, what would your life be like if you wouldn’t be able to judge your environment, the world that you live in? I know for a fact that some of the greatest things that have happened to me, such as becoming a vegetarian or starting my own blog, happened only because I was able to silence my pride and prejudice for a while. I allowed myself to close my eyes, and I refused to listen. My imagination began to go wild, and I finally said to myself “why not?” 

The desire to learn

Now, where am I going with this? Well, I want to continue by saying that some of the most successful people out there have at least one thing in common – the desire to learn. A person cannot progress and be successful if they are closed to experiencing and learning something new. Their ability to refrain from saying – “I know that” – allows them to expand in their development beyond what most people are capable of.

You have probably have heard of some people saying that they are wiser because they are older. While that may be true sometimes, I have seen cases where people in their 40’s definitely have misused that argument. By saying something like that, they automatically close themselves from understanding and learning something new about this world. Do you think that a 20-year old cannot be wiser than a 40-year old? Of course, they can be!

When I was a little younger, my family used to own budgies. You know, those little blue, green and yellow parrots that you see in pet shops. These birds are small in size, and are not extraordinarily smart. However, there was not a day that I didn’t learn something new about them, and something new from them. I remember being amazed by how much these birds can do, while being that small. I looked and I stared, and I never thought of them as being stupid or anything even remotely close to that.

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Again, where am I going with this?

If we are able to learn so much from small birds living in our house, how much can we learn from other people? How much can we learn just by observing the world around us?

Our progress slows as our egos expand

Unfortunately, as we grow older, our ego expands with us. As we see ourselves becoming intellectually savvy, our importance begins to play a major role in our life. The three words “I know that” becomes quite common in our vocabulary. We get accustomed to looking down at some people, and disliking others. Our progress in this world slows down.

Coming back to the topic of pride and prejudice, do you think that these two concepts are taking over your life? I personally have come across many situations where I knew that if I would have given the other person a chance, I could have learned something new and probably benefited from it. But I let my own pride and prejudice regarding that other person take this experience away from me. I simply made the decision not listen to them, because I mistakenly thought that I knew better.

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Living in a world of duality

We live in a world of duality, where we choose to see things as up or down, black or white, sadness or happiness, good or bad…the list goes on and on. Although we say that we should not judge a book by its cover, we keep doing it every day of our life. We are able to predict an outcome of something before it has even happened, simply because we have already formed an opinion regarding it. When we see a person walk by us, we instantly give them a label based on the shoes that they wear, or the haircut that they have. It just seems so natural to do this. I, however, ask all of us to change these habits.

There are moments in life when I practice full awareness, and one part that I really love about it is when I am able not to judge others based on their looks or the way they speak, for a long period of time. It is an amazing feeling. Somebody that you wouldn’t otherwise consider talking to, becomes suddenly such a nice person. Being able to see beyond the form is truly a gift.

Another example of where pride and prejudice impact us a lot is in education. I remember coming to class during my university years, and trying to listen to some of the professors. Sometimes, when I already knew something that they were explaining, I felt that I had no reason to keep listening. I closed myself from all of the information that was offered to me. On other occasions, I didn’t like how the teacher taught, and so I convinced myself into believing that the teacher is not capable of teaching me. Instead of focusing on what I could learn, I focused on how “bad” the professor was at teaching. Now when I think of it, if only I wasn’t so quick to judge, I could have learnt so much more.

Today vs before

Living in today’s society has become incredibly easy. In the past decades and centuries, interactions between a teacher and a student were quite different. Information was given, and when the students refused to behave, they could have been spanked, or even struck with a wooden stick. School corporal punishment was a common practice.

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In those times it was probably difficult to complain about the form that was used to teach. Instead, the meaning, the essence of what the teacher was trying to tell them was given the priority.

Today, the world in that context has become a much better place. People are generally polite to each other, avoid conflicts, and violence is prohibited in schools. All of this has given us the freedom to choose who we want to learn from. We now have more space to focus on the form, on the how of what is being taught to us, instead of focusing on the what. 

Pride and prejudice, if not tamed, can be our worst enemies, that prevent us from developing ourselves further. I ask you to be more aware of not only how people talk to you, but more of what they say. If you neglect this, you may be missing out on a lot.

I began this post saying that by silencing my pride and prejudice for a while, I allowed myself to see vegetarianism as something so powerful, instead of “stupid”. I also allowed myself to see blog-writing, as something so interesting and fascinating, instead of something that will kill my free time and simply take me nowhere. Both of these things make me extremely happy and satisfied. Is happiness or satisfaction not worth leaving pride and prejudice outside of your life?

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Here I talk about the topic only from one of the million angles. You can expand on it and see for yourself where either pride or prejudice has prevented you from something great. In any case, the main thing that I wish you to realise is the importance of seeing and hearing beyond your own reactions to what is being shown or said to you.

Thank you.

More by this author

Victor Stepanchikov

Software Engineer, Blogger, Personal Development Freak

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Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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