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How to Find The Courage to Walk Alone

How to Find The Courage to Walk Alone

We’d all like to believe we’re good people. I don’t think anybody wants to purposely be a dick—even terrorists are protecting and vindicating someone in their own mind. Since terrorism is merely a matter of perspective, what makes the difference between Batman and Joker? Both are solitary vigilantes. Why one man is considered a hero while the other is demonized as a villain is in itself a fascinating subject, but what really strikes me as interesting is the similarity between Batman and Joker: they both have the courage to walk alone.

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    A Traumatic Event

    Bruce Wayne became Batman after witnessing his wealthy parents’ brutal murder, while Joker is a born criminal turned criminally insane. On either side of the coin, these men experienced a traumatic event which forced them on a personal journey. While I wouldn’t wish trauma on anyone, it’s been my personal experience as well that a traumatic event triggered the personal journey needed to evolve into the activist I am today. Without that traumatic event, I would’ve just been your average white collar schmuck, Bruce Wayne would be another nameless one percenter, and Joker would be a statistic. Courage is a personal stat, and anyone who’s ever played a video game knows you have to use a stat to raise it.

    Learn more about trauma: What I Learned From Batman

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    A Personal Journey

    In order to gain courage, you must find a way to face your fears. Batman and Joker faced some of the darkest fears we have as human beings: death, the unknown, oblivion, infinity, darkness, and fear itself. I faced many of these fears myself. I’ve faced many of these dark corners of human existence, at one point channeling the collective consciousness through a preacher’s son by convincing him he’s a prophet. Facing these unknowable scenarios in life is essential to finding courage within yourself.

    Decide who you actually are, whether it’s a poet, parent, or prick; explore your own spirituality. Nothing else is more important than discovering who you truly are and what you really want out of life. Discovering your inner happiness and motivation is the first step toward walking alone—you can’t walk alone unless you know where you’re going.

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    Wanna go on a personal journey? Learn: 3 Highly Effective Ways to Become Happy, Awake, Fulfilled, and Free

    Brush Your Shoulders Off

    I don’t know how much experience you have stepping out of line, but for the uninitiated, let me assure you that you’ll be noticed. People want everything in order, but in order to progress, we have to keep evolving and pushing forward. If you want to walk alone, you’ll have to be ok with being noticed, and it won’t always be good notice either. Do you see Batman and Joker hanging out and partying with their high school friends? They don’t ask what people think about their plans either. These men consider all information in front of them, but they remain focused on the prize.

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    Staying focused is difficult, but luckily there’s a Lifehack for that. Discover: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

    Smile Like You Mean It

    The first rule of life is to act like you belong there. The way to do that is to smile with confidence. As long as you’re confident and smiling, you can get through anything. Try being the first person on the dance floor; they’re the ones getting the party started. Until that one person dances, a dance floor is simply a floor, no matter how good the music is. Forget about how dumb you may look or what people may think of you, and smile like you’re living your life for yourself. Whether Batman or Joker, there’s only one way to become a legend: stand up for yourself, and walk alone.

     

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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