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7 Ways To Demonstrate True Strength

7 Ways To Demonstrate True Strength

    We’d all like to be stronger. Whether that strength be physical, emotional or intellectual, most of us have an area in which we’d like to improve and have others admire. Seth Godin took a short look at ways to demonstrate that strength on a day-to-day basis. I thought I’d add some context to 7 of them and further the discussion. I’m hoping you’ll add some of your insights in a comment. I learn a lot from you all and your feedback is much-appreciated!

    1. Apologize

    If you make a practice of looking for your wrongs and working to set them right you’ll be viewed not only as a strong individual, but also as a great human.

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    I once lived with a friend who says “I’m sorry” in response to just about everything. At first it was annoying. Then I realized, over time, that I felt comfortable talking to her about stuff she did or said that bothered me. I knew she’d apologize and all I had to do was be ready to forgive and reciprocate in case I’d done or uttered a recent annoyance. That can be really, really hard at first. Apologizing isn’t easy because you’re not just admitting to a failure, you’re opening yourself up for the possibility that your apology will be turned down!

    2. Defer to others

    Letting others take the helm frees you up to offer needed guidance to even more talented people who will respect your strength and credit you with helping their ideas come to life.

    Deference goes against nearly all the notions of expertise propagated online. Some will tell you to interrupt, disrupt, corner your niche, and force your expertise on others. Deferring to others and revealing your worth slowly takes not just strength but belief that what you have to offer is useful in the long run. More on that soon.

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    3. Avoid shortcuts

    As you’re making sure doing great doesn’t get in the way of getting things done, make sure to protect against temptations to take shortcuts.

    A few years ago I told a restaurateur just starting out that he should cut corners on things his customers wouldn’t notice. That was terrible advice. In truth he should have worked to do a better job at bringing attention to all the amazing things his business was doing that people might not notice without some help. It takes true strength to avoid shortcuts because taking the longer route often involves more client calls, more apologies and time away from things you’d rather be working on. It’s worth it though. It’s worth it.

    4. Tell the truth

    Telling the truth from the get-go will help you avoid situations in which telling the truth could mean the end of something otherwise magnificent.

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    We could talk for days about strategic avoidance, glossing over, side-stepping, and myriad other ways to re-frame a lie as something middling. Let’s not. Instead I’ll ask you to consider how telling the truth relates to the notion of living honestly. “Telling the truth” often feels like something momentary. The truth is something you blurt out. That takes strength, for sure. Living honestly takes it to a whole new level of fascinating beauty.

    5. Offer kindness

    Kindness offered to the stranger passing by, in response to unkindness, or just because you can offer it is the sort of kindness that changes the world.

    Random acts of kindness are great if you’re in the habit of showing kindness as part of your daily life. But as life gets busy and we forget about the smaller things, the kindness can be the first to go. What if you were to schedule kindness into your day? What if you kept a checklist of the number of times you offered a kind word to a coworker or helped without being asked? This is a version of faking it until you make it that has only positive results. Get started!

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    6. Volunteer to take the short straw

    When an unwanted project or difficult punishment is up for grabs, offering to take it shows you’re strong enough to take the hard stuff in stride.

    Volunteering to do the grunt work on a project you rank high enough to walk away from shows everybody you work with that you’re strong and still in the game. Willingness to take the fall for a group mistake and be the one to find a solution is an opportunity to again demonstrate your true strength. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier. Don’t worry. You’ll eventually forget about how difficult it was. You probably don’t even remember what you had for breakfast last Tuesday. See? Forgetful!

    7. Share credit and be public in your gratitude

    Sharing credit and thanking others for their contributions in public adds to the view that you’re a value-added sort of person.

    We’ve all had somebody take credit for something we helped with and felt the resentment grow in our chests. Not being recognized and thanked for our work is wretched! Next time you’re in a room filled with people and somebody calls your name to take an award, remember that everybody in that room has been slighted before and will get a kick out of how you share the spotlight.

    What else can we do to demonstrate our true strength? Share your thoughts in a comment below!

    Image: lintmachine

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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