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What Will You Learn Today?

What Will You Learn Today?

What Will You Learn Today?

    A Typical Life?

    I gotta be honest, I really like my life. Of course I have my moments (being human and all), but for the most part, it rocks. Not a day goes by where I am not thankful for, or totally aware of, what I have and what I’ve been given. Of course it’s not always a normal, conventional or typical life by any means (but who has that?) – and sure, I’ve disappointed my long-suffering mother by not providing her with the expected grandchildren to this point in time – but it’s a fun life nonetheless. Sorry about that, Mary. I’ll do better.

    Naah, I probably won’t.

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    What do You Like Most About Your Life?

    Anyhoozle… someone asked me recently what I like most about my life. “Good question”, I replied. I pondered for a moment and while I get to do lots of cool things, I concluded that the funnest (a word) thing about my life right now is the people I get to meet and learn from. To say I meet a broad cross-section of people would be a massive understatement. From elite athletes to fat business people. From celebrities to people battling life-threatening diseases. From the arrogant to the humble. From the powerless to the powerful. From the well-known to the unknown. From the financially rich to the spiritually rich. From prisoners to prophets. From the angry to the enlightened. And from the obsessed to the apathetic. Yep, they have all taught me something. Knowingly or not. Intentionally or not.

    Interestingly, some of the most negative, self-obsessed, self-destructive and problem-focused people have taught me the most. Specifically, how not to be and what not to do.

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    Where we Choose to Learn

    I have always been a keen observer of people and a passionate student of human behaviour; even as a young boy. Long before I understood what the term behavioural psychology meant, I was studying people, absorbing and processing information and learning lessons. Life lessons. People lessons. Communication lessons. Leadership lessons. Management lessons. Lessons about manipulation, influence, power, humility, fear, health, success, attitude, happiness…  and a whole lot more. While I enjoyed school and university (to a point), I have always understood that (for me) there were many more valuable truths to be uncovered beyond the (traditional) classroom. I have always found people to be fascinating, inspiring, curious, amazing, confusing, selfish, selfless, fearful, courageous and profoundly interesting creatures.

    I have learned that being a student is a choice. As is humility. As is honesty. As is personal growth.

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    My Philosophy on Learning

    I have a somewhat “cheesy” mantra that I wheel out periodically and while I hate the over-used, self-help cliches that typify so much of what’s painful and annoying about the field of personal development, the following statement is an accurate and honest representation of my attitude towards learning:

    “The world is my classroom, each day is a new lesson and every person I meet is my teacher.”

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    As trite as it might sound, the above ideology can be both enlightening and transformational when we truly understand and embrace the power and potential that comes from living in this kind of paradigm.

    The Non-Learner

    In truth, some people have not learned (listened, changed, grown, improved, adapted, paid attention, asked a question) in twenty years; just take a look at the kind of results they produce, how little of their ability they use, how much of their time they waste and how their existence is typically one of repetition, frustration and mediocrity. And complaining. Groundhog Day for the perpetually miserable and unfulfilled. For a range of reasons, they have chosen not to learn new things. It seems that some people are too proud, fearful, arrogant, busy, distracted, insecure or lazy to learn. What a pity, what a waste (of everything) and what an unnecessary reality to inhabit.

    Opening Our Eyes

    If we so choose, our world (the one we create and inhabit) can be different from now… or like too many others, we can keep living our life in a holding pattern. We can be problem-focused or lesson-focused; it’s a choice. It’s a mindset. Some choose to whine and bitch, others to learn. From right now we can open our eyes, shift our attitude, learn new things and produce better results, simply by looking at old things in new ways. Internal shift produces external shift. That is, transformation always works from the inside-out. If there’s a genuine desire to learn, the lessons will always be there. In fact, they are always there but we fail to pay attention. If only we would listen to what life (God, the universe, subconscious us) is saying. The wisdom is there. The truth is there. The joy is there. And the lessons are there for anyone who chooses to be a seeker and a student.

    So what have you learned lately? Do tell! Feel free to teach the rest of us something by sharing any recent revelations, insights, life-lessons or moments of clarity. And as always, feel free to share your thoughts on this article.

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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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