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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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    Seth Simonds

    Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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