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Quality of Life Perspectives: Conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz about Openness to Others

Quality of Life Perspectives:  Conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz about Openness to Others

Quality of Life Perspectives

    Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of The Acumen Fund. She is one of the most innovative and interesting philanthropists in the world today. Her non profit has taken on the world’s poverty problem by directly investing capital in developing world businesses that have the potential to deliver critical goods and services like health, water, housing and energy.

    Jacqueline Novogratz
      Jacqueline Novogratz

      More than anything, Jacqueline is a very likable person. She’s funny and light and her self deprecation is genuine.  We had a great conversation and I gathered some great quality of life practices for my book and site.

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      One of the most interesting areas she went into was the enrichment and quality of life factor of being open to others.

      Here is a 90 second excerpt in which Jacqueline discusses this perspective:

      novogratz-open-to-others (MP3 download)

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      I think the first takeaway is simply that arrogance is anti-life. When we are shut off from people because we think we are better in some way, or we just don’t think they are worth our time, we miss out on all that life has to offer.  When you realize that you are no better than anyone else (and of course the flip side that no one is better than you), a world of enriching experiences and opportunities opens up.

      As Jacqueline put it, “Every person out there has a story.” And when you are open to others, life becomes richer.  [Look, it goes without saying that there are nuances and exceptions with anything.  And in this case one can still have boundaries in life while being “open to others.”]

      I also like how Jacqueline mentions it’s not just about opening up to the man in the mud hut but also the king.  Oftentimes, we become overly judgmental of those “above us”, whether leadership wise or socio economic wise.  And she points out the folly in this mindset.  That there is also a trove of learning experiences from these types if we open up.

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      It seems it’s not just about being open but also pro actively seeking to learn from the many people around us that have wisdom and experience to impart.  I was getting my haircut a few weeks ago and was talking with my barber Bill.  We were talking about having kids and he talked  about his challenges in raising a teenage daughter.  I remember my instinct, which was to relate it to me and say something in response.  And then I had this thought…  “Why don’t I just ask him open-endedly what he has learned on the parenting front.”  When I did, he gave me a great wisdom bit that I was able to chew on.  He said, “Now is the time to nip negative behaviors in the bud.  If you have a four year old that has a complaining habit, do not think you can teach him out of it later.  Now is the time to deal with it.”

      Three weeks later over another haircut, Bill was telling me how he is divorced and now back in the dating scene.  I asked him, “What is something you learned along the way with marriage?”  Bill took a few seconds, then said, “A husband might think there is a better someone out there when the going gets tough.  But if you have someone you love, and they love you, stick with it.  Because I can tell you, I’ve been single for ten years and I haven’t found anyone close to measuring up to my ex-wife.”

      Man, those were two pretty good life bites, no?

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      I guess the point is how much upside there is to taking advantage of learning opportunities out there, as well as the general enjoyment of hearing other people’s stories.  And that a precursor for all of this is an understanding that while you might be good at something, or accomplished in some way, or have amassed some material gain  — that does not make you better than anyone else, or is anyone else better than you.

      It also seems clear from this interview the relation between openness to others and an ability to connect with people in general.  When you have the qualities that Jacqueline is talking about, people notice the way you carry yourself, that look in your eyes.   The two qualities go hand in hand it seems.

      I guess the main point is that getting away from arrogance is an important step in getting the most that life has to offer.

      What are your thoughts on this subject?  Are there other ways we should look at this?

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

      Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

      your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

        Why You Need a Vision

        Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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        How to Create Your Life Vision

        Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

        What Do You Want?

        The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

        It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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        Some tips to guide you:

        • Remember to ask why you want certain things
        • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
        • Give yourself permission to dream.
        • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
        • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

        Some questions to start your exploration:

        • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
        • What would you like to have more of in your life?
        • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
        • What are your secret passions and dreams?
        • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
        • What do you want your relationships to be like?
        • What qualities would you like to develop?
        • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
        • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
        • What would you most like to accomplish?
        • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

        It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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        What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

        Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

        A few prompts to get you started:

        • What will you have accomplished already?
        • How will you feel about yourself?
        • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
        • What does your ideal day look like?
        • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
        • What would you be doing?
        • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
        • How are you dressed?
        • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
        • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
        • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

        It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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        Plan Backwards

        It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

        • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
        • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
        • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
        • What important actions would you have had to take?
        • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
        • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
        • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
        • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
        • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

        Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

        It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

        Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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