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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?

      More by this author

      Quality of Life Perspectives: Conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz about Openness to Others Assuming Positive Intent: The Ultimate Productivity Driver

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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