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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 September 20, 2018

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

      1. Breathe

      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

      2. Loosen up

      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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      3. Chew slowly

      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

      4. Let go

      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

      It’s not. Promise.

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      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

      5. Enjoy the journey

      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

      6. Look at the big picture

      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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      Will this matter to me…

      • Next week?
      • Next month?
      • Next year?
      • In 10 years?

      Hint: No, it won’t.

      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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      8. Practice patience every day

      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

      Final thoughts

      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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