It is the biggest paradox that I have ever faced, but I found the the most important lessons you can’t learn from reading in a book.
Couple of weeks ago I finished my book from Brian Tracy, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-discipline. There was a clear sentence that stated:
“…life is a test that shows what’s hiding inside of us. Wisdom is grasped by loneliness, learning, and thinking, but the character is built only by connection between people, when we are forced to choose between different opportunities and temptations.”
I experienced a few months of loneliness, and this sentence felt like putting lens on a visually impaired person. It’s an overall statement that proves how the wisest people are the loneliest ones. Being around people all the time can build your character because of opportunities and temptations, but being wise takes time in solitude and makes you wonder and answer all types of questions on various subjects.
My loneliness made me wise. It made me think on various questions so deep that I found the core of the subject I was wondering about. Character, however, is something that can’t be built without the pressure of opportunities.
“The older the wiser” refers to the idea that older people spend more and more time alone, and thus discover rooted core answers to life’s big questions.
Character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” It’s the “vacuum part” in the brain where we can’t upgrade it alone; we must build our character with support from people and by making choices.
Wisdom and character are both authentic. They take being alone and wise, and being around people and building character. Wisdom is between the lines—learning and thinking—and character is built by people, “The thing that can’t be learned by reading.”
Character growth is the most important thing in the world. Our ability to gain the reputation of being a characteristic and authentic person is the biggest attainment in social and business life. Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
Our important features, the things that make us the way we are today, are the overall collection of all our previous choices and decisions. Every time we chose wisely and authentically, we strengthened our character and we became better people. It also states the opposite: whenever we compromised, whenever we took the easier way, or when we behaved in a way we knew was inappropriate, we weakened our character and we undermined ourselves.
4. Control the pressure.
Only when we are under pressure, when we need to decide on one possibility from many, to live in accordance with moral values or to comprise them—we present our real character. Emerson said, “Keep your loyalty like something sacred.” There is nothing as sacred as our intellectual loyalty.
5. The ability to choose.
We are the “organism that chose.” We choose all the time, one way or another. With every choice, we show our true values and priorities. In every particular moment, we give attention to the things that are more important and more valuable to us than the things that are less valuable.
The only way to frame ourselves is to exert the will in every situation when we are tempting to do the things that are easy and currently useful, and not the things that are authentic and essential. It may be hard to push the boundaries to the level that we need to crack the wall of “easy and currently useful” but once we do it, it will throw a rock out of our soul and we are able to strive for authentic and essential things more and more.
It is like a habit. “The more we do it, the less we think about doing it.” Smoking cigarettes is bad example of it.
6. Learn the “street school.”
Authentic would be to go out and build the thing that can’t be read. It’s called the “street school.” Wisdom is inevitable, but wisdom alone is not worth anything without the things learned from people. Wisdom and “the street school” form a perfect creation of human kind. Such examples would be Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates.
7. Form the Virtues.
To seal the things that can’t be learned by reading, we must understand the virtues of one person: courage, compassion, generosity, moderation, persistence. Strengthen these virtues and become a man or woman of value.
Featured photo credit: Empty/Anthony via flickr.com