(By Panos Mourdoukoutas)
“Some people have uncaring teachers suppressing rather than nurturing different ways of thinking and different attitudes. And some people are self-absorbed, lack personal goals, associate with the wrong crowd in the wrong places, or constantly blame others for failing to get ahead in life, rather than taking the right steps to escape from this context.“
Personal and professional successes are two interdependent life goals: Personal success supports and re-enforces professional success, and professional success re-enforces personal success. And both goals support and re-enforce life’s most important pursuit: happiness. That’s why both goals are on top of everyone’s agenda.
But how are these goals achieved? What does it take?
If you ask Rhonday Byrne, she’d tell you it’s The Law of Attraction. Byrne argues in The Secret for the power of positive thoughts, which she says will act like magnets to bring things your way, helping you identify and externalize your internal strengths and capabilities. Put good things in your mind, says Byrne, and they’ll happen.
While positive thought may be a necessary condition for bringing out strengths and capabilities, it isn’t sufficient, counters Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica in The Element.
Maybe you are exceptional in drawing, dancing, cooking, or some other field. That’s where you need to position yourself. You must find your own “element,” your passion– the right field of study, the right occupation, sport or activity that matches your inner strengths and capabilities — which you might or might not even know you possess.
The right context, the conditions and circumstances will afford you the opportunity to put these strengths and capabilities to work and get the right people appreciate them. The right country, city or neighborhood; the right teacher, mentor, acquaintance and friend. Or the right habits.
Some people reside in closed and secluded communities that hammer anyone who possesses different strengths and abilities from the crowd down like a nail. Others reside in open cosmopolitan communities tolerating or even appreciating difference.
Some people have uncaring teachers suppressing rather than nurturing different ways of thinking and different attitudes. And some people are self-absorbed, lack personal goals, associate with the wrong crowd in the wrong places, or constantly blame others for failing to get ahead in life, rather than taking the right steps to escape from this context.
Here’s the formula.
Step 1: Stop being self-absorbed, get out of your cocoon, and search for a purpose that will add meaning and excitement in your life.
Step 2: Move to a new neighborhood, a new town, where people appreciate different ways of thinking.
Step 3: Acquire new acquaintances and new friends, who appreciate who you are, and help you find your “element” rather than distracting you from it.
Step 4: Develop good habits. “They are, in essence, behavioral autopilot,” argues Chip Health & Dan Health in Switch. “To change yourself or other people, you’ve got to change habits.” Another way of putting it is this: very often we find ourselves involved in jobs and various occupations, which we derive
little to no satisfaction or they don’t totally fulfill us. Yet we continue on the same line because this is what we have been taught to do and don’t have the guts to walk away from a well-paid job. There comes a time to move away from unfulfilling contexts.
Step 5: Change the “Choice Architecture” of your life, as Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Suntein put it in the Nudge. Arrange your choices in a way that makes the desired choice most accessible to you. For instance, if you are good as a dancer, you may want to live near a theater district. If you are good in sports, you may want to live near a sports center, and so on.
The bottom line: To change your life, you need more than positive thoughts. You must find your element by changing the context you live in.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”