Being yourself is the best thing you can do for the world. Seriously.
We live in challenging times to make radical decisions. It feels like it’s difficult realizing our visions when noticing the current state of the planet. On top of that, we tend to worry about what others would think of us if we were to turn our lives around.
The antidote to that, in my opinion, is in one of the most beautiful videos I’ve come across on YouTube. It contains wisdom from Marcus Aurelius applied to any personal or professional situation.
Here’s why being yourself is always a great idea:
True usefulness comes from being what you are. Think about a tree: its fruits and oxygen are a byproduct of it being itself. The same holds true for us. We do useful things by being ourselves.
I want to write openly about my personal fears. Since fear can be used as a GPS, I think it’d be a good exercise to see where it’s leading me. On the other hand, it’s difficult to be vulnerable in public. It’s a common belief that the more you hide your flaws, the stronger you will look.
It’s time to get rid of that belief and let my authentic self show. I’ll start by naming three of my greatest fears while elaborating a bit on them. I’ll mention where they come from and how I can overcome them.
It had not occurred to me to think of fear as a GPS.
It’s actually a refreshing approach when facing your greatest challenges as a creative. The first time that I came across this idea was on Twitter through Marie Forleo, entrepreneur and philanthropist:
When it comes to fear, it’s easy to enter a cycle of thoughts that will prevent us from taking action. Endless “what ifs” flood our minds and great opportunities fade away.
Reading that quote reminds me of different conversations I’ve had with friends or colleagues. When talking about big life projects, I would often hear: “I need to get really good at ‘x’ thing to then start my own business.” “I need a few more years of experience.” “I’m waiting for the perfect moment.” “When I become an expert, I’ll get started.”
I can relate to all those thoughts. In the past, I used similar phrases, too. It’s scary to begin something when you feel you’re not good enough or when circumstances make it seem almost impossible.
I once read that playtime is essential to any creative activity. A person simply can’t be creative if there isn’t scheduled time to play, no matter what their job is or how time consuming their tasks can be on any given day.
This reminds me of some initiatives that companies have taken: assigning special spaces in the workplace to play ping-pong, video games and other games. Their objective is to encourage their collaborators to take a break and have fun.
“How can I make time to play if I’m already an adult, and I have a lot of responsibilities?” Life can certainly feel overwhelming at times, but pushing aside playtime can aggravate health.
Embarking on new projects or new goals requires motivation: a powerful energy that fuels your spirit. It’s a good feeling. When you’re convinced that you want to accomplish something, it’s easy to feel excited and begin each day with a strong sense of commitment. However, is this realistic motivation?
Motivation is a temporary emotion. Some days you can strongly feel it; other days, it’s completely gone, and you struggle to bring it back. With this in mind, I think it’s time to rethink this concept and look at it with different eyes.
Type the phrase “routines of successful people” on Google, and you will get hundreds of articles that tell you how to organize your life in a way that will make you more productive.
While those articles are appealing, and some of them can be actually inspiring, the truth is that every individual in this world operates in a different mode. What works for “the successful” may not work for those who are trying to develop better habits.
Here’s a few thoughts on focusing on what works for you rather than following steps that you might not be willing to even try.
One concept that has been buzzing lately is “compound knowledge.” I’ve been seeing it often in the Orange Book’s timeline on Twitter. Anything this person shares on that channel interests me, and if there’s an idea that’s completely new to me, I do a bit more research.
Compound means “made up or consisting of two or more existing parts or elements.” Therefore, compound knowledge refers to integrating all the elements we’ve collected from the various sources we learn from and using them to upgrade our skills or achieve wisdom, for example.
However, compounding is a process that takes time. Immediate results are out of the equation. The core essence is patience and consistency. Outcomes will show as one continues to gain knowledge year over year.
When it comes to thinking about ways to improve our lives, businesses or other personal goals, there’s a tendency to consider addition as an option. I need to add services ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’ to be more competitive in my market. I have to acquire this device to be more creative. I will buy all these products to be healthier.
I recently came across the concept of subtractive knowledge: “the idea that the most robust knowledge consists of understanding what is incorrect and what to avoid.” (Joseph Markel).
So, instead of adding, how about subtracting? Here’s a few more thoughts on this approach.
One of the songs I’ve been listening non-stop is The Boy from Ipanema, interpreted by Diana Krall. Her performance is absolutely outstanding.
The first time I discovered this song, I thought it was a spoof. The original song is called Garota de Ipanema (“The Girl from Ipanema“), which was written in Portuguese in 1962 by Vinícius de Moraes and composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim. And, as pointed in the title, it talks about a girl that swings so cool and sways so gentle.
I found funny that someone would replace the word “girl” with “boy” and change a few more words here and there to match the “boy” theme. Now that I think about it, this is actually an interesting approach for a cover song. There has been 100 versions of it, and each is so unique in its own way; however, rewording it and turning into a different version refreshes the cover.
This is a great example that shows that, in the creative process, everything is a remix.
Everything we create is copied, transformed, and combined from our culture.
Or from Ben Murray’s perspective, as written in Remixing Culture and Why the Art of the Mash-Up Matters, “all cultural artifacts are open to re-appropriation.” The results can be truly fruitful. As I did a bit more research on this song, I found that Diana Krall isn’t the only singer that has interpreted The Boy from Ipanema. Shirley Bassey, Petula Clark, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Peggy Lee, The Supremes, Crystal Waters, and Sarah Vaughan also did it. Even if it’s the same song, each performance provides a different vibe to it.
How about Nancy Wilson’s version? It’s completely different than Diana’s.