Posted by: drewdice | June 5, 2009

Unleash the “Best” You!

Human beings are amazing creatures. We are capable of so much: creating wealth, happiness, strength, sorrow, pain, giving and receiving, just to name a “few” things. We can accomplish so much, but still, there are millions of people walking around truly unhappy, empty, lonely, resentful, emotionally bankrupt and wanting more for themselves (two caviats: 1. I acknowledge that there are also millions of people who are also truly happy and fulfilled. 2. I’m really not referring to monetary and material “wants” as what will give someone fulfillment) So, I can’t help but wonder what limits people from being fulfilled and truly happy.

I’ve discussed this topic with friends, coworkers, and sometimes, complete strangers (I’m sure you are shocked that I talk to strangers…ha!), and there are many theories. Please don’t expect me to have THE answer, but I do have an opinion or two. Let me share some of the ideas that have been shared with me. At the end, my request is that you comment back on this blog, and share your thoughts and opinions.

What I’ve heard:

Fear of failure. One study showed that the top two fears people have are of dying and public speaking. I’m not so sure about that. People are afraid of disappointing family members and friends; of not living up to what they believe others think their potential could or should be, and maybe most importantly, they are afraid of not living up to their own expectations.

Fear of success. This may be more painful than fear of failing. People express that they acutally fear getting what they want for a few reasons: 1. Standards are raised, and they have to continue performing at higher levels. Haven’t you heard of sales people who slow down their production once they reach goal so their bosses don’t substantially increase future quotas? 2. If a person doesn’t believe that she deserves the success, the pressure that comes from attaining high levels of accomplishments can bring extreme amounts of stress and pain. 3. Once a person has what she wants, then what? The fear of the unknown is a major source of pain and discomfort for people

Fear of looking stupid or foolish. Let’s face it. Sometimes we just aren’t that nice to other humans. Think back to your childhood. Can you remember the kid(s) who were always picked last, who sat by themselves, or with the uncool kids at lunch, who got picked on or made fun of, time and time again? We all carry some of those memories with us, and, as adults, experiencing that pain again could be more than some can bear. Playing it safe, even when it means being unhappy, is a better option for many.

Fear of the unknown. I mentioned this a bit earlier, and I believe this fear is one of the most powerful. Think about people you know who are in disempowering, disconnected, and unfulfilling relationships. One (or both) of the parties in the relationship expresses that she is not happy, and needs to leave the relationship. Sometimes, there is verbal, mental and/or physical abuse. Yet, the “couple” stays together. Worse yet, they put on airs that everything is great; that the relationship is pure and meaningful. The pain and fear associated with starting fresh, of being alone, of potentially being worse off actually paralyzes people into staying in a knowingly unhealthy situation. The same holds true in jobs and friendships.

My reality is that happiness and fulfillment is not a destination at which we arrive when we have certain things, or when we are able to do certain things, or even when we become certain things. For example, unhappy couples sometimes think having a child will bring happiness into an empty marriage. It does not. Sometimes, people think that if they get a new job, they will be happy. The reality is that if a person is not doing something about which she is passionate, not job will be fulfilling.

The point to this chain of thoughts is that the recipe for unleashing the “best you” in all of us, in my opinion, is pretty simple:

Follow your heart as you search for your passions. Understanding what drives you as a person is a cornerstone of happiness

Surround yourself with others who believe in you, who energize you, and who contribute to your missions and goals

Choose what you have. Aspiring to accomplish more is great, and I am a huge believer in setting challenging specific goals. Along the way, though, we need to appreciate and give thanks for what we have, who we love, and those who love us.

Appreciate and practice humility, and be a perpetual student. As soon as we lose our gratitude and believe we know it all, we begin dying a painful death.

I believe in all of you, and appreciate the gifts you bring to those with whom you come in contact. I applaud you for what you’ve learned and what you’ve shared with others, that has made your community stronger and richer in spirit.

I encourage you to invite others to join your journey, and to experience all of the joy that life has to offer. It isn’t easy, but it is simple. Seek to bring the best out in others, and you will also discover the best in you.

Cheers,

Andrew

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Responses

  1. Drew,

    I believe you are correct about “passion.” I think you can even simplify all of life to “passion.” If you do not have it in your professional and personal life, you should do something about it. Thanks for the great post!

    • Adam,

      You and I are on the same page, here, and because I know you, I also know you are one of the most passionate people around. I am sure that is one of the things that makes you as successful as you are!

      Andrew

  2. Andrew –

    What a fascinating (and worthy) topic this is! It took me almost 40 years to figure out how to be truly, deeply happy and fulfilled, and building a career I was passionate about was one of the most important steps on that journey. I agree with you that humility, gratitude, and surrounding yourself with people who feed you are all vital. I have a couple of things to add to the list, though:

    Have empathy for others. I’m not going to say I never have a moment of judgment or impatience, but I sure have far fewer of them than I had, say, 10 years ago. A recent personal example: I was merging onto a busy interstate when an SUV blocked my lane merge. Instead of getting aggravated about it, I figured that driver must be having a bad day and merged in behind — no need to have this insignificant event impact my mood. Imagine my surprise when I read the “Choose Civility” bumper sticker on the back of the SUV. You have to appreciate the irony, right? That driver was probably someone who was typically civil, but we can’t all be perfectly behaved all the time. Accept it, recognize that everyone has a bad day now and then, and move on. (And by the way, if you can help improve someone’s bad day – even some random person you don’t know and may never see again – do it! You’ll be surprised how that positive energy comes back to you.)

    Say what you mean, mean what you say, and assume others do the same. This doesn’t mean you have to share every thought you have every second you have it, nor does it mean you shouldn’t be aware of other people’s feelings. But it means that you don’t have a hidden agenda, you don’t talk about someone behind his/her back, and you don’t spend time analyzing what someone said and trying to figure out what s/he really meant. Assume the person said what s/he meant, and if s/he didn’t, it’s not your responsibility to decipher the true meaning.

    Remove toxic people from your life. This goes hand in hand with surrounding yourself with people who feed you, but in my experience, it’s the more difficult step. If someone is truly bringing toxicity into your life, adding drama where none belongs, or disrespecting and/or dismissing your core values (honesty, integrity, etc.), and you have exhausted options to work through the problem, then you have to cut ties. This is uncomfortable to do, and it should be done honestly and with as much sensitivity as possible, but it must be done. You will grieve the loss of the person, but you will undoubtedly feel a weight has been lifted as you move on.

    That’s it … I’m off my soapbox now. Thanks, Andrew, for starting this interesting discussion. I hope we all take something valuable from it, even if just a reminder. We all need those now and then.

    Jamie Mason, Realtor
    Real Estate Sales & Staging
    Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.
    http://www.JamieMason.com

  3. Excellent post, Drewdice! Very thought-provoking. Loved your comment, “Choose what you have.”

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Rob.

      I heard the “choose what you have” comment a while back, and it always stuck with me.

      It is so easy to want more, and to miss the precious gifts we already have.

      I’m glad that resonated with you.

      Andrew

  4. Andrew – this was great! I think you have found a new career. I am sending it to my team as work!

    • Thanks, Julie!

      I appreciate your thoughts, and would love for you to share this with your team members.

      Say hi to Steve for me, and we hope to catch up with you guys soon.

      Andrew

  5. Andrew,
    Very nice post. You always provide such great thought provoking insights. Your couple of comments “Surround yourself with others who believe in you, who energize you, and who contribute to your missions and goals.” and “Choose what you have.” triggered a thought: Choose who you want to be but let your actions define you. Sometimes we have a vision of “who” we want or think we want to be, however our actions will speak otherwise. For some, actions support the person. Others, still need to be defined and it just might take some soul searching to get there. Change is inevitable and should be accepted. This holds true at the person level. One cannot be afraid to change (free) themselves. (Fear of the unknown) Step out of the box and define who you are and will become. You just might like what you see (and find)…….


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