Psychology

Eyes off the prize. Why having an exit strategy is imperative.

Be Prepared

Setting goals is important.  It’s a great way to see just where we are situated, and where we would like to be headed.  Setting goals helps us to prepare in advance for any potential events or consequences which may be deemed negative to our progression.  In my late teenage years I had the exact opposite view, however.  Plans never work out the way you had planned so what is the point in having one?

In some ways that could be considered right.  There are many factors and elements in life that are  beyond our control, as discussed in the article Focusing on others will only lead to ones own demise (You can’t control the wind, so stop trying).  Although one thing I have re-learned over time, thanks to what could be considered “trial and error”, in real life experience, is that one of the most important things in life is to Be Prepared.

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If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.  I don’t know the original source of this quote, but whoever it was hit the nail on the head.  It’s true that we all want to succeed.  When we start a business venture we want it to be able to meet all of its own running costs, with at least enough surplus to maintain what would be considered our own personal running costs (life expenses such as rent/mortgage, food, electricity etc.)  If you can achieve this, then you are operating a successful business.

But what if it all goes wrong?  What if everything begins to head in the opposite direction?  No matter how fast you run, your tiny little hamster legs just can’t keep that wheel spinning.  What do you do in this case?

Well my answer is:  You should be able to tell me.

What many people do not consider (previously myself included) is that when embarking on any enterprise, whether it be a business, entering into a personal relationship or undertaking a project of any description; You need to have an exit strategy.  

An exit strategy is vital, before you begin.

This is probably the most important element of any endeavour.  You need to know exactly what you are going to do if the worst were ever to happen.  Most people can tell you in immense detail how they will expand their business/company/family/career, in the event of success.  They will tell you how many employees will be working in how many stores that have opened in how many cities in how many states.

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But nobody seems to be able to tell you what they would do if the worst happened and they had to close the doors.  Nobody can tell you what they will do with themselves, if they were to have a relationship breakdown.

My theory is that we do not wish to focus on the potentially negative side of the equation.  I guess it may be borne from our ancient spiritual roots, avoiding the thought so as not to “awaken the spirit” of negative energy and stir it up.  We don’t want to curse ourselves before we begin, so we act as though it’s not there.  After all we need to be confident, and show that we are confident in order for people to have confidence in us.

Tackle your weakness.

This logic, however, is detrimental to the successful operation of any quest.  It’s like a football team (Rugby League is what we call football in my neck of the woods. GIDDY UP COWBOYS 2015 PREMIERS! YEWWWW!), sorry where was I?  It’s like a football team not practicing defense, because they don’t want the opposition to score against them.  It’s like a golfer not wanting to learn how to chip out of the bunker because he/she doesn’t want the ball to go in there.  At any given point, these scenarios, although obviously not ideal, will inevitably occur.  They must be dealt with head on.

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Hopefully this short article has provided you with some insight to the importance of being prepared, planning ahead, and demonstrated how absolutely vital it is to have an exit strategy before you embark on any endeavour in life.  You might not be able to control the wind, but you can control what you will do if it starts to get windy.

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Focusing on what others are doing will ultimately lead to ones own demise.

You can’t control the wind, so stop trying.

Reading stories to my child is a mutually beneficial experience.  Some of the underlying lessons within these stories, blended subtly into the general plot, are quite profound.  Some months ago whilst reading a bedtime story I had an epiphany.

It was a classic story about a character (a toy) who lived in a land of toys, and his best friend (whose ears were not small).  They pitched a tent right on the beach, in what they considered to be a prime location.  They were quite enjoying their time when suddenly circumstances changed for the worst.  The wind began to blow a gale, and the tide came in.  What had moments ago been a peaceful splendid occasion had transformed itself into a tragedy.  To say the toy character was upset would be an understatement, and he shouted furiously at the wind to stop.  But it didn’t.  The ocean wasn’t listening to his cries for it to kindly go back to where it had been previously either.

It was at this point that I literally felt an odd sense of discomfort from within begin to emerge.  I realized the character in the tale was wasting his energy shouting at the tide and the wind to stop.  For you see these things are obviously beyond his control.

Trying to control anything other than your own self is an absolute waste of energy.  All associated negativity will only be amplified, and the resulting frustration can lead one into a vicious, self feeding cycle of gloom.

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Self awareness

Awareness

Self awareness, to put it simply, is the practice of being absolutely honest with yourself.  Although simple, it is not necessarily easy, due to the perceived expectations of society and our status within it.  For example an overly emotional person may not wish for others to see them as weak, so they attempt to create a tough exterior, a shield as such, to try and fool people into thinking otherwise.  In reality however the only one being fooled is the one who is holding the shield.

In a professional setting many people act like they know more than they actually do, or imply that they are more important than those around them.  Just as in the previous example this is an attempt to shield their inner self-doubt.  The person in question is “putting on a face” to shield their own insecurity.

Nobody is perfect.  If you can be honest with yourself then you are practicing self awareness.  From this angle it is much easier to notice when you make a mistake, and stop yourself before you follow through.

Whilst this is a great place to exist it brings about its own complications.

A new cycle

So you are at the point of being entirely honest with yourself.  You understand your flaws and are working towards repairing them when you notice them arise.  That is great!  You probably feel a sense of pride, which you absolutely should, because self awareness, as previously noted, is not easy.

However when one begins the journey of improving themselves via self awareness, it is at this point the entire thing can be turned upside down.  When you notice improvement within yourself, it becomes a lot easier to see the faults in others.  You begin to notice the shields everyone is holding up to hide their insecurities.  You notice their body language (something they are not even aware of).

This can give one a false sense of superiority and begin the entire downward spiral all over again, however this time around it is much more difficult to negotiate.

You’re aware of yourself now, why is all this bad stuff happening?  That other guy at the office obviously isn’t aware of himself, why is his life so great?  See where this is going?

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Don’t compare yourself to others.

Self comparison is something that must be avoided.  If you notice yourself doing it, stop immediately and remind yourself this is your journey, not theirs.

The only thing you can control is yourself.

So do it.  Take control of yourself.  Be the person in the drivers seat of the vehicle that is your life.  Don’t compare yourself to other people and don’t blame anyone else for your problems.  You’re driving!

The subjects discussed in this article are merely a gentle rub on the surface of a massive issue.  The reality of modern life can be overwhelming and make implementing good practices difficult.  That is what makes it fun though.

I often think back to that children’s book when I am placed in a difficult situation.  Telling myself “You can’t control the wind”.   Then I smile and carry on.

Thanks for reading.

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How the internet and smartphones will destroy life as we know it.

Anti-Social Networking

How many times have you been out to dinner and noticed a couple sitting across from one another, each scrolling frantically downward on their phone in complete ignorance?  What an advanced society we are…

“Your hair looks lovely.” Tom uttered, avoiding any eye contact.  Scrolling.

“HUH???!” replied Sally, confused.

She looked upwards in Toms general direction, slightly unsure of where he was actually located, unable to remove her thumb from the screen.

“Thanks.” she eventually murmured.

“What for?”  asked Tom, forgetting what he had just said.

“Well now I forgot where I was on my game.  Thanks.  Dickhead.”

Sally may be overreacting, but she does have a point.

This type of situation, although fictional, is an example of the negative impact internet and smartphones are having on humans in a social aspect.  And it disgusts me.

Sally’s hair did look lovely by the way.  She didn’t do it to impress Tom though.  She did it so she could take 47 selfies in the toilet and impress her Facebook buddies.

So even when in a public, social surrounding, the addiction to our phones seems generally stronger than our ability to go through the bodies natural process of “courting”.  Even though there may be an attractive member of the gender of your persuasion right in front of you, as it stands, technology seems to be mightier than the hormone.

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Sally never could forgive Tom for what he did that night.

It’s all in the mind.

Could it be that our imagination is so powerful that the simulated version of interaction (namely looking at names on screens) is enough to trick the brain into thinking it is real.  I believe so.  The blurred line between imagination and reality is extremely powerful (See Imagination or Reality? Which is more important?) and though this can work to our benefit, it can just as easily have detrimental consequences.  Although now that we have experienced simulated interaction, we will not want to live without it.

Humans, myself included, seem to  have a real problem with admitting they made a mistake.  Convincing ourselves and others we are right, when we know we are not, seems to take priority over ensuring the viability of a future for our species, our planet.  What the heck?

Humans: The most intelligent dumb-asses in the known Universe

Seriously what is wrong with us?  Why is it that every step forward with advances to make our lives simpler or more comfortable, ultimately leads to 70 steps backwards?  I’m glad I asked…. I have a theory.

Life has been around for a long time.  Humans, not so long, but we are happily situated in what we believe to be the top of the food chain.  Despite our late arrival, there are inbuilt chemical, circuitry and physical mechanisms that we are not consciously aware of, that have been carefully adapted and honed to suit the current environment at any given point in time throughout our evolutionary journey.  Yeah, it’s evolution baby!

Clearly we didn’t get here by accident.  Here is what I believe has happened.  At some point somewhere along the evolutionary chain, somebody began to realize that they were pretty clever beings.

But wait… Uh-Oh!  Being so clever we can make guns to hunt our food.  How easy is that?   Nothing much left to do other than breed… Hang on now there are more people here, we need to knock down all those trees so we can farm food to feed these little buggers!  Oh great, those little buggers just bred, and made more little buggers… No doubt they’re going to do the same.  Man all this breeding is making me tired, shoot that horse and make a car dammit!  Running out of room here, need more land.  Let’s fight those guys and steal theirs so we can keep breeding and farming and breeding and farming. Come on! We got guns!

You see, the explosion in the earths population is directly related to mankind’s tendency to make stupid decisions.

Self destruction

Just as species are able to evolve, they are also able to devolve if necessary.  I believe the very mechanisms we have acquired through evolution are now intentionally working against us, without us even being consciously aware of it (after all the primary instinct is to survive, at all costs).

Everything on Earth is connected to everything else.  The Earth knows there are far too many people here to survive in a sustainable manner. The Earth feels our continual unrelenting attack on her.  She is doing something about it.  What is she doing about it?  She is letting nature take its course, of course.

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Put down your phone and go plant a tree.  And stop thinking about sex.

Eventually we as a species will become so “advanced” technologically that we will ultimately wipe ourselves out.  Removing ourselves permanently from the food chain, like the super-intelligent dumb-asses we naturally are.  Even if it means destroying most other life, our fate is inevitable.

That is when Mother Nature will execute her revenge, and continue the process of evolution – without us.

 

Imagination or Reality? Which is more important?

To a degree imagination is reality, and vice versa.  Although it may not be obvious since we are all (mostly) grown-up developed individuals with goals and responsibilities, the reality that we perceive is greatly influenced by our own imagination.  The human brain is notorious for playing tricks, and given that it is the organ that controls our bodies, it can be quite convincing.  This is what gives each and every one of us an individual identity.  Your imagination, or your perceived reality is what separates you from everybody else.

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Life is interesting due to this phenomenon because  essentially, in a physical and chemical sense, we are all the same.  Environmental influence does also play a role in development, although personally I believe this is negligible in comparison to the power of the mind.  Allow me to elaborate.

Mind over Matter

Albert Einstein is a famous example of this.  His childhood was not what one would consider ideal for developing an academic genius.  It is widely documented that he did not utter a single word until the age of 4.  He did not wish to conform to the conventional understanding or methods applied in teaching students.  Happenings in the outside world did not particularly favour him becoming a success either.

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Albert Einstein

However none of these factors stopped him from making what could arguably be some of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time.  Many of which, still to this day, have the greatest academic minds  on our planet scratching their heads in awe and bewilderment. (As well as my own mind: E = what squared? MC! Of course, now that he says it, it’s blatantly obvious!)  So how did he do it?  What was it that separated him from his peers (or even his teachers)?  After all, they mostly followed what would be considered the correct path to success.   They obeyed the rules, they were raised well and enjoyed a high quality of life.  How then, could this wild haired scallywag possibly be able to accomplish such incredible achievements, surpassing all of theirs combined and turning the world of physics on its head?

That’s right.  Imagination.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein.

There are many other famous examples of people who, despite growing up in an environment most would consider less than ideal for cultivating brilliance, go on to achieve remarkable success.  This seems to bother many folk, particularly those who come from “the higher end of town”, with the resulting frustration often initiating a jealous reaction, which in turn further exacerbates the preliminary feeling of bother.

Focusing on what others are doing will ultimately lead to ones own demise.

Child’s play.

(This paragraph includes some great parenting advice and tips, provided to you absolutely FREE!  You can thank me in the Comments section below)

The mind is amazing, undoubtedly.  It’s growth and development begins very early on, some argue even prior to birth.  Consequently the early years in life are regarded as crucial since the neurological pathways of the brain are being drawn.  They are literally wiring themselves for the future.  So put good stuff in there!  (TV is not an educator, it is a brain-washer, so take the time to involve yourself in your child’s activities.  Don’t be lazy, unless you want your kids to be lazy).

Encourage imagination.

Let your children draw.  That picture may not look like a giraffe or an elephant to you, but in their reality it IS.  

Let them play.  Play with them.  Every child needs parents who actively involve themselves in their life.  If you want them to be open, honest and involved with you when they are teenagers, show them the same respect when they are younger.

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Imagination and creativity are vital to a child’s intellectual development.

Children are instinctively programmed with the desire to be what their parents are.  So be a good example.  Try to have a positive attitude, particularly when in highly stressful situations such as traffic jams or waiting in a queue.  If you open a letter and it happens to be an overdue bill or some news that you are not particularly fond of – don’t swear at it and throw it on the table while you openly vent your frustration.  Keep calm, smile.

Be the person you want your child to grow up to be.  If you keep a positive frame of mind it won’t be long until you notice your very own reality beginning to change for the better.

I believe it was Wayne Dyer who said, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

In conclusion

All in all, the point I am attempting to purvey is that the distinction between imagination and reality is extremely blurred.  The health and status of ones mental perception is imperative, for it is directly correlated to the pending reality in which one dwells.

To answer the headlining question – “Imagination or Reality? Which is more important?”

I say: Neither.

They are but one in the same.

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The person who drew this was, at some point, a child learning to draw.

P.S.

In an attempt to make a point, it seems as though I unwittingly transformed this article into a lecture on parenting.

I offer absolutely no apology for this development, because all of the advice given is good advice.  Thank you for reading.