The boldest move you can make for yourself and others.
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“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” — John Wooden
Leveling up as a human being is hard, uncomfortable work. We all want to experience a greater sense of freedom and when it comes to dealing with others, we all want to possess an Instagram model-esque level of influence without having to eat kale and lentils five times a day.
With a litany of resources, opinions, and ideas up for adoption, it can be overwhelming developing a plan for deliberately improving who you know yourself to be. The run-of-the-mill action plan usually goes something like this:
- Round up a slew of self-help books.
- Subscribe to Audible — with the first purchase landing somewhere within the confines of “How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over”.
- Schedule your Smart TV to spit out TED Talks ad nauseam.
- Immerse yourself in a seminar or two.
All the while, crossing your fingers you’ll experience noticeable, yet manageable growth.
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I’m referencing these steps because I did all these things. I aimed to surmount new ways of thinking on top of my dull and ineffective points of view of the past.
But the acquisition of knowledge or imprinting of fresher habits is far from the most difficult facet of development. You can read, you can listen, you can pile on as much information as you can get your hands on (if you’re older than 25, most of what you read fleets from your daily conversations within a 48-hour turnaround, anyway) — none of it will give you clear access to influencing other people and ultimately, grant you the level of freedom you desire.
Moreover, real growth doesn’t happen on your own. It happens with others. You can rehearse a speech in front of the mirror until you’re blue in the face, but it won’t count until you step on the perilous stage and repeat to the hundreds of judging eyes.
No, it takes something far more brave, far more risky, far more selfless to truly grow yourself to a substantial degree.
Here’s a little of what I’m talking about.
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You Are Your View
If you ask someone who they are, there’s no shortage of answers you might receive. Beyond their profession and who they are for others (father, son, daughter, sister, etc.), the response is typically summed up with qualities and attributes they perceive to be true about themselves. Beliefs, values, and traits are all up for discussion, as well.
Ultimately, who someone is can be understood by their point of view. Reality isn’t so much an objective fact as it is a subjective experience to the individual. As a result, everyone’s “reality” is different from everyone else’s. To know who someone is, is to know what they see. To know their view. The minute you take a look from their vantage point, the minute you understand who they are.
This can explain why communication between people breaks down as often as it does. They don’t see things the same way and more importantly, neither side is willing to let go of their view.
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Influence Comes From Walking In Another Person’s Shoes
Real influence — not the manufactured kind but the authentic and emotionally-charged version — comes from one person feeling truly understood by another. When a person feels like they’re being heard, like they’re on the same page, like they’re no longer alone in what they see, trust is ubiquitous.
You cannot influence someone to the fullest degree by bringing a pre-disposed agenda. You cannot impose the outcome you wish to produce. You can’t even try to convince them that what you envision for them will be life-changing should they give it a try. None of those attempts are aligned with the other person’s point of view and thus, will be met with apathy and disdain.
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Giving It All Up
It all sounds great, right? Perhaps even simple. Well unfortunately for us, this method is rarely carried out because a powerful force is in the way, warding your ability to see things from another’s perspective: your attachment to your own point of view.
We like to think we’re selfless. We like to think we’re humble. It’s all well and good until someone challenges what we believe and all of sudden, World War III is quickly careening around the corner.
As I referenced above, we define ourselves by our views. Without our view of the world, who are we? While this question may rattle the cage to a certain degree, giving up our view is exactly what we need to truly experience another’s.
When we’re free from how we see things, we’re able to explore. We’re able to create. We’re able to wander about the forests of life and truly begin to appreciate just how narrow a lens we’ve been opting to look through.
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Giving up your opinion, giving up your resentment, giving up your justifications is one of the most noble acts you can do for another human being. It grants them the freedom to be themselves without fear of judgment or criticism — a rarity in this day and age.
Whenever your stopped or held back in a conversation, simply let go. Let go of how you think it’s supposed to be. Let go of what you think about them.
Let. The fuck. Go.
We get so damn defensive nowadays and we’re exhausted because of it. Not every difference of opinion is a threat. And people rarely get as mad at you as they do at the situation. Their life revolves around their own view where they're the star of the show and you're merely a supporting actor.
It is only when you’re free from any and all opinions, judgments, reservations, and validations that you can actually appreciate where another person is coming from and as a result, gain everlasting influence and trust.
It doesn’t mean they’re right. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. It simply unzips each straight-jacket and grants everyone the ability to roam freely.
This freedom is accessible whenever you like. All you have to do is let go and see it for yourself.
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