Standing outside ourselves, seeing ourselves as others see us AND coming to fully understand the lens through which we see the world is a learned ability that must be cultivated. The expression “Fish see water last” helps us understand that our world view is so all persuasive to us, so all compassing, that we forget that other realities and other points of view exist. Traveling and seeing other cultures opens us to the myriad ways humans think and live and how much of what we consider a given is simply a cultural construct, one of many ways.

This all applies to our daily lives, both work and personal.

The most successful people in life are those who’ve mastered the skill of working hard AND smart. There are certainly times when “nose to the grind stone” is the most effective way to achieve a goal (it got me through my first year of Law School!) but if you do not look up on occasion to assess the bigger picture, all that you end up with is a flat nose and a worn out grindstone.

Working smart requires self-awareness. This can be frightening because it involves challenging long held assumptions and strongly held beliefs, repeatedly asking “Why?” at deeper and deeper levels. Many people find this unsettling, myself one of them (The Cave You Fear to Enter Holds the Treasure You Seek!). I often visualize my emotions as a way of gaining clarity; the process of self-examination seemed like staring into a blinding light that made me so want to look away. I was afraid that if I “took myself apart” to examine how my inner workings functioned, that I might not be able to put it all back together; if I shut off the engine (my internal drive) for maintenance, I might not be able to re-start it. In spite of these fears, I persisted and the result has been a happier, more balanced, contented life. I’ve chosen to spend much of my life as a task focused, goal driven, and achievement oriented personality. The process of self-examination has helped me avoid the classic letdown that can occur when a major life goal is achieved… and while satisfying on one level, leaves you feeling incredibly empty on another i.e. the “is that all there is?” syndrome (“The moment of victory is too brief to live for that alone.”)

Closing Quotes

“Extraordinary Effort is a requirement for success but knowing where to put that effort is even more important.” – NSC

“Thinking is some of the hardest work there is, that is why so few people do it.” – Henry Ford

“When you live for a strong purpose, then hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.” – Steve Pavlina (presumably the “strong purpose” springs from a deep sense of self awareness about one’s role/goals in life and the meaning of life to that individual)

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier