“It’s not about who’s telling the truth, but rather who has the best narrative.” That was the complaint I heard from a friend.
We were talking about the difficulty most of us have sifting through the mountains, or terabytes, of information we are bombarded with each day. Somewhere in there we will find some truth, but to get to it requires so much digging, checking, cross-checking. Sad to say, “Who has the time for that?”
So, if someone comes up with a story that’s interesting, has a few grains of truth and tugs at the emotions, we are often pulled in that direction because it’s a good story and it kinda sounds possible. More to the point, it probably fits in with the biases we already hold.
In a world in which thinking for yourself seems to be just too much effort, it can be tempting to accept the story that someone else has already manufactured to fit their agenda.
We all have the capacity to think for ourselves. Of course, there’s effort involved, and there’s responsibility. Thinking for ourselves means we can’t blame anyone else if things don’t work out. That kind of responsibility adds maturity, power and resilience. It builds character. Just imagine what a boost that would be.
In these deeply challenging times, we are brought face to face with the awareness of just how interconnected we are.
Everything we do has consequences…for ourselves and for those around us. Close and far away.
Because we don’t always see or may be unaware of the consequences, that doesn’t mean there are no knock-on effects.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it this way, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
This awareness can be scary, because we soon realise that what we do and even what we say can cause serious harm to another person. It could be someone we have never met. In which case we may just shrug our shoulders. But the harm can also fall on someone we know, someone in the same house, someone close to our heart.
A time to remember that, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We’ve been presented with a massive challenge.
We have also been provided with a number of simple strategies that can help us reduce the risk of being infected with this virus.
It calls for a lot of change. Change is easier to handle when we absorb it in small doses. But we’ve been thrust into widespread change on multiple levels at great speed.
We’ve been shown that each one of us is important in the effort to reduce the spread of this virus. Each one has personal responsibility. Small regular personal actions can protect us, our families and possibly the country.
We used to think, “I’m just one person. I can’t make much of a difference.”
We now see that every person can and will make a difference. Either a negative one by being irresponsible, or a positive one by acting responsibly and following some simple guidelines.
Appreciate your value – make a positive difference.
I completed a job for a client only to learn I had made a mistake that caused a missed deadline. So, I had to redo that portion of the project.
I got angry with myself for having made such a simple mistake – what was I thinking? For days all the successful projects of the past disappeared from memory. All I could see was this little error. It appeared huge and threatening. I couldn’t think clearly enough to make the corrections.
My wife asked me if anyone would be physically harmed by the mistake. I said no. Would anyone lose money? – No.
Would my reputation be destroyed? – No.
Would I be able to correct the mistake? – Yes.
The problem was my arrogance. As if I was too good to mess up in that way. When I realised I was feeling sorry for myself, I was able to focus on what needed to be done, make the corrections and move on.
Sometimes we need to embrace our imperfections, work with them and use them as fuel to learn and grow.
That experience was a great teacher.
We tend to be so concerned with our own interests that we pay little or no attention to the interests of others. But people listen with more attention if they feel you have understood them. They tend to think that those who understand them are intelligent and sympathetic people whose own opinions may be worth listening to. Put in a nutshell: – if you want other people to appreciate your interests, begin by demonstrating that you appreciate theirs.
It also helps to acknowledge that the matters each of you are clinging to may be part of the overall problem you are both trying to resolve. Whether in politics, at the workplace or in the family, many issues become the source of major conflict because the time is not taken to listen to the other person’s point of view. You don’t have to agree, just listen.
The time it takes to listen now, can save a lot of time in conflict later.
Holding a grudge is like holding on to a piece of coal with the aim of throwing it at someone.
I heard that back in primary school. Didn’t really make much sense to me back then. However, as I got older it began to hit home.
Someone has done or said something to hurt us and we hold on to the hurt, we cling to it as if holding on to a rope as we dangle over the edge of a cliff.
This grudge, this hot lump of coal is burning the flesh off the palm of our hand as we wait for the person who hurt us to come into range so that we can throw it at them.
All this time the person has been getting on with their life. While we are agonising with this piece of hot coal. If the person did mean to hurt us, they have won twice. First from the initial incident and then the years of additional suffering we have inflicted on ourselves.
Don’t give them the satisfaction. Throw down that hot lump of coal.
Are you scared of your potential? Are you afraid that if you work towards being all you can be, you may not be able to handle the responsibility that will surely be part of the package?
If yes, you may be settling for much less than what is satisfying and meaningful. Some people accept the mediocre because they can’t pull together the sense of pride of purpose which would allow them to move beyond ordinary.
I can share with you that I felt that way some years ago. I got some help from a good friend who said, “Try to go beyond the simple need to fit in and appreciate your own uniqueness. Accept the fact that you can and do make a difference.”
He said, “If you conduct your life from the perspective that you can achieve almost anything you put your mind to. You will notice that mediocre is no longer good enough. You will be inspired to break from mere routine and explore the wealth of potential within you.”
That advice was of tremendous help back then and continues to push me forward today.
Sometimes in life, we feel as though we are in a tunnel with no possible way out. But a tunnel by its very nature has two openings, so there must be at least two ways out. Even though the end of the tunnel may be a great distance from where we are at this time, it will eventually come into view.
There is a lot to be said for keeping on track and believing in yourself and your ability to weather the storm. When you lose hope, you also lose sight of that tiny speck of light way off in the distance. Why not focus on that dot of light up ahead? Even though it may be barely visible, as you continue to move forward the tiny dot increases in size, becoming more real with each step you take.
The more light you see, the more fuel is added to the fires of faith and hope. The twin engines that power you towards the exit.
Protect the flame. Don’t let anyone blow out your light of hope and enthusiasm. Continue to believe in yourself.
A short while after I started producing this programme for Music Radio 97—some 25 years ago—a listener wrote in and said, “A waste of time. It’s too positive. Totally unrealistic.”
I was much younger then and it hit hard. Then I thought, wait… too positive?
Ever noticed how some folks only focus on stories about how bad things are in the world? They do not raise a finger to make things better, but they will stand on the sidelines, waiting and praying that others will fail so they can shout, “I told you so.”
That’s the real world they say. “Things are just rotten everywhere.” If you present them with a creative way to solve an issue or point out positive steps being taken, they label it unrealistic pipe dreams.
We all have a choice. Pointing out what’s wrong is easy… there’s lots to choose from. But what are you going to do about it? We can choose to label all the negative stuff as reality, refuse to explore the positive options being put on the table, and proclaim that the situation is hopeless. Or we can see the challenges, admit they are pulling us down, but also embrace the fact that positive things are happening. Even though they are sometimes dim, rays of hope are present.
From that vantage point we stay focused on seeking solutions. A positive outlook does not blind us to reality, it sharpens and clarifies our vision, enabling us to see more possibilities.
There’s a tendency to put people we love and respect on pedestals, as if they are perfect. Parents, friends, children, colleagues, teachers and so called celebrities. We expect particular patterns of behaviour, speech, responses and achievements.
But notice what happens if at some point they fail to live up to our expectations and desires, if they should show some simple human failing, or choose to do something we do not understand or of which we do not approve. We are disappointed, annoyed or hurt. The faith, trust and respect is quickly replaced by distaste.
Is it really possible that the talents, and every good act of that person can be completely wiped out by one mistake, a small weakness or simply because they failed to live up to our expectations?
Human beings are just that… beings who are human. And being human means we are not perfect. We are making effort according to our own perception and beliefs, our own understanding of our role and according to our capacity at any given point in time.
Sometimes even heroes need a helping hand, some guidance, someone who will listen without judging, a shoulder to lean on.