William Shakespeare ~ In Act 1, Scene III of the famous play, Hamlet, Polonius says, “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man/Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”
There is a lot of Greek philosophy embedded in the quote, especially the Stoics and Epicureans, and Shakespeare was a wise and learned guy who certainly borrowed ideas and words from previous writings. The idea of copywright and intellectual property wasn’t well formed in 1603 or 350BC and citing sources wasn’t as prominent. Over the years we seemed to have reduced the meaning from Polonius’s mouth to make it sound more like Ayn Rand. Rand suggested that commitment to yourself is a commitment to your mind and as such an extension of the individual. She articulately and cleverly used this idea to demonstrate the futility of collectivism (I disagree with her thesis but still admire her intellect).
I am not sure what the Greeks were thinking and don’t have anymore than the context of Act 1 to know what Bill meant but for me the meaning is a paradox that I have been uraveling for years, both abstractly and in practice.
For me it plays out as a choice to think or act. With my tendency to impatience and imperfection and my bias to action and destinations, I struggle with the reflection and analysis. I can convince myself that by the time I arrive at a moment of truth, I have already equipped myself with research and advice. When I am feeling impetuous and instinctive I hear “to thy own self be true” as a siren call to trust the loud inner voice.When I am less certain hear the progression and rhythm of ” as the night follows the day” and worry that I am being impulsive rather than logical. On my best days, I am able to see the biggest picture and realize that all the fretting into one decision isn’t as monumental as I am making it. I can act, evaluate, adapt and decide to move on again or not.
I do want to be true to me and ergo true to you so I will commit to disclosure of the best and not so best that arises.
Make Today Remarkable, for you,
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Andrew Carnegie How do we discover and agree on a common vision if we all have a personal agenda. I have worked on teams that excelled and achieved uncommon results and worked with others on projects who believed that working together meant we all could do much less (because of our collective effort) and get the same results. The difference wasn’t the quality of the vision but rather the commitment of the people. Teams are relationships and not all people understand the commitment they make when they enter into a collective endeavor.
“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb.” Patanjali Key to this quote is dedication and unselfishness before instinct, boldness and effort. Both require courage and both should be held to severe scrutiny. When joining others on a team project, their dedication and yours should be confirmed and an understanding arrived at that anyone can openly question another team members’ obligation to the common goals. Additionally if someone takes a selfish approach they should be subject to and willingly accept reproach. Then the gifts and talents become important and remarkable results will arise.
In the vein of easy to say harder to do, Casey Stengel said “Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.” This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek the best people but team leadership needs to ensure through autonomy, mastery, and purpose that everyone is pulling the same ropes in the same direction. Any free loaders, malcontents and egoists should be released of their commitment and given the opportunity to seek other challenges. When that decision is needed, it needs to be fast, full and forceful – leaving no doubt or room for negotiation. Big, wicked problems can’t afford toxic participants on the solution focused team or the whole barrel becomes rotten.
Team leadership isn’t easy and it probably shouldn’t be. Disagreement is healthy, dissent necessary but distrust is dangerous. Encourage the former and then come to an acknowledgement of a path or process and don’t detour until the way is impossible or unfruitful. If you hit a wall that is unmovable, leadership should accept responsibility and redirect the team to a new starting point. If distrust wells up, face it and name it as quickly and honestly as possible. Make amends, atone, or abandon but don’t press onwards with doubt and skepticism in the air.
Make Today Remarkable, by challenging yourself and your team,
Is today the day you take the plunge? Are you standing at the top of the precipice counting down to one? Have you been standing at the ready for more than a few weeks? Is fear paralyzing you or have you not firmly committed to the next step?
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, famous 19th C German philosopher is best known for an inspirational quote. “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.” The most quoted piece is a portion of a longer and I think far more profound quote.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
It isn’t in the dreaming that magic happens, it is in the commitment. If you have been planning and re-planning a new venture, a new idea, a new product, a new relationship but haven’t acted then you may be trapped in hesitancy and ineffectiveness.
It is easy to say “that every journey begins with a single step” but so cliche as to be virtually useless. The first step is important but it is in the third and fourth that momentum towards the splendid plan. There isn’t a magic bullet, a secret incantation or elixir that will move you. It takes courage to be committed and a recognition that you are stepping into the unknown. For some of us it is a jungle for others a city park, nonetheless perceived as a great risk. You may never overcome some of the fear but courage isn’t acting in the absence of fear or by simply ignoring it. Courage happens in spite of acknowledging the risks and barriers and moving ahead anyway.
In most coaching that I do, we work to find small steps that make taking the big one more manageable. When you are perched at the top, fighting between jumping or retreating, there aren’t any small steps. It isn’t my judgement or my decision – it is yours. But if you have done some homework (remember you can’t know everything) and are now conflicted it can be as simple as trust. Trust is a choice that we make and once made becomes invisible. Trust yourself and your intuition (framed by your life experiences, observations and research) and act. This isn’t a flip of the coin – heads I go tails I retreat. The decision is waiting for you to make it. Trust yourself and respect the choice. If you leap – good luck. If you retreat – you still are better for having made the decision.
Today is the day to test your commitment. Trust your gut. Breathe and act. Accept the results and consequences and celebrate whatever the outcome.
Most everything has a choice component. We get to make choices about love, health, work, hopes and happiness. We can choose trust or distrust. In order to live a more fulfilling life we need to consider our choices.
Most people choose to see themselves in light of an effect. ” I am sad because you did …” I am angry because..” I can’t change my job because …” As if the world was acting upon them. In reality they can as easily choose cause and become proactive in their journey. The only thing stopping us from choosing to make our life is our ego. It causes us to seek selfish rather than sharing behaviour. It is about me and me rather than you and us. Even if you are shy and reserved your ego controls your action because you worry about being embarrassed or being laughed at. Getting past the debilitating ego and framing every opportunity or challenge as a choice begins to erode the ego’s power. As you choose to intervene in your own life and make decisions to benefit others, your life begins to fill up. If you worry about loss, losing. opinions, and status you are thinking about you, you, you.
Maslow’s pyramid was right but not in the way that we usually use it. The pyramid isn’t meant to be filled from the bottom up. If you begin with self actualization (the act of considering the other first) the pyramid fills itself (not really but it does fill from a place of strength and abundance rather than lack and weakness. Take a chance today and start turning your pyramid on it’s head.
Make Today Fulfilling, by thinking about how your choices will impact others,
It doesn’t get any easier. When you have been mired in the muck of mediocrity and misery for a season or two it erodes the ability and willingness to trust ourselves, others and the goodness around us.
All sacred text speak about the power of a little bit of trust. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20
I don’t know if trust can move mountains but it can surely move hearts; ours and others. Broken or damaged trust, in others or ourselves, can be repaired with honesty and time. When you learn to trust your feelings and trust your inner wisdom , then you become trustworthy of yourself. You don’t ignore your instincts, and start listening to what you know in your heart and soul.
To have trust you need to choose to trust. In order to be trusted you need to become trustworthy. Fortunately, both those choices are in your hands.
Make Today Remarkable, by trusting yourself and someone else,
Actually if big ideas are going to remain just ideas, they only require one person. One person who holds onto the idea, tightly, refusing to share out of ego, fear, or the unknown.
Big ideas that get recognized, get acted on, get changed, change something are finessed, financed, finalized and fun when a group/tribe/community rallies around it. Big ideas need supporters to promote, pitch in, and praise. When friends, family and colleagues come alongside your idea it has the chance to become remarkable. Big ideas need detractors (just a couple) who challenge, change, and check (and then cheer). Improvement comes from different viewpoints. Big ideas need hands and feet to test, adapt,retest, and lift and tote and bleed and sweat, and do whatever is needed to make the big idea into a remarkable action.
“I can do this myself (and get all the credit).” ” They will think I am crazy.” ” ” I don’t know if this is any good.” might be the resistance you run into. Resist the resistance and share.
Make Today Remarkable, for yourself,
Belief is a choice, like trust and bravery. Trust and belief are choices, once made become invisible. If you make the choice to not believe, it is always the lens you view the world through.
On November 3, 1929, Robert Ripley drew a panel in his syndicated cartoon saying “Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem. “Despite the widespread belief that “The Star-Spangled Banner”, was the United States national anthem, congress had never officially proclaimed it. By a law signed on two years later, by President Herbert Hoover, “The Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as the national anthem of the United States. That was the beginning of Ripley’s real fame.
The 1930s saw Ripley expand his presence into other media. In 1930, he began a fourteen-year run on radio. Ripley recorded live radio shows from underwater, the sky, caves, snake pits, and foreign countries. The next year he hosted the first of a series of two dozen Believe It or Not! theatrical short films. In 1932, Ripley opened his first museum, the Odditorium, in Chicago in 1933. The concept was a success, and at one point there were Odditoriums in San Diego, Dallas, Cleveland, San Francisco, and New York City. By this point in his life, Ripley had been voted the most popular man in America. He asked millions worldwide to believe or not – make a choice.
Once you choose to believe – 2+2=4, Man landed on the moon, Jesus is the risen Lord, your partner loves you … all forms of opportunity presents itself because of the lens you are viewing. Some choices are or we think are empirical like the earth is round and we can use ‘evidence’ to analyse and decide. Some are philosophical like helping the poor is laudable and we opt for the one that fits with existing values. In love emotions can be the measure that tips the believe scale. Loyalty, faith, experience and intuition contribute in varying measure to the choice, depending on the circumstance and occasion.
Regardless of how the choice is made, once made a new viewpoint opens and we see this world with brightness.
This choice, like all our choices can be reversed or altered, for an equal number of combinations of reasons. Today, choose to believe that you are loved (you really are). Fake it if you must. In every situation today make the choice to believe that you are admired, accepted and adored. How does this one choice change your day? How would making a habit of believing change your life?
Make Today Remarkable, by choosing to believe,
I get to make a lot of choices every day. I choose what I eat, when I sleep, where I go and how I get there. I choose how I feel in specific situations, why I say the things I do, who I listen to, and if I am going to live up to my expectations for myself. I choose to trust and then that choice becomes invisible.
Trust doesn’t mean that all my expectations of myself or others will be met. Trust doesn’t mean that I won’t be disappointed. Trust doesn’t mean that I am on moral high ground.
Trust is the frame that I choose, today, to wrap my life experiences, thoughts, and passions in.
It doesn’t make me gullible. It doesn’t deny me the right to question. It doesn’t close the discussion. Trust helps make the picture in the frame easier to see and maybe understand.
In a world where the distrust index continues to rise, I wonder if we can reverse the spiral by choosing to trust.