Archive - December 2008

The One Thing That Makes The Difference
How Well Do You Really Know People?

The One Thing That Makes The Difference

I have read a lot of pop psychology books in my time, and many are written around the concept of “what makes a person successful?”

Its an interesting age old debate.

My overall conclusion is that it has nothing to do with intelligence, or knowledge.

It’s not even down to who you know, although that’s probably more valuable than the first two.

No – to paraphrase Tony Robbins, it’s all about taking action.

You could have many good ideas or things you’d like to do – but unless you actually turn your thoughts into actions – then what’s the point?

No one will ever get to see the inside of your mind, except through your actions.

A friend was commenting on how his boss, as much of an asshole as he is, is always taking action. He’ll just have an idea, pick up a phone, and bark at someone to implement it.

Some ideas work, some don’t, but overall the ones that don’t train the mind to have more ideas of the kind that do – because failure is only feedback.

So going into the New Year, why not make a plan to commit yourself to take action on a few ideas or goals?

It does feel good, and that inner sense of personal power keeps your psychological immune system (i.e., feeling good) healthy.

On that note, its the people who don’t take action enough, who feel like the world takes action against them, who have no sense of control and power and end up becoming depressed, using victimisation language, complaining about everything etc.

As much as I enjoy some great books and ideas, I still maintain that a vast majority of the self help industry (and the books) are total tosh, and I’m quite enjoying the new wave backlash against it (e.g. the SHAM movement) and Hollywood’s gags (Tony Robbins cameo in Shallow Hal, the wannabe self help guru in Little Miss Sunshine).

But in the cloud of nonsense, certain little nuggets of obvious truth remain, and Tony Robbins’ maxim of taking action will never lose its relevancy.

How Well Do You Really Know People?

A friend yesterday said how she’d had a tough time Christmas shopping that afternoon.

The problem wasn’t so much the endless queues, tacky shit, people pushing and shoving or falling over themselves trying to get a 20% discounted hairdryer in Tesco for cousin Charlotte, no, it was something far darker and sinister.

“I find it difficult knowing what to buy people, and it makes me realise just how little I really know them”.

Isn’t it totally true?

I find it difficult myself – I don’t know what movies people have seen, like, got, whether they have normal or Blu-Ray, I have no idea what books people have read, what ornaments go well with what, etc etc.

If you settle for something generic it just looks thoughtless. It is difficult, and all the more so because we live in a culture where everything is accessible and most likely downloadable.

But back to the point.

How well do you really know your friends? And family? We seem to slip into a sort of rut whereby we take people for granted, they just become superficial characters that we think are easy to understand.

“Oh, Dave likes James Bond stuff, just get ‘im a calendar or somethin'”.

Dave says “ah, cheers mate, yeah, that’s good that” but is thinking “what a pile of toss, I’d have rather had the ten quid you wasted on it”.

Its easy to take people for granted though, we’re able to reduce meaningful conversations to Facebook wall messages, text messages and emails.

I don’t talk to my friends as much as I used to, and I assume that most people are too busy to talk. But its a shame, because that great zone where you really get to know someone becomes more and more elusive.

Its so interesting when you have a real conversation with a person, where you discuss fears, insecurities, goals, anxieties, perceptions, stuff you think might be embarrassing but actually isn’t at all, where each persons insights and confessions spur the other to open up more and more, until you really feel like you’ve delved into someones soul a little and really got to know them.

So perhaps it’s totally stupid to go trawling the High St to buy some tack, when you could have spent the same amount of time just talking to whoever you were trying to buy for.

I would much rather have drinks and meaningful conversation with a friend than get another bloody calendar about hamsters, that’s for sure.

What do you think?

Related – We’re All Alone in This Together

Related – When No-one Asks After You

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