In People’s Eyes

People’s impressions of us can have an enormous influence on how we see ourselves. If they have a positive impression, we see ourselves in a positive light; and if it’s a negative impression, we form a bleak view of ourselves.

But people’s impressions are just that: THEIR impressions. They do not reflect who we truly are and what we are like. They may reveal something about us that we have overlooked, but the fact that other people have certain impressions of us doesn’t mean that these impressions are necessarily true.

People can only judge by what they see, and what they see is heavily conditioned by what they already think. You may be a very confident person, but in one incident, you weren’t really sure how to behave, and gave the impression that you are shy. For people to assume that you’re shy doesn’t take away from your confidence, unless you start to believe what others think of you is true!

This is especially damaging when you strive to grow and become a better person. Growth means that you undergo a positive change. In other words, that you are no longer the person you were. If you struggled to overcome a bad habit, or have changed your view on life, people may still assume that you’re the same person you were when they met you, which overlooks all the progress that you’ve made and all the hard work you put in to develop yourself.

Does it mean that you have not undergone a change?

Of course it doesn’t!

But, again, people can only judge by what they can see. On top of that, if they believe they’ve already seen it, they won’t bother to look again. In other words, if people have already come to the conclusion that you are an impatient person, for example, they won’t try to form a new impression of you as a patient person, no matter how many incidents prove that you are. People will go by their initial impression (i.e. the person that you were) rather than consider the evidence presented in front of them (i.e. the person you are right now).

We should also bear in mind that most of our behaviours are judged by the intentions people assume we have. The same action can be seen either positively or negatively. We can see a salesperson as being caring and helpful, or as being deceptive and cunning.

Judging intentions is impossible in many cases, precisely because we can’t see them, and we often conclude what they are based on the impressions we have already formed of others, which may not be true at all.

This is a major way in which people can have a completely false impression of us. There is no reason why we should accept their impression to be true, nor should we be devastated when others reach a wrong conclusion about us.

All we can do is know who we truly are, consider what possible truth there is in what others think and strive to be as clear as possible in the way we communicate to others and how we present ourselves.


Action Orientation

We’ve reached a point in human history where the information available to us has reached the highest it has ever been, and it continues to grow exponentially. This has made life extremely complicated. There is a lot of information to absorb and that requires a great deal of mental digestion before we can make sense of it.

One of the main obstacles to productivity is shifting our focus from using the information we have available to us to processing that information.

We get caught up trying to gain more knowledge, analyze what we’ve gained, processing what we know, planning what to do, re-defining how to present the information, etc, etc, etc. We continuously process and re-process information, without deciding how we’ll use this information.

This is especially damaging when the thinking is done in preparation for a task, or as part of a project. It makes an obvious appearance as Chronic To-Do Listing (I haven’t thought of a funkier name for it). This is when you get caught up writing to-do lists, but never doing any of the tasks on the list (I fall into this trap quite often that I’m thinking of naming this disease after me 😛 I’ll put that on my to-do list!).

You write the to-do list to clarify your thoughts on what you need to get done. But once these thoughts are clarified, you haven’t directed your focus towards doing the work. As though clarifying your thinking is an end unto itself.

“If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim”
From “If” by Rudyard Kipling

The reason why we, as humans, have the ability to sense the environment around us, and to develop an understanding of it, is not to simply make observations, but to know how to behave, based on what we know.

To become more productive, we need to shift our focus from thinking to doing. In other words, we need an Action Orientation. This doesn’t mean that we don’t do any thinking. In fact, we can do a great deal of thinking. But we should always attach to our thinking the question: “How will I use this information?”

And then acting on the answer.


Increase Your Learning Capacity

Our capacity to learn is not determined by our intelligence as much as it is determined but our attitude towards learning and our impression of how much we know.

Oddly enough, the more we think we know, the lower our capacity to learn is.

Why is that the case?

Because when we focus our attention on what we know, we do not seek to acquire new information. This can be especially deadly when we begin assuming that we already know everything about the world and about the topics we commonly read about. We can even assume that we already know what others believe and think that we fully understand their points of view.

We then stop listening, and content ourselves with what we already know, even though we may have misunderstood the beliefs of others, or we can learn more from them.

Advances in science have only been possible by the willingness of scientists to explore further and to reconsider their current understanding of the world.

Learning and The Glass Analogy

When it comes to learning, it is better to see the glass as being half empty than being half full. That way, we will seek to fill the empty half rather than be pleased and contented with the full half.

If we want to learn more, we should never be contented with what we already know.

Sadly, it’s very easy to imagine the cup as being full while overlooking the fact that it is half empty. This is when what we know contributes to our ignorance more than our own ignorance!

How Big Is the Container?

If we truly want to increase our capacity to learn, we must imagine our learning capacity to be a massive container that can be filled with a great deal of knowledge that we have yet to acquire. This will lead us to observe more, become better listeners, ask more questions and be open to take in more information than we would if we think that we already know everything.

“The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.”
C. H. (Charles Haddon) Spurgeon

Success Mindset

Be A Success Story

Life involves both ups and downs. During the low points in our lives, we can lose hope of ever rising to achieve the goals we’ve set out to achieve. A single failure can launch a wave of ideas that lead us further down the same path, making it more and more difficult for us to recover.

We can label ourselves as failures, and not expect any more from ourselves. We can conclude that our lot in life is failure, and that we are destined to lead a miserable life. We can assume that there is something about successful people that we lack and can never develop.

Failure tends to produce rationalizations that justify the failure, rather than inspire thoughts on how to overcome it.

One of the ways you can overcome the Failure Mindset and replace it with a Success Mindset is to consider the experiences of those who have achieved success and acknowledge the many failures they’ve experienced on their way to success. You can then see the failures in your life as part of your very own Success Story.

Therefore, whenever you experience a failure, don’t think that this marks the end, but a step in the path towards your success, in the same way that other successful people experienced failures as part of their success stories. In most cases, their failures were not a distraction from their success, but a step towards it.

“Use stumbling blocks as stepping stones”
Brian Tracy

In the same way a movie with a happy ending involves many challenges for the characters, your life may include many challenges before you achieve the goals you want.

Imagine yourself having achieved the goal you want, look back at what you had to go through to get to the point you have reached. All the failures, challenges, obstacles, confrontations are part of your success story. Once you accept them as that, you can enjoy the success they will lead to.

“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
Thomas Edison

Personal Growth

“You Are Here”

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

If you had a map of the place you are in, the first thing you should look for on the map is the spot you are on (in malls, theme parks, etc. this spot is marked by a “You Are Here” sign).

If you don’t know where you are on the map then the map is of little use to you. You can’t get to your destination, even if you know where that is on the map!

That’s because for you to move towards your destination, you need to know which direction to go in from where you are. Getting to your destination depends entirely on that. You would have to go left if your destination is to your left, and go right if it’s to your right.

There is no universal direction you have to go in to get to your destination.

The next step you have to take, and the direction you have to take it in depends on where you are. Not where other people are. Not where you were. Not from where you want to be. But from where you are right now.

One of the main reasons why we feel lost with personal growth is that we compare ourselves to others. On a map, that’s like finding out where someone else is on the map, and trying to make your way to your destination from where they are!

That can get pretty confusing. The map wouldn’t reflect the reality that you’re living in, and you might come across dead ends that don’t appear on the map, simply because you’re looking at the wrong part of the map.

If you want to make progress in personal growth you have to determine where YOU are, what weaknesses you have, what strengths you have, what you need to learn, what habits you need to develop (or unlearn) in order to achieve the goals you want.

And you certainly cannot expect to take the tenth step before the first. This may seem like an odd comment to make when considering the analogy of a map, but this is a very common practice when it comes to personal growth. People assume they have reached a point that they haven’t yet reached, and begin planning their next step from there, when there is a gap between where they are and where think they are.

For them to make progress, they need to be clear on where they are, so that they don’t skip any steps that they need to take.

Where are YOU on your personal growth map, and what do YOU need to do to get to your destination?