Crowd pleaser…

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…. is not the only option.

You could choose crowd changer.

Changing is far is more difficult and more important than pleasing the crowd.

You could also choose:

Crowd disturber.

Crowd inspirer.

Crowd connector.

Crowd calmer.

Crowd challenger.

And for that matter, you can skip the crowd and just go for: She mattered to me.

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Freedom: from debt slavery

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Buying material things to impress others is also frequently referred to as “conspicuous consumption.”

The term was originally coined in 1899 by sociologist and author Thorstein Veblen to describe the behavioral characteristics of the nouveau riche who used their public consumption of goods and services as a way to manifest their social power and prestige.

Back then, you either had money or you didn’t. But today, credit cards, home loans, clothing accounts, and loose lending arrangements make it relatively easy for consumers at any income level to spend money they don’t have.

The “animal brain” often takes over when it comes to money and comparing ourselves to those around us.

Subconsciously, humans look at those around them for confirmation of their social and economic status. In the modern world, those signals come in the form of houses, cars, clothes, jewelry and material possessions.

Whereas a peacock fluffs his feathers and a lion flaunts his mane, humans flaunt their material possessions.

It makes no rational sense but the animal brain tells us to think in terms of survival and it is a terrible idea to be left behind. The slowest runner misses out lunch or becomes lunch.

People think they need these things to an extend that they get into debt so that they can be seen to have arrived.

In our effort to keep up with the Joneses, we don’t realise that even the Joneses are broke.

Debt has become the new slavery. Modern day slaves are not in chains, they are in debt.

We shop because we believe that shopping makes us feel better.

If buying stuff has not made you happy yet, it probably never will.

Ps: extract from my new book

Freedom: from the need to impress others

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Often people do things because they want to impress other people. Social media has amplified the desire to show off their perfect side in order to impress.

Sometimes we try to show the world we are flawless in hopes that we will be liked and accepted by everyone, but we can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t try.

The beauty of us lies in our vulnerability, our complex emotions, and our authentic imperfections. 

When we embrace who we are and decide to be authentic, instead of who we think others want us to be, we open ourselves up to real relationships, real happiness, and real success.

When one feels the need to always impress others in order to be accepted, it is probably because they feel that other people won’t accept them for who they are.

They are likely to feel as though they are not enough and that in order to be enough, they need to constantly impress.

You are not free until you have no need to impress anybody.

The ultimate freedom is to be free from the need to impress others.

The only relationships that work well in the long run are the ones that make you a better person without changing you into someone other than yourself, and without preventing you from outgrowing the person you used to be.

Don’t lose yourself in your search for acceptance by others.  

You don’t need a standing ovation or a bestseller or a promotion or a million rands.  You are enough right now. You have nothing to prove.

Care less about who you are to others and more about who you are to yourself. 

You will have less heartaches and disappointments the minute you stop seeking from others the validation only YOU can give yourself.

The attempt to convince someone to approve you, to validate you of anything is a hallmark of insecurity. 

You are enough the way you are, you don’t need VIP tickets to elite events, or befriending famous people, or reading and quoting famous philosophers, you don’t need to seek  or feed off people’s daily compliments in order to feel important.

If you can’t validate yourself, you will die when others don’t validate you.

Free yourself from the need to impress.

Free yourself from the need to seek validation.

At some point you get to a phase in your life where you don’t need attention from many people to feel good about yourself… It’s not about arrogance but about understanding that exposing your deepest part of your soul should be reserved for a few close people who truly appreciate and value you. 

Too much attention seeking maybe a symptom of an emotional internal imbalance, a lack of internal locus of control.

Exposing yourself to too many people is tantamount to sharing a big part of your heart, your soul.

Preserving your soul is precious. It’s okay to matter to a few people in your life, no need to be approved my majority in order to feel good about yourself.

You matter all by yourself, there is no need to be validated by others all the time before you feel special.

Suzy Kassem, in her book Rise Up and Salute the Sun, wrote this beautiful poem: 

“COMING FORTH INTO THE LIGHT

I was born the day

I thought:
What is?
What was?
And
What if?

I was transformed the day
My ego shattered,
And all the superficial, material
Things that mattered
To me before,
Suddenly ceased
To matter.

I really came into being
The day I no longer cared about
What the world thought of me,
Only on my thoughts for
Changing the world.”

Freedom: from the need to be right

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The need to be right, and thus making others wrong, imprisons us in a world of judgement and dysfunctional relationships at work, at home, and within our communities.

Just watch the evening news to see how this thinking has generated some of the domestic and global issues facing us today. Conflicts arise because of the obsession with being right and making others wrong.

Despite what we were taught, life is not a competition.

Letting go of the need to be right, certain and absolute is most liberating. It is like stepping out of chaos and into calm.

The need to be right exact a very high price in our relationships and organisations.

To be open to any paradigm other than our current one is not to put ourselves in a dangerous and foolish position. In my experience, the exact opposite is true.

Liberate yourself from the need to be right.

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(pic: inspired by Edna Rooth)

Freedom: and choices

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What will you do next?

What can you learn tomorrow?

Where will you live, who will you connect with, who will you trust?

Are questions better than answers?

Maybe it is easier to get a dummies book, a tweet or a checklist than it is to think hard about what is next…

It is certainly easier to go shopping. And easier still to buy what everyone else is buying.

We live in an extraordinary moment, with countless degrees of freedom. The instant and effortless connection to a billion people changes everything, but instead, we ere paralysed with fear, a fear so widespread that you might not even notice it.

We are afraid to exercise our freedom to chose because we are afraid of taking responsibility for our choices. You see, when someone else chooses, they take responsibility, even if they make a choice on your behalf.

We are free to choose, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices.

We have more choices, more options and more resources than any generation, ever.

Freedom: and the Problem of Freedom

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Freedom is our problem and freedom is our opportunity.

When you have been caged, restricted or limited by forces beyond your control, freedom is something you long for. Freedom is an opportunity.

Often when people get freedom, be it to create, to work, to write, to ride, to make, to fly, they freeze and don’t know what to do because they are used to someone telling them to follow instructions and what to.

When given a blank page and pen, the first thing people ask is what should I do?

Why ask that question?

Because we are used to being told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it, even when we are given tools and freedom, we still look for instructions to follow.

Not that we don’t have enough freedom but that we can’t handle the freedom we have. Or more accurately, we believe we can’t handle it.

Freedom brings the appearance of risk, freedom brings responsibility, freedom means we must make a choice.

Freedom can be a problem or an opportunity. I hope it is the latter.

Stuck?

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Are you stuck, do you feel like you cannot move?

It might not be because you cannot find the right answer.

It is almost certainly because you are asking the wrong question.

The more aggressively you redefine the problem, the more likely it is you are going to solve it.

The most successful people I know got that way by ignoring the race to find the elusive, there’s-only-one-and-no-one-has-found-it right answer and instead had the guts to look at the infinite landscape of choices and pick a better problem instead.

Working on repositioning myself, stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture–or maybe a totally different picture instead.

Maybe I have n0t been able to find “the right answer” because I have been asking “the wrong question.”

And maybe the singular question is another place I am lacking.

Ask more questions. Get more (and different!) answers.