“The difficulty lies not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.”
John Maynard Keynes, Economist
In life we are often contained by a box. It is invisible but it perceptibly constrains our everyday choices and decisions. This box is forged from social constructs, opinions and traditions. Breaking free from this metaphorical cage requires unconventional thinking, new perspectives and the indomitability to rupture society’s shackles. Fortunately, there are some techniques and practices available to invigorate you with Hulk-like strength to smash that box into pieces, and explore the wider expanse of free thought. Let’s get smashing! (Sorry it was too tempting 😅)
You are already miles ahead of the rest as you are using Summi, but if you wanted a little more encouragement on why reading is valuable, here goes. Paramountly, reading is cheating. You are getting advice and life experience from some of the greatest minds ever to live. In some cases, an individual has dedicated their whole life to an idea, project or vision so that you can reap the rewards in a couple of hundred of pages (or much less using Summi – smart choice by the way! 😉). There are books available on anything. I mean it, as I write this, I have a tab open with a link to a book called “Nothing Matters: A Book About Nothing”.
By this I do not mean being that obnoxious irritant in seminars or lectures whom asks questions like “Why does 2+2=4?”. However, there is some justification to this question. There is a mathematical proof for why 2+2=4. Although in an economics class it is out of context, in life it may serve as a insightful fragment of knowledge. Furthermore, another reason to question everything is that many things in life are not concrete facts, often they are theories or arguments. People make mistakes and our understanding of the world is constantly being revised and updated. It is impossible to know everything, so we must accept that it is very easy for us to be wrong. Instead of holding onto our views of the world with a clenched fist, loosen up and welcome conflicting and diverse viewpoints. You do not necessarily have to agree but it’s worth seeing the other side, it may be greener after all.
Fail Well and Often
This statement is often interpreted as “it’s okay to fail”. That’s not the point. Failure is terrible and in a utopia nobody would fail and we would rid the world of problems forever. However, in reality, failure is abundant and if we do not find ways to utilise it to our advantage it will cripple us. I believe one of the greatest fears a person has is to be deemed unanimously as a failure. However, if you are going to explore uncharted territory and break the boundaries, failure is inevitable. Failure must be confronted directly; we cannot resist the emotions that accompany failure as that resistance will wear us out. Instead we must accept and use a failure as a learning process. One of the best ways is to internalise failure: use it as fuel, use it as a lesson, use it as a chance to reflect and don’t take it so personally – you are probably going in the right direction, you just need to tweak things a little. No big fuss or trauma. (If you want to read about my biggest failure to date, see here).
Expose yourself to randomness. Do crazy things
Crazy in this case is not synonymous with stupid. Proactively try to expose yourself to things you wouldn’t normally do. For example, during the Summer I went axe-throwing. I would never do this normally, and in fact it reaffirmed a valuable lesson. When throwing an axe at a target, it does not matter how hard you throw it. If the technique is wrong, the blade of the axe will not sink into the target. It will just deflect pathetically onto the ground. This was an illustrative reminder that a brute force approach is often not the way forward. Instead, meticulous planning and strategising followed by a swift execution will win every time.
Write down all of your ideas
I do this on my phone, laptop or whatever is available. Your subconscious mind is constantly working at things, therefore when you are in the shower, and suddenly you discover the solution to that problem you were stumped by a few days ago. It is not a message from God, it is your subconscious mind that has been fervently working at the problem, while your conscious mind was elsewhere. Once the idea is written down, you can clear your head and proceed in being present and engaged with the task at hand.
Do the important, not the urgent
It is the important things that will define you, the urgent things are usually ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow. Therefore, the important things should be your focus, not the urgent. We have a limited amount of concentration ability each day so use it wisely. In most cases the urgent has greater longevity than we believe. Emails are a good example, although it would be great to reply to everyone immediately, this is often not feasible or productive. Instead schedule times, such as towards the end of the work day, to answer any relevant emails. From my own experience, after each 50 minute study session I do, I have a 10 minute break. Answering emails in that time is fine but only if they are quick. If not I leave it to the end of the day.
Do not be afraid of solitude and seek it on a regular basis
Being able to separate yourself from other people allows you to stop listening and passively receiving their thoughts, and start exploring your own. Meditation is a great way of doing this and the practice will encourage you to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and take note of them. The more we understand ourselves, the more we able to prepare for the challenges that life throws at us and act to the best of our abilities when adversity strikes.
“Your time is limited, so do not waste it living someone else’s life. Do not be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Do not let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”