“Those who lead inspire us.”

I’m not usually one to reference specific books directly but Start With Why by Sinek spoke to me. It speaks of leaders with power and those who lead by inspiring. It speaks to those that desire to inspire and those seeking inspiration from others. Perhaps the most fantastic part of it all is realizing how the most influential people leading communities and organizations all share the talent that tells us the “why” of their presence in our lives.

If we take a moment to consider inspiring leaders, not once do we envision a 30-minute powerpoint presentation packed with specific information nailed down to the nitty gritty details of their ideas. Instead, we recall the board–inspirational statements–they make that celebrate the very driving ideals that give us the reason to believe and recall it when we wake up the next morning.

Not once did you favourite author have to tell you “I write great books”. They let you know that their written work is valuable by challenging the norms of a supposedly saturated industry. No one will ever be motivated, nor care enough, to be part of a community that only preaches on how well you do one thing.

There is a reason people thrive on inspiration. Because it can model both our personal lives and organizations we run.

Sinek developed the Golden Circle as pictured above. Just as I spoke of inspiration, the Golden Circle encompasses both people and their business interactions.

In short: It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do–people won’t care unless they know “why”.

Is this really applicable to our lives you might ask?

Fair question. I thought the same.

Last week someone asked me to map out the “why” of my life for my own personal clarification. After what felt like hours of talk, I realized I still had no understanding of what “why” really meant.

So, here’s what I’ve come up with: Your WHY can be broad. Vague. With lack of details in fact. All it has to be is something that drives you to continue moving forward every morning.

My why in this case is to inspire through written communication. To enable people to find their own place in the world–whether this be a mental state of well-being or a physical home.

We are people of change and growth. Our actions will shift its course as we move forward but our “why” is what will remain consistent.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

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Unfollowed.

Is there ever a good way to address the problem of unfollowing? Before the time of social media, this form of rejection never existed.

At one point or another in our lives, we get unfollowed. I don’t just mean via our social media accounts but rejected in various aspects of life as well. A friend might delete you off Facebook and a business partner could want to stop working with you. Some of these things we can shake off easily and move on. Then we are left with those that can haunt us for years to come, until we make an effort to seek out new perspectives in our lives.

After every single rejection we fret over how we’ll be able to put ourselves out there again after being so hurt. We become jaded over the frustration and anger. The same negative emotions pester us to no end and build a negative energy over and over again.

I won’t deny that to a degree, we all need the validation of others. But what’s more is that freeing yourself from being unfollowed or blatantly rejected in life only truly begins when you find fulfillment in yourself.

Most recently I had the pleasure of working with someone incredibly bright in the field of academia with multiple upcoming publications. When she broke down, stating she was alone and that everyone hated her–it was all nonsense to me. Despite having been successful in her field of choice, landing the job of her dreams and having many adoring students she had read negative messages directed towards her while at the same time ignoring all the good.

Anyone in a similar situation would feel lost. Because of this, our motivation is temporarily heightened as we feel the need to obsess over results. This is what happens when we weigh our fulfillment on validation from others and their judgments. Staying grounded is key to having more self-love.

Before you decide on what to wear from your wardrobe each morning, you should wear the confidence. Why? Because it looks good on you.

There is no pleasing everyone. And if they unfollow? Good. You didn’t abandon yourself to keep them.

What we really need aren’t opinions from others on how we should feel. We need to do something. Anything. As long as we do it while treating ourselves with value.

It’s true what they say about us giving up power for others to hurt us by their rejection. Even when we look back to the people that unfollowed and countless more rejections that slapped us across the face in the past, we manage to see the good in it for being the pivot points of our lives. We survived another episode of rejection. And guess what? It wasn’t so bad after all.

So next time you get unfollowed or rejected in one way or another, know that it was just what you needed. Not that “they shouldn’t have!” or “you deserve better! nonsense.

Happiness that remains dependent on judgments formed by others will always be temporary. Beyond that, it’s difficult to recall the world we lived in before part of our validation became based on how many up-votes our thoughts received. Instead of fishing for compliments from others, we can try constantly complimenting ourselves instead. Why not tell yourself you’re awesome everyday?

Can we really learn from rejection you may wonder? Of course we can. Perhaps the rejection happened to show us that our approach was all wrong and yes, ultimately meaning we screwed up. Not only is it important to ask ourselves “Why?” but it’s just as important to ask “What can I takeaway from this rejection?”. We’re capable of reflections that make us better as human beings and prepare us for upcoming opportunities in our lives. Being rejected or unfollowed isn’t a “me game” where the whole situation revolves around you and you only. There isn’t a need to be battling more fears and insecurities of the imagination. Sometimes we’re more capable of nurturing ourselves after rejection than anyone else.

We’re the only ones responsible for healing our own wounds. Not time.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Disney Fairy-tales and Other Glorious Lies

“As long as you’re a genuinely kind person, you’ll be able sing with cute animals all day and eventually a fairy god mother of sorts will come and rescue you from your misery.” (What Disney plots are telling us)

Indeed, that is the magical world of Disney and folklore. The time when you were five years old and looked forward to talking to stuffed animals in a universe where wishes came true.

Perhaps our imaginations were boundless enough as we grew up to encompass more adventurous travels to places that do not exist.

But do you remember when you realized Disney fairy-tales do not in anyway reflect real life? That Santa was never real and if you were lucky enough your parents attempted to prolong your vision of this make-believe character. We felt in one way or another–cheated. Maybe confused as we all should be after having been fed years worth of lies. Taught to tell the truth but told fables to expand our horizons and grow our imagination.

Escapism is the adult form of Disney fairy-tales. In our adult lives, time is a constraint to adventures we would like to have. At the end of the day, it comes down to some form of reality that may involve mortgages and childcare support. As children we lived for the day a dragon swiftly takes us to the faraway land with fairies and as adults we live for the two days at the end of the work week. Why do we lie to our selves? Why tell ourselves we’re doing it right when all of this feels wrong.

We allow our career choices to define our self worth, cannot live without electronics, have visions of IKEA themed showrooms in the house and dream of getting a fat slice of the year end bonus at work.

The lies we tell ourselves are so much bigger than Disney fairy-tales will ever be.

Visiting  different workplaces in various areas of the city in the last month has reminded me of how little I’ve traveled geographically. Not that I was physically chained to anything but psychologically speaking, work often times has us tied up in the same corporate mindset. We’re told what tasks to perform and specific ways to conduct them. We’re literally cardboard cutouts that require the approval of others to make progress in our work lives and beyond.

Just because it’s a luxurious cage doesn’t make it any less of a cage. A seemingly high-end job can still be a constraint.

It’s too cliche to say that we’ve lied to ourselves so much that life is no longer the great adventure it once was when we were children. We stopped playing with puppets but allowed ourselves to puppets of the corporate world. Why create a reality only to desperately seek out ways to escape it?

Again and again we discover that adult life isn’t filled with unlimited freedom and happiness as we hoped. It will always be nice to believe there is something enchanting beyond the lagging computer systems and isolated corner cubicles.

Let us continue to believe in mountain top castles and whimsical creatures.

Let us continue to pass on fables.

Let us stop thinking we’re old enough to know better.

Let us stop thinking happy endings are just for wishful thinking children.

Let us refrain from the illusions created by our lies and enlighten ourselves with thoughts of countless possibilities.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Dear Vancouver, It’s about time you stopped talking about the weather

I’ve always been quick to bring up the weather in conversations and despise myself for it. I never quite understood why so many of us do it. All those times we’ve found ourselves stuck on the train with someone we haven’t spoken to in months: “I hope there isn’t going to be this much rain on the weekend!” Blame it on living in Vancouver if you must.

As soon as I bring up the weather topic in a conversation, I feel slightly uncomfortable. As if commenting on the rain will be the death of the conversation. There must be better things to talk about.

Maybe we can think of it this way – we too often worry that anything else we bring up in conversation won’t interest the other person.

Sure it’s not common for us to know too much personal information about our co-workers and acquaintances – but does that make it a bad thing to ask? Since when did asking how their parents are doing become classified as digging too far into uncommon territory?

Not that I’m particularly preaching upon the fact that technology is making people extremely disconnected or whatnot. Certainly communicating through technological mediums did not suddenly make all of us decide that our only common denominator comes in the form of discussing the rain and how many umbrellas have been flipped.

If you’re thinking this is about whether we’re being pessimistic or optimistic judging from whether the conversation is based around the rain or sunshine, you’d be wrong. Just because you sounded excited when mentioning the sunny weather doesn’t dilute the fact that you refused to make some sort of social connection.

You might think that all the talk about the depressing rain is getting you down but maybe it’s just refraining from a social connection that’s hurting  your personal well-being more.

Mind you, it doesn’t always have to be an ongoing meaningful conversation or so to speak. What really matters is that talking about the weather or whatever your go-to topic of conversation is – stops becoming a repetitive fallback when you feel like there is nothing left in common. And hey, if you’re not a meteorologist or just someone that religiously refreshes the weather application on their phone every 5 minutes, I don’t see why the topic of weather should really extent beyond a minute at most.

Stop being lazy and make a bit more of an effort tomorrow morning. Sure most days we wake up and it’s raining. Sure the commute to work is long and treacherous. Sure you feel just a little bit irritated when someone tries to start a conversation with you while your socks are wet. But who is to say it won’t be worth it if you’ve never tried?

So Vancouver, here’s my challenge to you: The next time you feel a sudden urge to throw out a line about the weather, mention something more fun. Like seriously.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Safe to say, most of us have been asked the big looming question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” before the age of 7. Sure we can easily criticize the poser of the question for asking this too soon in one’s life but is that really an issue? Living in a day and age where technology is revolutionizing itself before our eyes — there is perhaps no point in asking children the big looming question. Not only is it too soon for a child to have pre-established ideas of what they need to be passionate about but jobs exist today that didn’t exist just a decade ago.

Gone are the days where one person was only meant to do one thing. [Click to Tweet!]

As the fickle creatures we truly are, there is no surprise that we have the tendency to proclaim our love for one career — only to wind up hating it and moving on to another one. And to be fair, that’s why we’re given more than one chance to get it right. Because how are we supposed to know whether or not we’re actually passionate about something before trying it? No expectations formed from a single job description will ever match exactly with what the job is really like. Things just aren’t as you first imagine them to be.

There is fear that the technology revolution will make jobs disappear. Since we are stuck to old assumptions about pursuing one career we forget that these jobs are being replaced by new ones. Ones that we too can have if we were willing to re-educate ourselves. Of course education doesn’t always have to be tied to the bureaucratic system that made up nearly 2 decades of our early lives. If anything, learning from reading every book, talking to people in the industry and attending very event takes a heck of a lot more energy than going back for another degree.

If selling ourselves to employers has become increasingly important to answering the modern day version of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the need for us to: define what we want, test out the waters and steer onto a whole new course free of obstacles is essential. With the overwhelming number of passionate people setting out to fix problems through start-ups, workplace models are rapidly changing. What are the chances of your start-up finding success like Google or Instagram you say? I’ll say we’ll all have a better chance if only we treated ourselves more like start-ups. Selling ourselves is one thing, but it’s another to be able to identify and make changes before diving into disasters head on.

Here are the days we can give the most interesting answers to the question: “What do you do for a living?” [Click to Tweet!]

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Make Your Own Life

You’ve been over this before. Frankly, your brain is sick of hearing it. There is something you want to do that you just haven’t yet. You want to go back to school, you want to start your own business, you want to learn to cook…

The non-existent book you have yet to write.

Perhaps HALF of a book draft that you just haven’t been able to bring yourself back to touching since work got in the way.

And I could go on with this list, but what’s the point? You’re such a smart cookie you’ve already got where I’m going with all this talk.

We’ve got to take the “you only live once” and direct it in the most positive way possible. It shouldn’t be an excuse for acts of recklessness. What it should help us realize, is that we ought to stop preventing ourselves from doing the things we want to.

Funny thing is, we like to assume we’re being realistic and logical for not pursuing the things we are deeply passionate about. Common logic: No money, no time, not young enough to fail again, don’t want to start over, don’t want to do something you’re not the best at etc. They say we’re afraid of failure, but it seems we also have a fear of great success. To know so much is to have more potential fear.

At some point someone might have told you you’re not capable of the thing you wanted. You didn’t want to believe it. You thought you were capable of not listening and not caring about what they said. Why is it that you went ahead and followed through on someone else’s words instead of your own?

Your single belief should be the only thing that matters.

Some of us are just naturally the ‘glass half empty’-types. We pride ourselves on being able to avoid all disappointment because of the lack of risk in our lives. And as our ancestors might have advised us from the dinosaur era, stay in a place where there is the lowest possibility of your predators ever hurting you.

There is no short-cut out of the pessimistic mindset. For every 10 lovely compliments you receive, you may only find yourself pondering the one time someone doubted you. Not only doubted your dream but also doubted you as a person. It’s important we make an effort to facilitate encouraging interaction between those that we care about and care about us in return.

We will forever notice more reasons to not do something we want than to go for it. At the end of the day, we don’t ACTUALLY need a perfect track record clear of failures in the long-run –so stop being so OCD about it. Take the first step. And if it doesn’t work? Well, now you know what the better step is to take the next time around. To give yourself a chance at succeeding is to gift yourself with a new habit; the habit of accepting better solutions to old problems.

You’re doing it for yourself. To remind yourself that you’re amazing and deserve to follow through with your own words and not others’.

Make your own life.

— itsfruitcakeweather.

Everybody Else Has Their Lives Figured Out (But Me)

How silly of us to be hurting ourselves on the regular basis. We do this by misguiding ourselves to only consider the successes of others. Which of course, makes us look back upon ourselves and wonder why the heck we’re so seemingly terrible at what we’re doing. It constantly makes me wonder whether it’s merely a matter of confidence after all these years. The expectations we’ve placed upon ourselves and our lives don’t always match those we’ve laid out for others –it’s tempting to measure success at first glance.

The most important aspect has nothing to do with how we measure success like you might think. However, it has much more to do with the fact that we’re allowing the successes of other’s control our personal accomplishments in life. Just like originality can come from two writers blogging about the same topic and expressing it in completely different styles, what appears to be the same dream shared by two people can still be your very own. As the saying goes… the grass is always greener on the other side. And how blatantly obvious this must sound to all of us. So obvious it is horrifying that we continue to live out our lives based on what everyone else has achieved.

Sometimes blood, sweat and tears is all we see in ourselves –allowing it to diminish the value of our successes. At the same time we neglect the blood, sweat and tears of others. Even if you cannot directly relate to the falls of others, it is crucial to understand that everybody hasn’t got everything figured out and you are most definitely not inferior to anyone.

This doesn’t apply to only one type of success, whether it be career, family or love. Many of us might only spot the families having dinner together on Christmas Eve and it makes us question how our own families should function. But how different we all are when expressing love. Perhaps on Valentine’s Day you find yourself single and at a movie where the theater is filled with couples –do you then ponder the idea of why you are not as sought after as your best friend? In reality, things are rarely what they seem like at first glance and there is no single way for someone to have their life figured out. Stop looking to others for the answer because they don’t have one either. We might even discover that the best way about having our lives figured out is to actively place the focus on self progression rather than everyone else.

I get it though. Some of us are unaware, others just feel like the secret to having perfect lives has been outed to everyone but themselves. Doesn’t it also seem like the people that have it all figured out can always achieve things that appear so out of reach for you? Self-reflection can do us worlds of good but every supposed success of others doesn’t need to equate to re-evaluation of your self worth. While you are able to understand the mistakes of others, there is certainly no reason to think they are not capable of accepting yours.

Sure we have strong tendencies to think “everybody else has their lives figured out (but me)”. Sure on our bad days it appears unfair that the rest of the world is seemingly living in a cloud of bliss filled with cats and rainbows. But I’m most certain, with a little reminder, we can come to terms with the fact that everybody else does not have their lives all figured out. Rest assured that if the above logic all applied and everybody did have their lives figured out –that would mean your life is all figured out as well.

— itsfruitcakeweather.