Why Do We Do What We Do? (Character & Personality)

Sometimes we do what we do because it’s a force of character. According to character-training.com/blog/, our character is what determines our responses to life situations (07/06/12). Character should be your main focus on your path to finding you personal and professional “Why”. Simply put, character is the foundation for success. Therefore, knowledge of what makes up your character brings you a step closer to your meaningful “Why” and the true source or fuel for your vision. As the definition above states, our character is in direct connection to our behavioral and verbal responses. I’m here to tell you, you have the power to change those responses. The first step is to get to know your character as much as you know your personality.

As defined by thepersonalitysystem.org, personality “is the entire mental organization of a human being at any stage of his development.” (07/06/12) Other web resources that talk about the concept of personality define it as “an attempt to capture or summarized an individual’s essence.” (wilderdom.com 07/06/12), or “the pattern of thought, feelings and behaviors that makes each of us the individuals that we are.” (mind.org.uk 07/06/12). What we gather from all these is that personality is a psychological and social construct, another way to privately and publicly classify and place people within socially accepted molds, according to their patterns of behavior. It is about what goes on in the realm of the mind and what defines our individuality. Also, it is a pattern, but unlike habits, the patterns of behaviors that make up our personality are innate, not learned. And what about character? As found in psychologytoday.com/blog, and its 04/03/11 post by Alex Lickerman, Personality vs. Character (07/06/12), character “includes traits that revel themselves only in specific and often uncommon circumstances.” Even more, “research has shown that personality traits are determined largely by heredity”, while character “traits like honesty, virtue and kindness”…“are more malleable” and “based on beliefs” (psychologytoday.com/blog). Our beliefs are “assumed truths” that “anchor our understanding of the world around us” (changingminds.org 07/09/12). As long as our experiences and knowledge of the world remains the same, so will our beliefs. We internalized other people’s beliefs, we take them from the mass media, and this is what drives our material consumption, as well as from the traumatic experiences from our own lives. This is crucial for the discovery of our meaningful why.

As we have seen, our why takes shape and forms from a true knowledge of our “self”, and therefore, of our needs, and a true commitment to change from within. I want to empower you to embrace change as the self-discovery of a better version of yourself. It is possible to change negative patterns into ‘new’ more productive and positive habits. It is possible to change the negative character traits that we have acquired along the way, from childhood to adulthood. What change requires is a measure of commitment. The paths to take are self analysis and self- accounting. Our wants can be separated from our needs; our core beliefs can be dissipated or reinforced by knowledge. Once we take the time to understand how our habits and character might be hindering us from moving forward, impacting our responses and in consequence our lives, change can be put in motion and, as a result, a better visualization of our Why and stronger determination to achieve it.

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Room for Improvement: Stress and Relationships

Every day we face the many stress factors that come with our modern lives. Sometimes we let routines and responsibilities take the best of us. For many of us work and professional life come first. If our belief is that our jobs and careers are what make possible the opportunity to build relationships, I think we are actually heading in the wrong direction. The point that I’m trying to make is that Relationships that are well Nurtured and Nourished may be key for a stress-free life, but why do I think so?

First, I think centering our life-efforts on people is a much healthier alternative than centering our efforts on money and material things. The concept has been around for years, “stuff” won’t make you happy, and that is the truth. We need to establish new human connections and care for the relationships we have. It is not about finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, getting a husband or wife, it is about reconnecting with your family, appreciating your love-ones and friends, giving something back to people who need you and need it most, and most importantly not taking for granted the people who are traveling the road beside you.

We take them for granted when we let stress cloud our judgment and “dump” on them our negativity, our hurtful actions, and our harsh looks and words. I used to believe that when we were stressed out, when we were anxious or had a discomfort or pain, we had a license to let out our thoughts and words without censoring, without them being filtered through our logic and reason, essentially, I thought it was OK to be mean. Well, as I discovered years later, it is not OK,  there is no license, no free pass, when you hurt somebody, when you vent your stress away and unto the person or people around you, those words and actions cannot be taken back. Stress may be a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to come at the price of losing or hindering your most precious relationships. Someone once told me, “When you get mad, stressed and anxious, the way you look at me, you talk to me…if only for a moment, you stopped loving me”, I always made excuses for myself, but the person was right, for a moment stress and negativity made that person into an enemy, when he was my best ally.

Finally, think of the damage caused by an action, a word or a look provoked by unmanaged stress, I believe the damage is greater on you that on anybody else. After everything is said and done what you get is a feeling of guilt and regret, you may have lost their love, trust and respect. Don’t take that chance. Your job and career may bring you professional admiration and prestige, it might bring you money to buy better things and widen opportunities, but it may not be all that it is necessary to cement and strengthen your relationships, those connections that give meaning to all of life’s simple moments, happiness and love.

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

The Decision Making Process and Our Level of Choice Satisfaction

 

Linda Anderson’s post Something for The Weekend (11/09/12), in the Business Education section of Financial Times (www.ft.com),  explores the topic of decision-making from a psychological perspective. “ln trying to understand what affects decision-making a group of academics have looked at how individuals make a choice”. As consumers the level of satisfaction a  certain choice would produce is consistent with the amount of choices we were originally given, “the answer they say depends on having as wide a selection as possible.” or at least, I believe  to perceive that we are given all the choices. Anderson goes on to say  “the results of the research indicate that it is preferable to present all the options simultaneously”, to me it seems all about control. As modern consumers we understand a variety of products and services are competing to get our attention and to become our number one choice, we want full disclosure.

Making decisions is a crucial fact of life, as the amount of choices widen our satisfaction may go up, nevertheless, I wonder if  we might lose our ability to make choices that involve less information and greater risk, and therefore have difficulty moving and following through with out decisions. While limited choices seem to be more and more turned by our consciousness into failure, a wider array of choices seems to mean opportunity and power. May be a good exercise to develop greater assertiveness over the decision-making process would be to simplify our lives and the multiplicity of choices we face everyday. If we force ourselves to make a choice based on fewer information and our true needs and wants, we may be better prepared, not just to make the tough choices, but to be content with the choices we made and keep moving forward.

Food for Thought: on Habits

Habits have their place in our lives; however, it seems we have fallen into some of them by default. As much as they create an environment of certainty in our lives, we also need uncertainty and surprise. The latter are the elements that keep our lives moving forward, in expectation, driving our imagination and curiosity. Yes, the unknown might be frightening, but is also where the possibilities lie.

Why do We do What We do? (Part III)

Sometimes we do what we do because it’s a force of habit.Your habits are in fact connected to your wants as well as to your needs. According to Wikipedia, “habits are automatic routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, without thinking. They are learned, not instinctive, human behaviors that occur automatically, without the explicit contemporaneous intention of the person.” Habits help us function in our daily lives; they have a private and social function. Habits give us a level of independence and self-management over our daily activities. As the definition explains, habits are things that with time have become automatic for us to think and/or do. For this reason we should all take a look into our daily habits to see if we are doing the right thing, and heading in the right direction, not merely taking a shortcut through life, or following a negative or less than effective pattern. First, we must understand that we have the power to change our patterns. After we have become aware of a pattern of behavior that is destructive or counter productive to our vision or goals, we have to empower ourselves to change gears and re-educate our mind and body. We are not talking about simple rudimentary habits like brushing our teeth. We are talking about investing time and effort teaching ourselves new patterns of thinking about our daily activities, developing or redesigning those activities in order to transform our lives. Put another way, we are challenging you to re-invent yourself. By eliminating certain negative, harmful or mechanical habits and replacing them with habits with a purpose. For example, instead of the automatic habit of checking your email and Facebook account when you find yourself bored at work or at home, why not use that time to create and develop a new habit; it may still be an activity involving the internet, but instead of a passive activity, it may become and active thought-provoking activity, like writing a blog, and article, looking for an interesting piece of information, creating a photo album for your friends and family, etc. Instead of spending hour after hour glued to the television, why not record just the interesting shows or documentaries you want, and meanwhile read a book, eBook, or blog, spend time in your garden, go for a walk, play with your children or have a meaningful conversation with your spouse or your parents.

Why do We do what We do? (Part II)

To find our “Why” we must take a closer and truthful look inside and have a sincere talk with our “self” about what it is that we need from life, from others, from ourselves. We tend to do what we do driven not by what we need but by what we want.

 According to socialstudiesforkids.com a want is something you would like to have. It is not intrinsic to your well-being  it is an added element to life that would make it more pleasant, more enjoyable, more beautiful, for you. On the other hand, a need is something you must have, and cannot do without, like food and water. A need is something essential to your life, you cannot opt out of a need, and all the driving forces of human nature and survival are set in motion to get you to fulfill your more basic and primal needs first, consume nutrients, drink water, and sleep. As humans became civilized creatures we have piled up wants on top of needs, trying to accommodate those needs to the social environments that we created; growing cities, growing populations, greater access to new and better things. Every day we spend a large amount of money of material wants, we feed ourselves and our children the “food” we want regardless of the nutrients we need. Unfortunately, for centuries, we have been programmed to make personal, public and financial decisions based on our assumed and automatic wants. To these, in essence, we have become dependent.

Understand this, your “Why” is not to be found in your “Wants”. But your wants may be a starting point to re-discover your needs and your meaningful “Why”.

Why do We do What We Do? (Part I)

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”Socrates

I believe we do not ask ourselves why because we are afraid of the answer as much as of the empty space we might find in place of a true meaningful reason. My goal is to empower you to do otherwise, to look at self-questioning as a process controlled by you and essential for your professional and personal fulfillment and success.

Many people might think they constantly ask themselves questions and look for reasons why they do the things they do. Yet, I believe most of the time we come up, not with truthful whys, but with explanations and excuses for the ways we have handled situations or for the opportunities that we have let pass us by.

We must come to terms with the fact that the circumstances of our lives will forever shape our character, however, we have the power to create the positive or negative perspective through which we choose to see those circumstances, and the degree in which they may or may not affect our decision-making process towards achieving our future goals and taking responsibility for our failures. Once we accept the circumstances of our lives, our painful memories and traumas, the conflicting moments and the missed opportunities, we will be able to move forward with a better understanding of who we are, and therefore, of what we need.

The Accountability Coach

“When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”
— Louis Nizer

Accountability “is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.” (Wikipedia 08/15/12, 3:19)

There is no leadership without accountability. As leaders we must be held to a higher standard. We must take responsibility for our words, actions and decisions, and we should expect every member of our team to excel in this regard as well.

–       Accountability is a key element of the ongoing self-assessing process that must be performed by the leader and each member of his/her team.

In business, accountability means transparency in information, activities and results. The concept is in close relationship with our professional and personal ethics, our morals, beliefs, principles, and the private as well as social commitment to be integral men and women. No leader can do without these ethic and moral principles; no success can be achieved without a true and transparent leader and team, who embrace self-accountability as part of their core value system.

The Accountability Coach becomes, therefore, an asset for your business and joint ventures. In the ongoing and fast-pace environment of the entrepreneur, established business ventures as well as starter companies may rely on an additional partner to guarantee success. The Accountability Coach will be there not only to create a plan of action designed around your business’ vision, but will keep you on track, focus and motivated. By measuring progress toward short and long-term goals, the Accountability Coach is a source of awareness, creativity and innovative perspectives. The goal of your Accountability Coach will be to challenge you and give you the learning tools, resources and follow-up needed. The goal will be to facilitate the process and, as a result, strengthen your leadership, your team and the growth of your business.

Forget the Negative “What If”

It is good to think about other possibilities beyond our current reality. Asking what if this or that had happened or what if I did this or find that or get this and lose that, it’s all part of our capacity, as humans, to dream and visualized reality that has not happen, could have happened or does not exist, and feel it as a real life experience. However, what ifs are pointless if they come from wanting to change the outcome of things that have passed instead of focusing on solutions. What ifs are inconsequential as well if we keep them in the realm of the mind and never find a true purpose or drive to take them to the next level.

What ifs may be use as pathways into untapped regions of our consciousness, where we may explore ideas and concepts, possibilities. They should be means to an end, not ends in themselves. They should lead us in to bring out new inspiration to take action and follow throw those visions into reality.

The danger that we all should avoid is letting what ifs stop us in our tracks and keep us from moving into action. By staying motionless and in a state of day-dreaming we will only be robbing ourselves of an opportunity. We sabotage our own potential not only with negativity but with inaction and procrastination. What ‘s stopping us? Fear, the possibility of failure, and the impossibility for us to leave behind a legacy worthy of what we think others expect from us.

Yes, I encourage you to dream big, however, to minimize the potentially harmful what ifs, those that restrain you from action or spring from regret instead of wonder, you should aim to design those dreams around a true knowledge of your “self”. To move away from the negative what ifs in your life you must take accountability of your actions, assets, financial and otherwise, your traits, your expertise, your passions, your wants, your needs, your habits, your character, your why. Negative what ifs may only be defeated and overcome once our true reason and purpose has been established, without the shadow of a doubt, our path has been set and our mind has a clear vision of its destination.

The Concept of “Being” in Action

“To be or not to be, that is the question”

Shakespeare

Being, noun, “the state or quality of having existence” (thedictionary.com), present-participle verb, Be-ing (dictionary.com)

Recently I thought about a concept which was explained to me by my father in law. In turn, it was taught to him by his father. The concept was simple, and it centered on action as the path to learning, change, evolution, being. We “are” in the moment we move toward something or someone. We exist in action.

According to The Free Dictionary, a Human Being or Homo Sapiens is “any living or extinct member of the family Hominidae characterized by superior intelligence, articulate speech, and erect carriage”.

We call ourselves Human Beings; that is the name of our species, but only by dissecting those words we may begin to comprehend who we really are, and what we really need. We stood up, we made connections, we created tools, we expressed complex thoughts and emotions through physical mediums; we developed.  All the things we have accomplished are the result of action, movement, change.

But it seems we are still caught by surprise when we find that these elements are what make us human. It seems we are constantly trying to stop or slow down change, refrain from movement and find excuses to take actions.

If we stop acting, what would that mean for our humanity, if we do not act, move, change, are we still “being”?

Even for Shakespeare’s Hamlet the question of “being” involved a decision to act or not to act.

The choice not to act goes against our nature, even when it means risks and sacrifice. The alternative to action and “being” is to remain in a space of doubt, continued questioning and rest. A place in which we “are not”, since we “do not”.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Hamlet Act 3, scene 1, 55-87.

“I think, therefore I am”

Descartes

“Being” in action is the process of moving forward from the abstract idea into the physical manifestation of that idea. Indeed, as we have said before, it is through the human consciousness that we find awareness of the self, however, to “be”, thought needs, essentially, to be put aside. The realm of the mind and the self needs to give way to the realm of the body; and the actions that, through our bodies, we can accomplish.

Our thoughts may be the effect of our existence, nevertheless, for our existence to have true value and meaning we must be willing to participate in the everyday. This does not happen in absence of action and change. This does not happen when the mind that is conscious of its body’s existence does not compel this body to act.