15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.


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Don’t Bury Your Self Under Your Self-Consciousness

masksAs an introvert, I can talk about this topic with authority. Growing up as an extremely shy child, I’m more of an expert really.

Timidity, nervousness and shyness are all synonymous with self-consciousness. Speaking as a kid who grew up painfully shy: we become overly-concerned about being embarrassed, about saying something wrong, or about appearing foolish. Because of this, we police our speech and our actions. We keep quiet. We remain passive. We don’t speak our mind.

The problem with living that way is that when we are inhibiting ourselves in this fashion, we are not being genuine. And nobody likes a person who is not genuine. We love babies because they are genuine. Babies have no hint of deception or falseness. We love dogs because they can’t conceal ulterior motives; their tails give them away.

When we are not being genuine, we are not being ourselves. We erect barriers between ourselves and others. Being painfully shy hurts not just you, but those that would benefit from knowing your true self. All of us are beautiful. All of us are wonderful creations of a God that loves us. All of us are important. All of us are also unique.

When we inhibit our inner selves because of self-consciousness, we are detracting from our personality not adding to it.

When we are not being ourselves, we are trying to fit in; to conform. It’s less about  inhibition, and more like imitation. If you are not being you, you are trying to be someone else by default.

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else” Judy Garland

If I’m describing you right now, then here’s a quick and simple truth to help you overcome nervousness around strangers.

While you are spending all your time worried about what a stranger thinks of you, the truth is they are not thinking about you. They are thinking about what you are thinking of them.

Here’s proof for that statement. If you take a group photo, who is the first person that you look for when you see the picture? You. And your friend Billy looks for? That’s right, Billy. Your entire judgement of whether or not the photo is good or bad depends on how you look in it.

So don’t focus on how self-conscious you are. Focus on how self-conscious they are. When you realize that they are concerned about making a good impression on you, it helps you to empathize with them.

If it helps, pretend you are interviewing them for a job, and they are a scared candidate trying to make a good impression and you need to coax them out of their nervousness. Pretend they want to ask you out on a date and you’re the homecoming queen. Pretend you are the adult and they are the child. Pretend you are the celebrity and they are your biggest fan.

Too much focus on your behavior and your words, restrains you. If it becomes out of control, it’s more than just inhibition, it’s dishonesty.

Be you.

What is the best advice you have heard for overcoming self-consciousness, timidity, or outright fear?


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Make The Ending Glorious

I can’t remember where I read this story. The author was reflecting back to childhood, to his or her piano lessons. The instructor spent roughly 50% of their time on the finale of a piece in preparation for a recital. When asked about this, the instructor said, “It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes during your performance. If you make the ending glorious, the audience will remember that.”

I compare that story to some oral presentations and speeches I gave in college and I can see where I went wrong. I spent most of my time learning and preparing the beginning. Same with some dramatic pieces I did working in theater. But with a strong opening and a weak ending, the result is usually a disappointed audience, an unimpressive argument or a failed debate.

I also think about that story when I hear people talking about “the good old days.” I think about that story when old friends get together and always talk about the same events over and over. I am amazed at the number of people that think that the best days of their life are already behind them. I am especially saddened when I hear those same complaints from kids just out of college.

I’ve also heard that my generation (Gen X) is the first generation of Americans that the majority do not believe that their children will enjoy a better standard of living than they did.

What happened? Why the defeated attitude in this country? I’ve heard it said, and repeated it often, that you don’t start getting old until your memories are greater than your dreams.

And we live in a society that despises the dreamers.

So, my message of the day is: It is not too late to make your ending glorious. To finish strong. To strive. To achieve. To dream. Make it your resolution; your mission; your most sacred promise; that you will make your ending glorious.

Looking at my life prior to publishing my first book, nobody would believe that I would be qualified to teach on success or personal growth. The reason I went forward anyway is simple: I know that my future is bigger than my past.

I’m in the process of ending gloriously. Every day I am improving my life in some way. When it’s all said and done, I know that I will have left something behind that will outlive me, and I will hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Dare to dream of a great life. Dare to live a life of purpose and significance rather than eking out an existence day by day. Dare to expect excellence in yourself rather than just get by with mediocrity. Dare to rekindle the passion in your past dreams that you’ve given up on. Dare to pursue a new dream no matter what your age or what your present circumstances look like. Dare to conceive, believe, and achieve an ending that will be glorious.


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Correction: Pelf

mirrorBack in February I posted a poem by Dale Wimbrow called The Guy in the Glass. I preceded it with a little note about how I had always thought that the poem was called The Man in the Glass or The Man in The Mirror. Negative, the proper title is The Guy in the Glass. I know this because I found a website, created by the children of the author that has the poem in it’s entirety along with some info about it.

When I posted the poem to my own site, I noticed something which appalled me greatly. A spelling error. I am a little bit of a grammar-Nazi apparently (despite my inappropriate use of dashes and semi-colons in my own writing), but this distressed me greatly.

One, because this was a site established to honor the author of a timeless piece of poetry by his children, so they should have been more careful.

Two, because this was a poem, not a novel. In a short literary piece such as this, every word is important, and messing up one of them is just… icky. Especially in the first line!

So, even though I cut and pasted the poem from the source site and reprinted on my blog, I corrected it.

Here is the original line:
“When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,”

This caused me to cringe, and being eagerly grammaticious, I changed it to:
“When you get what you want in your struggle for self,”

Because everyone knows that pelf is not a word, right?

Right?

I found out much, much later, and for the life of me I can’t remember where I learned it, “pelf” is an actual word.

The definition of pelf according to dictionary.com is “money or wealth, especially when regarded with contempt or acquired by reprehensible means.”

(Insert face in palm)

So there are a few lessons to be learned here.

  1. Be willing to question your core beliefs. Just because you have always believed something does not make it true. I was absolutely sure that pelf is not a real word. Look at it! “Pelf”? It’s like a made-up children’s word for their pet elf.
  2. The majority is not always correct. Just because everyone else believes it, doesn’t make it any more true. If you do a Yahoo! search for “Man in the Glass” (which is the incorrect title) you will see that the top three results re-post the poem “corrected” in the same manner that I corrected it: wrong. Consensus does not equal truth.
  3. Whenever possible, get your information from the original source. It’s like that party game “telephone.” The more ears and mouths a piece of information goes through, the more likely it is to be wrong.

So, I apologize to Dale Wimbrow and his children. Also, I apologize to my readers for my part in spreading out additional disinformation on the world wide web. My Grammar Ninja merit badge has been rescinded.

I do have a question for everyone though. What is a good, accurate site to go to to verify quotes?


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15 Minutes of Non-Stop Free-Writing

I’m sure everyone that has ever taken a writing course has done this exercise before. Just write for X amount of time and do not stop. Free-writing–or stream of consciousness writing–is designed to get you to start writing, stop thinking through all your filters and just flow.

Like I tell a lot of people: “You can’t think your way out of a writing block; you must write your way out of a thinking block.” ~John Rogers

So, here goes:

Free writing – I’m blank – a blank slate. I have no ideas at the moment, so I am going through the mechanical motions of writing – my mind is tuning with my hand. This is the same process I used when writing my first book – the thoughts direct the hand, I am focusing on the end product – I am generating words – this is my goal – to write. Not to write well, not to inspire, not to become the best in the world. To write, to practice, to prepare, eventually inspiration will come, eventually I will sift through enough dirt and soil to find gold and diamonds – this though, this is just exercise. This is my cardio routine, this is me going through the motions – of successfully filling this page with words I will not publish – this is me revving my creative engine at full tilt – pushing towards the red zone – making a lot of noise and smoke and fire and generating sound and fury and excitement. This is all part of the process. Every day is not scoring a homerun or winning a Pulitzer prize – every day is not Superbowls and marathons. But every day is important. Every day is an opportunity to work on basics. Every day is an opportunity to exercise, to practice, to stretch your legs, stretch your mind, go through the routines that will eventually refine you into a winner. Shake off the cobwebs and put yourself through the motions, overcome inertia, defeat lethargy and defeatism. Don’t try to be great, just be willing to prepare each day for greatness.

So, that was a fun little diversion. I think faster than I write, so I manage to come up with cogent sentences, although the dash becomes my universal punctuation mark while free-writing.

How do you get yourself out of a productivity slump?