The good, the bad and the ugly exist concurrently and randomly. What we pick, defines our present reality. Like the circuitry in a landline telephone hub, apparently a mesh, a mess; whichever wire is connected, will respond. Data that exists in that connected wiring enables us to survive – the remaining data we pick up from what is around us. That original data takes care of our bodily needs and comforts. Rightly so, else we would not survive. Even in the super-abnormal conditions where a baby is left in a forest, the fable of Tarzan being the best example; the organism finds a way to live. The quality of the external data that the organism is exposed to, determines the quality and direction of its potential.
Every child is born a genius. What we do with that genius determines whether it will flourish or be directed to succumb to merely fulfilling its selfish bodily needs. Research in Psychology has established that, in general, a child is born with enormous potential. This potential is its capacity, which when groomed, becomes its ability; moving it from simply surviving to thriving; to taking response-ability.
The voices of society, of the environments in which the child is bred; sculpts the character of the child. The output is that, by the time the child is 11, the child is ready to fit-in with that society and can cope with its norms and demands. If the voices of the society are insecure, the young child, and, therefore, the adult that it will become, will ably manage within the constraints, restrictions and traditions of that society. The voices will keep steering it in directions often not of its choosing but in compliance with societal norms which are, most of the time, unquestioned mores, useful for the past but not evolved to accommodate the burdens of the present; least of all, the onus of the future. This child will be in the passenger seat for life. Associated behaviors are disgruntlement; negativity; critical; blaming and entitled – a victim mentality. This child will aim to be acclaimed as a hero, with a perpetuating need to be validated and acknowledged as its main driving need. This child’s massive potential will adapt to its comfort zone and justify its thoughts, actions and outcomes to further fit-in. Most of its intellectual capacity will be directed to design, develop and deliver these justifications, as they are what constitute its identity.
If the voices are confident, enabling and secure; the child will find its compass. It will find itself in the driving seat of life to steer into the future. It has learnt to maneuver the challenges of the terrain and knows that the twists and turns, ups and downs have to be skillfully managed. It is this skillful managing that becomes the endeavor, not necessarily where the path leads to. The direction is chosen, but the process is the elegance, beauty and quality of Purpose.
The enormous difference between these two types, the experiences they live and generate for others, can be attributed to three sequential elements as highly researched and presented by Howard Gardner in his book, Changing Minds.
A question, whether what to cook today for lunch or which fear to conquer or what new project to launch, will find an answer according to the predominant attributes of your potential. When mindfully reflected upon for the most appropriate response, that response will be the connection between you and the idea. This connection taps into your potential and extracts from it courage, care and commitment. Recall the time when you achieved the seemingly impossible. It was the idea-connection strength that provided the valor to do something so audacious. You cared for the idea so much that it crafted your commitment to it. Your time attuned with how to make it happen. You got swamped with thoughts and invented ways. You saw the resources lying around you. It was clear and in-your-face and it wouldn’t let you be until you did something about it.
In this instance, being a hero does not matter anymore. You do not need other’s validation, acknowledgement; doing it becomes a duty; a ruling that must be sought.
This well-thought out and chosen state acquires meaning because it went through the phase of Connection. You find in it Reason (the What) and Meaning (the Why), which, together, define the Purpose. From here on, everything you think, do or say is in alignment with the idea, cause, mission, ideology. A high level of tenacity springs from an endless well of confidence and positivity and feeds itself, without regard for or expectation of reward or recognition. ‘Giving’ becomes the central theme of every action and you shift from the natural malevolent state to a benevolent demeanor. Whatever comes your way, has meaning, and contributes to the Purpose; nothing is useless anymore; not a minute is spent futile. This ‘giving’ is not altruistic – it is kind and compassionate, but not founded on pity – no, not at all, it is selfish, wherein this selfishness is a virtue.
Persistence is no more a struggle or a sacrifice. The state acquired by now is the utmost of what faith personifies. This faith resonates with attributes of confidence and trust, in self and those who have joined you in the endeavor. They joined you because they wanted it too – they wanted someone to stand for an idea. The extent of commitment you demonstrate is what they want to be part of, as it fulfills the human spirit. Patience and humility take over the concept of chronological time. You know it will happen – ‘when?’ is for you to aspire, but not to determine. By now, the ego fads away to be replaced by flexibility to adapt to mixed, varied and intense circumstances. Such resilience brings in more heads and hearts; hands and feet. Here the journey loops back into Connection, but at a higher level of the spiral. Efforts, so focused, narrow toward the line-of-sight and reach the goal, only to happily discover the next higher peak.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 to 1831), the German philosopher rightly said, “Change is the cardinal principle of life. Struggle is the law of growth. Character is built in the storm and stress of the world, and man reaches his full height through compulsions, responsibility and suffering. Life is not made for happiness, but for achievement. The history of the world is not the theatre of happiness; periods of happiness are blank pages for they are periods of harmony, and this dull content is unworthy of man.”