Month: October 2016

October 26, 2016 Oliver Briny 1 comment

Pygmalion in the classroom has graduated. No longer is he shackled by people's expectations.


Life has a tendency of trying to tell you who you are. If you haven't done the necessary mileage to purposefully seek out who you are, the world has no problem in persuading you. Unfortunately, forming your self-image by only listening to outside sources is like legitimizing a system that renders you passive.
Getting your course right towards living an active life with a purpose requires brainwork to determine who you want to be and what direction you want to start heading. This may sound like a vague idea when starting from zero, or after deciding to start over, but let’s begin breaking down some of the practical thinking steps you can take to kick-start the journey of becoming who you want to be.

 

I remember speaking to a dear friend who told me how he grew up with siblings who were very skilled verbally and academically.

 

Seeing the way their surroundings (friends and family) labeled the siblings as very smart and gifted, my friend, who was the youngest of the three, unknowingly formed a label of his own. Thinking that all the 'smart cards’ had been dealt, he started to identify with sports, which was something that came naturally to him. 

 

Years later he moved to study abroad and was planted into an environment where no one had any preconceived notions of what kind of a person he was. He quickly learned that he had an inclination towards learning new things, and a thirst for academical knowledge and concepts. Others quickly identified him as smart and wise, which was confirmed by multiple strength tests later on. ‘I wish I knew earlier!’, he said to me.

 

Sadly, many people never do…

 

During my studies in psychology I came across the observer-expectancy-, or the Pygmalion effect.

 

In a study conducted by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson, teachers in a single California elementary school were told that some of their students could be expected to be ‘intellectual bloomers’ that specific year. The bloomers’ names were given to the teachers, but what the teachers didn’t know was that these students were randomly picked, and formed about 20% of the student body in that school. In other words the prediction that was given to the teachers about the bloomers was completely made up!

 

At the end of the study the whole student body was tested, and the researchers found that the results of the bloomers, especially that of the first and second graders, showed statistically significant gains. This confirmed the researchers' hypothesis that through the expectations of others, reality can be positively or negatively changed.1

 

In the same way, most of us have experienced labels that have formed through the expectations of others. Many are still affected by labels that are put on them in their respective communities. These labels give us a direction that may be based on falsehood or other people’s desires for us, and aren’t quite the optimal choice for our lives. The innate gifting that you have is, in a way, a direction that has been written on you since the very beginning of your life.

 

Have you ever tried to move the steering wheel of a stationary car? It’s quite heavy to turn, but if you get the car going, even if in the wrong direction initially, changing the direction to where you want to go becomes so much easier. The moral of the analogy is to always have a direction instead of being complacent - no matter what season you’re in. If you decide on a direction and start moving, you’re better able to align your life to the path you actually want to take.

 

There’s so much more to us than we usually allow ourselves to explore. Sometimes it’s a restrictive community such as a family or a group of friends, others live inside a culture that doesn’t allow for big differences. I believe you are so much more than a person forced to fit into other people’s expectations.

 

Take some time and write down some thoughts on what gifts, talents and passions you have - move away if you have to - and set a direction for your life accordingly. What do you want to see a change in? What void do you see in the world that you want to fill?

 

I encourage you to take responsibility for your life, decide on a direction and begin the journey of becoming the person you want to become! 

 

It's time for Pygmalion to graduate...

 

 

1. Rosenthal, Robert; Jacobson, Lenore. Pygmalion in the classroom (Expanded ed.). New York: Irvington, 1992.
October 18, 2016 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Your gifting is valuable to the world.


Life has a tendency of trying to tell you who you are. If you haven't done the necessary mileage to purposefully seek out who you are, the world has no problem in persuading you. Unfortunately, forming your self-image by only listening to outside sources is like legitimizing a system that renders you passive.
Getting your course right towards living an active life with a purpose requires brainwork to determine who you want to be and what direction you want to start heading. This may sound like a vague idea when starting from zero, or after deciding to start over, but let’s begin breaking down some of the practical thinking steps you can take to kick-start the journey of becoming who you want to be.

 
Many cultures tell us to beware arrogance to a point where we ultimately start undermining our gifts and talents in order to appear meek and humble. Living in Australia for some of the most formative years of my life, I quickly learned about a phenomenon called the Tall poppy syndrome. It’s a way of describing a culture in which people have a tendency to push down others who appear to be incredibly gifted, successful or show formidable potential. Various Asian cultures have a saying that describes this phenomenon: 'The nail that stands out gets hammered down’. The resentment and criticism generally stems from their own turmoil, hurt or decisions (or lack thereof) that have led to complacent, passive lives.
 
Although I agree that pride and arrogance are not healthy qualities, there needs to be a separation between negative pride (arrogance) and positive pride (confidence).
 
Pride in its negative sense, arrogance, always has to do with comparison: you take pride in your own abilities in comparison to other people. The dark side of the coin is that you yourself get stuck in the same comparison game as the people who try to restrict others with gifts and potential. Here the purpose of your gift is limited to giving one a sense of superiority.
 
Healthy pride or confidence, however, has to do with understanding the revelatory concept that your gifts and talents never said anything about you in the first place! No matter your religion or outlook on life, we can all agree that we never had any say in what innate gifting we get to have. Some of us are naturally gifted in sports, some are great in expressing themselves, others excel in scientific studies and research. All of it is important, unique and necessary. Here you sincerely believe that your gift can make a positive change in someone’s life.
 
Of course innate gifting has to be coupled with discipline and hard work, but when you realize that a gift you’ve received doesn’t really say anything about you in the first place, you’re freed of the thought of hiding it, or having to worry about other people judging you. If you were to be judged because of a gift you've been given, you would just wipe the dust off your shoulders and remember that their judgement makes no sense, and ultimately, has no power over your life. When this principle sinks in, you’ll be able to confidently cherish your gifts and talents, as you would any other physical gift someone gave you.
 
Whatever your gifting is, know that it is of high importance and has the potential of being a big contributor in the lives of people around you - even in the lives of those who weren’t able to believe in you.
October 14, 2016 Oliver Briny No comments exist

What is it that defines you? What is the foundation for your identity? Here are some building blocks for you.

On what kind of foundation do you build your identity? What kind of building blocks do we have when building an identity anyway? These questions we often hear simply chase after what it is that defines you.
 
Our circumstances in life are frail. In an instant what seemed like a solid establishment can go down; we could lose our job, go through an accident or stand helplessly by as a misfortune falls upon a person dear to us. Often times we latch our identity on what we do, where we live, or what we own. What is it that defines you when the establishments you thought were unshakeable break, and life doesn’t go as planned?
 
Have you ever seen people who never seemed very special, but who turned out to be very influential voices respected in their fields and communities? I sure have, and throughout my life I’ve wondered what the secret ingredient to their success is. An artist who composes the most heart-touchingly sweet melodies finds success in seeing how his music touches and brings joy to others who partake in his creations. It’s the contribution to the world he rejoices in. To him, fame doesn’t necessarily have any part in it. 
 
Believe it or not, work can have the ability to improve one’s health and overall well-being. Make your work purposeful by making your purpose your work! Success, in its truest form, comes from the core of one’s being. It’s always a byproduct, never the focus. If the artist of the example is something only when he’s on a stage playing his music, you change his title, and you change him. However, if what he does is the fruit and an extension of who he is, he - his identity - won’t be changed by a change of circumstance. 
 
'We cannot make the wind blow,
but we can adjust our sails in obedience to the laws of the wind,
and they immediately give us their power to go where we will.'1
 
 
 
1. Johnston, Howard Agnew. Studies in God’s Methods of Training Workers. New York: Internal Committee of Young Men’s Christian Associations, 1900.
October 14, 2016 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Be sure to find what fuels you. Quality fuel equals function on a higher level!

When operating a well functioning car with a clear direction in mind, one of the first action steps is to make sure the car has enough fuel to reach its destination. In order to keep your car going, you have to know exactly what fuels it! In the same way we have many wants that we - sometimes desperately - want, but aren’t quite sure why we want them. The truth is that without a meaningful reason behind our wants, we lack the substance that fuels us.
 
What we want is the direction we’ve decided upon and why we want it is the fuel, or in other words, what keeps us going. Sadly, we’ll never be able to reach our destination without quality fuel. This is the reason we often keep hearing about the ‘why behind the what’: the ‘why’ is essentially what powers the ‘what’. The ‘why’ behind our doing is the fueling factor: without it, the engines are not moving!
 
By nature, we want to be associated with success. It’s an innate desire for us to feel celebrated and we go to great lengths to attain other people’s admiration. This poses a problem as our lives and goals soon start revolving around comparison which, in turn, causes all kinds of negative emotions that slow us down. 
 
When you realize that your gifting is valuable to the world - beyond just your own self - your purpose becomes external and outward. It doesn’t just extend within the borders of your life, but it goes far beyond! This realization then shifts the focus away from you, and frees you from the comparison game you used to play in order to measure your worth. You’re no longer fueled by selfish gain, but want to build something greater than yourself. 
 
The security of your identity, then, draws its power from what fuels you, because what fuels you has to do with your purpose. Purpose is basically what you would call the reason for your existence.
 
Purposes are many - what is the purpose that fuels you?
October 14, 2016 Oliver Briny No comments exist

knowledge and wisdom

I love science.

 

It’s based on calculative observation. Logic is a necessary part of the process because of its transparent nature: it is tested through conversation, application and time. Yet, according to science alone, life has no purpose apart from passing on our genetic information. When studying happiness however, we find that it comes from a life lived with purpose. I’m proposing that the purpose of life always has to do with others: a fulfilling life is one that is bigger than oneself.

 

So why do we need wisdom?

 

A wise man or woman understands that all of life is connected. He is aware of the cause-and-effect relationship between what he chooses today and what he experiences tomorrow, what he chooses during one season of life and what he experiences in a future season - for better or worse. Wisdom, in many situations, is more appreciated than any other material gift. It has the power to drastically change a life.

 

Knowledge and wisdom are two distinct entities but they bear a similarity in that where knowledge should be interwoven with logic, so should wisdom be. Wisdom, by definition, has to do with soundness of actions and decisions; if your experience of wisdom has to do with weird abstract or even contradicting phrases or sayings, remember that taught wisdom should be logical and insightful - it should make sense!

 

We live in a world of rapid technological advancement. Today, we have access to more knowledge than ever before. In order to embrace new knowledge and navigate a life constructed of countless decisions (or lack thereof), wisdom is an indispensable compass.

 

You’ve found a blog for Thinkers - a warm welcome to you! My wish is that you find the content helpful.