Another new year is upon us. What man will you be at the end of 2013, here are some thoughts to get you started.
Learn a New Skill
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” — Albert Einstein
The new year is a great time to think about personal growth over the coming year. Learn a new skill this year and stick with it, be it woodworking, weight lifting, running, or shoe shining. When 2013 comes to a close you’ll be a more skillful man.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” — Muhammad Ali
Get out there and do some volunteer work for your fellow man. Find a kid to mentor, coach an inner city baseball team, donate time rather or in addition to writing the obligatory donation check. Remember:
‘No Man is an Island‘
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
– John Donne
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov
I have written this before, but the average American doesn’t like people who are more intellectually capable, because that would be considered “elitist”. But being scared of those who have more knowledge or experience than you is childish and stops you from learning and growing through the experience of others. Use this year to question the things you “know” to be true. Stop speculating and overgeneralizing your way to being misinformed. Stop relying on Fox News or MSNBC to do the heavy digesting of current topics for you.
Be a skeptic and don’t just believe what people tell you – value evidence. And then question even that. I think this quote from Harlan Ellison sums this up quite nicely:
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” — Harlan Ellison
Consider Diverse Ideas
“Novel ideas are more apt to spring from an unusual assortment of knowledge – not necessarily from vast knowledge, but from a thorough conception of the methods and ideas of distinct lines of thought.” – Alfred Whitehead
Many unique and great ideas come from unexpected combinations of sources. The more diversity you have in your personal knowledge and the people you have around you, the more useful that knowledge will be. Make new friends this year, seek out and study ideas and concepts that might be uncomfortable to you.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to learn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Bessie Stanley
Success is a highly personal pursuit, but I think this description is quite apt. Keep your definition of success in mind and stay present at all times and you might just find that you reach your goals.
Deal With Failure
“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.” – General George S. Patton
The fortitude of your character this next year will likely not be determined by your successes but rather your response to failure. Always remember there are no self-made men, your successes are built on the shoulders of others. When you reach the bottom you may not have all the support you once had, how will you respond?
Learn to Show Feeling
“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Men really fail to express how they actually feel and when they do they apologize profusely for “losing it” or being “awkward.” If more people opened up I have a feeling many of the world’s problems would be avoided.
“The highest genius is willingness and ability to do hard work. Any other conception of genius makes it a doubtful, if not a dangerous, possession.” – Robert S. MacArthur
What’s your goal for the year? To learn a new language, lose 50 pounds, put on 25 pounds of muscle, to learn to play an instrument? Whatever it is don’t expect the task to be easy. A great idea or achievement is the result of a lot of study, contemplation, sweat and tears. Ditch the “fat pills”, bullshit supplements and other “get X quick” schemes and dig in for a year of hard work.
“Spend your money on the things money can buy. Spend your time on the things money can’t buy.” – Haruki Murakami
A very difficult lesson to learn.
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” – David Foster Wallace
Not what you were expecting, I’m sure. A good quote to mull over during the coming year.