I enjoy reading books, and I don’t favor any one genre over another. If the story or topic moves me and the writing is good, then I’m easily hooked.
Authors like Haruki Murakami, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Benjamin Franklin, Stieg Larsson, Harper Lee, Malcolm Gladwell, Hermann Hesse, Harlan Coben, Daniel Kahneman, Tess Gerritsen, Dan Brown, Gregg Hurwitz, Dan Ariely, Nassim Taleb, Brene Brown, and so many others have an uncanny ability to captivate me with their words.
In fact, when reading such works, I’m often transported into another world where time stops and personal identification dissolves. I am no longer the reader of the book and have become a third-party bystander in the unfolding events or topical discourse.
That’s what great writers do. They move you. Oftentimes unawares.
And perhaps the greatest dramatic work of all time is the story of our life.
Disappointment is a weighty emotion. Especially when we’re disappointed with ourselves.
It’s the sadness or regret resulting from the non-fulfillment of our hopes or expectations.
We let ourselves down. Again.
It could be something we said that we wish we hadn’t. Or perhaps we could have presented our comments with more compassion and empathy.
It could be something we tried to do but weren’t successful – perhaps through lack of skill or appropriate effort on our part.
During my first winter in Philadelphia – where some of the evenings were bitterly cold – I would often pass homeless people on the sidewalk. They would beg for money through chattering teeth.
As I walked by them, I would wonder if giving money would help, or if there was something else I should do. And more often than not, I would end up doing nothing as I continued on to whatever destination I was heading.
In the past I’ve helped a few people in their career. Most of these people were in jobs they didn’t like and wanted something better.
Usually the way I start is by asking them to make three lists: what you love doing, what you are very good at, and what the market needs.
By finding that intersection between passion, skill, and demand, our work can be transformed from drudgery into something quite dramatic.
But most people don’t believe me.
Either they don’t believe such an ideal role exists or that they don’t have the skills or connections to land such a job.
The problem is that they’d made an unconscious agreement with themselves that they must suffer at work.
And if we’re really honest and self-aware, we realize that we make all sorts of debilitating agreements with ourselves.
I just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in which nearly 200,000 people from around the world convened in Las Vegas to showcase the latest in technology trends. One of those awe-inducing innovations is virtual reality.
By strapping on a headset and gloves, you literally enter another world. The images and dynamic movements have become so realistic that the effect is, simply, shocking. After a few seconds you’ve forgotten about the technology you’re wearing and have now inhabited a completely new persona.
I am me, but now I’m a different me.
Which me is me? The one in this virtual world where I’m now existing, or the one wearing the VR gear?
The answer to that question is even more shocking than the VR itself.
Neither me is me.
Every emotion you feel isn’t real.
It’s a story.
It’s completely made up.
Just like the fanciful stories that parents read to little children at night, we concoct the same stories to ourselves.
Whether we’re the triumphant hero or the oppressed victim, both are simply stories. The stories we tell ourselves.
Everything that happens in the world – what people say or do, how our body looks or feels, what’s going on in our surroundings – those are all just facts.
It’s a fact this person said this thing.
It’s a fact my body is dealing with this certain condition.
But the meaning we give the facts – that’s the story we tell ourselves.