29 April 2011

Letter from Lhasa, number 225. (Christian 2009): Your Own Worst Enemy

Letter from Lhasa, number 225. (Christian 2009): Your Own Worst Enemy
by Roberto Abraham Scaruffi

Christian, K. W., Your Own Worst Enemy. Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement, HarperCollins e-books, 2009.
(Christian 2009).
Kenneth W. Christian  

Underachievement is an endemic problem.

Underachievement is widely accepted in the popular culture, which puts little value on persistence in the face of setbacks or on the unique pleasure of working long and hard on something personally important.(Christian 2009, p. xii).

Hard work is essential as well as high expectations are.

To avoid hard work we have lowered our standards. Low standards have infiltrated our institutions and become woven into public policy and the fabric of daily life.(Christian 2009, p. xii).

Diminished standards surround us, encouraging us to lower our expectations for our own lives, and our emotional investment in them, even in life in general. We lower our expectations of, and demands for, relationships, self-knowledge, intellectual cultivation, and personal achievements. Virtually no one escapes these influences.” (Christian 2009, p. xiii).

I came to recognize that no matter how productive people eventually become, at some point nearly all of us deal with hesitancies or other obstacles on our way to later achievements. In fact, the biggest difference between those who achieve and those who do not is in how they choose to deal with the obstacles they face. Those who do not combat personal obstacles and cultural trends become numbed and disengaged, inured to lower quality, adept at settling for less, and, as in Plato’s allegory of the cave, content with shadow approximations of what they actually need to satisfy their deepest longings.(Christian 2009, p. xiv).

If you continue to aim low, you live a truncated version of your life. Like a feral child, you accommodate to a life alien to your nature, but by blending in, acquiring standards through fear or by osmosis, and adopting a kind of psychological protective coloration, you gradually lose your essential idiosyncrasies, set aside your possibilities, and do your best to howl like the rest of the pack, while barely noticing what goes unexpressed at your core.(Christian 2009, p. 33).

Achievement is the result of continual cumulative effort and only occasionally yields glamorous, magical moments. Moving on from any stage requires taking certain risks.(Christian 2009, p. 60).

Do not wait until the moment of death to have as your last conscious thought: “Oh, my God, I was alive.” You are the gatekeeper. Each day you do or do not decide to live differently.(Christian 2009, p. 116).

About change:
Your life is what you do with your time.
(Christian 2009, p. 125).

“To succeed at a high level, you need to learn to employ the following skills habitually:
The skill of order
The skill of patience (related to tolerating frustration)
The skill of deploying attention, as discussed in relation to work and boredom
The skill of persistence or tenacity
The skill of consistency
The skill of thoroughness and follow-through
The skill of finishing
The skill of repetition”
(Christian 2009, p. 164).

Do not wait. Act immediately. With positive practices, of course.

Develop a vision according your desires and act coherently.

Act quietly and confidently.

Define goals and timelines.

Evaluate realistically yourself for changing and improving.  

Find the way for breaking and going well beyond your personal limits, being aware that you have to disintegrate your self-limiting beliefs and your fear of success.

Build new habits and a new language conform to your new life.

Do not plan too much or do not do it in a too scholastic way. Each real achievement is more important than any abstract declaration and of any complex planning. 

If you want to set new goals, you might begin by transforming the master skills into arts, and then extend the list to include the topics we have now covered. Consider devoting yourself to:
The art of patience (related to tolerating frustration)
The art of persistence and tenacity
The art of consistency of effort
The art of thoroughness and follow-through
The art of finishing
The art of reflection and contemplation
The art of planning
The art of perfecting
The art of attention
The art of friendship
(Christian 2009, p. 269).

Christian, K. W., Your Own Worst Enemy. Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement, HarperCollins e-books, 2009.