Saturday, 31 March 2018

Letting go of prejudice -- a prerequisite of fast personal growth

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You have to let go of prejudices that prevent you from developing your potential. You have to discard traditions that are not in line with current opportunities. We live in an era of abundant resources and unlimited possibilities, but those will remain unused if you allow prejudice to slow you down.

By throwing away ideas that do not work, you will open the door to realistic plans, workable solutions, and satisfactory results. Let us review briefly five widespread convictions that are at odds with reality.

A partially true belief

First, the idea that the purpose of life is to serve other people:The problem with this belief is that it is partly true. Interacting with other human beings and providing good service to them is highly rewarding. Men and women draw deep satisfaction from the gratitude of customers, patients, or clients.

On the other hand, helping strangers for the sake of achieving ethical perfection should not be taken to such an extreme that it destroys your life. Cost-effective service to customers can only be sustained permanently when it is provided commercially, that is, on a profit-making basis. Service rendered on the basis of personal sacrifice can be viable in some circumstances, but will face major difficulties in remaining operational in the long-term.

Second, the idea that you need someone else's approval before you can improve your life: Gregariousness is an essential component of the human psychology. We all love to be appreciated by friends and colleagues. On many occasions, honours and distinctions are as important as monetary rewards. Nevertheless, this is not the same as professing that individuals are incapable of affecting their destiny unless they have first obtained social approval.

In industrialised societies, personal initiative plays a determinant role in individual happiness. Innovation and change are disrupting traditional social structures, and we have to learn to cope with new challenges. It is no longer true that any person who deviates from standard behaviour will risks massive criticism and ostracism. Innovators frequently find psychological obstacles harder to overcome than lack of access to capital, but those obstacles can be surmounted if you work at them persistently.

Exploiting your assets

Third, the idea that you have to content yourself with your current situation: Physical resources are indeed limited, but this fact should not prevent you from establishing ambitious goals for yourself. Money and other assets can be borrowed if you demonstrate that you can use them productively.

The global economy is a scenario where resources are continuously shifted from low- to high-productivity areas. Purpose and initiative play a crucial role in exploiting assets to the maximum. Innovative individuals are coming up with new business models, new uses for old technologies, and new ways to find customers for existing products. Even if material resources are limited, the only constrain to economic growth is human creativity.

Fourth, the idea that you are too young or too old to improve your life: Such restrictions never hold true overall, although they might apply to specific goals in certain contexts. For instance, learning to play the piano at an advanced age can be a lot of fun, but it will be difficult for a senior person to pursue a career as a pop artist.

Restrictions can often be lifted or circumvented by changing the context. Goals can be modified in order to pursue better opportunities. Personal limitations can inspire us to figure out more effective approaches to make or sell our products. Careers can be redefined. Professions can be re-shaped in order to serve clients in new, surprising ways.

Opportunities enough

Fifth, the idea that you should give up because you really have no chance: Despite the fact that extraordinary achievements are reported daily by newspapers, few people possess the strength of character to pursue highly challenging goals. Psychologically, watching the outstanding performance of athletes on television is less menacing that starting up a business. Praising the latest film of our favourite actor feels less threatening than becoming a novelist. We do not mind being surpassed by those we have never met, but we dread the idea of taking risks in order to grow as persons.

Do no let those risks discourage you. Do not allow false ideas to paralyse you. There are opportunities enough out there for you to find the way. By using reason, prudence and persistence, you can immeasurably improve your life. Start today.


Image: photograph of classical painting -- photo taken by John Vespasian, 2018.

For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books 

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