The Lies We Tell

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We’ve all heard it said, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

The second step is not making an excuse for why you shouldn’t have to fix the problem.

Unfortunately we as human beings tend to have an issue with admitting our faults, and when we do, we try to pass the blame. It’s a reflex. Nobody likes to be the bad guy and it’s easier to just come up with an excuse rather than bite the bullet and take care of the issue.

Let’s be clear, if you ever want to improve yourself, you have to acknowledge that there are things that need improving. And not only do you have to acknowledge that, you kind of have to take responsibility for them.

Look, we all have flaws. Some of which may have developed as a kid. Whether it was the fault of failed parenting, bullies, or a single embarrassing incident that caused you to act out in certain ways. Maybe you’re not responsible for how it started, but you are responsible for how you let it develop. And how you let it develop you.

If you’re wanting to succeed in life, you have to figure out your weaknesses. If you want to make yourself stronger, you have to grow. But before you can even do any of that, you have to be completely honest with yourself.

That means telling yourself the hardcore truth; you need improvement.

The problem with that statement is that it acknowledges that you are not perfect. And in a society that now has the unforgivable memory of social media where people spend hours watching compendiums of people’s most epics fails, the idea of ourselves making a mistake worthy of criticism can be understandably daunting.

We fear our flaws make us less of a person, when the truth is part of being human is growing.

One of the biggest things holding me back is that, many times, I don’t have genuine ambition. Sometimes I get discouraged and to be perfectly honest, I don’t always have the confidence I need to push myself. And I have an elephant’s memory for situations. I can trace my lack of vitality to a few key scenarios in life when I was disappointed, shut down, and brutally criticized. I remember in those moments hating myself for even trying and started developing a habit of only doing things I was good at. A mindset that really took the joy out of being a teenager.

I haven’t quite made it past that obstacle. As an adult I have overcome a lot, however there are times when I start feeling like throwing the towel in. It really wasn’t until I sat down and acknowledged the issue that I even started making head way on it. While I may still have those lazy days, I’ve learned ways to push myself beyond those feelings and press on, gaining confidence along the way.

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I’m not perfect but I’m better than I was a year ago. And twice as good as I was two years ago. It’s an evolutionary process this learning thing is.

Finding yourself is much like cleaning out the attic. It’s cluttered, some of the stuff up there isn’t even yours, and there is a box or two you know is crammed with so much crap you don’t even want to open it. Alternatively you could just leave it behind, close the attic door, and pretend it isn’t there, only to find out later in life that one of those old records in your great aunt’s collection was a signed copy by Frank Sinatra (hey, you never know what’s up there sometimes). Or you could take a deep breath, go through on box at a time, and then when it’s all said and done, feel better knowing your ceiling probably won’t collapse in on you one day.

The reality is, you won’t be a successful person in life or career if you don’t know your strengths. You won’t know your strengths until you know your weaknesses, and you can’t know your weaknesses if you refuse to take a good, long look in the mirror and see yourself as you are.

Not hopeless, but human.

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By admitting your inadequacies, you show that you’re self-aware enough to know your areas for improvement – and secure enough to be open about them

Adam Grant

The Alchemist’s Eye

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I remember as a child I would stand by the creek near my house and collect the smooth, tiny pebbles from the cool water. I was very selective about it. Certain shapes, certain colors stood out to me. Where as some would see a rock, I saw a dragon, a lion, or a fish. When I was satisfied with my finds I’d put them in my pocket, take them to the little farm house we called home, and there I’d bury my treasure.

To this day I’m sure if someone were to dig between the holly tree and the tall bushes with the yellow flowers they’d find a strange pile of rocks, dirty and worthless. But for me that was treasure. Each of those stones meant something. They became tokens of memories. They represented a wonder I had for small beauty. They were products of what a big imagination could do to something that most people would overlook.

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I haven’t changed much I guess, just older now. I collect things others might see as useless and I turn it into something meaningful. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I am an alchemist.

Like that child in the creek I’m always searching for something I can take and transform. A way to make the dull and mundane become interesting. I see things in shapes and colors, rather than in letters and names, and I see the potential lying there.

Maybe that’s why I became a storyteller. There’s unless territory to explore in the folds of my imagination and there is some many ostensibly worthless and mundane things I can reconstruct.

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I am an alchemist.

When others see a dirty rock in a creek, I see a handful of gold. I’m looking for the next thing to inspire me, the next thing to challenge me, the next thing I can make glitter and shine.

I’m here, not just to create, but to transform. To take it to the limits and give everyone a chance to see where the beauty lies. To show you there is greatness in the seemingly mediocre if you just add a little imagination and a whole lot of heart.

If you’re looking for beauty, you’ll find it. You’ll see where it currently is or you’ll see where it can be created. If you find it, good. If you don’t, then make it.

You’re the alchemist.