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Learning is the Cure-all

The ability to learn is the basis of hope.

Without the possibilities of education, we would all be condemned to remain the same people today that we were yesterday.

Every mistake would be consistently repeated. Every failure would be doomed to happen over and over again. Every time we were stumped by a tough question or baffled by a complex problem, we would have to live with the anxiety of knowing that those things would never get any easier.

Our capacity to glean insights from our struggles gives us power and promise. Each time we’re exposed to a new challenge, we gain the power of resilience. Each time we engage a new concept, we experience the promise of greater possibilities.

Learning is the art of familiarizing ourselves with the unfamiliar. To learn is to become a bit more familiar with what doesn’t work, what’s worked for others, what might work for us, and what’s worth trying. When we combine this familiarity with deliberate practice, we aquire mastery over ourselves, over our gifts, and over various aspects of the world around us.

The pursuit of mastery through self-directed learning is the key to staying fueled with inspiration.

The people who feel hopeless are the ones who see problems as fixed, enduring, and definite (“this bad thing just happened, it feels bad, and it’s going to feel exactly like this forever”) while the people who are invigorated by hope are the ones who see problems as transitory (“this is a terrible situation, it feels terrible right now, but everything changes”).

For the hopeless, problems are permanent. For the hopeful, personal growth is permanent.

When you allow yourself to become static and complacent, you’ll end up being a sitting duck for every bit of discouraging news that comes your way.

If you want to overcome hopelessness, fill your heart with as many ideas, stories, and experiences as you can. Build a vast vocabulary of metaphors, distinctions, questions, and examples that will help you outgrow mundane and limiting perspectives.

In T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Merlyn offers this sage advice:

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

There is no end to the challenges we face in life. Fortunately, the same can be said about our opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve.

Dear Everyone,

Whoever and wherever you are, I wish you nothing but freedom.

The things you believe, say, and do, even if they annoy me or make me uncomfortable, will never ever extinguish the fire within me that burns for the freedom of all (including yours).

My desire for the liberation of all individuals won’t be compromised by personal vendettas nor will it be weakened by the sometimes irritating actions of people on the left, people on the right, people in the middle, or people who couldn’t care less about those kinds of labels.

I am not a proponent of freedom because my life happens to be going really well right now. I am not a proponent of freedom because freedom is where the money is. I am not a proponent of freedom because everyone likes me. I am not a proponent of freedom in order to get back at someone I dislike.

I am not a proponent of freedom as a reaction to current events or recent political debates. I am not a proponent of freedom because of what some celebrity randomly happens to believe this week. I am not a proponent of freedom because I think freedom is edgy, trendy, and provocative.

I am not a proponent of freedom because I went to a conference where someone told me that freedom was easy.

I am a proponent of freedom because freedom is life. I am a proponent of freedom because without a deep and abiding respect for individual rights and personal autonomy there’s no sense in being a proponent for anything else.

There are an indefinite number of things one can react to in this life. Whatever there is to react to, however, I have no plans to react in a way that leads me or anyone else away from freedom. Freedom is my cause, not my effect.

So whoever and wherever you are, I wish you nothing but freedom.

Be free in whatever way you know how to be. And if there’s anything I can do to encourage your journey, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Yours freely,

T.K.

Be a Coach, Not a Cult Leader

To be a great coach, you have to love people’s freedom more than you love being their guru.

When you get your kicks from being seen as the great and glorious guru, you become the kind of leader who instructs people in a way that makes them more dependent on your guidance. After people meet with you, they mostly feel in awe of how phenomenal you are. They see you as a rock star.

When you get your kicks from helping people wake up to the possibility of their own brilliance, you become the kind of leader who inspires people in a way that makes them less reliant on you, more trusting of their inner judgment, and always open to learning from new people. After people meet with you, they mostly feel appreciation for the increased sense of clarity and confidence they have. They see you as an ally.

This is the fundamental difference between a coach and a cult leader.

A cult leader wants people to obsess over his or her greatness. A coach wants people to overcome the obstacles that hinder them from unearthing their own greatness. A cult leader says “follow me, obey my teachings, and don’t question my ways.” A coach says “follow your priorities, trust your potential, and never stop questioning the way things are.”

A cult leader says “I will make your life beautiful and amazing.” A coach says “I will challenge you to take charge of your own life.” A cult leader says “here are my instructions.” A coach asks “what are your plans?” A cult leader says “you need me to be happy and succeed.” A coach says “I am only useful to you when my knowledge is a servant to your goals.”

A cult leader says “don’t leave me or I will shame you or guilt-trip you.” A coach says “go wherever you need to go, do whatever you need to do, and be whoever you need to be.” A cult leader says “be loyal to me.” A coach says “be true to yourself.”

If you want to be a cult leader, keep reminding everyone of the special access you have to some esoteric source of knowledge. And whenever people talk about their own possibilities, always bring the conversation back around to your own greatness.

If you want to be a coach, however, never let a single soul enter your presence without you making an effort to encourage them, empower them and genuinely connect with them. And whenever people talk about how great *you* are, always use it as a segue to bring the conversation back around to their own possibilities.

P.S. If you really want to be a cult leader, please find a coach who can help you overcome your need to be superior to others. And if you can’t find a good coach, then at least try to find a good definition of “greatness.”

Welcome to the Night Shift

If you’re on the East Coast, it’s right around 2am your time.

If you’re on the West Coast, it’s right around 11pm.

Either way, you’re right on time for The Praxis Night Shift:

Photo Design by Hannah Phillips

The Praxis Night Shift is a new spontaneous, stream of consciousness podcast with Praxis Marketing Director Derek Magill and yours truly. It’s like Coast to Coast AM meets Tim Ferris meets whatever late-night jazz radio show that comes to mind. That might be a stretch (or is it?), but after spending so many late nights working on Praxis while our East Coast partners prepare to put us to shame with their early morning productivity, we decided to put our night owl tendencies to creative use.

During our Night Shift episodes, we’ll aim to give you a more informal, light-hearted, and laid back look behind the scenes at Praxis. If you’re looking to get formal answers to formal questions about the program, you can always check out our FAQ here. But if you’re looking to get to know us while hearing us tackle some fun and sometimes odd questions from our listeners, tune into the night shift.

You can check out Episode 1 here:

Stop Looking For A Job

Instead of just asking for a job, take some time to research the company you’re thinking about working for. Then make a proposal that promises to add value in a specific way that you’re uniquely qualified to do.

Getting a job is similar to getting someone to be your friend. No one will be interested in hanging out with you if you come off as desperate for attention and too eager to take whatever you can get. Companies, just like people, want to feel special. They want to feel as if you’re genuinely interested in them. They want to feel as if you’ve put some thought and energy into the idea that it would truly be a win-win for both parties to work together.

Lots of people are out there looking for jobs. Lots of people feel desperate. It’s okay if you start out as one of them. But if you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, start thinking of yourself as a business and start thinking of the companies you want to work for as potential clients.

Take yourself seriously, know your value, and be ready to sell people on why it would profit them to work with you. Don’t carry yourself as if you need someone to do you a favor. Carry yourself like someone who’s ready to take your potential employer to the next level.

Don’t just look for a job. Create an opportunity to make a difference.

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