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Self-Help or Self-Hurt?

Carren CouchEven though Self-help books are designed to help us help ourselves, they sometimes end up having the opposite affect. Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve met many people who’ve picked up self-help books with a great deal of optimism only to finish reading them with less hope than what they started out with.

What’s going on in these instances? Why do some people seem to be worse off after attending motivational seminars and studying the works of various gurus? I was recently interviewed by Carren Smith and we delved into this very topic. In this episode of her podcast, Carren’s Couch, we discuss the importance of critical thinking, the value of Both/And logic, the role of metaphors, how to avoid self-destructive thinking, and we even talk a little bit about the nature of money and how to create true wealth.

Here’s what Carren had to say:

Welcome back to Carren’s Couch, the amazing thought leader and philosopher, T.K Coleman!!!

Today we are talking all about the Self Help industry and how it actually works with us in today’s age of progress and principles!

As always, T.K holds nothing back as he analyses the validity and value of what we learn and how it contributes to our ability to make decisions for ourselves. Thinking in accordance to principles and outcomes rather than rules and regulations are always going to challenge some of us, and this podcast really opens up the conversation between self help, self love and self initiation!!

Another awesome, thought provoking conversation!!

Here’s the link if you’d like to listen:

CC 80 : Is Self Help actually Self Hurt?

I truly think you’ll enjoy this episode. If you do, please drop me a line and share your thoughts.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Creativity Needs Fuel

I once heard James Altucher say the following: “I have to read a lot in order to write a little. If I’m going to write 2 hours worth of stuff, it’s almost like I have to read 10 hours worth of books.”

When i spoke with Jeffrey Tucker at ISFLC last year, he said he reads twice as much as he writes. For a man who publishes substantial pieces every single day, that’s a lot of time for him to devote to reading. When I asked him why he reads so much, he said “creativity needs fuel.”

Ray Bradbury agrees:

If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.

Methodological solipsism, it seems, is the death of inspiration. The creative process can’t be approached as if the private content of one’s individual consciousness is sufficient. If you want to have good ideas of your own, you have to step outside of your personal framework and make sure you’re engaging the ideas of others. Other people’s ideas are like matches that light a spark when we strike them against our minds. A single provocative concept can set your entire worldview on fire.

The important thing to remember is this: Reading isn’t about internalizing ideas. It’s about interacting with them. “Stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays…” not for the purpose of regurgitating preexisting material, but for the purpose of stirring up your soul so deeply that your own stories are eventually aroused from their slumber.

 

A Pedagogy With Passion

The soul of any worthwhile pedagogy is the teacher’s desire and determination to lead by example. Educators cannot inspire a love for learning in others if their own hearts haven’t been enraptured by that very love. One must know what it means to caress an idea if he or she has is to have any hope of conveying it with conviction.

Before wisdom can be imparted, it must be embodied. We embody wisdom when we cultivate a visceral understanding of what it’s like to be moved and transformed by ideas; when we can say with sincerity that we have tasted the experience of being provoked by literature and enlightened by history; when we can teach art and language because we have been genuinely inspired by art and empowered by language; when we can teach math and music with the empathy of one who has been tortured by math and intoxicated by music; when we can communicate philosophical concepts from a place of having been challenged and comforted by those philosophical concepts for ourselves.

The teacher’s relationship to the mind of the student should be nothing less than an extension of the relationship he or she has to their own sense of wonder, to their own process of wrestling with the great questions of life, to their own life-long practice of coming to grips with the problems, paradoxes, and pleasures of learning.

We are not here to stuff facts into people’s brains. We are here to encourage, by the example of our own affinity, humanity’s innate passion for understanding the world.

Do You Know What Your Epistemology Is?

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions about what constitutes knowledge, rationality, justified belief, etc. Your opinions about how we know things, the limits of what we can know, and what constitutes a good standard for evidence are the elements that comprise your epistemology. Everyone has an epistemology whether they consciously reflect on it or not. When people say things like “there is no truth” or “the truth is absolute,” they’re expressing a very specific epistemology. When people say things like “truth can’t be known” or “beliefs are only rational if they’re backed by science” or “science isn’t the only way to know truth,” they’re expressing their epistemology.

It is literally impossible to not have an epistemology. Whenever people argue or make claims about the world, their claims are based on very specific understandings about the nature of truth and knowledge. This is an inescapable aspect of all forms of reasoning. Different people can have different views about what constitutes good evidence. Different people can have different views about what truth is and what it means to know something. A religious person who accepts what the bible says, for example, has different epistemic presuppositions than an atheist who rejects the concept of divinely inspired books. These differences are rooted in their respective epistemologies. That’s largely the basis of their disagreement and debate.

To say that someone is making philosophical presuppositions isn’t an insult or a criticism. It’s just a simple fact that logically follows from the very nature of reasoning and communicating. Philosophy underlies everything we do. That’s not inherently bad. It just is what it is. To say things like “we don’t need philosophy” betrays a misunderstanding of what philosophy actually is. You may not need to declare a major in philosophy at a university. You may not need to read Plato and Aristotle. That’s all fine. But it’s impossible to not do philosophy. We all have fundamental ideas about the nature of reality, the nature of knowledge, the nature of morality, and the meaning of life. Philosophy is nothing less than the investigation, analysis, or application of these fundamental ideas.

Philosophy is inherent in all we say and do. You may not do it consciously, but you’re doing it. You may not like using the word “philosophy,” but a rose by any other name is a rose still the same. Even when you say “philosophy is irrelevant,” you’re making a philosophical statement about what matters in life. We can do philosophy badly or we can do it well. We can do philosophy consciously or we can do it unconsciously. It’s up to us. The important thing to remember is that we have a choice.

We can’t avoid philosophizing, but we can choose to think consciously, critically, and creatively when we do it. When we do philosophy that way, we tend to get more out of it. And when we get more out of our philosophy, we usually get more out of life.

Personal Development Project for October 2015

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For the month of October, I will read one manifesto from ChangeThis.com per day. After completing each manifesto, I’ll write a blog post inspired by one or more of the concepts espoused by that manifesto.

A manifesto lies somewhere in the middle between a long-form blog post and a book. It usually ranges anywhere from 5-50 pages depending on the author and subject. A manifesto is essentially a well-reasoned sustained presentation of a specific theme. The themes addressed by the manifestos I’ll be reading include leadership, business management, creativity, social change, and productivity.

This PDP relates to my goals in four ways:

1) I intend to write and publish at least one manifesto of my own before the end of the year. This 30-day challenge will help me familiarize myself with the styles and themes of successful pieces.

2) I’m always scouting for good professional development resources to recommend to my coaching clients and Praxis participants. Since most manifestos are published by prolific writers, this will not only give me a chance to update my knowledge of what’s out there in the world of manifestos, but it’ll also provide me with a low-cost opportunity to preview new authors/books in order to see if I want to explore their ideas further.

3) This PDP will help me practice my commentary writing skills. I enjoy writing about my own ideas, but I equally enjoy expanding on other people’s thoughts as well. Finding the balance between quoting the brilliance of others and adding unique value of my own is a creative challenge I look forward to.

4) I love learning. I’m genuinely going to enjoy this like a kid in a candy store. That’s the most important reason of all.

I look forward to sharing what I’m exploring.

Cheers,

T.K.

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