I believe every single person and being I come across knows something that I don’t know, and vice versa. For this reason, every interaction is a chance to learn something new, for us and the people we interact with. This post explains my thinking and its far-reaching implications.
The difference between dreading and enjoying
Have you ever noticed how there are some things you really enjoy doing, do well and want to do more of? Then there are other things you dread, avoid like the plague and put off doing?
Ideally, we’d like to do more of what we love, and less of what we don’t. Logical, right? Say I love a tidy home but don’t enjoy cleaning, so I hire a cleaner: win-win!
But what about when the thing we dread doing is something that’s essential to some aspect of our well-being? And what if that thing can’t be outsourced?
Like for example, no one can exercise or lead a healthy lifestyle for you, you ultimately have to do that yourself. You can pay a personal trainer, nutritionist, etc. but you need to be the one doing the living. Or what about raising your children? You can hire a nanny but someone still needs to do the raising. Or what about learning to communicate and express yourself in a foreign language so you can connect with the people around you. You can hire a tutor, use an app or an interpreter even but the underlying goal of connecting happens when you, yourself are able to do it first-hand.
When outsourcing is not an option
So if we absolutely have to do this thing we struggle to do ourselves, and we can’t fully outsource it to anyone, what do we do?
The internet is kind of an amazing web that connects us to all the unique and wonderful humans on this planet. I know it’s already 2018 and this is basic, but think about it in this context:
for every single thing you struggle with, there is a person out there who believes you can do it and can serve as a guide to help you see your way through the process.
Maybe they’ll contribute an idea, a perspective or a quote. Maybe it’ll be an attitude, insight or even your ideal solution. Only time and a curious approach will tell.
Can we just reflect on how amazing that is for a moment?
How I can benefit?
As a personal example, I struggle to express myself through a visual medium, despite a strong urge to do so. There are countless people on this planet who are artists, and believe that each human being is able to express themselves creatively and can develop the ability to do so skillfully. Some of them even help people like me bridge the gap and take the leap towards self expression. All I need to do is feel this urge strongly enough, find a person I resonate with and seek to learn from them.
- What is it that they see and I don’t?
- How did they do it and how can I?
- If they believe it to be possible, how can I arrive at this same conclusion?
How I can contribute?
I realized that I, too, have beliefs that can help others. For example, I believe that every single person on this planet can move abroad and learn the local language to a sufficient level to make themselves understood, connect with their community and lead a fulfilling life. I know many people struggle to accept this, and because of this, they struggle to make it happen. And yet, the possibility exists and is available to us all, so long as we figure out how to bridge the gap between:
- What I see and what they do
- How I did it and how they can too
- If I believe it to be possible, how can they arrive at the same conclusion.
Oftentimes we are so consumed with the things we cannot do, our struggles and the things we have yet to accomplish (omg, what if I never accomplish it?!) that we take for granted that which we can do, our successes and the things we have already accomplished.
Collective equilibrium: we already have it
We all have so much to learn from one another, whether or not we realize it, and not a single one of us can achieve everything alone. Evolution has made us interdependent to ensure our survival through our continuous contribution.
You can see it in all your friends:
- the compassionate friend who gives the best advice and always knows what to do, yet struggles with her health
- the bravest person you know, who is also the most self-critical
- the kind teacher friend who juggles all the extra-curriculars on top of her workload, yet struggles in her personal life
- the high-achiever who thrives in his career, yet struggles to express how he feels
- the intuitive friend who always sees the best in you, yet struggles to see it in herself
- the light-hearted friend who’s the life of the party, yet struggles to trust his creativity
We all know them because we are them. And yet, we often fail to take the can’s with the can’t’s. Imagine the 6 people above in a room together: think of all they accomplished, and all that they can learn from each other.
From collective equilibrium to personal growth
Not only do we need to share what we know for others, but we need to be reminded of our unique qualities for ourselves.
The truth is, most of us are blind to our contributions, our most admired qualities and the traits our friends and families cherish most about us. To turn this around, reflect on the following:
- What if we saw our connections, the people in our lives and their beliefs in what’s possible, as our greatest source of strength?
- Who‘s unique influence would help us overcome our own struggles?
- What unique perception will we share with others, once we realize our power to fill another’s void?
- What will we do, once we realize that we are much more alike than we are different: a collective equilibrium?
This post was inspired by some insights I had after watching the documentary Connected. If you’re looking for a film which reflects on technology, our impulse towards connection and our interconnectedness, I highly recommend this one.