Design Yourself

Design Yourself

It's not uncommon for everyone to hit a point in life where they are in search for more meaning. In fact, it's not uncommon for people to have that feeling on many occasions throughout life. When these moments occur, it leads some people down a path of depressing thoughts like "woe is me." For others, it's a spark that ignites a major life change or new adventure. In either case, people will come back around to searching for meaning because they haven't properly designed who they want to be in life.

In our culture where competition is a part of DNA we are all striving to be the best, but not everyone can be on top. To lay claim that you are the best at something is to always have to convince others they are not. Instead, what if we worked at being our own self, to be different, to be the best version of who God made us to be. It's not so much that we need meaning in our lives, because as creations made in God's image, our meaning is inherent. Rather, it's more about living uniquely because uniquely is how you were made.

Here's an excerpt from the book Play Bigger by Ramadan, Lochhead,  Peterson, and Maney.
"Designing yourself might involve developing a personal set of beliefs and a way of conducting your life that fits with what you do and the category you address. Design the
"product" - that , your offering to the world - by developing your skills. And design the space around you so it fits your capabilities but also challenges you."

If you can figure out your personal category and how you make it unique, meaning and success will come. Spend time designing yourself.

Ramadan, Al. Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets. New York: HarperBusiness, 2016. 218. Print.

Opinions of Powerful People Gomez Gomez

Several years ago, Adam Galinsky, a researcher at Columbia Business School concluded that the more power a person obtains, the more their ability to see varying perspectives diminishes. Through a series of social experiments Galinsky discovered that feeling more powerful causes us to anchor on our own opinions rather than others.

One of the causes for this is the fact that powerful people tend to have more resources available to them. They have certain comforts that afford them the luxury to be careless with their thoughts and actions because they are less incentivized to take the perspectives of others. Another cause for not taking other perspectives is the fact that powerful people are often too busy to stop and truly consider the perspectives of others. This is especially true when rushing through life and trying to consider the lifestyle differences of those unlike their own.

Whether it's for social justice, political movements, or commenting on a favorite subject people with power and celebrity status are more often careless with their thoughts and actions. Meanwhile the entire public gets in a tizzy over a social media post or a sound bite on the news from well know people because those without power want to ride the coat tails of the powerful. In turn, the weak begin to feel more powerful living vicariously through the powerful until we are all entrenched in our own views and opinions.

It's not that powerful people don't have good opinions and valuable insight on different perspectives, they can and do. However, responsible people should be careful to consider everyone's perspectives equally whether they're are in a position of power or not. A celebrity can too easily use his or her platform to persuade others from seeing multiple perspectives and therefore sharing their views is more often irresponsible than not.

We've all experienced those relationships where people rise in power and influence and as they rise, they become less humble and more dogmatic with their approaches. Good leaders maintain perspective and are willing to change their minds. It takes courage for a leader to do this and it should be commended when it happens rather than berate them for "flip-flopping."

Pittampalli, Al. Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World. New York: Harper Business, 2016. 145-47. Print.


Robert B. Cialdini identifies six basic principles that influence behaviors in his popular book, Influence: Science and Practice.  These principles contain hundreds of behaviors that are triggered responses in all of us. Leveraging these six principles we can influence others to carry out certain behaviors with little thought.

Six Principles of Influence

  • Reciprocation: Our urge to keep things equal and return the favors given to us.
  • Consistency: Sticking with our stated beliefs.
  • Social Proof: When information is lacking, we go with the crowd.
  • Liking: We get along with and follow those we like.
  • Authority: We recognize those who are experts and take their word.
  • Scarcity: When availability is scarce, our freedom is threatened, so we act quickly.

Habit as a Gravitational Force

American philosopher, psychologist, and physician William James is considered one of the most influential people on American psychology. In 1887, he published Habit, which is a fascinating historical perspective on the science of habits. Among his many observations, there was one that stood out to me that undoubtedly has its impact on social injustices and interpersonal relationships.

If the period between twenty and thirty is the critical one in the formation of intellectual and professional habits, the period below twenty is more important still for the fixing of personal habits, properly so called, such as vocalization and pronunciation, gesture, motion, and address. Hardly ever is a language learned after twenty spoken without a foreign accent; hardly ever can a youth transferred to the society of his betters unlearn the nasality and other vices of speech bred in him by the associations of his growing years. Hardly ever, indeed, no matter how much money there be in his pocket, can he even learn to dress like a gentleman-born. The merchants offer their wares as eagerly to him as to the veriest swell, 'but he simply cannot buy the right things. An invisible law, as strong as gravitation, keeps him within his orbit, arrayed this year as he was the last; and how his better-bred acquaintances contrive to get the things they wear will be for him a mystery till his dying day.

Today's science has proven that our brains yearn for habits as a means to conserve cognitive energy. From the things we do to the things we believe, our minds create habits and beliefs that cannot easily be untaught. In fact, most psychologists will say that habits cannot be unlearned, but only replaced.

To see changes in social injustices around the world or with existing interpersonal relationships, a study on the habitual thoughts and actions of all parties may be key to finding a solution. As James says, habits are a gravitational force that keep us within our own orbit. To escape such forces usually requires proper motivation, ability, and patience through well planned actions.

May you learn to see the same people each day, newly.

Budgets and Relationships

In Marshall Goldsmith's book Triggers, he discusses the advantages of structures and by having them, we maintain control over our environments which are often unpredictable and full of variations. Goldsmith says successful people do well with creating structures, yet a lot of people don't when it comes to interpersonal behaviors.

"Structure is fine for organizing our calendar, or learning a technically difficult task, or managing other people, or improving a quantifiable skill. But for the simple tasks of interacting with other people we prefer to wing it —for reasons that sound like misguided variations on "I shouldn't need to do that."

Although a budget provides structure for spending, your interpersonal behaviors will often collide with your budget. Planning to spend $50 on a nice evening dinner is great. Your boundary is set. You have a plan and you can execute that plan with relative ease. That is, until the environment in which you planned to spend that $50 changes.

Suppose now you're going with friends who want to go somewhere nicer. Without the structure of your interpersonal behavior, you might agree to a restaurant that is easily going to reach $100 rather than the $50 you had originally planned. Rather than struggle through the idea that you might upset your friends or that they might judge you for not splurging on occasion, you give in.

Interpersonal behaviors can break through your structures more easily than anything else. As you budget each line item you have to consider contingency plans where relationships are involved. A completed zero-based budget is not the end of your planning —it's only the beginning. This is because you have to consider how your budget may be at risk when areas of your life that don't have structure influence your spending. 

Consider how the areas of your budget where you struggle most are impacted because of interactions with others. Simply identifying a risk is often the best way to avoid it.

May you be blessed with a good balance between money and relationships.