by Derek Benoit July 3rd, 2021
I want to wish everyone a safe and happy 4th of July! Please take time to enjoy your weekend with your loved ones!
We may not be perfect, but we have many, many wonderful things to be grateful for living here in the U.S. I am personally thrilled to have the opportunities this country allows me, and to have the ability to carve my own destiny. Without such things, I would not have the freedom to make a go of creating an online media entity. I wouldn’t have the freedom to hunt or fish in the great outdoors, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the benefits of the North American conservation model. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to develop myself in ways I used to think were impossible.
Instead of looking outward, I chose self reflection. I’ve had to swallow, at times, the bitter pill of realization that what I was doing, and how I was doing it, was holding me back. I had to learn to start trusting myself. I had to learn the value of being my own cheerleader. I had to learn that self pity and bitterness is in fact self-defeating. See someone else who has something nicer than you? Don’t be angry. Don’t be resentful. Be determined, if your goal is a higher standard of living. Didn’t do as well as you hoped on a required exam? Don’t walk away. Find out what you did wrong. YOU were not flawed. Your process may have been. Be determined to examine what it is you want, what errors you have made in its pursuit, and experiment until you find the necessary changes that work for you.
Be Creative with your Growth Process
Set goals: short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals are critical. TRACK and MEASURE your progess. Your guide should be your interests. Build your skills. There are many, MANY free resources out there to help do such. Try to see the big picture of your goals and recognize every action now and moving forward is part of the foundation on which those goals are built. You will have to make choices, and make priorities.
If you’re ADHD like me, you’ll likely need to experiment to find ways to create a structure that contributes to success, instead of one that bogs you down. Use your creativity. There are LOTS of apps out there, for laptop, phone, tablet, whatever… mix and match based on what your weaknesses are. Get the stuff that’s hard or less enjoyable out of the way first. AFTER you’ve put in the work you committed to doing (you did commit to it, right?) reward yourself. Do something fun. That’s two rewards for the price of one.
When you run into road blocks, problem solve. If there’s something I regret from childhood, it’s that I was lax in attempting to create new solutions for myself. I lacked confidence. I was anxious, about anything and everything. I was convinced, often before I started, that I wasn’t going to be successful in something… sometimes anything. That was crazy. It was unfair to myself, and it was unfair to anyone that depended upon me. It also held me back in terms of seeing myself through difficult tasks or challenges.
Some Thoughts on Fear
Fear and self doubt lead to avoidance. Avoidance leads to stagnation. That’s true from an emotional perspective, and a learning perspective. The more we avoid, the more we lag behind. We don’t grow, we wilt. I was a guilty of this as anyone else growing up. When I was little, I used to LOVE flying through those math work books we had in grade school. I plowed through and got well ahead. Then, I started to become more self conscious over time. Some of the anxiety spilled over from the medical side of life. Anxiety was a common theme in my family revolving around my diabetes. I learned to be more anxious and full of self doubt. I avoided doing necessary work, both in health and later in school, because I assumed I was going to struggle.
Gradually, some interesting things began to happen. A few topics stuck out as looking “cool,” or “interesting.” There were ALWAYS topics or areas in which the strong math kinds struggled a bit, but I flourished. I remeber it well. It was geometry and trig. I flourished because, for those particular units, or topics, fear was replaced with curiosity. To top it all off, come college placement testing time, tested high enough where I could choose to take the engineering math for freshman year. I also tested high enough in chemistry to be given the option to try to test out of the first freshman chem class. Capability was never the problem. Fear and self doubt crept in, and I chose to take the lower level calc classes. That was a major mistake. Because they involved trigonometry, the problems in the engineering classes actually progressed at a bit slower rate. There were fewer “gotcha” questions. I could actually do the problems I looked at from the homework and graded exams of friends. Without me being the one taking the exams, I could actually spot arithmetic errors that my friends didn’t notice. I started understanding more.
When you ALLOW Curiosity to Replace Fear
As time went on, the more math heavy the courses, the better I did. I was invested from the “what,” “why” and “how” perspectives. One of my favorite classes was an economics of law class that had calculus in it. Was it brutally involved math? No. But I did spectacular in that class, ending up with an academic recommendation from the professor and in the top five of the class. Perhaps part of that, was that we had to explain what the math was telling us in terms of the legal decision. We had to keep legal case journals and know the ins and outs of the majority opinions and dissenting opinions and of course, the basis for their arguments. We essentially talking through the cases in terms of math. It helped form a better picture of the math steps and processes, and how they worked together. The same process was beneficial when it came to statistics and probability, which I really enjoy! To best do something, it helps to know why you’re doing it. When you avoid the studying and practice, you miss out on that learning experience.
A GREAT free reference:
Not Just for College Prep
Be your choice college or no college, it doesn’t matter. Avoiding something because it’s uncomfortable, because you don’t believe you can do it, or because you don’t think it really matters is a terrible habit to teach one’s self. Take it from me. If you avoid challenging yourself to work through adversity you forgo a critical skill building process: developing resilience. Even though something is difficult, or even boring, avoiding the opportunity to work through it robs you of growth. You’ll become stagnant and get left behind. It doesn’t matter the subject in school, the industry in which you work, or the hobbies you like. If you’re not growing and challenging yourself, you’re wilting. The same applies to tech skills, too… and I HATE saying that. I’m not tech savvy, but I’m trying.
The more that I force myself to take such an attitude, the more positive things have happen in my life. No, things have NOT always gone the way I’d like. Yes, at times it was terrifying. Just showing up doesn’t guarantee success. It never will, no matter how much we restrict our risk taking, or how much legislation we pass through government. Moreover, my failures have taught me more valuable lessons than any degree of success. Why? Because I had to figure out how to change something for a better outcome. Failure taught me what didn’t work, and gave me the chance to reflect on why. That’s part of the growth process. Self pity gets in the way of that.
Other great free references:
Beyond Careers and Classes
When I was knocked out of work, the outdoors became an escape, and a motivational source. I felt like crap, for much of the years following. But I knew that if I didn’t at least try to improve physically, I was going to rot. Physically, and metaphorically. To be honest, increasing the activity level sucked. It hurt. There were unpleasant results of suddenly stimulating the GI track. It hurt some more. Off and on, I would start to get a little momentum going, then I would lose it. Start-stall-start-stall-start-stall… Then the physical nose dive happened. I’d later find out that (unkown to myself or the doctors) active ulcers were eating their way through anything and everything. Near fatal GI bleeds and a blowout of your intestines is a rough way to find out. I survived, and made a choice to push myself physically. It was a now or never mentality and I’m thrilled that I chose it. It’s hurt some, but I adjusted the exercise and routines to make it doable. There’s that adaptability theme, once again.
For a look at what I’m doing physically, take a look at this week’s progress report here:
Learn to Accept, and GROW, from Adversity
We have to challenge ourselves to grow. We have to challenge ourselves to learn something challenging. We have to challenge ourselves to reach out when we don’t have answers to questions. We need to become comfortable with finding out what we need to learn, who we need to ask for answers, or where we need to go find those answers. and we need to become comfortable in learning how we learn that new information best. The doors are wide open after that. If you can adapt yourself to learn, in your best way, you will always be able to recover. Moreover, you’ll be in a position to learn to develop in whatever way is necessary to reach your goals. No, it won’t be easy, but it WILL be doable.