Swimming with Giants

At my parents’ house, there is a pond where tiny fishes barely the length of my thumbs happily co-exist with bulky koi fatter than my arms. 

The tiny ones look carefree while their gigantic pondmates seem unperturbed. 

And therein lies the allusion to yet another paradox. That it is actually, albeit counterintuitively more pleasant to swim among giants than those smaller than you.

True giants invoke feelings of awe and inspiration – but instead of making you feel small they make you feel like you want to and that you can get to their stature if you would put in the giant-sized beliefs and effort that they do. They do not belittle anything or anyone because it is just not in their DNA to dabble in smallness! They do not respond to big dreams with a joke, they respond with excitement because they have been there and know that dreams are worth chasing even if you have to die trying. Dreams are only a joke to those who do not believe in their own. 

They do not respond to ideas with sarcasm – subtle or overt – because people who believe in themselves always believe in others. The way they see you is simply a reflection of how they see themselves. 

When you reflect on a mistake with a giant, the giant will remark on the lessons you have gained and get excited about your way forward. The dwarf will at best shrug or at worst slap a label on what you did and remind you not to do it again, probably thinking that they are being helpful or maybe because they were not even thinking at all. 

So I would rather spend my time in the company of giants. Dwarfed in stature, but have my limits stretched to the point of growth. 

I would rather feel humbled and inspired by greatness, than feel insulted and frustrated by smallness. Because while successful people find joy in encouraging and challenging others to pursue their dreams, small minded people crave the comfort of hanging out with the ones who want to stay the same. That is why when you want change you would find people who would crack jokes or cast doubts.

Shrug off the smallness, and look for some Giants to look up to and to look up with. Because here’s the paradox: true Giants inspire greatness and growth in those who dare to dream. They may look intimidating from afar but their spirits are kind and nurturing. Dwarfs look humble but are in fact too proud to fail. They will not bother to see beyond their eye level because it is just too uncomfortable and unfamiliar – so if you find yourself feeling small, get away from dwarfs for they embrace you only if you stay the same. 

One-Liner Wednesday — Birthday Advice to Someone Younger

It’s my birthday today and there was an extra strawberry on my cake so I decided to give it to the young intern who was at the lunch, and with the strawberry this piece of (unsolicited) advice (which she thankfully seemed to appreciate)…”Ah let me give the strawberry to the youngest person here…you’re at the age where your whole life is ahead of you, so spend it wisely and make the right decisions so that when you reach my age you have no regrets!”

This post is part of LindaGHill‘s One-Liner Wednesday: http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/one-liner-wednesday-whats-holding-you-back/

The Three Fs’ That Hold Us Back

I am certain that everyone has desires, ideals, and dreams. But most would end up settling for “what I could learn to be happy with” instead of going after “what I would really love to have”. Why? Why is it that people who live their dreams are such a minority?

For the masses who are still dreaming instead of chasing and ‘doing’ their dreams, what are the things that hold them back?

I did some reflection on the human nature (as I know it), drew on the common sentiments and laments I have heard throughout my life, and concluded that these are probably the three main factors holding us back from doing what we really want to do.

1. Finances
Money – it can never be a neutral or easy topic. We are cautioned not to love money and yet it is money that makes the world go round. If we do not have a healthy relationship with money, we will end up enslaved and entrapped — in the rat race, or simply the endless marathon to keep making ends meet. Tiring.

If we do not control our finances, they will end up controlling our lives, dictating and limiting our choices. I always believe that proper money management–saving, spending below our means, and investing wisely–is a major key to a life of freedom, where one has the financial liberty to do what they really love instead of being stuck in a job just to make ends meet.

I know of people who are enjoying early retirement, pursuing their passion just because all through their lives they have been prudent financially.

2. Fear
This comes in many forms. From my observation, people hold back from running with their dreams because they fear:

– what might go wrong
– what other people would think
– what difficulties may lie ahead, and along with these the sacrifices they would have to make
– what they may not know and discover that they are not competent enough at

These are all the negative “what ifs” and they probably stem from a lack of confidence and may I suggest, a lack of humility that may render the idea of being a novice all over again unappealing. When it comes to fear, I think the best way to cope is to just calculate the risks the best we can, do whatever homework that is necessary… And then just take the plunge by faith and be prepared for the ride ahead.

3. Family
Please don’t get me wrong–this is not about family bashing. Our loved ones care about us and sometimes with their concern and opinion of what they think is best, they unwittingly clip our wings.

So we get discouraged because lacking moral and emotional support does make change a lot harder than it already is.

Or in other instances it could be family obligations holding us back from attempting something new and risky.

I guess if I were to face family as an obstacle, the best approach would be to communicate openly, and if there are obligations involved then some adjustments and compromise may be required. For example, I may have to start by taking smaller steps than I would have liked to.

What do you think of these three factors holding many of us back from pursuing our hearts’ desires, and what would your coping strategies be?

Seven Life Lessons Blogging Has (Unexpectedly) Taught Me

Today marks the 45th day of this blog’s existence. And my blogging adventure has turned out to be much more than what I had expected! When I started ‘People, Places and Perspectives’ I was only thinking of how I would need to be consistent with my posts and persevere till I gain enough readership.

But what I have learned over the past 45 days goes way beyond that, and interestingly, all these lessons can apply to life and just about any other endeavors! So here goes, the seven life lessons blogging has unexpectedly taught me (albeit some more so than the others):

1. Be consistent and persevere
Rome wasn’t built in a day, the saying goes. So is a successful blog. When I first began posting here my readers consisted of my Facebook friends, and slowly I gained more followers and readers online. After a few posts I started getting Likes, and after participating in a writing prompt organized by another blog, comments started coming in as more people saw what I wrote.

And this leads to the second lesson I learnt:

2. I cannot succeed without others
I started receiving comments on my posts after taking part in Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness (SoC) monthly writing challenge. This was, to me, a platform for the bloggers to get together and showcase our work and get the views, as Linda wrote in her SoC post. So if I had soldiered on by myself and not joined the others on this platform, I doubt I would have the visibility I have now!

So this reminds me of how in other aspects of life, too, personal and professional, I cannot progress and succeed without a network of like minded people.

3. Like attracts like
I find myself gaining blog followers who seem to be on the same page with me on many things we write about, sharing similar perspectives on life, spirituality, dreams, and personal growth. And I am drawn to bloggers who display the same interests and positive vibes. I am a dreamer, and have dreams of becoming a published author someday – and I can already easily recall at least 5, 6 other bloggers I follow and who follow me who have the same aspirations or are already living this aspiration.

So the lesson here? I must be whatever I want to have. In order to have excellent role models, for example, I must first strive towards excellence myself.

4. Be courteous, respectful and pleasant
On WordPress the bloggers (or at least those I have been exposed to over my 45 days here) seem to abide by a basic etiquette – everyone is polite even when disagreeing, and many make an effort to respond to comments. And it’s so encouraging to see the positive and uplifting comments on the threads.

This is definitely a great reminder for life offline!

5. Be myself
In the beginning of this blog’s life, I was wondering what to write about to attract readers. In the end I decided it would be futile if not frustrating to force myself to write about things that are not my passion just because I think they are popular.

And so far being myself has worked out pretty fine as far as blogging is concerned – and most importantly it enables the journey to be fun.

Offline, this works out the same.

6. Let go of the need to be perfect
Whatever ‘perfect’ means. I have been writing for as long as I remember, and before this blog I used to take a lot of time to complete a piece. I finally came to the point where I find wrestling with the so-called writer’s block (which I now think is just a fancy term for the inner critic in many of us) too tiring and frustrating, and that I would rather just let the words flow without worrying about how they will be received. After all, the best writings are produced when a writer ‘writes to express, not to impress.’

So this is how I managed to churn out 24 posts within 45 days, and this habit of letting go of perfectionism has spilled over to work and my personal life, allowing me to become more effective. Yes!

7. Celebrate every milestone
This is closely related to lesson no. 6 on letting go of perfectionism. Everytime I gain a new follower, a view, a like or a comment, I rejoice! Even if the stats show only one page view, it means ONE person saw my writing – and how can I be sure that that one person was not touched in any way?

Maybe it’s easier to celebrate small milestones as a wordpress blogger because the statistics feature makes the number very tangible. And happily this has become a reminder to me to also celebrate milestones in other areas of my life, and to let the voice of my inner cheerleader drown the voice of my inner critic.

So wow, I love WordPress! What about you – in what ways has blogging enriched your life?