"The Nail That Sticks Up Gets Hammered Down". You need to get up, again!
There is an interesting expression in Japan: 出る釘は打たれる, which roughly translates to: "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down". It's an expression that points to conformity: If we don't conform we will be the nail that stands out and become the one that often gets hammered on the head! This is quite painful for many (speaking metaphorically). It often makes many of us put our heads down in shame, and never try anything similar again. It is one of the reasons we stifle creativity in children at school and adults at work at a time in this world we need it the most. Well, I’d like to propose an add-on to this phrase: Sure, hit me on the head, I'll be up again the next morning!
Autopilot Syndrome is alive!
What we need now, more than ever, are those who can lead us out of the autopilot syndrome that too many of us are in. What is the autopilot syndrome? It's about how many of us are so caught-up in our every day routine life that we now have hundreds of excuses to back-up our reasons why we say we are too busy. After years and years of this repetitive pattern, it has become the norm for us. We have tried to train the brain to do more with less; we have tried to learn how to multitask; we have allowed ourselves to be pushed; learned to aim higher; do even more; do even better. We have, at the same time, accepted more stress; more tasks; more work; longer hours; less time with the people who need us the most; less time on our health; less time on our happiness. Whilst many humans can physically sustain autopilot for an extended period of time, something happens when you leave autopilot on for too long.... you run out of fuel. And for many people, this results in the obvious symptoms of stress, anxiety, fear of the future, fear of failure, anger, regret, worry, etc. Not to mention, all these then have an alarming impact on... health (amongst other things).
We are so busy we have forgotten what happiness is
I believe the autopilot syndrome needs to be healed because we are becoming ever increasingly aware that we are not happy. The thing is, and more importantly, we are not doing anything about it. Japan, according to the World Happiness Report ranks outside the top 50. This is not surprising given the response I receive when asking friends, neighbors, students, colleagues what it takes for them to be happy. The most common response is, "I haven't really thought about it".
Turn autopilot off - disable that firewall
In order for you to decide to make a change, it has to come from one place and one place only - within you. You need to have a strong enough reason to make that change. Then you need that power to decide to take action. That power only ever comes from one place… the heart. If it doesn’t come from the heart, it’s always going to be an uphill battle. Turning off autopilot is easier said than done because it involves talking about something which most of us don't want to talk about. It's the one thing we constantly battle with throughout our entire lives. It's the reason we set-up firewalls around our hearts the minute we walk out of our homes. What firewall am I referring to? The one that protects us from experiencing pain. The one that makes us look safe and do what most other people do in their life. The one that protects us from vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the key to life
Vulnerability is the path to life. We knew it when we’re children when we did all the innocent things until someone told us to stop, or told us we're crazy, or told us the world was a nasty place. By the time we're adults, we have been shaped and stopped so many times that we learn vulnerability is a weakness that shouldn't be shown. Then one day, if we’re lucky enough, we realize that we are in this holding pattern. That's because we haven't been the ones being responsible for fulfilling our life responsibility. What is that responsibility?
Your responsibility in life is to love
It is sometimes a difficult responsibility to choose because when you accept it, you actually need to tread the path of vulnerability. That means, you need to open your heart. You need to let people live inside your heart. Yet some of us have built walls so thick, so protective, that it can virtually require a truck to break through it. One of the biggest reasons for this is we are constantly being measured against each other.
Work it into your schedule the same way you would brush your teeth
What you decide to do today will show itself as a result tomorrow. That means you have the ability to change how you feel, what you do, how you live, tomorrow. All you need to do, is work "self-awareness time" into your schedule. Call it anything you like: Vulnerable time; Happy time; Mirror time. If you don’t make time to understand what makes you happy, then someone will define happiness for you. If you do make time to understand what makes you happy, then congratulations – you’ve taken the first wonderful step to learning what an incredible, wonderful, unique and amazing gift you already have inside you and you can give back to the world.
The infinite measuring stick
Back to that measuring stick... We go through life constantly been told that we need to improve. That we need to get better. That our mistakes needed to be pointed out. We constantly work on “fixing” these "mistakes". Our performance and pay is is linked to how “well” we do at work. The measuring stick is everywhere it seems: At work from your colleagues and managers; at home by your family; outside by the people you stand next to on the train.
I invite you to take a closer look at that stick. Notice, the scale on the measuring stick? That's right: there is no scale! The numbers never seem to stop. Why? Because many of us have been taught, that we need to always do better. That even if you receive 100% on 5 of your test scores, but you score 99% on your 6th test, it will be pointed out. That being the case, how can we ever know what the meaning of GREAT is? It will never be enough.
Here’s the good news I give you: THERE IS NO MEASURING STICK. We are already great! We don’t need other people telling us that we are not enough. That's our egos that listen to that information and then tries to convince us we need to be more than we already are. Yet it's the ego that doesn't know that we already are much greater than what the ego thinks we are. Ego can't give us what we want because we already have it all.
Make the choice to find...you. The real you. And nothing but the you.
Choose to be vulnerable. It is the greatest and richest way to know who you are, learn what you gift is, and share it with the world. Being vulnerable is risky. It means opening up your heart. It can be the greatest path to our gift. It’s why we built that firewall - to protect ourselves. We need to break this firewall down to search for the real us. There is only one way to break this wall down, and it doesn't have to be with a truck:
Face the risk. Life is about the results we get when we face the risks. The more we risk, the more we learn. The more we learn, the more we can become. Risk is the key to help you grow as a person, learn as much as you can, change anything you feel important to change, love… and first-most: feel. Yes, feel. If we keep our walls built, we simply can't get to any of these.
The reward comes to those who search
Once you tread the path, the reward is the gift you've come here to share with the world. It can take a life time, or it may not. When you find that gift and share it with the world, there can be no greater joy to you and to everyone you touched in your life, with this gift.
Why is diversity even an issue?
If you do ever get hammered down for being that nail that has the courage to confront themselves to be their true selves, so be it. Get up again the next morning and keep getting up! No human is born the same way. Why do we make diversity an issue if we simply understand this? We are already different. We are already unique. If we keep getting hammered for being different, how will we ever understand diversity? Then it takes more of us to stand up, be different so that eventually, everyone understands that they are different too, and that it's okay.
Thank you so much for reading. I'm looking forward to treading that path together with you!
Love your life, live your values.