I read an article based on a commencement speech given this year by Phillip Zimbardo, a professor of social psychology. It is a pretty cool list and it got me thinking about myself a little bit. First, the 7 paths:
1 Use time wisely and well – make sure you are well-grounded in the past, being open to the present and being motivated to succeed “to the full extent of your ability in the hope-filled future”.
2. Love a lifetime of learning – being filled with curiosity and wonder about things
3. Nurture your passion – this will help guarantee that your life will never be meaningless
4. Transform shyness into social engagement – we choose to be shy; we are giving up freedom of association and freedom of speech
5. Remake your image – liberate yourself from the boredom of predictability
6. Become a positive deviant – there are so many social norms in place that hold us back
7. Train yourself to become an everyday hero – change the world in some small way every day.
Wow. That is quite a formidable list. Yet none of those activities require super human strength or intellect or good looks or money. What holds us back? Why does that list look sooooooo hard? It requires us to be mindful. The list requests us to get out of our comfort zones. It makes us feel like we have to be superhuman. But what about tackling just one of them first? What about trying to be more meaningful?
As for me, I think I am pretty good at the first couple. But once you get to the fourth one and beyond, I fall pretty short. So the question for me is “Am I willing to do anything about it?”.
If I could do something about myself, I would love to work on #4: “transform shyness into social engagement”. Here is more what he says about that one: “Just as we have a choice of being a leader or a follower, we can choose whether or not to adopt a shy persona, or a more outgoing one. Shyness is a self-imposed social restriction that limits others from having access to your inner strengths and virtues because you have created a social barrier.”
Some people think I am outgoing, but those that know me best, especially Rose, know I am shy in social settings. I marvel at Rose’s ability to talk to anyone about anything. She has no fear of “putting herself out there”. She allows others to have “access to (her) inner strengths and virtues”. And people are lucky for that. My Dad was also a great conversationalist. He could talk to someone about a subject he knew nothing about. I am pretty good when I am talking to someone who I perceive has a connection with one of my main interests – working out or college basketball for instance. But get me in a place where I don’t perceive that connection and I clam up. I am ready to leave. What is sad is that this attitude is all based on MY PERCEPTION. I allow it to happen. Hmmmm. Wonder if I’ll do anything about it?
Reading Zimbardo’s words makes me stop and think. Isn’t that what a great writer or thinker is supposed to do?