Tag Archives: curiousity

To thine own self be true (The Free Trait Theory)

I’ve been adding to my collection of meaningful quotations as of late — you know the kind, the ones that stir something within you, make you smile, or simply make you nod your head in silent appreciation and share them online. The first one has been at the bottom of my e-mail for the last few months, and the other has recently come from, yep, you guessed it…Susan Cain’s Quiet. I’d like to share them now:

Quote 1: “…all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Quote 2: “To thine own self be true.” ~ William Shakespeare

Now how do I imagine these two offerings of advice relate to me? Well, after having reading the section about Free Trait Theory (covered in chapter 10), I feel these two quotes describe what it is I am trying to be (quote 1), in life, work, love and all other relationships, and quote 2 is what I am actually being. Being unreasonable is the process helps me stay true to myself and my beliefs; I’m constantly learning the difference between “being unreasonable” and cowtow-ing to popular opinion. I even went through a phase of pushing against so much of what my friends and family thought I should be that my actions didn’t have the greatest return of happiness – in fact I felt a lot of pain through that opposition, but at the same time it showed me the opportunity for growth. It still means something for me to stand up for what I believe in; it’s that extra ounce of courage that’s required to say “yes” or “no” and trusting myself that things will be okay after whatever passes. I’m being even more unreasonable through my requests of what I need from those around me. The support I seek, the understanding I wish to have, and through that, an increased feeling of depth, love and trust.

So what is Free Trait Theory? According to Cain, it is a new field of psychology, developed by psychology Professor Brian Little. An introvert himself, Little is also known (via the book) as an engaging and dynamic speaker, not only in his lectures at Harvard University, but also during his public speaking engagements, which he gives to large businesses (and in the book the US military). I love wondering how this is even possible, and Cain clearly does too. Even though Little describes himself as strongly introverted, he’s able to make these “performances” stick by taking the necessary time away from these engagements either before-or-after they have taken place. Think of it as recharging the batteries. How many of us have slipped away quietly, sensing a low ebb during a social engagement, or found a quiet conversation more restorative then buzzing around “networking” with people you may only ever meet once in your life? Or alternatively, if you’re an extrovert, finding a surge in spirit by surrounding yourself with more people? I know I prefer the first two options nowadays and so does Professor Little!

At the same time we can perform in opposition to our true natures just long enough before we need to excuse ourselves, and this is down to the fixed traits and free traits that co-exist within us. This is the principle of Little’s theory, insomuch as I understand it: we all are “born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits … but we can and do act out of character in the service of ‘core personal projects’.” (Cain, 2012) At last! An explanation as to why I feel charged up in certain situations and not others, and feel the opposite way, at a similar event (that may normally drain me) after I’ve had ample time to recharge! It makes total sense. If I have enough “down time” I can be ready and willing during the “up times” – those events I selectively chose to attend.

Take my current career path: Publishing – it’s all about the “networking”. Particularly when you’re looking for information. And it usually comes down to who you know, not what (or a combination of both). The publishing community in Oxford  offers up a lot opportunities to find out what everyone is up to through these seminars like these, the annual trade fairs and book launches. I can’t say I attend many book launches, but I do go to most seminars and recently attended one on book discoverability. Before the talk started however, there was the “wine and nibbles” phase of the event. And during that 30-40 minutes of “small chat” I increasingly noticed how much more of my energy it takes to stand there and chat with people I hardly even know, but when the talk starts I’m usually keen and interested to learn again. When it’s all over, however, I need to get straight home and re-charge, and sometimes that’s not always up to me as I’m dependent on other people for that important lift home (even making small talk in the car feels tiring!) So I have to choose carefully and have my exit strategy planned ahead of time.

Finally,  my social media presence seems to be in a state of oppositional flux when compared to the “networking” I do in person. If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you might think I’m a pretty active tweeter. I post, re-tweet and reply to as many conversations I can on all matters related to publishing (making my focus on digital topics like e-books, e-readers, XML, etc.). I’ll even live tweet from those seminars I attend too! So I suppose I could appear more extroverted online than I am in person. Does anyone else feel like this?

I imagine that’s a pretty natural conclusion, but it is down to the fact that my activity on social media is my personal project and I enjoy the online engagement and choose how active I want to be. Choosing those personal projects is a discovery process in of itself…I hope you enjoy finding yours!

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A bit of A and B (and you get some C)

I’d like to redirect my attention on here and take this post in a different direction. The last few posts have had a definite feel for the wheels and pedals as of late (which I love), but instead and for the next several posts I’m taking it back, back to the beginning.

The reasons I found myself coming back onto WordPress and setting up this blog were three-fold (because I like things that come in threes). And those were my cycling, my career and what I experience as my path. When I think about it, three makes total sense: two feels like too few, and four (or more) lacks that punch that items in triplicate can deliver.

It’s a classical rhetorical device as well, in both speech and writing, called the power of threes; I should know (and so does the rest of Google apparently) as I studied Rhetoric & the Communications at the University of Winnipeg in the earlier half of our first decade in the 21st century. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now.

Over the last two years, something has been quietly rumbling inside me, new possibilities (untapped, unexplored and quite frankly under-developed). Like a snoozing giant, I’m now slowly waking-up. It hasn’t come without its struggles, or its pain and there most definitely has been some sadness and a letting go of a lot of old ways of thinking. But what counts the most is the support I’ve found through the new friendships I’ve made on my path. I’m learning a lot about myself, picking up developing new tools and integrating them into my existing kit of inter-relatedness. And I’m noticing more and more that what I receive in honest truth, clear communication and feeling safe in sharing my vulnerabilities, the more I grow and become the man I imagine myself to be. And the more I trust those that are willing (or are already there) with me.

Take my friend Mark for instance. He’s a cool dude, he has (and still does) live a life that some of us could only dream of. He’s got a growing business, providing a new take on leadership training, that uses embodiment techniques in the workplace. I’ve met him a handful of times, and those times I’ve had, we have a lot of fun in the space. Just to be clear, I’ve not been on any of Mark’s courses so this isn’t a sales pitch of any kind.

It just so happened that this past weekend, Mark and I met up in Oxford (his first visit even inspired this post), however this time, we found ourselves diving into each others worlds  a bit more. And it felt really good, his level of insight and experience really served me. And what I noticed most was that I wasn’t really after anything in particular but his openness, candor and curiosity created a vibe of trust shared between the two of us. And over the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to figure out how my life could reflect one of two different extremes, but that was until the option of a third way came into view: Option C.

What would “option C” look like? Good question. If “option A” was my old way of playing small, never saying “No” to anyone for the sake of just bumping along, and placing the needs of others over my own, this all feels a bit like a life I don’t want to be living. So the opposite (the extreme opposite) of that is “option B”, insomuch that I say no all the time (whatever the reason), get my needs met and carry around inside me a sense of “f*** you all” mentality. That too is definitely not a way I want to be. So is there a way I can amalgamate these two feelings together? Sure there is a balance, another way to have my needs met, at the same time as meeting others needs and being able to say no some of the time. Option C lies somewhere in there. And Mark helped me open this up further.

I want to recalibrate my inner-guidance system. Become more aware of the self-imposed rules that are guiding me, which I then mentally beat myself up over when I don’t stick to them (like cutting out the junk food, or saying no to the booze, etc., etc.)

Mixed with humor, good food and quite a bit of walking around Oxford, I got to know more about Mark as much as I learned about myself, and it was beyond the social networks (where we tango online) and I’m really grateful for that.

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I’m new here (kind of)

Not long ago (yesterday, actually), a friend reminded me while sipping soup inside St Pancras Station that I don’t need a specific angle for this new blog I’ve gone and created. Its name, I thought, meant it would need to have an agenda for topics, news and other related bits-and-bobs. It might take a look at the increasing impact the digital world has in our real lives, or it *could* have been a space for me to cover the digital issues my profession (book publishing), but instead I’m just going to write what comes up naturally and let the rest sort itself out.

Welcome to Digitize We Must!

Tonight, I began a relationship. A relationship with a life coach I’ve hired for the next two months.

Why have I hired a life coach? I’ve hired a coach because I was curious about what this kind of relationship could offer me and my life as I am living it now. Are there certain aspects of my life that I feel need to be looked at? Of course. Don’t we all have things we want to look at more closely, but might be too afraid to do so, or keep running the same old patterns that never allow us to start in the first place? I think so.

There are four areas I want to look at: deepening relationships and connections with my family, friends and lovers (new and old); my personal fitness and nutrition; my career; and noticing old habits and behaviours that no longer serve me and getting shot of them.

I’ve been on a personal growth/self-development “kick” now for about 18 months. It’s hard to explain, which is what I hope this space will allow me to, but quite frankly I can’t get enough of it! It hasn’t cost me a whole lot of money either. A few books here, a training course or two there, and at the heart of it new connections with friends on similar (but equally different paths). Along the way I’ve discovered more about who I am, why that matters, and what I can try and offer the world. It’s the most amount of time I have ever spent trying to figure this stuff out for a very long time. More importantly, I’ve been noticing that I’ve gone as far as I could go on my own. This is why I’ve hired a coach.

I had my first call with Jeffrey tonight, a 90 minute, one-to-one call (save for a wonky Skype connection), where we set out to look at the things that were most important for me right now. Keep in mind this was only the second time we’ve actually spoken to one another face-to-face.

So far I’m feeling pretty excited and quite charged up about the possibilities Jeffrey and I will explore together for me and my life. Starting the call eager and ending the call feeling clearer was a good way to start. I’m sure it could have been a lot more difficult or I could’ve felt like it was a waste of money – not so.

I think over the coming weeks I’ll begin to write more freely about what we discussed, but for now if I’m going to keep my intention around my current fitness plan, based on the Strength for Life, by Shawn Phillips (note to self: write up a review for that), then I best sign off for now.

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