You can do it!

Toddlers don’t give up on walking no matter how many times they fall. Would it make sense for them to say: I can’t do it? Not at all. They just can’t do it YET. They don’t give up, regardless of all the failures. There’s a lot that we can learn from children, especially resilience.

Before the world influenced our thought patterns and self-doubt, we were creatures of adventure, experimentation and playfulness. We kept messing up until we got things right. We weren’t afraid of what people thought. We only realized how disgusting sand tasted after we gobbled down a handful.

I want to talk a little about how we can learn to overcome failure. About how that influences the way we tackle problems and chase our ambitions. About the way we thrive in discomfort. And how a little change in mindset alongside some consistency, will help us flourish.

I’ve spoken about the concept of growth mindset in my previous blog post; The Journey IV. I thought it would be important to bring it up again because of how we’re constantly faced with difficult tasks and exhaustive schedules.

Challenge accepted

How often have you faced a challenge and thought: “This isn’t for me, I can’t do it”. Well that’s okay, you can’t always overcome obstacles when you encounter them immediately. Don’t ever give up on yourself though and say that you can’t do it. You just have to keep trying until you get it right.

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

Henry Ford

That it one of my favourite quotes. When you realize that there’s always going to be challenges, your approach to them can start to change. You don’t always have to resist and try to run away. You can develop the ability to embrace challenges and learn to accept them.

Life can oftentimes feel quite paradoxical. In the book “The Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts, he mentions a concept called the ‘Backwards law’. It talks about how we always end up getting what we’re running away from. And what we chase just gets further away from us.

“What you resist, will persist.”

This obviously doesn’t speak about pursuing goals and passions, but rather attaching yourself desperately onto certain emotions. Chasing what feels good as ‘pleasure’. Avoiding what feels bad as ‘pain’. We don’t realize that we can’t enjoy one without the other. The Yin and Yang of life. We should try be more accepting of the fact that life is meant to be challenging, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it.

Seek Discomfort

The only way to grow? Out of your comfort zone. What does that imply? Seeking frightening and uncomfortable experiences!

This isn’t masochistic per say. It means training your mind to embrace discomfort. Re-wiring your neurons to effectively deal with all the struggle. That’s why cold showers and waking up early in the morning are such holistic habits. They help your brain adapt to the inevitable sufferings of life.

I’m just trying to help you understand the concept of acceptance. When you’re truly able to accept your feelings, they no longer hold you down. Which is why it’s so important to learn to accept pain. It’s an inevitable aspect of life.

Look at all the major events that have shaped who you are today. You were most likely ‘going through the most’ or have had to struggle intensely. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and scared. It’s okay to fail and make mistakes. Just accept that and learn from it. Seek to be better each and every day.

Mindset

The previous sections essentially fosters a growth mindset. When you start seeing setbacks as opportunities to learn, the world becomes your school. You need to watch the self-talk and the negative thought patterns. You need to tell yourself ‘not yet’ for the skills you don’t have or the goals you haven’t achieved.

The pathway to success is filled with failure. Sometimes major, sometimes minor, oftentimes both. But that’s the quickest way to grow. To just keep trying and to avoid repeating the mistakes that have held you down.

How many times does life have to teach you the same lesson before you actually learn?

The more time you spend gaining experience, the better you get at tackling the problem. That brings me to another crucial concept; consistency.

Consistency

I bring this up again and again and again. Because it truly is the most important skill-set to obtain. You need to be consistent to grow in any aspect of your life.

Whether it’s love, friendship, work, academics or business, the key lies in being consistent. You don’t even have to take it from me, look around you at everyone who you consider ‘successful’. They had to show up and do the work repeatedly, not only when they felt like it.

What differentiates the ordinary from extraordinary isn’t just talent. It’s the hard work, dedication, seizing of opportunities and deliberate practice. That means always trying. No matter how many times you screw up, no matter how many times you fall, no matter how many times you get hurt; don’t stop.

You can do it. You are capable. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are worthy. You will achieve greatness. You will make an impact. You will get through this; faster, stronger and better than ever. YOU CAN DO IT. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially not your own voice.

DON’T EVER GIVE UP!

“He who sweats more in training, bleeds less at war.”

Spartans

Passion ~

Disclaimer: I just want to acknowledge that a lot of the content I produce is based off my personal experiences. This happens to be from a privileged background (which I’m extremely grateful for), and I understand that it may not be as easy for other people to follow. Just want to share what I’ve learnt and hopefully you can all gain something in one way or the other.

So in today’s topic, I’m going to discuss a few things which I’ve read about and that have helped gain a better understanding of passion. This is not to say that I’ve realized my life-long passion or anything, but writing about it just helps me better digest the concepts at hand. I’ll start with a wonderful concept called Ikigai, which originates from Japanese tradition. Then I’ll delve into comfort zone (once again), consistency, mindset, and how we can make practice perfect.

Ikigai

Let me first introduce a Japanese concept called Ikigai, which roughly translates to “reason for being”. I read the book last year by Ken Mogi and it definitely changed the way I viewed passion. It essentially boils down to 4 concepts:

  • What you love doing
  • What you’re good at
  • What the world needs
  • What you can get paid for

If you can find an intersection between all four points, you’ll ultimately find your ikigai. This makes sense, considering first and foremost, you need to identify what you love doing. This helps you get started, because you’ll obviously have an urge to do what you love. Then figure out what you’re good at, which you’ll probably already enjoy doing. The second 2 points are where things get a little trickier, and that’s because there’s a difference between hobbies and a passion. Hobbies are activities out of your general occupation, which are meant to be relaxing. Contrary to that, passions are meant to drive you and keep you going, no matter how exhaustive or overwhelming.

The diagram below illustrates just what I mean by that. What the world needs and what you can get paid for, are the final factors which would truly give you a reason to live. It isn’t going to be straightforward identifying an intersection, but having an idea of what you’re aiming for, definitely contributes to the journey.


Do more! Leave your comfort zone

There’s no way you’re going to figure out what you love doing, if you keep doing the same things over and over again. This relates to what I spoke about in The Journey V, whereby it’s a vital component to add some form of discomfort in your daily routine. For example, by taking cold showers regularly. This conditions you to leave your comfort zone, which is a holistic process. I say holistic because this helps you in every aspect of your life, it allows you to brave through your fears. Once you’re able to condition your mind in one aspect of your life, why not use that same theory in other aspects? Find more ways to regularly leave your comfort zone, and stay consistent with it, to strengthen those neural connections.

“How you do one thing, is how you do everything.”

Don’t be guided by fear! Explore that hobby you’ve been yearning to try, whether it be surfing, running, martial arts, drawing, writing or acting. Approach the person you’ve always wanted to speak to. Try out cooking using a new recipe for something you’ve always craved. Visit a new city or somewhere you’ve never been to before. If you can’t do that, just read about new places and things you’re unfamiliar with. The point is to keep trying new things out, because you’ll start to better identify what it is you enjoy and what you don’t. Here’s a great phrase a friend of mine recently told me: You Only Die Once. This obviously originates from the YOLO trend, but it’s a rather fantastic way to think about it. You truly don’t know how long you’re going to be here for. Don’t wait until tomorrow, you may not get the chance.

Consistency compounds

I know some of these topics are repetitive, but again, it serves as a reminder to myself and to everyone of you reading. Consistency requires you to remind yourself on a daily basis, of what matters to you. When you do little things over and over, it becomes a lot. The thing about consistency, is that you need to realize that you (probably) won’t become an overnight success. You need to work towards your goals everyday, regardless of your mood. Whether you’re tired, uninspired, bored or “just not in the mood”, you have to make sure you get a little done. This ensures that you’re always making progress, and after a few weeks, you would’ve achieved a lot more than you realized you could. The cool thing about this is, once the ball is rolling, you’ll feel inspired and have the urge to continue anyway.

Let me give you a classic example, for those who fail to finish books. If you dedicate a certain amount of time each and everyday to read, you’ll actually make a lot of easy progress. Instead of reading when you have ‘free’ time or you’re in the mood to get ‘woke’. This in turn builds discipline and allows you to make time for what’s important to you. The same works for any other activity you enjoy doing or want to get good at. The more you keep at it, the better you get. I’ll build onto that further below.

For those of us who are fasting this month , here’s another wonderful reminder which emphasizes consistency:


“عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ الْعَمَلِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَوَاللَّهِ لَا يَمَلُّ اللَّهُ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَكَانَ أَحَبَّ الدِّينِ إِلَيْهِ مَا دَاوَمَ عَلَيْهِ صَاحِبُهُ”

“You must only perform deeds you are capable of doing. By Allah, Allah will not withhold from you until you give up. The most beloved religious deeds to Allah are those performed regularly.”

and in another narration:


“The most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant, even if it were little.”

Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him)

Mindset / Intention

This links back to what I’ve spoken about again and again, your mindset. You need to believe in your ability to grow and find what you love doing. Work on your negative self-talk and on preventing saying things like ‘I’ll never be good at this’ ,’Some people are just born better / smarter’, ‘I’m not creative’ or ‘I’m just not talented enough’. This keeps you in a fixed mindset, which prevents you from further achieving your goals or exploring different activities. Always tell you self: ‘Not yet’! This keeps the space open for you to realize that you just need to put in more time and practice, in order to develop that specific skill-set. More importantly, you need to find your real intention behind what you’re doing, start with why.

We know in Islam, that actions are based on their intention. But that ultimately means, that what you do on the surface will never be as important as your reason for doing so. What was your intention for trying to do it? This brings me to another point of Ikigai; what the world needs more of. Having pure and authentic intentions, being honest and doing the uncomfortable work. Remember why you started, keep your intentions in mind, and always try and add value to the world around you! This can sometimes be overwhelming, because we know how large and diverse the world around us is, how could we try and make it better? By being the consistent change you want to see in the world. There’s one more point I want to add, to further make the most of that consistency; deliberate practice.

-Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)

Deliberate practice makes perfect

This is where quality > quantity comes into play. You may have heard of the 10 000 hour rule, whereby the more you practice something, the better you get at it. As much as that is true, a vital element in those hours, needs to be “deliberate” practice. In essence, you need to focus on your weak points and find out where you can improve on a constant basis. This directly links to comfort zone yet again (which is why I mention it so often).

Regular practice involves doing something you enjoy, essentially staying within your comfort zone. Deliberate practice on the other hand, is constantly trying to leave your comfort zone; working on what you’re terrible at and accepting criticism from those who are better than you. Because if you only practice your strengths, how will your weaknesses ever improve? So as much as you enjoy practicing whatever it is you love, push yourself a little more each time, and work on what’s difficult. This allows for holistic growth, and can eventually make the practice perfect.

I know I’ve covered a bit of ground in this post, but I hope you can appreciate how it all links together. I’ve also repeated a few topics again, just to iterate how profound these concepts can be in your life. Once you start working on a certain aspect, it can ripple into every part of your life. It’s important not to try implementing several changes at once, and end up giving them all up. Start small and stay consistent with it. Then you can build on that once you feel comfortable with the habit. Keep in mind, that the more you’re able to condition yourself to leave your comfort zone, the faster you can grow and learn. Your intention also plays a big role, so don’t do things for the wrong reasons either. Be true and honest with yourself, as well as those around you. Ikigai may not be the easiest practice to achieve, but once you start identifying a few intersections, you’ll hopefully find something you can truly be passionate about!