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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on facing personal weaknesses, one step I took to deal with such weaknesses many years ago was to brainstorm a list of qualities I wanted to experience instead of those weaknesses.
Here’s what I came up with back then:
- Confidence – holding a strong belief in my own self worth and my abilities
- Courage – the willingness to face any fear and conquer it
- Passion – love and zest for my life and my work
- Gratitude – feeling grateful that I have so many gifts and blessings
- Worthiness – feeling that I am a worthy person and that I deserve all my success because I’ve earned it
- Generosity – feeling that I always want to give more than I expect to receive
- Victory – feeling that I am the best in my field, because I’m willing to give more than anyone else
- Intelligence – making smart decisions and benefiting tremendously from the results
- Enthusiasm – doing my work with vigor, energy, and passion
- Leadership – devoting my life to evolving the planet
- Persistence – sticking to a task until it is complete by holding the vision of the goal in mind
- Humility – knowing that I must continue to make myself worthy of my success
- Growth – becoming a more evolved person
- Contribution – changing the world for the better in a significant way
- Being the best – consistently outperforming my competition
- Patience – being willing to delay gratification for bigger future rewards
- Wealth – feeling totally rich, being a financial wizard
- Drive – pursuing my goals with energy no matter what
- Ambition – visualizing the future as I want it to be
- Achievement – achieving my goals one after the other in rapid succession
- Success – reaching my goals successfully
- Speed – working quickly to accomplish tasks faster than expected
- Integrity – being honest with myself, keeping every promise I make
- Vitality – experiencing abundant energy to achieve everything I want
- Honesty – simplifying my life by always telling the truth
- Sacrifice – being willing to do without something in the present in order to achieve a better future
- Honor – keeping my word to myself and others
- Communication – being able to communicate easily with others, especially on the phone
- Spirituality – maintaining a connection to my higher self
- Order – being well organized and efficient
- Creativity – finding creative solutions to problems
- Uniqueness – following a different path from others and expressing my individuality
- Management – being good at managing my life and the work of others
- Self Esteem – feeling good about myself
- Health – living in a state of physical well-being, vitality, and energy
- Action-orientation – jumping onto opportunity and acting quickly to take advantage of it
- Commitment – finishing tasks that I start
- Concentration – being able to work for long periods of time in a state of concentrated effort
- Focus – keeping all my attention on the task at hand
- Flow – enjoying a state of peace and serenity as I work
- Peace – a feeling of oneness with the world and my spiritual self
- Faith – belief that everything that happens will turn out for the best and that I am led by a higher source
- Abundance – having more than enough for the rest of my life, having quick access to anything I want
- Mental toughness – sticking to my goals no matter what obstacles there are
- Open-mindedness – a willingness to be open to new opportunities and solutions
- Flexibility – the ability to change my approach whenever my current actions aren’t delivering the results
- Resourcefulness – using all the resources at my disposal and stretching to accomplish my goals
- Power – feeling strong, vital, and in control of my life and my destiny
- Responsibility – taking charge of my lot in life, knowing that I am fully responsible for my own situation
- Happiness – enjoying my life and maintaining a positive mental outlook
- Adventure – living life to the fullest
- Mastery – feeling that I am a master of my own destiny
- Wonder – feeling a sense of awe
- Appreciation – feeling happy for what I have and taking time to stop and enjoy it
- Discipline – sticking to my current tasks and goals even when progress is difficult
- Curiosity – asking questions to increase my knowledge and identify areas where I want new distinctions
- Vision – knowing exactly what I want in life
- Clarity – keeping a crystal-clear vision of what I want
- Persuasiveness – being able to influence others and persuade them to take actions that will benefit us both
- Service – serving the planet by utilizing my greatest talents
- Wisdom – making decisions wisely with consideration of their consequences
- Strength – having a strong character that others can quickly recognize and relate to
- Aggression – a go-getter in active pursuit of my goals
- Expert – being a master in my field of interest
- Efficiency – working quickly on my highest payoff tasks
- Take immediate action – seize opportunity as soon as I find it
- Investing – spend less money than I earn, invest the difference, and reinvest the returns
- Money is a score – seeing money as my score and working to reach higher and higher scores
- Planning – focusing on what I can control and creating plans to make it a reality
- Leverage – being able to use things without needing to understand them completely
- Seeing success on the other side of frustration – knowing that when frustrated, success is coming soon
- Determination – strong commitment to follow through on a plan in order to achieve the goal
- Time management – using my time wisely on my highest payoff tasks
- Sleeping four hours a night – and awakening with my body fully restored
- Love – growing closer to my wife every day
- Compassion – caring for other people deeply
- Cleanliness – keeping a clean environment, cleaning up on a regular basis
- Purity – living a moral, goal-oriented life that is consistent with my highest values
- Listening – being able to relate to others effectively by really listening deeply to them
- Sensuality – taking time for slow, physical pleasure
- Intimacy – a feeling of closeness and knowledge of another’s true self
- Warmth – a feeling of connection with others and feeling love towards them
- Humor – laughing at the world
- Playfulness – maintaining a child-like quality and being able to enjoy the simple things
- Loyalty – feeling a strong connection to those who share my path
- Stimulating – able to stimulate an open emotional response in others by touching them deeply
I made this list when I was in my 20s. While many of these items still resonate with me today, I estimate that about a third of them don’t, especially the ones related to victory, aggression, competition, and entitlement.
In reviewing this list today, I recognize some strong desire for more control over life, stemming from neediness and frustration. There’s a need to prove myself and to feel worthy. This list shows me why I felt stuck so often in my 20s. These values actually slowed me down.
I often see similar values expressed by people today who are just as stuck and frustrated as I was in my 20s.
Creating such a list was a good place to start though. It helped me take a conscious look at the contents of my desires. Even though my list had some problems, it gave me hope that I could keep making improvements. In the years after I brainstormed this list, I made many changes to my life – new city, new business, new relationship, and new lifestyle.
This lengthy list showed me some genuine desires that I wanted to keep working on, and it also revealed some socially conditioned desires that were actually getting in my way and slowing me down.
Looking back, I feel that I made the fastest progress not so much by focusing on what I wanted but by releasing problematic desires that slowed me down. For instance, I advanced more easily – and faster – through cooperation than competition.
The list above looks overly yang to me now. It’s represents a version of me who believed that more power and aggression was the solution to scarcity in most areas of life, which was actually counter-productive. I made smoother progress when I learned to be kinder and more patient with myself.
Nevertheless, I can still see myself in most of the items on this list. It’s gratifying to recognize that the person I am today can still feel connected to values that I cared about in my 20s. It’s nice to reflect on how much progress I’ve made in aligning with and expressing these values. My 20-something self would likely be surprised by some of the experiences I’ve had.
What’s missing from this list is trust. Today I have a really deep trust in reality. It’s one of my most important values. Unearthing that importance of trust really changed the balance and flow of my life. I lean into this trust when I write, speak, connect with people, and do creative projects. I lacked this trust in my 20s, and I can see how much that lack of trust held me back. I think that’s why my values were so aggressive back then. Since I didn’t trust life, my approach was to control as many aspects of life as I could.
Back then, I thought that the solution to many of my problems was to push harder. But I got much better results when I learned to trust more deeply, especially trusting myself and trusting reality.
Perhaps the most important shift I made since then was to repair that relationship with reality. First I worked through the logic of trust, which helped me see that I couldn’t expect to have a good life without it. Then as that mindset took hold over a period of many years, I invested in building unshakable trust in reality.
Eventually I condensed those years of realizations and experiments into a 60-day deep dive to share with others, which became the Submersion course. It’s great to see how transformational that’s been for others as well. I don’t think we can really understand trust unless we actively test and experiment with it, which is why the course includes 60 days worth of simple experiments to do – and lots and lots of reframes to remove blocks and limiting beliefs.
I encourage you to make a similar list to see what comes out of you. What do you value? What do you care about? What qualities do you wish to develop? Even if you do nothing else with your list, you may appreciate reviewing it a decade or two later to see how much you’ve grown. And such a list will also contain seeds of your future. If you really care about certain values, you’ll probably find ways to express them.