Jan 20, 2020

Talking with Yourself

Excerpt from Do the KIND Thing

Talking with yourself often and deeply is not always an easy task but there are no shortcuts to understanding what makes you tick. You must take the time to ask yourself questions. Your answer most likely will not come overnight. And it may evolve as you gain other experiences. But that is why it is so important that you consciously invest the time to listen to your inner self along the way. Knowing what makes you happy is presumably the first step to actually being happy. So why is it that so many people go their entire lives without considering it?

It is tough work, actually, not just because our modern culture of tweets, blogs, emails, and Facebook posts extinguishes our time for deep reflection, but because these are tough questions that are not easy to answer. If you never ask them, though, you will never even start the journey to find the answers. And the journey itself may be the answer. If you can find what you love, and do it, your success is guaranteed— because every day pursuing what you care about will fulfill you. But if you let societal pressure fool you into thinking that your “goals” are financial success, or power, or fame, or other empty concepts on which you benchmark yourself against others, you’ll be like a hamster running on a wheel, never quite reaching the goal.

Even though this advice may seem obvious, in a culture that celebrates materialism and consumerism, at many points we are tempted to measure our success against that of others. It happens to me and I have to remind myself of my priorities. Many talented and smart people get lost chasing the wrong goal. To find our true north, we need to talk to our innermost selves. We need to dream— to consciously daydream. To let our thoughts and our consciousness take us wherever they may. Daydreaming helps us to visualize the heights we can reach, to imagine new worlds, to imagine ourselves in new places, to never believe someone who says “it can’t be done.”

Every major accomplishment starts with some people thinking it is impossible to achieve it and naïve to try. Our fates are interlinked nowadays now more than ever. The challenges that new generations are inheriting are daunting. From resource scarcity to global warming, tackling these challenges will require that we recognize our shared humanity and work together. We cannot look around for someone else to solve these problems. We are the ones with the power and responsibility to lead the way.

Talk to yourself because along the road, as you commit to excellence and aim high, there will be times when you fall. And the higher you climb, the bigger the fall. Sometimes that fall will hurt. A lot. And at those times, when you talk with yourself, it is most important that you love yourself and cut yourself some slack. Be comfortable making mistakes. As long as you learn from them. But don’t be afraid to keep climbing, and falling. For failures, and the lessons we draw from them, most often precede our greatest successes.

More from Daniel

2022 High Point University Commencement Address

Today, I want to talk about a light and fluffy subject: your generation’s role in steering humanity in the right direction. No pressure, Dalton. 

But in all seriousness, Dalton, I love what you shared about “leaving everywhere you go better than you found it…and finding ways to give grace and inspiration to the people around you.”  

I want to talk today about HOW to do that as you are all simultaneously challenged and blessed with graduating as our world is re-entering a stage of dramatic consequence. 

The ship of humanity is moving in the wrong direction, and it will be upon all of you to steer it back on track. 

To illustrate this point, I want to compare the circumstances when my father’s generation came of age, to those when my generation and your generation graduated from college. 

My father was fifteen-and-a-half when he was liberated from the Dachau concentration camp by American soldiers. He was barely alive.  He never got to go to school past third grade, let alone college. Several of your grandparents were around your age when they were sent to free Europe from tyranny and darkness. 

By contrast, when I was fifteen years-old, my family immigrated to America from Mexico. I was able to attend college during a period when passionate but cordial debate was the norm. I remember observing political leaders vehemently disagree on a particular topic, while maintaining a friendship rooted in respect. Our world was far from perfect – but the arc of human progress trended in an upward direction. Freedom, open markets, human rights, civility, and the quest for knowledge were all advancing.  

It seemed almost too good to be true.  In fact, it was so good that we began to lose sight that Our Great American Experiment isn’t so much a fixed state of affairs as it is a purposeful daily affirmation – something that we opt into, live out, and vote for not once every four years, but every single day – through how we engage with one another. 

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Understanding the Tricky Balance When Launching Social Startups

At a time when our world is facing unprecedented challenges, from climate change to political polarization to a global pandemic, entrepreneurs and nongovernmental organization (NGO) leaders cannot afford to operate in silos. Entrepreneurs possess resourcefulness, creativity, and initiative; heads of nonprofit organizations are equipped with depth of knowledge, purpose, and the patient determination that comes with that purpose. Together, these partners can turbocharge impact if they properly calibrate their respective contributions to create new social enterprises.

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Both Sides Are Minimizing Violence. Americans Must Fight for Our Nation

Shocking news emerged this week from the bipartisan committee investigating the January 6 attack: On that dark day, Fox News hosts and former-President Donald Trump’s son sent text messages begging for Trump to address the nation and stop the violent riot. Yet many Republicans continue to downplay the insurrection that dangerously undermined electoral integrity and the rule of law and threatened our democracy.

But minimizing violence isn’t only happening on the Republican side. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, District Attorneys promoting an anti-police narrative and lax crime-fighting policies have contributed to an alarming rise in homicides and spiraling crime rates. Yet despite the skyrocketing crime in liberal bastions, many of us have family and friends living in these cities who refuse to accept that controversial policies to suspend prosecution for many crimes may have played a role in the violent wave.

There is no comparing an attempted insurrection with day to day crime; one is significantly worse, and a much bigger threat to our democracy. But both sides are suffering from a partisan blindness that has led to minimizing any violence that appears to implicate their leaders. And it presents a huge threat to our country.

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