I'm most interested in teaching skills that improve one’s character building. I’m not out to give you the seven steps to enlightenment or offer pillars that will guarantee you better living. The road ahead is hard if you want to improve yourself in truly positive ways. It's not only about affecting your entire outlook on life and how you live it. It's also becoming an inspirational force to others on how they should look within themselves to find their own inspiration.
Inspiration, sometimes, is a tricky thing, and rather than tell you how to find inspiration, I’d rather tell you some ways that I myself have found are skills that have made me a better human being. They are what I have come to call my “ideos” – 7 skills that I feel are necessary to improving one’s self.
They are as follows:
Some of these may seem to overlap, but I chose each one for a reason. An in-depth look at each of these seven skills comes later. For now, here's an overview of each one.
Self-Awareness is the ability to be aware how and why you make particular choices in response to certain things. Learn your triggers and learn how to better react to certain situations or how not to react to them at all. You may not necessarily learn how to prevent whatever those triggers are, but instead changeyour response to them.
I believe that it is the duty of every human being to express one’s self in some way. It doesn’t have to be through writing or traditional art forms. It can be through music, clothing, dance, or some other hobby. One’s personality must be expressed in a unique and positive way. Otherwise, one can become “bored” or stagnated by the monotony of routines. An outlet for Self-Expression necessarily makes life a lot more interesting and opens the individual constantly to new ideas and ways of looking things.
Trust me, Self-Forgiveness is something I suck at. Most of us suck at forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. Even if we learn from our mistakes, regret is a powerful emotion that continues to drain far too many of us far too often. This is something I’m personally still working on greatly.
Self-Love is a term thrown around a lot nowadays. It’s a good term that encompasses other terms such as self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect. All three of those fall right under self-love, because if you can learn to accept and love yourself, those things will necessarily follow in time.
I find that self-motivation is often the hardest thing for many people when they go about working to improve themselves. Some people decide that habits are a great way to spur self-motivation. I would agree completely, as long as those habits are good. But self-motivation is also about finding the reasons that you want to do things. Having habits can only be part of your self-motivation. You have to actually put reasoning and logic into it, as well.
Originally, I included “self-improvement” as the entire cornerstone of the group of seven. It was appropriate that in the alphabetically ordered list that it fell directly in the middle. Then I realized that “self-improvement” is the entire point of the ideos in the first place. That made it redundant to have it so obviously stated in the list.
What I meant most specifically about self-improvement is the ability to recognize the areas in which you need improvement. It takes constant effort to grow a little bit in each area every day. I replaced the term with self-reflection. To be truly good at self-improvement, you must be very good at self-reflection. Everything that you do in improving the five above must be reflected upon, understood, and built upon. If you don’t self-reflect, then what are you really learning?
Ultimately, the goal of any self-improvement should be to gain self-reliance. While human beings need other human beings to be truly happy, one must be self-reliant to not have to always depend on others for everything. Sure, no one lives in a vacuum. But the concept of self-reliance is really more about being able to stand on your own better than others who crumble when the various storms of life come ashore.
I chose these seven skills because they are all things we must work on within ourselves. While we can have outside guidance, they are all things we must take with us and work on each in our own way. Of course, I encourage those in leadership positions, any at all, to encourage all of these traits in those that they lead. Originally when I was coming up with my “ideos,” they were meant to be a set of connected ideas that form the basis of strong leadership. They are ideas and concepts meant to unite people through common goals – essential for the sort of leadership lacking too often in our daily lives.
These are fairly vague descriptions of obviously far more involved processes, but this is only the beginning. Believe me, I’m doing this as much for me as I am for all of you! This way we can all share in our journey towards self-reliance and share our experiences along the way.