EDUCATION: How to clean your rose-colored glasses.
Change is inevitable.
And because it is inevitable, some aspects are predictable.
Yes, there will be friction between the old and the new.
But remember: friction creates traction.
And like the car’s tires that use friction to not only steer clear from here, but to also get from here to there, you can leverage changes in your life to better your circumstances, as well as the lives of others.
Along the way, destroying bad habits, bad thoughts, and bad karma is not a bad idea.
Likewise, having rose-colored glasses is actually a good thing.
Just remember: windshields, thoughts, and even rose-colored glasses eventually need cleaning.
These next 7 Dares are essentially a step-by-step guide to proactively clean your rose-colored glasses throughout the day and week.
Start, maintain, and end your day with these 10 practical steps to Clean Your Glasses:
- Dare #23: - Step #6 - Pollinate
- Dare #24: - Step #7 - Rejuvenate
- Dare #25: - Step #8 - Illuminate
- Dare #26: - Step #9 - Incinerate
- Dare #27: - Step #10 - Congratulate
Today we will clean our glasses with daily EDUCATION...
You… do you remember summer?
Here in the United Sates of America, the end of summer is rapidly approaching. And as we segue into fall, I find myself fondly recalling the seasonal rite of returning to school after a great summer vacation. Rekindling old connections, meeting new friends, and starting off on a fresh, new path in life were always the best parts of the first days of school. Such hope. Such promise. Such potential. Such a powerful place from which to begin a positively presumptuous passageway forward in life!
Inevitably, after a few days of administrative settling in, teachers would assign that oh-so-original assignment to write an essay about “What I Did Over Summer Vacation.”
* sigh *
Oh… those beautifully sunny days of summer!
~ Bike rides all over the city… not just the neighborhood
~ Family vacations to other cities and states
~ Teenaged puppy love gaining bittersweet bite to its adolescent bark
~ Superb smells, sights, and sounds found exclusively during summer
All of those things came with one small caveat: soon it would be gone.
As a native son of the Great Lake State of Michigan, I had the pleasure of experiencing all four seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer. With its kaleidoscope of warm, earthy colors, fall in the American Midwest is absolutely gorgeous. Toss in a night of trick-or-treating, a special night of “Homecoming,” a holiday created specifically for offering thanks, and a few crisp nights made for cuddling up in front of a warm fireplace… and fall is a pretty hard season to top.
But along comes winter… and in the true winter wonderland of Michigan, the cold weather rarely puts a damper on the affection for the season. As we enjoyed the sports transition from football to basketball, we also felt blessed amidst a worldwide holiday season that included an homage to an historical, biblical Savior… not entirely disconnected from the beautiful renewal that is achieved by simply turning a page on our Gregorian calendar - one more day; one more month; yet an entirely different, brand new Happy New Year!
And then came spring. April showers brought May flowers… with a few good thunderstorms to remind us that “all sunshine and no rain will give us the best desert around.” Shedding the constricting, cold confines of winter, we often edged into a restlessness that foreshadowed the true release awaiting us a mere month or two away…
Perhaps it was my fondness for summer that led me to my love of the Hawaiian Islands. Then again, said in a different way… perhaps it was my eventual disdain for the constricting cold of winter that led me to this island paradise.
Or, perhaps it was the experience I had during my initial visit to the island of Oahu, as a young man, back in 1990. Actually, I think it all began when I first read about Hawaii… way back in the second grade. As I sat there reading that large library book, I was fascinated by the history, the culture, and the climate of this remote archipelago. I wanted to learn more and more about Hawaii… and I did. I did everything from study the encyclopedia… to watch Elvis Presley’s (less-than-stellar) movies made on location right here in Hawaii.
As I look back on my first visit in 1990, I now realize that I fell in love with Hawaii many years ago. But did I learn to love it or did I simply love to learn about it?
To this day, I am not sure which is more correct: Do we end up loving things because we have learned about them… or do we ultimately learn about things because we innately love them in some inherently instinctive way. The answer to this question, though seemingly innocuous, if not irrelevant, can help us achieve a whole new level of appreciation for how we educate ourselves.
And, perhaps more importantly, the answer to that question can actually transform us to a completely different plane of reality. Yes… a different place… a whole new world… Yet, a geographically real place firmly ensconced in actuality.
How can this be?
How can a mere answer to a seemingly innocuous question yield transformational results?
Moreover, how can that answer take you to a whole NEW world while paradoxically keeping you established in the real world?
How? Via the education each of us receives in life…
At the risk of appearing trite, I will ask you to complete the following quoted phrase:
“Knowledge is ____________”
Knowledge is acquired through education.
Education is acquired through a formal or informal process of learning (not necessarily through mere teaching).
Yes: knowledge IS power.
But knowledge and education are the mere crumbs of power.
If you want to have your cake and eat it, too… focus on your wisdom.
Wisdom is the application/use of knowledge.
And in the great expanse of wisdom, you potentially have some rather impressive super powers. In fact, every single one of us has these inherent, marvelous powers of wisdom.
When I was in kindergarten, I learned that I was special. Well… either I was special or the teacher was a tyrannical conformist. I like to believe the former; all kindergarteners and most kindergarten teachers are equally special. To this very day, I often garner severe glares when I open my public discussions with the statement, “I am a very unique individual.” Interestingly enough, those glares soften significantly when I remind the audience members that they, too, are very unique individuals. Of course I am special and unique. And so are YOU. To that end, I have learned that people love to hear how special they are, but often disprove of self-promotion. Ironic, eh?
When I was in elementary school, I found out that I was gifted and talented. I just happened to be a little boy in a small elementary school… a school that had recently created an ACADEMICALLY Gifted and Talented Program. It wasn’t until later that I found out that “gifted and talented” applies to the entire population of this here world. Gifts and talents come in all sorts, sizes, and specialties. Beauty, brawns, and brains are the often-considered three gifts. Empathy, kindheartedness, insightfulness, strategic ability, recollection powers, communication capability, tenacity, endurance, and hospitableness are all gifts and abilities that are not as highly revered, and all too often, are sorely needed in today’s all-out, leveraged, what-can-you-do-for-me landscape.
As I grow older and wiser, I now know that arms, legs, eyes, ears, and every other ounce of my flesh are also great gifts. And I am the talented creator who owns those phenomenal gifts, as do most of us.
When I was in middle school, my older brother was disenchanted when our family doctor recommended he start wearing reading glasses. My brother must have “lost” those glasses at least a hundred times. Of course, as a little brother, it was my sworn duty to find those little ugly frames. And find them, I did!
A year or so later, as I was exiting the school bus, a friend asked me to look at a sign a few hundred feet down the street. That friend was hysterically incredulous when I told him I could not see the sign… nor read it. My subsequent pleadings to my father, requesting a pair of glasses, fell on deaf ears (he said I was having an identity crisis and wanted to be like my big brother). A year later, he finally relented and took me to the optometrist. When he saw firsthand that I could not read anything under the big fat ‘E’ on the eye chart, he, too, was in disbelief. Then and there, I learned the power of perspective… and how people can be absolutely bind, literally and figuratively, and yet not even know just how much of the actual picture they are missing.
With the new glasses interpreting my environment, I saw a whole new world. With the newfound knowledge, I lost a significant amount of naiveté and gained a tremendous insight into the reality of divergent perspectives.
When I was in high school, I gasped at the rapid rate of change in the world… my world. Events unfolded in a manner and speed for which I was quite unprepared. I failed to grasp the significance, effect, and consequences of my parents’ divorce as I scaled the hill of young adulthood en route to this mountainous range of adulthood. With its precipitous peaks and vast valleys, I soon learned that people are people wherever you go. Family, friends, foe… and everybody in between: we all live, learn, love, and die. And with this latest “Generation of Likes” upon us, we would all do well to (go ahead and) let them speed up the pace of change… just like it was done in your youthful time… and the time before that. Just remember: change is one thing; transformation is something totally different.
When I dropped out of high school, I quickly learned that the world values people who value education. I subsequently enrolled in college, and learned to love to learn all over again. And as the recipient of a GED, BBA, and MBA, I gained an education on what it feels like to be given a second chance at gaining a formal education. I also learned that credentialism is not just a fancy word; in today’s world, there really is an over-emphasis on credentials when hiring staff and “assigning” social status. Remember: people are people wherever you go.
When I joined the United States Navy as a teenager, I soon learned that patience, patriotism, perseverance, and prior proper planning could be powerful predictors of success. Those self-same characteristics could also imbue myopic points of view bordering on boorish, boring elitism, and ultimately risk the evisceration of the creative energy within all of us. In my sometimes idealistic frame of mind, I periodically lost faith in the concept that “we the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”
My faith in this republic was not restored by other mere concepts, but rather by real people who KNEW what they had to do… and then did it. It is people like that who incrementally hold the balance of power in the daily battle among the black, white, and all the grey in between (figuratively speaking).
When I became a parent, I learned to fear things that were entirely beyond my control, principally the absolute safety of my daughters. Thus I sought to push and prod my children to grow in a manner that helped prepare them for the world. And then I realized that many of my parental pushes were also pushing them away from the very arms made to protect them. I had to learn to love to learn how to continuously become a better parent… and to see the world through their eyes. Achieving a mere glimpse of their powerfully promising perspectives amidst my broadly protective parental knowledge has been an amazingly illuminative experience. Once blind, now I see.
When I married my wife, Delia, I learned to love the all-too-often undervalued advantage of diversity. Before I received the gift that is Delia, I was absolutely convinced that I needed and wanted a spouse who was “just like me.” In a humorously ironic twist of events, Delia and I are about as opposite as a couple can be. Yet, aside from a religious experience or two, she is literally the best thing to ever happen to me. And as she tells me all the time, I could never handle someone like me. On that, we vehemently agree.
This past month, I re-learned the truism that optimism can take you just so far in life. I had a personal invitation to the refresher course demonstrating the painfully obvious fact that there are some very troubled people in this world… people who have no problem lashing out at blameless others as they, themselves, process the life of evils consigned upon their once-innocent lives. It was a harsh reminder that everyone deals with devilish demons on his or her own respective terms, sometimes successfully, and oftentimes disastrously. Irrespective of the season of life in which we each independently travel, I was reminded that we live in a world of intersecting paths, interjecting events, and introspecting individuals.
As such, we don’t travel independently, but rather interdependently.
Accordingly, I still believe in YOU. And I remain an optimistic realist, as I was before penning this narrative, and before that illustrative event. Admittedly, immediately after this “refresher course,” cynicism reared its ugly head. However, I choose to rely on what I KNOW. That is to say that I have endeavored to focus on the brighter side of things I have learned over the course of the lifetime that is consummated within me.
I encourage you to do the same.
And as each of us moves from one season of life into the next, we will continue to live and to learn. But will we do our best to shape the ever-present wheels of change by sharing a proper balance of what we know (not all of the bad, not all of the good, but rather a balance of the two)? Of course, people rarely want to be told this, that, or the other. After all, you, too, don’t need to be told anything. Right?
In reality, we are all a tad bit more selfish than we realize. Indeed, if we believe we will somehow benefit from a directive, we will more likely do what we’re told to do. For example, “Click HERE to receive a FREE car.” Or “Come here and get this $50.” Gladly!
As selfish as we are about the present value of other people's directions, we are often equally shortsighted when it comes to valuing the “bad” events of our past.
At some point, however, if our goal is to grow old gracefully, we have to embrace all that ever was… including the good, the bad, and the ugly. And we should judiciously share it.
The past is not a liability; not a jinx, curse, or plague from which we all continuously, contemptuously, or frightfully run.
The past is an asset. If this is the case, it can be traded for something better: today.
Thus if we can somehow educate ourselves on the things which have helped craft the gifted and talented beings we are today, we might actually be able to help others approach that near-perfect altitude between the proverbial places of heaven, hell, and each of our ideal lifestyles.
As we fully embrace our past… our friends, family, and even our enemies become co-creators in the work of art that is we… you, he, she, and me. Yet, only YOU know what YOU know.
And today, I share a mere fraction of a sliver of what I know.
In the long run, everything – yes, everything – has the potential to add value to your life… if you allow it. In the final analysis, the past is neither an asset nor a liability, neither a bad thing nor a good thing. It is what it is: it is what you make it. So why not make it your asset?
And guess what… (?)
The same truism applies to the next minute, hour, day, week, and year of your life.
It is what it is. It is what you make it.
Today I dare you to take a step back, slow down, and reminisce on those phases of your life that have develop the miracle that is you. If you are flying high, congratulations! Only you know what you have had to do to get to where you are. Still… take a moment and educate yourself on how you got here… not just the last few good jobs, great bosses, awesome assignments, and victorious occasions… but also reflect upon those terrible times, eerie events, and painful people from years long forgotten (but fatefully leveraged) by the creator that is you.
On the other hand, if you think life is passing you by, educate yourself on this one little fact:
YOU ARE WHERE YOU NEED TO BE,
WHEN YOU NEED TO BE THERE.
Educate yourself on WHY you are HERE, and then prepare for arrival at the next level. In essence, we must learn to love where we’ve been and who we are before we can even begin to see what’s possible in the next turn of events.
Ultimately we end up loving things because we have learned about them.
What do you know about you?
What do you know about “them”?
Indeed, we can press the LIKE button as many time as we want, and life goes on. But as soon as we begin operating within the currency of love, we eventually learn more about new and existing things because we already know, need, and feed them in some mysterious, transcendent, supernaturally natural way.
IF you can take some time… invest that time in a short jaunt down memory lane, and then see your gilded past for what it is (an asset), then you will have fundamentally shifted your point of view regarding those “mistakes.”
Ironically, if you can find value in your own past mistakes (and I know you can), you can certainly lend credence to the fact that others can do the exact same thing (make mistakes, then turn those mistakes into lessons and then into assets worth sharing).
And though we may never completely understand or fully embrace the malevolent mindsets that potentially lurk behind every man and woman on the face of this earth, we can choose to be optimistic realists… people who hope for the best while continuously educating ourselves about the wonderful people, places, and things that emphatically enable and endow our benevolent beginnings, every single, gloriously new day.
By doing this, we actually transform ourselves to a completely different plane of reality… a world where the balance of power between good and evil is literally reduced to one person answering one small, specific question.
Why are YOU here?
That’s the question.
Want your ANSWER?
You have the knowledge.
Knowledge is POWER.
You have the education.
Seek the WISDOM.
It will transform YOU.
It’s all about YOU.
But tell me:
What’s your role in your soul, your goal, and for whom the bell tolls?
Today, I dare you: Educate Your Self
© 2014 John H. Clark III
Accept Adapt. Achieve. ®
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This is Dare #21
About the Author:
John H. Clark III is an optimistic realist who loves writing about life’s big and little truisms.
As the author of four books, John offers a refreshingly unique point of view that can help bring perspective to seemingly overwhelming situations. John’s message resonates with an enlightening, invigorating, and empowering blend of ideals that enrich, uplift, and “authorize” the individual to set and achieve goals far beyond current mindsets.
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