Today I read a Tweet by Adam Grant which reads;
Efficiency comes from making progress on your to-do list.
Growth comes from moving forward on your to-be list.
Don’t just set targets for the tasks you need to complete.
Set goals for the kind of person you want to become.
We are so obsessed and consumed by the to-do list that we have never made our to be list.
We remember renewing our health insurance policy, vehicle license, PUC certificate, passport but we have never thought of renewing the self.
We are what were for years and decades. Any change is not only unwelcomed we fight to kick it out of our system.
I completed reading one of the finest books Self Renewal by John Gardener last week. Usually, I read a print book with a highlighter to highlight important points. Kindle has an easy highlighter to highlight important texts in the book. Perhaps I have used the Kindle highlighter the highest time while reading this book.
This book is about self-renewal of individuals, organisation, and society. We age and decay because we don’t self-renew.
The author writes, “Rome falling to the barbarians, an old family firm going into bankruptcy, and a government agency quietly strangling in its own red tape have more in common than one might suppose.”
When an individual or institution age it becomes more rigid. We all know and have experienced rigidity of our older generations. We call ourselves practical and flexible. But we are also subject to rigidity and fixed mindset without our knowledge. We all are decaying unless we become aware of it and take action based on this book.
He further writes,” When organisations and societies are young, they are flexible, fluid not yet paralysed by rigid specialisation and willing to try anything once. As the organisation or society ages, vitality diminishes, flexibility gives way to rigidity, creativity fades and there is a loss of capacity to meet challenges from unexpected directions.”
What is true for organisations and society is true for individuals. Our flexibilities and willingness to try new things diminishes under the burden of tradition and history. The author states this with an example of an infant.
“The infant is a model of openness to new experience, – receptive, curious, eager, unafraid, willing to try anything and above all not inhibited by fixed habits and attitudes. S the years pass he loses these priceless qualities. Inevitably he accumulates habits, attitudes, opinions…. Each acquired attitudes or habit useful though it may be, makes him a little less receptive to alternative ways of thinking and acting.”
We all want to remain young. But the author says youth implies immaturity. Though everyone wants to be young, no one wants to be immature. Maturing is important but it reduces potentialities and reduces adaptability.
The author says,” If maturing is about knowing fixed ways of doing things, it is a way headed to the graveyard. Maturity should be about a system within which continues innovation and renewal can occur.”
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As we mature, we progressively narrow our scope and variety of our lives… As the years go by we view our familiar surrounding with less and less freshness of perception. … The individual who has become a stranger to himself has lost the capacity for genuine self-renewal.”
Our maturity is so limiting that we are willing to take less risk as we mature. Learning is a risky business and they do not like failure. When an infant is he is experiencing a shattering number of failures. See the innumerable things he tries and fails. Failures do not discourage him. With each year that passes he will be less blithe about failure. By adolescence, the willingness of young people to risk failure has diminished greatly.
This shows how we gradually become rigid from flexible. How we are willing to take less risk as we age and mature.
“And all too after parents push them, further along, that road by instilling fear, by punishing failure or by making success seem too precious.”
“We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration of experimentation.”
His writings clearly show how we become inflexible, rigid, fearful as we age. These are the reasons for our gradual and confirmed decaying.
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To be able to self-renew we should be able to free ourselves from the web of social pressures. Self-renewing person is independent.
“He doesn’t spend much time asking What will people say” The fact that everybody is doing it doesn’t mean he is doing it. He is capable of questioning assumptions that the rest of us accept.”
We know how we are caught in the above limitations. What others say and doing what others are doing without understanding is our way of life. This is especially true in our religious belief and practices. This is applicable in our thinking that traditional rituals, beliefs, things are unquestionable.
We all talk about freedom. But we are completely ignorant about the limitations imposed by one’s own compulsions, habits, and fixed ideas.
This book talks about creativity, independence, innovation, obstacle, mindset, and many things which will help you unshackle from the mental prison we all are caught in without our knowledge.
This book is required reading for everyone. Not only once but every few years to keep the rigidity of the mind at bay. This helps us renewing ourselves with our expanded capacity to accept new ideas, enhance the capability of seeing things with new perception.
Decaying and aging is non-active happening. Self-renewal comprises of active acts. The first step is to know the self and our rigid mindset. Yoga helps us with physical flexibility, this book will help you to realise the importance of mental flexibility.
The quote in the beginning says, set a goal to become a kind of person you want to become. This book will help you in a great way to execute the goal of your self-renewal. The New You (forever).
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