The One Skill for Life

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    121 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Two things for you to think about

    We must read because it is the only way to truly know what it feels like to be in someone else’s mind.

    “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders read.”
    — Harry S. Truman

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Two things for you to ask yourself

    Reading builds empathy. What have you read that has changed your perspective on life? What could you be reading that might change your perspective on life?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Read something this week you wouldn’t normally read. Intentionally read something that could change your mind about something. Then let me know how it goes.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to let go of the desire for revenge and validation and focus on your goals simply for the sake of your goals.

    Turns out this has been a lifelong struggle for Marie:

    Where were you with this message a few decades ago? I chose my educational goal in large part to prove the doubters and naysayers in my small hometown wrong. I was told by my high-school guidance counselor that I probably wouldn’t get accepted at my top two university choices. Not only did I do that and earned my bachelor’s degree at my first choice, I went on to graduate school.

    I completed my PhD and entered the job market right as academia was starting its slow slide into relying on adjunct instructors rather than full-time, tenure track faculty. I was so focused on proving the naysayers wrong that when I graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do next.

    I’ve mostly floundered since then, trying and failing to get full-time work in my area of expertise. Recently, I decided to let all that go and pursue a different line of work. There will be challenges ahead, but it’s my passion and I am very good at it, so I’m trying to stay optimistic.

    Your email led me to realize that I’m still harboring some (okay, a lot of) anger toward those small-minded people, which will not help me in any way become the person I want to be. I will be proud of myself and very happy to land a job in my chosen field, and that’s what matters most.

    Mark (not me) let go of his desire for revenge and found staggering success as a result:

    Around 2018 I was asked to be on the board of a non-profit organization in my community. I didn’t want to do it, but I’m that guy who doesn’t know how to say no.

    Soon, it became obvious to all of the new board members that the older members had their own way of doing things. Some of it was unethical. When we spoke up against it, there were attempts at bullying and intimidating us into compliance. It didn’t work.

    Next thing you know, we were dragged into a frivolous lawsuit. It sucked because these were people I greatly admired. The case was settled, but friendships were ruined. I felt betrayed by these so-called leaders. Word got around to me that they were talking about me behind my back.

    I decided to strike back. I went right to work on a book to expose these people once and for all. The following problems emerged:

    1) Writing nasty stuff doesn’t feel good. When you rehash awful events in your mind, your body reacts as if they’re happening now. I’d get headaches and my blood pressure spiked. I gained weight. I felt like crap.

    2) My mind spiraled. What if I did such a great job exposing these people that they sued me again? Did I want another round in the legal system?

    3) If I told the whole story, it would not only hurt them, but also the people around them. Their friends, their families… dammit. I’m too softhearted for this.

    All of the above resulted in one half-assed chapter and a major case of writer’s block. I also had a bad case of woulda coulda shoulda because I’m an introvert who takes a while to think things over. In fact, one of the old board members actually disparaged me for being ‘too quiet.’ As if it was a weakness.

    I decided to turn my weakness into a strength. I let go of the board situation and instead had a great time writing about the very real (and sometimes funny) issues that affect introverts. The book turned out to be a great success.

    When you hold a grudge, you hold back yourself. Let go and move on. You’ll thank yourself later.

    Finally, another reader is realizing she can do just that… let go:

    I realized that a lot of what I do is to prove it to my husband because being the oldest child in my family I always got the attention. Now that he’s in the picture it’s difficult to come to terms with the attention being diverted. Plus, he’s a high achiever as well. So that always feels like a threat and I end up taking bigger projects to level with him. It doesn’t help that we work in the same industry.

    This week’s email gave me insight on these hard facts. It has definitely affected my relationship with him and my relationship with work. I tend to dread going to work without realizing why and this may be the reason. The career I have built has been based on someone else and it was never bound to last.

    My goal is to pursue what I love most, helping others, so maybe I’ll join an NGO. Then I’ll focus on raising a family and taking care of the home a bit more. It’s time to give in to the strange pull of what I enjoy doing.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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