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“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Airplane pilot. Truck driver. Horse rider. How do you navigate through life? Are you captaining your ship or are you the passenger on someone else’s vehicle? It isn’t easy to dance to the beat of your own drum, take the reins and go where your heart leads you, but it promises to be the most rewarding course. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.”

Do you follow the prescribed path OR are you the scribe of your own journey?

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“We tend to focus on snapshots of isolated part of the system, and wonder why our deepest problems never seem to get solved.” – Peter Senge

When you want to accomplish a new task well and thoroughly, focus is required. While focus facilitates the task at hand, focus alone can be a detriment when attempting to tackle a problem or challenge. For this, the key is expanding one’s view from narrow to wide angle. Context is everything. In relationships, careers, societal challenges, the equation is focus plus the big picture equals the opportunity for true understanding.

Do you focus only on the immediate OR take the larger context into consideration?

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“Remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives is probably the most important factor in being a fulfilled human being.” – Stuart Brown

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… do you remember the proverb repeated in dizzying line after line by the psychopathic character played by Jack Nicholson in the horror film The Shining? Thankfully, we don’t all get pushed over the edge without play and fun in our day, but their salubrious effects are undeniable. Even important and serious situations can be approached with levity. Aspire to: be truly young at heart and bring joy, laughter and a playful attitude to both your work and personal life. You will be happier and healthier for it.

Do you tend to be somber and grave OR are you likely to be playful and light?

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – John Watson

As children, we learn to be nice. We are often told: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And even Santa Clause reinforces this lesson by rewarding children who are nice rather than naughty. In the workplace, we may be told that nice guys finish last, but Adam Grant, author of Give and Take disagrees: He posits that success at work is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others, and it is the nice guys, the givers who achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.

Do you act insensitively to others OR do you try to be nice?

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“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” – C.S. Lewis

Fear is a natural emotion. When something threatens us, our nervous system kicks into gear, prepared for any dangers we encounter – real or perceived. That’s the good news. But when we are afraid of possible outcomes for actions not yet taken and this fear stops us from pursuing something in our lives, that’s not good news. Fear of failure, fear of judgement, fear of rejection. These can be paralyzing if you let them.

Do you succumb to fear and insecurity OR is it okay for you to be afraid and go ahead anyway?