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Ralph Waldo Emerson on Self-Reliance, Cultivating Your Genius and The Curse Of Society

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within... Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ralph Waldo Emerson on Self-Reliance, Cultivating Your Genius and The Curse Of Society

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Self-Reliance, Cultivating Your Genius and The Curse Of Society

https://mystudentvoices.com/ralph-waldo-emerson-on-self-reliance-cultivating-your-genius-and-the-curse-of-society-3805ce67981e

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Key Ideas

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within... Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of geniu...

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within... Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

In order to not feel alone, we have chosen to conform

We crave solitude but love companionship. It is the cruel paradox of the human experience.

"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 ...

"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

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Self-Reliance

It's "a reliance on internal resources to provide life with coherence (meaning) and fulfillment” (Baumeister, 1987: 171)."

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Self-Reliance

Self-Reliance is the topic (and title) of an 1841 essay from US philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.

He argues strongly that self-reliance, self-trust, and individualism, amongst other things, are ways that we can avoid the conformity imposed upon us.

Examples of Self-Reliance
  • Thinking independently: The ability to think autonomously goes hand in hand with trusting your own instinct.
  • Embracing your individuality.
  • Striving towards your own goals, bravely.

It’s important to remember that self-reliance is not about cutting yourself off from everybody.

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Small wins compound over time

They make big goals seem manageable and achievable. 

They also help you to move closer to where you want to be and a constant source of motivation.

Teresa Amabile
Teresa Amabile
“Track your small wins to motivate big accomplishments.”
Pair big goals with small wins

Do this to ensure daily progress and motivation.

Because big goals can be demotivating: that burst of excitement at the beginning quickly wears off. Small wins keep your eyes on the process, not the result and help you see the progress you're making.

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Small Improvement Matters

Don’t be discouraged even you are being left behind, as long as you are making a progress, you are already making a difference.

Why Winners (Almost) Take All

In Pareto Principle, the winner takes almost all. The-Winner-Take-All effect happens isn’t because winners are better, smarter, and stronger than everyone else. In fact, most of us started at about the same place. But that tiny little advantage can take a person a long way by compounding effect over time.

Strategies for Keeps
  • Pick one goal for your business to improve focus and decision-making.
  • Optimise the first item in a funnel that has cascading effect to the entire funnel
  • Work hard to understand the 20% of your customer.
  • Create high margin products that bring 80% of all profits.
  • When assessing risk, recognise not all risks are equal.

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Questions about the meaning of life contain assumptions:
  • “What’s the meaning of life?” Assumes that there’s a single meaning.
  • “Does my life have meaning?” Assumes (or at least hints) at a “...
Problems of meaning=problems of insufficient value
Those who think life is meaningless feel that there is a gap between their expectations and reality: between the degree of value that life should have and the degree of value that it actually has. - Iddo Landau
To find meaning in life, we can either:
  1. Add more value: identify activities that are valuable to us  or we can remove activities that reduce value.
  2. Change our thinking: Perhaps our life already has sources of value, but we just aren’t looking at things in the right way. 
Montaigne on happiness
Montaigne on happiness

From the essay 'Of Solitude', Montaigne says: these are the things we normally think will bring happiness; they're wrong.
'We should have wife, children, goods, and above all health, if we ca...

The 'back shop'

The 'back shop' doesn't mean a room behind your workplace to take refuge. It is not a type of selfish, introverted withdrawal from family life, but the need to protect yourself from the pain that would come if you lost that family. It is a place to mend a broken heart, not by avoiding future pain, but by coming into a different relationship with it.

To be with yourself

The promise of getting away from it all is a fool's errand since, wherever you go, you take yourself with you.

To be with yourself is a chance for a great companionship. Your soul has the means to attack and to defend, the means to receive and to give. The quality of your inner conversation will determine the quality of life.

The 3 levels of a company culture
  • Artifacts - things you can see, touch, smell: Ping pong tables, happy hours, and free lunches.
  • Espoused values and beliefs - the mission statement you wrote togethe...
Shifting a company's culture
What people truly believe , not always what you say or outwardly show,  is what drives a company’s culture.

Changing a company culture is about tapping into the core beliefs of each individual, understanding what their basic underlying assumptions are, and creating an environment where those can be listened to, brought together, and reacted to.

Talking about dreams

People are compelled to talk about dreams. It is a natural impulse because dreams are emotional, affect moods, feel profound. 

What is unusual is that we live in a cultu...

How to remember your dreams
Believe your dreams have value and tell yourself before bed you want to remember them. 

Keep a dream journal. Get into a habit, set things up the night before to reinforce your goal. 

Lucid dreaming

In lucid dreams, you become aware you’re dreaming. You can take control of the plot. They can be anything from a brief moment where you’re in a nightmare and tell yourself: “this is a dream” and wake up. 

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Boredom is unused potential

Boredom is a disconnection to everything we can offer the world and vice versa. It's not influenced by external simulation, it's actually an indicator of how you engage with the world.

Boredom is a social disease

Ages ago, when people were busy trying to survive, boredom wasn’t a choice. They spent all their time securing food or shelter.

We are now overstimulated — easy access to infinite entertainment options is feeding boredom rather than discouraging it.

Embracing busyness to escape boredom

People embrace busyness  because they are having a hard time being alone and enjoying it

Being busy is a tricky form of entertainment however — we don’t feel the boredom, but it isn’t fun either.

3 more ideas

Spirituality
Spirituality

The term spirituality has one of two connotations: One is a classic religious one; the other is inspired by New Age Culture. Both categories embody spirituality better than cold, hard...

Reason is more of a guide

In a world where we can have complete information about everything, reason can give us certain answers. However, the world we are living in is not even close to having all the answers. In this world, words are fallible. So is perception and imagination.

Reason is then more of a guide than a symbol of truth.

The limits of understanding

There are limitations to what the human mind can understand. The mysteries of the Universe and our conscious experience are too complex to be restricted to words and formulas. 

We mostly operate on faith and habit in ways that aren’t obvious. 

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Oscar Holmes - PhD Rutgers School

"It’s hard to have a conversation about systemic injustices.  One, [diversity-related topics] are hard to ..."

Oscar Holmes - PhD Rutgers School
Advance Diversity Awareness for thoughtful leaders.

Challenge: Expose Biases too hidden to be seen.

Innovation: An identity survey with easily visible results.

Lesson: More than one social identity is examined at the same time and allows becoming aware of issues related to diversity and privilege.

How to bring the Identity survey to life
  • Do not overestimate your own competency. Life experience alone is not enough to become a diversity expert.
  • Broaden students’ perspective on privilege. A broad spectrum of topics that can reveal differences.
  • Demonstrate authenticity — and grace. Making cultural faux pas is an opportunity for teaching and showing grace.

  • Focus on solutions.  Awareness encourages motivation toward solutions.