Stretch Yourself (Say, “yes!”)

For some of us (me), the natural tendency is to say “no” to new opportunities, often because we’re timid or fear failure. This is a BIG mistake (if it is a habit). Saying “no” only reinforces that we are “failures,” hurting our self-esteem. In contrast, saying “yes” provides at least two benefits: (1) it helps us learn new skills, abilities, etc.; and, (2) it boosts our confidence to stretch ourselves more. It’s a virtuous circle, often. Besides, it makes life more fun. Even when we actually “fail” at the new. “Better to have loved and lost. . . ” To try is to love life.

Example: My dad said “yes” when he was asked to be his fraternity’s president, even though he had no leadership experience. Yada, yada, yada, he later won the first and only “Mr. Fridley” award for being one of the lead farm advisors in California. (Think “Green Acres.”)

Caveat: This isn’t a principle, just a rule of thumb. Saying “yes” to heroin would be stupid in almost all circumstances. Use your brain, check the facts, be rational (as should go without saying).

Be First-handed, Not Fist-handed

This may be the most important piece of advice, because it affects all others.

Being first-handed means observing reality with your own eyes/brain, forming your own judgments, and acting on them with integrity. It is a primary orientation toward reality, not other people. Put negatively, it means not accepting ideas passively or on the authority of others. This is difficult to do consistently.

For example, you hear someone claim that “97% of all scientists accept that CO2 is causing catastrophic global warming.”Even if true (it’s not), you do not accept its truth based on the authority of the scientists.  (And you do not accept my claim passively, either.) You go look at the observation-based evidence, including the credibility of the scientists who claim knowledge.

(The “fist-handed” part is half in jest, but those who are second-handed tend to resort to the fist or allow it passively. For example, those whose authority is God or The People [the Volk] or The Environment, like ISIS, Hitler, and Al Gore.)