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Empowerment

Who Do You Think You Are?

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Who Do You Think You Are?

The question “who do you think you are?” cuts to the heart of our self-image and self-confidence. It cuts to the heart of the goals we set for ourselves and the expectations we have for our lives.

Who we think we are is often more important than who we actually are. Let me repeat: who we think we are is often more important than who we actually are. But why? 

Our perceptions and expectations of and for ourselves determine how we act, and if we have good perceptions and expectations we will act in ways consistent with the good that we think we deserve. On the other hand, if we have mediocre perceptions and expectations of ourselves we will act in ways consistent with the mediocrity we think we deserve.

In other words, the question of “who do you think you are?” is more about perception than reality. And in the case of self-image and self-confidence, perception is greater than reality.

We are all familiar with Muhammad Ali saying “I am the greatest” so often that most of us probably believe that he was the greatest boxer of all time. What Ali understood is that his self-image and self-confidence was determined by his self-perception. And his self-perception caused him to speak and behave in ways that made him better, bigger, and bolder than his “normal” or “default-self.” His self-perception of greatness became a self-fulfilling prophecy in his life.

Of course, other athletes like Michael Jordan have done this. They’ve used their words to build themselves up and create their own self-perception and self-fulfilling prophecies – to great success. They’ve built the “inner-them” so strongly that the “outer-them” started to look like an exact replica.

But the question is, have you followed these athletes’ examples in your own life? Have you built your “inner-you” to the point your “outer-you” surrenders to it every time?

That is an odd thing to ask yourself because most of us assume that, for the kinds of lives we live – and the kinds of professions we’re in – we would be strange to talk or think about ourselves as being great. After all, isn’t this thinking only supposed to be for athletes or naturally talented or gifted people? Wouldn’t others think it strange if they caught us literally speaking (or thinking) great things about ourselves for the strategic purpose of “building our inner-selves?” If you were an accountant or post office worker, wouldn’t others thing it weird for you to say “I am great accountant, # 1 at my firm” or “I am a great postal clerk, I always deliver the mail on time with a smile.” 

But despite what others’ might think of you, what matters more is what you think of you. Your life will almost always move in the direction of your most dominant thoughts – and your dominant thoughts are determined by the words you speak over yourself and the self-perception you have for your life. If your dominant thoughts and self-perception are good, you’ll inevitably move in that direction regardless of where you currently are. So even if the perception you have of yourself does not match your reality at the moment, you can over time bend reality in the direction you want in your life.

I know the naysayers might say this is arrogant or that this gives people false hope. What if, for example, people think they are great but do not have the skills, work ethic, or habits to manifest that greatness? 

This question misses the point. The reality is that people’s work ethics and habits will start to line up with their self-perceptions bit by bit. Why? Because somebody who thinks they are great at what they do – or who wants to become great at what they do – will pursue any and all means to become great. They will pursue any and all means so that their perceptions become their reality.

But most people don’t think this way. They do not speak great words about themselves, think great thoughts about themselves, and as a consequence do not tap into the greatness within them. You don’t have to live like this. You can choose self-perceptions that create the reality you want and deserve.

Dr. Rob Carpenter - known simply as “Dr. Rob” - is a transformational author, filmmaker, and CEO whose mission is to entertain, empower, and uplift people and humanity.

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Empowerment

Why We Should All Be More Humble – Part 2 (Leaving Behind the “Me-First” Focus)

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Why We Should All Be More Humble – Part 2 (Leaving Behind the “Me-First” Focus)

Although most of us truly admire others who have mastered humility, it can be difficult to be more humble ourselves. It’s difficult because we’re human and we have insecurities. It’s difficult because our emotions change from day to day. And it’s difficult because most of society seems to reward people socially and financially who don’t seem humble at all, so we naturally pursue status-seeking behaviors that we think will make us more successful.

While all of this is understandable, the behaviors we engage in for day-to-day survival and success have made us more unhappy and stressed out. These behaviors have left us with lower self-esteem and less respect for others. And these behaviors have trapped us in a seesaw of desperate insecurity and runaway pride.

This seesaw manifests itself most often when we develop an “I’ll show them” attitude by trying to prove things to people to either get their acceptance, prove them wrong, or show off. We have this attitude because we don’t feel good about ourselves so in order to make ourselves feel better we are driven to take steps to try to cause other people to think about us in a certain way.

We want them to think we’re attractive, smart, successful, and popular or at least socially accepted by whatever tribe is most important to us. We subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) want them to think of us not as who we actually are, but rather as the image or identity we have crafted for ourselves. And when they do start to think of us a certain way (in the way that we want), our insecure egos are validated – and often inflate like a hot air balloon depending on how much they’re being stroked. 

I don’t say all of these things to condemn us – I myself have been in this place of wanting people to think of me in very certain ways. I say these things to point out the fact that in most of the interactions we have with other people, we’re often only thinking about ourselves. How I am being perceived. How I am feeling. How I am being validated. It’s all about “me first,” “me-primarily,” and for some, “me-only.”

But very little of our time goes into thinking about other people and how they feel- how to give them encouragement, how to reassure them that they are loved and accepted by us (outside of their looks, possessions, status, or success), and how we can help them improve their lives. Very little of our time goes to lifting others up – without feeling superior to them, inconvenienced by them, or without constantly comparing ourselves to them.

But there is good news for us to break out of this – if we really want to.

If we decide to shift from an I focus to a them focus something inside of us will change. The mix of insecurity and pride within us will start to be replaced by a focus on compassion for others. We will become less concerned with how we look to others or how successful we are – and more concerned with how we can contribute to making other people’s lives better. 

We will start to become more teachable – the best trait of humble people- not for the purposes of self-aggrandizement or short-term success, but simply to become better versions of ourselves so we can help more people.

When we experience this shift inside of us, we will realize that the things we thought mattered the most (looks, money, acceptance and validation) were just distractions designed to make us anxious and stressed out and keep us from experiencing all of the benefits humility has to offer ourselves – and others.

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Empowerment

Why We Should All Be More Humble – Part 1

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Why We Should All Be More Humble – Part 1

Have you ever met a truly humble person? Not somebody who HAD TO BE humble because of their circumstances, but somebody who CHOSE TO BE? Not somebody who was pretending false modesty but somebody who was genuinely selfless?

Nearly 10 years ago I met such a person – and I was in complete awe. I had gone to a big event this young person was the host of. I had never met (or heard of) this person before but when I shook their hand at the end of the event, something felt different. It didn’t feel like it was a normal transactional handshake. It didn’t feel like just another polite interaction either. It felt different, somehow.

So I went back to another event this person hosted. I got the same feeling. And I kept getting this feeling over and over again the more I met this person at their events. But I didn’t know why I was feeling the way I was. What was it about them that made me almost physically feel their aura of humility and compassion?

I didn’t find my answer until the day I realized that the person I met had founded one of the largest anti-human trafficking organizations in the United States. He had also founded the largest food bank in Los Angeles. And the largest anti-gang outreach program there. He had literally personally saved and transformed thousands of lives that were on the brink of destruction. But if you spoke to him, you would never know it. Why? Because when you met him he spent 100% of his time focused on YOU – how you were feeling, if you were having a good day, if he could help you in any way.

Oozing out of him was compassion and sincerity. Oozing out of him was supreme authenticity. Oozing out of him was so little regard for himself that it was awe-inspiring to me.

In today’s society, though, this type of person is rare. This type of behavior is rare. This type of humility is rare. Why? Because we’re not taught it. We don’t see it modeled enough.

What are we taught instead? We’re taught to humble brag about our accomplishments, we’re taught to increase our social media likes and popularity, we’re taught to market ourselves and be a brand. We’re taught this is the way to be successful. So we do it.

And while we run toward success and validation, we don’t stop to think about humility. We don’t stop to think about what it means or why it’s important. We don’t stop to think about how it can improve our lives – or the lives of others. 

You see, humility is seeing yourself the way God sees you – as one person playing a small part in a grand opera. Humility is recognizing that others are equal to you – not less than or better than you. Humility is understanding that you were sent here to help others and solve problems for them – not just become comfortable, rich, insta-famous, or successful. Humility is knowing that life is about serving, learning, growing, and contributing to a global body of love that is running on empty right now. This is what humility is.

Our society doesn’t know what humility is because it doesn’t fully know what love is, what compassion is, what commitment to others is. But it can.

In part 2 of this series, we’ll explore how we can all start to personally embrace humility, the benefits we’ll experience when we do, and how this new approach will bring the healing we have been looking for in our own lives- and the healing the world has long been looking for, too. 

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Empowerment

Yes That’s Cool, But It’s Not Purposeful

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Yes That’s Cool, But It’s Not Purposeful

Early on in my career I was attracted to projects that I call “cool but not purposeful.” But what do I mean by this?

Cool but not purposeful is when we seek a goal because it looks good, not because we deeply believe in it. Cool but not purposeful is when we do things to impress others, but not really because we want to empower them. Cool but not purposeful is when we build up facades for ourselves because we are afraid to be the real us.

For me, there was a time in life I was seeking out degrees and projects and organizations that looked cool for me to have or be associated with, but deep down didn’t develop me into the kind of purposeful person I knew I needed to become. 

Here’s a concrete example of this. In my very early 20s, I had thought up a cool (or silly)  idea for a tech startup that I felt I could easily pitch, build, and sell off within a matter of months or a few years. So I raised investor money (I secured it on the first pitch), launched the software, and in less than 4 years sold the company. I was in lots of press publications and got tons of applause, but in reality it didn’t bring me much satisfaction because I knew the idea wasn’t the most purposeful thing I could have given my time to.

Yes, my idea provided some value. Yes, it employed people and serviced lots of customers. And yes, I accomplished many of my then professional goals with it. But I was working on this cool idea, in part, for the wrong reasons.

Now don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t doing it for nefarious reasons. But I was doing it to some degree because it looked impressive to have my own company and not because I felt this idea was what I wanted to be remembered for. I was doing it because, underneath it all, I had a mixture of insecurity and pride that I felt would be validated by this company. I was doing it because I was afraid to be the real me – not just the impressive, highly credentialed me who could dominate just like Alexander the Great, but the humble me who wanted to impart wisdom and purpose to the world that I felt desperately needed it. 

The point of all of this is not that we can’t have mixed motives (wanting to be respected and successful is a good thing). And that point is not that we can’t pursue cool (or even silly) ideas, especially ones that can be validated by the market. The point is that we should ask ourselves if the cool ideas we are pursuing are the things we should be devoting our time to – or if there are other more purposeful things we should be devoting our time to. 

In my several decades on the earth so far, I’ve seen lots of very smart people run to Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Hollywood to pursue vanity (silly ideas, money, or fame) and not deep purpose. I’ve seen thousands of young people wanting to be social media “influencers” but not really knowing who or what they want to influence – and not really having anything meaningful to say. I’ve seen a whole generation of people more interested in cool things – cool tech, silly memes, and hashtags – than in asking themselves how they could be strategically using their limited time to improve the world. 

But again, the point is not to bash cool or fun things. The point is to highlight that we shouldn’t let cool things be SUBSTITUTES for purposeful things. And we shouldn’t let cool things distract us from being who we’re authentically meant to be (not just the fake online personas (aka “brands”) society tells us to be. We should seek to make everything we do purposeful – and if it happens to be cool on top of that, well then that’s cool. 

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