The problem with avoidance

What are you avoiding today?

Is it a conflict, a hard conversation you need to have, dealing with a work situation, disciplining your child consistently—that thing about yourself?

You know what it is. It’s been bothering you—nagging, really. But you keep burying it. But like a zombie that won’t die and keeps crawling back out of the grave, it continues to haunt you.

That guilt, shame, and anxiety keep recurring for a reason.

You’re avoiding what you should do.

Instead, face it. Deal with it. Go towards it, and come what may. Dealing with the hardships of life makes life easier.

If you do, your life will be better than it was before. If anything, you will be better.

You’ll be a better parent, friend, person—human.


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The difference you can make

Being different is the difference that makes you stand out.

See, many of us hate being different. It makes us feel alone, ostracized, alienated. I know.

I remember being one of the few Asians in my elementary school class. And, yes, people made fun of me for being different. It hurt. I cried. But later, I accepted my difference, that I wasn’t like everyone else.

And that did something to me. It woke me. It gave me the freedom to love myself. It allowed me to see things differently and walk a unique path.

Now, when I say “different,” I don’t mean being immoral or hurting others, or anything like that. It’s about being unlike others in personality or ethnicity or interests or looks or whatever. Being different isn’t bad. It’s often the best thing that can happen to us.

And anyone can be different. It’s a choice. If you hang out with only people who look, think, talk like you, that’s ok, but try to branch out and befriend others who aren’t like you. Just that feeling of being around someone who’s not like you will make you feel different. And that’s good.

If you’ve always felt different, you’re not alone. Many around you have the same feeling and struggle. But, know this, being different and accepting yourself is powerful.

For example, the most innovative research labs aren’t the ones with scientists from the same country or have large demographic, cultural, and occupational overlap. No, the labs that make real breakthroughs often have people from various backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences working together. They are the ones who save lives, change the world, do great things. Their differences help them see the world differently and create something new.

You see, sameness doesn’t achieve greatness. No, those who want the status quo stay close to others like themselves.

So don’t conform. Don’t try to surround yourself with others like you, no. Engage those who disagree with you, eat other cuisines, speak another language, studied a subject outside of your expertise. A world without diversity doesn’t change the world. It can’t.

Uniformity isn’t transformational. Only diversity can do that. And diversity starts with each person accepting that they are different and moving towards others who are unlike them.

So don’t fear or dislike your difference or others for being different from you. That’s what sets you apart. It’s the fodder for the greatness that you can experience and create.

Instead, be different. Be yourself. Be true. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Instead, shine.

And, who knows, you might be the difference between the status quo and changing the world.

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Post-pandemic life

You can take us out of a pandemic, but it will be hard to take the pandemic out of us. Here’s what I mean.

It’s true; the pandemic is almost over. With the vaccines and their delivery scaling, we can be confident that the pandemic will end shortly.

The problem is that its scars are still with us. And I think they will stay with us afterward. I don’t mean people wearing masks or working from home or washing their hands more frequently, or whatever.

No, I’m talking about the fear we’ve lived with.

Many of us will carry around deep fears that haunt us. We’re afraid that our loved ones will die or that we will get stricken by a virus. We’re used to living vigilantly, trying to survive, and worrying about our loved ones.

Unlearning that will be one of the hardest things for us. In many ways, we’ve forgotten how to enjoy the day without wondering if we’ll be ambushed by some microscopic enemy delivered by friends and strangers.

But unlearn, we must. For we mustn’t confuse a season with a lifetime, war with peace, a pandemic with normalcy.

I’m not saying that that time is now. It’s not, but it’s coming. It’s soon.

And when it does, I hope you can enjoy it freely, devoid of fear, and filled with joy. I hope you can hug others without worry and hesitation, invite others over to your table without trepidation, and travel with adventure in your eyes.

I hope you heal those scars and regain what was lost, no longer existing out of this pandemic, but breathing in the world that has been freed from it. I hope you hope.

And, I hope you live.


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Do more by managing this resource: energy

When it comes to productivity most of us think about time. It is important, but there is, I believe, another resource that is even more so. It’s this.

Energy.

I don’t mean that we are battery-operated, like a Tesla, no. But it’s not too far from that, in some sense. I mean, you can feel it, right? It’s that draggy feeling you get through the day, or, if you’ve been working really hard and hardly sleeping, you might start feeling burned out. That’s you mismanaging your energy.

Or, on the opposite side, it’s those days, when you’ve been eating well or exercising and sleeping better, that you sense your energy levels are at full capacity. You’ve got a bounce in your step and feel like you can take on the world.

That’s what I’m talking about. That’s energy.

And many of us believe that to do more, we need to work harder. But that’s not true. It’s a recipe for hating your work or burning out. I know. I’ve been there. And doing that makes you incredibly unproductive.

Energy is critical. It’s what helps you do your job, learn, create, parent—you know, live. It’s the fuel you have within you that powers your ability to be productive in your life.

And, the truth is, too many of us are terrible at managing our energy. We don’t really think about it, let alone talk about it. But we should. It’s not easily quantifiable, but, as I said, you can feel it.

You see, highly productive people have learned to dial in their energy. They aren’t just thinking about time. They find times to play, rest, relax. Jeff Bezos talks about getting eight hours of sleep. Winston Churchill took regular breaks just to doze off or stare out over his pond and daydream. Me? I like to watch Netflix or read.

I’m not saying I’m a master at this. I’m not. My point is to make you aware of this dynamic within all of us. Awareness is key. Take stock of how much energy you do or do not have. Look at your life patterns, your routine, and consider changing things to improve your management of this.

When you are running low, learn to rest, sleep more, say no to requests. Find the things that give you energy and incorporate the into your life. Maybe it’s reading poetry, or watching a feel-good movie, even really cheesy romantic comedies, or spending time with your loved ones. Whatever it is, do it regularly. Doing that will help you have the oomph to accomplish the things that really matter.

And you’ll produce more than you thought you could, even more than when you were working longer hours.


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