What’s your biggest fear? You don’t have to answer. Actually it doesn’t even matter what your biggest fear is… It’s all in your head anyway. No matter if you are afraid of heights, spiders, public speaking, sharks or you’re claustrophobic, everything is just in your head. You are aware of that, you know it’s not an actual danger or a life threatening situation, but you can’t just help it being afraid.
Well, every excuse you have ever came up with to avoid: pursuing your dreams, going that extra mile and deliver something extraordinary, talking to the person that could help your idea or project come to life, getting our of your comfort zone, are all in your head. Just like your biggest fear, they’re just a thought you know it’s not actually a true threat. But, nevertheless you keep using that as an excuse.
All those excuses are just a mask of your fear of failure, to make a fool of yourself, to be judged by others as not worthy, a looser. But that’s just in your head. You can’t accomplish great things without ever failing. All successful people have failed, have been rejected and have struggled before getting to their biggest success. Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb, at his first show Seinfeld froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage, during his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, Stephen King’s first book, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections. And the list can go on.
Everyone of them failed but they had something that many others didn’t, the courage try again. They knew that, much like all our biggest fears, the fear of failure is just in our heads.
At the end of the day what scares me the most is the fear of failing… Failing to be true to myself.
You can go ahead an read all the self help/ self development/ self improvement sites out there for tips on how to have better conversations and you’ll notice one thing: they all teach how to fake having a conversation.
Their advice go from looking the other person in the eyes to nodding from time to time, repeating or rephrasing what has been said, topics to make the conversation better and so on. These are all wonderful tips, but when you are engaged in a meaningful conversation, you already do most of them without having to force yourself. These come natural to you.
You don’t need to learn how to be better at having a conversations, but how to approach conversations in order to make them better. And it’s not about faking them. It doesn’t matter if you look the other person in the eyes or rephrase or follow any other tips out there. If this was true, Stephen Hawking would be the worst person to have a conversation with and everyone would avoid him, but in reality it’s the opposite.
You aren’t good at having a conversation because you don’t want to have that conversation in the first place. If you want a meaningful conversation make sure you really want to be in that conversation. A conversations requires at least two people genuinely interested in what’s being discussed in order for it to be truly a conversation.
It all comes down to this: enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn or don’t do it at all. Each person knows at least one thing that you don’t. It’s up to you if you want to find out what that is.
TLDR version… Sorry, don’t have one.
Just some random facts before we go on:
- the attention span started going down somewhere around 1950 and is going down at an increasing rate ever since
- if 10 years ago you had about 5 minutes to capture the attention of your audience when delivering a presentation, now it’s down to less then 2 minutes before everyone starts checking their phone
- facebook videos have a 80% drop in audience after the first 10 seconds
- there are stories being told in tens of tweets of 140 characters instead of a compact block of text just because their target audience would dismiss them when seeing a block of text
TLDR went from a simple “too long didn’t read” and became the motto of Generation Z – and it’s applied to everything, not just reading a text anymore. It’s become part of the lifestyle where people aren’t willing to dedicate more then just a few minutes of uninterrupted attention to something before they dismiss it, or even worst, they just dismiss everything that will require too much time without even trying to see if it’s worth it or not. It’s the search of the sensational, the rush of adrenaline or the meaningfulness in a second.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of long posts, mails, calls, meetings or anything else that could easily be reduced and save time. But, and here it’s a really big BUT a lot of people seem to be missing. Quality, meaning and relevance can’t always be kept when trying to reduce everything and narrow it down to a tweet, a vine video or a 2 minutes presentation. You can’t live your life 5 minutes at a time. Or maybe you can, but does it have the same quality or does it provide the same in depth experience? Will it have the same meaning or relevance?
This attitude affects both professional and personal life of more and more people each day without them even knowing it.
Professionally you can’t reach mastery without investing a lot of time in your work. You can’t learn/teach someone to play the piano in 5 minutes and expect them to play Bach or Mozart. You can’t write the next A Song of Ice and Fire in 140 characters tweets. You can’t find the cure for HIV by stopping to check your facebook feed every time someone posts something. Great results are obtained by dedicating long uninterrupted periods of time to your work. You need to focus on your tasks, get into your flow state and only then will you be able to produce your best results. When you are used to dismiss everything after a few minutes and you are not able to maintain your focus, you set yourself for falling short on doing exceptional work and delivering outstanding results.
Also, in your personal life the things that really matter can’t be reduced to a tweet or a 9 seconds vine. You need to take your time in order to enjoy them as you should. Getting a preview is not the same. You can’t enjoy the beauty of a sunset/ sunrise in a 9 seconds vine. You can’t grasp the beauty of climbing Kilimanjaro by looking at some picture by someone who was there. You can’t understand the joy of finishing a marathon by sprinting for 100 meters. You can’t build lasting relationships by exchanging tweets or by listening to your partner for 2 minutes and then taking your phone out to check your feed.
True value is in the details and you can’t have that without being willing to invest time!