CATEGORY: Human Competence | AUTHOR: Teresa Lopes
The natural limitless pill
What if there was a drug that enhances our personal abilities for just about anything? And what if that was something we were actually born with?
How many times have we – in one moment or another – fantasised about a magic pill that can automatically enhance our mental capability, access our full potential, and radically transform our lives. What if there was something similar that required no intake of any substance other than reflection?
The 'limitless' we were born with
Every human being was born with unlimited potential. Our human spirit, our magnificent brain, the inbuilt drive to evolve and – possibly the greatest gift of all – the unawareness of impossibility.
As we come to the world, we are equipped with a character that will enable us to navigate life, take on challenges, or turn them into opportunities. Our character, more than anything, is what determines how we think, the actions we take and the choices we make. And just like any other tool, the more we sharpen and calibrate it, the more it benefits us. And that's the beauty of it - character is something we can develop and use in our favour – not just something we are born with and that takes shape by itself through life.
It just so happens that, as we grow, this capability is hindered: by society, parenting, schooling, life experiences, fear, and all types of conditioning. The only tools and capabilities we develop by default are the ones we happen to use the most: at home, at school, at work, in our social circles. And the more we use those same tools, the better we become at them without even being aware that we have mastered something in life. Whether that's the ability to be analytical, or focused, or creative, or empathetic.
And on the flip side, we forget all the other capabilities we haven't practised. We end up believing we are not capable, not competent, not enough; such as not being analytical enough, or focused, or creative, or empathetic. We often forget those tools haven't gone anywhere. They are still there, stored right at the back of our minds.
When we intentionally develop our character, all those capabilities come back to life, just like shedding light onto a dark room. So, if we decide to pick up those innate tools to improve who we are, we automatically improve anything we do.
Every new character quality layers over every one of our thoughts, actions, choices and perspectives of the world. They transform everything. (Everything!) Just like that.
Being better to do better
Technical skills are useless without soft skills, and soft skills stem from character qualities. Simply put, all competence is human competence first.
Evaluating anyone for what they have learnt without considering who they are as people is as helpful as a chocolate teapot. In the same way that learning anything without being aligned, as a person, with whatever it is we are learning is a hindrance.
If an engineer knows the principles of robotics, they will better understand the manufacturing process. But unless they have the human skills to understand the people behind the machine; or unless they are perceptive, detached and decisive enough to be good problem-solvers, their technical knowledge won't serve the purpose – for them, or anyone else.
So, how would one become a better engineer by being a better human? By being creative, curious, collaborative, adaptable – for starters. All of them pertaining to character, and all of them great for anyone, in any occupation. Yet none of these competencies is technical, and few are taught in schools. No wonder employers are struggling to find the right skills in all the right people. And no wonder people are struggling to feel content and accomplished in all the right jobs. The good news is that it is possible, for each of us, to take this 'limitless character pill', explore all the wonderous tools we were born with and watch the transformation happen.
How do we start?
The difference between making life happen and just letting it happen is our own awareness of who we are and how everything we do bears a consequence. Even if very small. As we sum up all those small actions and small results intentionally, we get into the process of consciously shaping our experience.
- First, we must become aware of who (and how) we are. What character qualities are we best at, and which ones do we need to develop
- Next, comes the awareness of what each one really means, how they manifest around us, and what consequences they have by being (or not) being present
- Then exploring examples in our lives and the lives of others, being inspired by all the actions that we can emulate, and decide what experiments we are going to apply for ourselves
- After that comes acting on what we have explored, test our 'new' tools out, taking them for a spin. Every new action brings about a different consequence, and it's up to us to measure and decide the next step we take in our journey
- Then we reflect on our experiences and consolidate our experiments so that good results are not just happy exceptions, but something we can repeat frequently
- And finally, we must commit to everyday practice. Evolution is a lifelong process of learning that can be carried out with simple acts every day
As we develop our character, we show up differently, we perform better, and the results we achieve are better by consequence, just like a magnet that pulls all the best possible actions and best possible outcomes. It's not that life becomes a thousand times better, but we become a thousand times better at living