This Above All Else To Thine Own Self Be True

Bill Shakespeare explained personal development best when he penned the words in Hamlet, Scene 3, “This above all else: to thine own self be true.” I have taken Bill’s phrase to heart in my life. To me, this quote means essentially that you should “know what makes you tick.” Or, know “you.”

Let me ‘splain myself.

I read a great deal. Some would call me fanatical. Others in my circle who also focus a great deal on the art of personal development may consider my amount of study paltry. For purposes of this post, we’ll just say that I read way more than almost everyone I meet. I know this because I have a habit of sizing people up with the innocent questions such as, “So, have you read any good books lately?” Rarely do I get more than a “welllll…” As if the question has anything to do with water.

Business, history, leadership, communication, autism-related, relationships, military history and faith-based books are some of my favorite topics to indulge in to improve myself. (For the record I am reading two books right now, one is a book titled “Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children With Autism: Stories of Everyday Hope and Everyday Success”, and for the second time I am studying the book “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.”)

Both are fantastic reads in each respect.

A wise business mentor told me long ago that leaders are readers. And that they are readers of both “good books and other men” Meaning, they study the essential printed word necessary to grow as a man, and they also study the successful habits of other men that they would like to emulate (or avoid). I took this advice a bit farther years ago and made it a point to study myself. So that I could be true to myself, know myself and read those internal feelings, thoughts, instincts that we all have in order to use them for my success in life.

Stay with me here…

Good introspective looks are good for you, but don’t overdo it! Analysis paralysis on every nook and crannie about your being may drive you insane! I mean, take a good look, but don’t obsess.

Here’s why you have to first study, and then know yourself: because you are human

And humans are strange creatures. The way we live, think, feel, operate,interact with others, fight with others, destroy ourselves sometimes, or others. Just, well…strange.

Have you ever thought what it would be like if you could put a thumb drive into your head and record an average day’s worth of thoughts, reactions, emotions, etc? And have you ever continued that thought to think what it would be like to plug that drive into a computer with an extra large monitor with stereo speakers and review the contents with a room full of your family and friends?

Surely, if you are anything like me you are probably saying, “OH MY GOD, NO!” lol

Could you imagine the horror and embarrassment that would be involved with the freak show demonstration? I shudder to think.

We humans have weird thoughts, erratic emotions, complicated, and dare I say sinful veins of thought on occasion. And the funny thing is that much is random and just pops in there! Doesn’t it? And much is provided by those surrounding daily inputs to the senses. Kind like this – MMMM, hot, buttered popcorn – theater styles, perfectly popped with that special sprinkle of your favorite seasoning on top (or perhaps swiss cheese like my wife likes to do) Mmmmm. Now, try to tell me you are thinking about under-cooked brussel sprouts right now. See what I mean?

Yes, strange and amazing isn’t it?

I haven’t figured myself out completely just yet. Don’t know if I’ll ever be luck enough to on this side of eternity. But, I can assure you of this – I know myself pretty darn good. I know myself well enough to know what days to avoid making big decisions in life, what days to avoid other people to save from interpersonal conflict, what days I need to act boldly act with confidence for pressing or difficult projects and then there are times when I know when I just need to take a break and avoid absolutely everything for a brief respite.

I’m thinking that the guy who gave the advice of “sleep on it” was a man who studied himself pretty good. Because, you may not see the world the same way tomorrow as you do today. I know life looks different for me from day to day depending on how this crazy mind, heart and free will of mine work.

Sometimes I’m severely depressed for a moment, the next I am as high as a Jamaican cabbie (not literally of course – drugs are bad…ok?), then I get so MAD I could chew broken glass and followed sometimes by deep sadness, not knowing what to do next. And that was just MONDAY MORNING!

Oh, how strange the human experience is.

I write all this to tell you this. This too shall pass. Today may be a GREAT day! Or, today may be the absolute worst day. Regardless of how your day is going today I am going to let you know that wherever you are, whatever you are going through, however the outlook may appear today – that I am going through this day right there with you and understand that it gets tough sometimes. From my point of view friend, today is going to end in a few hours and tomorrow is another chance for the oft-randomness part of humanity to spin up a new day of treasures, dreads and delights for us.

This is where knowing yourself helps. When you understand yourself better can make better daily choices by working in tandem with the internal combustion your humanness endures daily. It will make you a better decision maker and problem solver for sure. The quickest way to know yourself better is to read great personal development books to getting your mind to think more clearly. Through stretching your mind with good materials you become more in tune with life, inside and out. Someone who is well read is just well prepared…for life.

Pick up a good book today and get to know yourself.

God bless,

Mike