The Single Greatest Personal Growth Tool At Your Disposal…
And You Won’t Find It In A Book
Put away your self help books. This one daily practice puts you on the fast track to making smarter decisions. You’ll also gain a better understanding of what makes us tick. That understanding will improve your persuasion and empathy skills.
I must warn you. It’s not a bright shiny object. You may find it underwhelming.
The practice is observation. I don’t mean from a meditation perspective. Nor do I mean people watching at a sidewalk cafe.
This is observation with purpose.
I make it a daily practice of observing others and myself. I pick the most interesting observation and write about it the next day. That creative process enables me to write five hundred words a day — now at 222 consecutive days.
Self Knowledge Benefits
The power of observation yields other, more important benefits. It reveals insights about how humans behave, react and respond to other people and events. More than any book, it’s provided me insight into why we act the way we do.
I began this daily practice to become a better marketer and copywriter. I thought it would help me understand what moves people to act. It worked.
As it turns out, the benefits go far beyond sales and marketing. It expanded my creativity. These lessons form the basis of many of my stories. That alone makes it worthwhile.
But Here’s The Biggest Win
It provides insight into my own behavior. It raises conscious awareness of knee-jerk, emotion based responses. That helps me slow down my thinking and make better decisions.
Try this exercise yourself.
- Write down a list of ten personal experiences or conversations from the last twenty-four hours.
- Let a few hours pass to let any residual emotion subside.
- Ask yourself what you learned from it. What’s the hidden lesson? What alternative reactions would have produced a better result? Do you notice the same behavior in others?
- BONUS — Write about it.
Here are three lessons I learned today.
My wife texted me around 2 PM.
“Pick up some wine and beer for the barbecue.”
I strolled into the beer section of the liquor store and searched for a craft beer. I noticed a brand I hadn’t tried. The packaging gave it an aura of exclusivity so I decided to buy it. When I put it in my cart, I noticed something off-putting. It was dusty — super dusty. The dustiness gave me second thoughts. I put it back and bought a tried and true brand.
Lesson: First impressions matter. Appearances matter. The dustiness triggered this negative thought.
This beer has been sitting here for a long time. Nobody seems to be buying it. That’s a bad sign.
I was the only guy in a fitness class of twelve women. I felt a bit uneasy about that. The instructor approached me:
“Hi, is this your first time here? What’s your name?”
“This was the only time that worked for both myself and my wife. Oh, my name is Barry.”
“Glad you made it to the morning session. It always amazes me. The morning class is all women and the afternoon class is all men. Weird.”
Lesson: There’s discomfort in being the odd one in the room. She noticed I was uneasy from my response to her question. Her reply put me at ease. It’s a perfect example of giving implicit reassurance. A more direct statement would have sounded contrived.
Gourmet Coffee Shop
A gourmet coffee shop opened up last month. $3 for a cup of coffee is a bit steep. As a coffee lover, I couldn’t resist. I hopped on over and ordered a large cup. The atmosphere is inviting and tranquil. The coffee is okay, maybe a step above Dunkin Donuts.
Here’s what killed it for me.
The wifi was down. It’s frustrating to take out your laptop and not connect to the world. How spoiled have we become? In any case, I’ll never go back.
Lesson: We buy experiences not products. I’m okay with spending $3 on coffee provided it comes with the right atmosphere and benefits.
Not all these are new lessons. In fact, most of the time the lessons reinforce things I already know. You might think that makes it a waste of time. I think it adds to the value of this practice. Reinforcing what you already know is the key to real self improvement.
Need Some Creative Juice?
Read my article on how I wrote 200 blog posts in 200 days. I giveaway a free gift at the end. You can find that here.
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