The Life Squared Challenge Part 4 - Raising Your Windows
During part 3 of your Life Squared Challenge you were presented with the idea of setting footers on your foundation as support for what will come next. These footers, Abilities, Hope, Education and Discipline sit at the outer edges of your supporting foundation like so:
Remember. This is a bird’s eye view of the floor plans for your personal Life Squared structure. Your foundation has been determined, and who you are at your very core been established, by answering the twenty questions presented in Part 2 of this challenge. You’ve also been challenged to have the same questions about you addressed by two people who know you well enough to give you their personal opinion as well.
This first challenge is so important for you to accomplish before you go any further. I can’t stress enough how important it is to solidly set this starting point, this foundation, for you to build upon. Put your unfounded fears aside and complete this first step if you haven’t already.
If you are not willing to face yourself in the mirror and be honest in assessing your strengths and weaknesses you have made a decision that will prevent you from being the very best person you deserve to be. If you are fearful of having someone who knows you well write down their opinion then just know that they already have that opinion and there’s nothing your fear of what they think or feel can do to change that.
George Addair said, “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” George knew well what he was talking about. During the American Civil War he found himself on the losing side as a Confederate sympathizer, which I’m sure was a fearful position to find himself in as the outcome became clear and Atlanta burned. Yet in spite of his personal setbacks he went on to become a successful real estate developer and politician in the South.
I certainly don’t condone George Addair’s siding with the Confederacy. It goes against my own belief that freedom and the pursuit of happiness is a right we all deserve. But I also know that each of us make mistakes and we all have our faults, whether they are personal, social or philosophical. Admitting our weaknesses as well as our strengths makes us more open and willing to consider the changes necessary in order to become the best version of ourselves. Often a guiding force for fear in our life is the idea of facing change. I like to think that’s what George Addair meant when he made his statement.
Once you’ve established your foundation it’s time to take a closer look at the footings you’ve placed on it and the correlation you’ve made between them and the answers you derived during your assignment from part 3 of The Life Squared Challenge. Let’s start by making a grid consisting of four lists in our notebook, one each for our foundational footings of Abilities, Hope, Education and Discipline. Under each of these headings we are going to place the answers we arrived at during our self evaluation, which will give us a grid that looks like the filled in example below:
Your personal grid will have the answers you came up with during your own assessment of course. Note that the top part of the grid are the things that you are good at or consider positive character traits, while the bottom half of your grid will be the corresponding areas that you have identified as being specific things you will benefit from once improved upon. You may have more or fewer entries in each area of the grid depending upon your answers to the twenty questions. The more detailed you can make your Self Assessment Grid, the more benefit you will receive from the Life Squared Challenge.
What we are going to do next is begin to erect the four big picture windows that make up the sides to this amazing structure that will ultimately become your new place in the world. We’re not going to be erecting walls, as most of us have been very crafty at putting those up around us our whole life. Instead you are building picture windows that allow you to see out into the world and for the world to peer into and discover who you are as a person.
The analogy I encourage you to grasp here is that of tearing down the old walls that are keeping you separated and isolated from not only the world, but yourself, and replacing them with windows that allow you to see the bigger picture and give you a complete view of your place in society and the world.
Sitting on your foundation, and the four footers we’ve established of Abilities, Hope, Education and Discipline are four windows that give us a clear view into who we are and what we see when we look beyond ourselves. Anchored firmly to the Abilities footer is a window titled Social. It is framed on the left side by a support named Associations. The top horizontal support is named Actions and the left support is Activities. This is how it looks as you are facing it sitting atop your foundation:
This window gives you insight into your social interactions. These are the abilities you are known for and exercise when in the presence of others, like who you associate with, the activities you participate in, and the actions you take that are socially motivated and in social settings. The Social Window gives us and others a view into how you interact and participate in society.
The next window we come to is seated on the footing of Hope and is named Spiritual. It looks like this as we stand in front of it:
The Spiritual Window encompasses all that you believe in when it comes to things like Hope, Faith, Meditation, Prayer and Love. It doesn’t matter whether you practice a particular faith, have certain beliefs or don’t believe in anything spiritual at all. This isn’t about religion. It’s about your own personal beliefs. There’s no judgment here except for the judgment you place on yourself. Atheism is a belief, Animism is a belief, so is Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any of the thousands of other beliefs that make this world of ours so rich with varying ideas, perceptions and understanding. You may be someone who only believes in yourself. That is still a belief system and that makes you spiritual.
We all experience hope, love, faith, and belief and each of us takes time now and then to deeply ponder such things. Some call this meditation, others call it prayer. Some people practice it for the benefit to themselves while a number do it solely for the benefit of others. As a human you have a spiritual side to you whether you practice it or deny it. It exists and science is well on its way to proving its existence. It’s one of the things that, as far as we know, separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. We are aware of ourselves and our place in the universe, and more importantly, we ask the question why. Whether we are asking ourselves or someone or something else, we are on a spiritual journey.
The next window that we stand in front of is sitting on the footing of Education and its name is Mental.
Our attitudes about what we learn, our thoughts about anything and everything come from the inner workings of our mind. We derive our inspiration from what we learn and this education is what helps us make a living, create things, keeps us from getting bored, and what allows us to make things that protect and harm our fellow man.
The most powerful weapon on this planet isn’t any weapon of mass destruction we may create; it’s the tool we have used to create it with. The human brain is the most complex, amazing, and wonderful and terrifying tool we know of. Learning to put it to good use is one of the most important accomplishments you will ever achieve in your lifetime. Here’s your Mental Window:
As we turn the final corner at the base of our foundation we find ourselves standing in front of the window most of us relate to more often than any of the other three. You are peering through the window sitting atop your footing of Discipline and its name is Physical. This is the window that we usually face and stare through most of the time. It’s how we see ourselves, how others see us and how we look at others and the world around us. Here’s your Physical Window:
We have a love / hate relationship with our Physical Window. We like looking at others through it but don’t like what we see when that window becomes a mirror and reflects our own physical image back at us. We begin to feel self conscious when others stare at us through this window. We feel we are being judged and, in truth, we are being judged. The first impression that anyone has of us is by looking through our Physical window. “How tall are they? How do they dress? Are they pretty or handsome? Are they the right size, shape or color? What do they sound like? Do they look like a friend or an enemy? Am I someone they want to get to know and to like? Will they like me? Will I like them? Will I want to like them?”
It’s said that the average human takes less than ten seconds to decide whether they like someone or not at first glance. It seems a little unfair doesn’t it? I mean how could someone know what kind of person you are from such a brief encounter? Ask yourself this; how many seconds does it take you to size someone up? In a July 2006 article written by Eric Wargo which appeared in the Association for Psychological Science Organizations ‘Observer’ magazine, a series of experiments conducted by two Princeton psychologists is described as having revealed that it actually takes just a tenth of a second to form an opinion about a person from their face; one whole tenth of a second!
If you wish to improve your chances of making a good first impression you are going to spend a fair amount of time in front of this Physical window. I imagine many of you already do; but what about the other things that matter? This is where that footing of discipline comes in. Holding that window of Physical in place is not only Appearance to the left, but also Health to the right, and atop those sits another part of the frame that’s just as important. Its name is control. That’s self control if you haven’t already guessed.
When we stand back and look at this structure we are building we now see that it is one giant clear cube, perfectly square on all sides. One side isn’t any bigger or smaller than the other. It’s a perfectly square structure and this is what you are being challenged to create for your life. It can be seen through for a reason. Sometimes you will find yourself on the inside looking out and at other times you will be on the outside peering in and judging your own perceptions and thoughts, attitudes and understanding. Here’s a drawing of the cube you are being challenged to build.
Now here’s an easy assignment that only requires you to exercise your creative imagination. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine your own personal Life Squared Structure as if it actually existed and was physically real and about the size of an average house. In your mind I want you to place your cube in the surrounding of your choice, during the time of day and season that you find most pleasant and inviting. Create an environment in your mind where the sights, smells, sounds and feel of everything surrounding and inside your personal cube relaxes you, puts a smile on your face, and makes you feel happy, protected, content and satisfied.
Let this vision sink in for a moment or two. Sear it into your mind. Make it real to you in every way, from how things look to how it makes you feel when you’re inside and outside of it. This is your mental tool that you can come back to when you need to visualize a physical representation of what your completed Life Squared Challenge goal looks like.
To make things easier for the creative folks who are participating in this challenge, and to help those of you who would like an actual physical model that represents your Life Squared, I’ve provided a project that you can cut out, put together, and place on your desk as a visual tool. All you need is a laser printer, a photo quality piece of heavy mat printing paper, a pair of scissors and some clear tape to put your own visual tool together. Below is the tool template that you are welcome to download and print:
Once you print it, cut around the outline and fold on the inner black lines to form a cube. Tape it together from either the inside or the outside to bring it all together and that’s all there is to it!
Here’s what your cube should look like when it’s done. Notice the crappy tape job at the upper left on mine where the seams don’t quite come together. But hey it makes a great conversation piece, gives your finger some exercise and hopefully will get you thinking every day about this Life Squared Challenge thing.
The final part of the part 4 challenge is to begin considering the window support topics you find around the outer edges of each pane of your Life Squared Cube and their relation to what you discovered during your strengths and weaknesses assessment. I’m sure that you can think of even more strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement now that you have a complete physical representation and tool to visualize. You can now begin to see where things might fit on your personal Squared Away Life Cube.
Let’s start by giving serious thought to the Physical window on your Life Squared structure since that’s what we’ll be discussing during the next part of this challenge.
Here are some specific things to think about:
- How do I feel about myself physically?
- What’ my health like?
- What are my eating habits?
- What habits do I know for sure I need to modify or give up all together to be and feel better physically?
- What are my greatest physical challenges?
- How do others perceive me physically?
- How does the way I dress or groom myself affect how people perceive me?
- Am I in control of my physical appearance and health?
- Do I need guidance or help in improving physically?
- Do I get enough exercise, sleep, good nutrition and do I drink enough water?
- If I were standing in front of a full length mirror and I could see myself as exactly the way wish to be. What would I see that’s different than the way I am right now?
You have your next challenge, so now’s time to get to it. If you should have questions, comments, concerns or criticisms please don’t hesitate to be in touch. You are welcome to post your comments here or please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you, good, bad or indifferent. I won’t ignore you. I promise.
"I simply write what I feel, because it matters to me. Hopefully some of it will resonate with and matter to you as well" - MDD© 2016 by Michael D. Davis – All Rights Reserved - The Life Squared Challenge is copyrighted material and cannot be copied or reproduced for commercial use, in part or in whole, in any printed or electronic form whatsoever, without expressed written permission from the author.
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