Self-growth

12 common archetypes - personality

The 12 Common Archetypes

The 12 Common Archetypes 2560 1789 Manolis Stratakis

Where do archetypes come from?

The archetypes have developed through the centuries since the first societies.

In ancient Greek, the word archetype means initial type. Carl Jung was the first to articulate a coherent theory about the influence of the archetypes in human personality.

Common archetypes

We can identify 12 archetypes as common behavior patterns of all people.

Many years ago they were not so many professions is that out today. In ancient societies professions or better occupations were counted our fingers. Many years ago, there were not so many professions as there are today. In ancient societies, “professions” or better occupations were counted in the fingers of our hands.

Among the main ones were the following:

  • warriors who would fight enemies and protect their property and people
  • hunters who would look for food
  • explorers on reconnaissance missions discovering new territories
  • magicians who were also conducting the duties of doctors
  • caregivers who made sure everything functions well within the community

Of course, every society had its own leader who ruled it.

Those eras left a deep footprint in the collective unconscious of humanity. So today, despite the specialization in the thousands of professions, the basic rules remain relatively the same. The doctor can have a very narrow specialization but remains a doctor, at least he’s not in my magician. The director of an organization is a governor. Without his wife, the nurse, the personal trainer role caregivers. Sales people of any kind save something from an explorer in the hunter.

We all have a particular combination of archetypes within us. Some of them are dominant while some others just play a secondary role. As soon as we identify them we will have a very strong cognizant of self-knowledge. We will understand why we are very good at some things while another words don’t do so well. What excites us and what lives us indifferent. Our weaknesses and our big fears. Our talents and our strong points.

The 12 archetypes

For every archetype the following information is provided:

  1. Motto: the phrase which characterizes them
  2. Basic wish: what they desire most
  3. Goal: their higher purpose
  4. Greatest fear: what they fear most of find difficult to face
  5. Strategy: the strategy they develop to achieve their goal
  6. Weakness: their shortcomings, their Achilles heel
  7. Talent: what they are good at
  8. Also known as: other names, synonyms or characteristic adjectives

For each archetype below, read the description and think how much you associate with it. Give it a mark from 1 to 10.

1. Hero

The Hero sees life as a constant battle. Heroes are persevering and courageous. They will make great use of their willpower to overcome any obstacles they meet on their way. To this end, they cultivate systematically their strengths and skills. They will also try hard to identify and alleviate their weaknesses.

Motto: Where there’s a will, there’s away!

Basic wish: To prove their value through courageous acts

Goal: to excel and find a way to improve the world

Greatest fear: to feel powerless or weak

Strategy: to build skills and competence in order to become more capable

Weakness: arrogance, negativity, continuously looking for the next battle

Talent: courage and skill

Also known as: warrior, crusader, winner, superhero, soldier, rescuer

2. Magician

Magicians can exploit the power of the universe to influence people and achieve their goals. They combine with ease complementary information but also appropriate persons they know to create win-win conditions. They can easily transform themselves and those around them.

Motto: I make things happen!

Basic wish: To understand the fundamental rules of the universe

Goal: to transform dreams into reality

Greatest fear: side-effects and unforeseen negative consequences

Strategy: builds a vision and lives by that

Weakness: vulnerable to manipulation

Talent: finding win-win solutions

Also known as: visionary, catalyst, inventor, therapist, doctor

3. Sage

The Sage is in a continuous journey to discover the “truth”. Believes that only through truth we find true freedom. Never stop doubting their vulnerable beliefs. They seem to be in a constant existential crisis. High self awareness and excellent analytical skills.

Motto: Truth breaks you free!

Basic wish: understand and find the truth

Goal: to use their intellect in order to analyze and comprehend the world

Greatest fear: to be deceived or misinformed

Strategy: seeking knowledge, introspection and deep understanding of the mind and the thinking process

Weakness: can study the details for ever without taking any action, can become judgmental

Talent: curiosity, wisdom, intelligence, quality thinking

Also known as: expert, detective, consultant, philosopher, academic, investigator, teacher

4. Governor

The Governor creates structures as family, communities and organizations and then strives to rule them. Appreciates power and possesses strong leadership skills. Can become aggressive and single-sided whenever their authority is questioned.

Motto: Power is not everything, it is the only thing!

Basic wish: To control

Goal: to create a thriving, successful family or community

Greatest fear: chaos, to be overthrown

Strategy: exercise power and authority

Weakness: authoritative, unable to delegate tasks to other people

Talent: responsibility, leadership

Also known as: boss, leader, chief, aristocrat, king or queen, politician, director, manager

5. Innocent

The Innocent avoids struggle and any kind of difficulty. Innocents seek safety and ignore anything which is out of their control. Happy and spontaneous. They see the good side in everything. As a result, they face all small joys of life with childish enthusiasm.

Motto: I want to be myself!

Basic wish: To go to Paradise

Goal: to be happy

Greatest fear: to be punished for a mistake

Strategy: to do things right

Weakness: naiveness, innocence

Talent: faith and optimism

Also known as: utopian, traditional, naive, saint, romantic, dreamer

6. Realist

The Realist has a strong need to belong and connect with others. Realists don’t like to differentiate. They are usually very friendly, compassionate and emotional. At the same time, they are distrustful and insecure. They do not have high expectations from life or people.

Motto: All people are equal!

Basic wish: connection and acceptance

Goal: to belong

Greatest fear: to stand out of the crowd, or left out

Strategy: develops simple but solid virtues

Weakness: can be cynical, or lose authenticity in order to comply with others

Talent: realism and empathy

Also known as: the person next-door, orphan, regular/everyday guy

7. Caregiver

The Caregiver loves to help, treat and support other people. Always places the needs of others above their own. Caregivers are kind and generous. They will never miss an opportunity to offer their help even if they are not asked to. They can also become quite manipulative. In some cases they might expect an emotional compensation and when it is not received, they get disappointed.

Motto: Love your neighbor as yourself!

Basic wish: To protect and care about others

Goal: to help other people

Greatest fear: egoism and ingratitude

Strategy: to do things for others

Weakness: to become a martyr or to get exploited

Talent: compassion, generosity

Also known as: altruist, parent, helper, supporter

8. Lover

The Lover begs for intimate relationships with friends, family or romantic partners. Lovers will do anything possible to be physically and emotionally appealing to everyone around them. They are deeply devoted in building and maintaining relationships of every type.

Motto: I have eyes only for you!

Basic wish: intimacy and experience

Goal: to build a relationship with people

Greatest fear: to be left alone, unwanted, unloved

Strategy: to become physically and emotionally appealing

Weakness: tries too hard to please others and risks losing own identity

Talent: passion, gratitude, appreciation and commitment

Also known as: partner, team-builder, friend, sensualist, intimate, enthusiast, spouse

9. Jester

The Jester finds joy and happiness in every situation. Jesters have inexhaustible humor and they feel on top of the world when it is appreciated by others. They are extroverts and can share their jokes with ease even with those who are not very familiar with yet.

Motto: YOLO! You only live once!

Basic wish: to live in the moment with full satisfaction and enjoyment

Goal: have a good time and lighten up the world

Greatest fear: get bored or make others get bored

Strategy: making jokes and fun, playing games

Weakness: silliness, frivolity, waste of time

Talent: joy

Also known as: fool, comedian, trickster, joker, practical joker

10. Rebel

The Rebel’s intention is to overthrow anything that does not work in the system. Rebels are very sensitive about the concept of fair and unfair. They are born angry and often can get furious. For them, the red rag is the status quo, the institutions, the government of the values of the society.

Motto: Rules are made to be broken!

Basic wish: revenge or revolution

Goal: to overthrow anything that does not work

Greatest fear: to be powerless or ineffective

Strategy: to disrupt, destroy or shock

Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, offense, crime

Talent: outrageousness, radical freedom

Also known as: revolutionary, wild man, misfit, iconoclast

11. Explorer

The Explorer is a lone wolf. Explorers are authentic and unconventional. They like travelling and meet new people and new places. They are getting excited when they take the less-travelled path. Continuously looking for another quest, not only to search for new places but also their own self. Usually they live a very fascinating life.

Motto: Do not fence me in!

Basic wish: To discover who exactly they are through the exploration of the world

Goal: to live a better, more authentic, fulfilled life

Greatest fear: to conform, get trapped or feel an inner void

Strategy: travelling, constant seeking of new experiences, avoiding boredom

Weakness: aimless wandering, difficulty to adapt, egocentricity

Talent: autonomy, vision, ambition, authenticity

Also known as: wanderer, individualist, pilgrim

12. Creator

The Creator has a vivid and often wild imagination. Creators enjoy having new ideas and bring them into reality. They continuously look for the next good idea which will produce something useful or valuable. After they make something good, they cannot stop thinking how it could be improved.

Motto: If you can imagine it, it can be done!

Basic wish: create things with great value

Goal: to create culture, to express their own vision

Greatest fear: mediocre vision or execution of a plan

Strategy: develop artistic control and skills

Weakness: perfectionism and mediocre solutions

Talent: creativity and imagination

Also known as: artist, inventor, innovator, musician, writer, dreamer

Archetypes map

12 common archetypes - personality

In the above diagram there is an effort to classify the 12 archetypes according to their motivation. Freedom is in the upper side of the vertical axis and Order in the lower. In the horizontal axis we have Society and Ego. So, depending on the orientation of each archetype we have 4 groups of 3 archetypes each.

For example, the Rebel, the Explorer and the Creator are motivated towards Freedom, satisfying at the same time their Ego. In the opposite fashion, the Governor, the Innocent and the Realist are oriented towards Order and Society.

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Continue exploring your personality by discovering your Social Style

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* This article is based on the works of Carl Jung related to the archetypes and the collective unconscious. Despite the many different versions and variations, we believe that this particular classification offers a very good RoI for the time we will devote.

 

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personal development and the dance between our present and future self

How far is your present self from your future self?

How far is your present self from your future self? 2560 1789 Manolis Stratakis

Personal growth and our two selves

We all have two selves. Our present and our future self. When the first comes closer to the second, we call it personal growth. Our life seems to be an endless dance between our present and future self. The present one follows the steps of the future. But whenever they come closer the future self just walks away!

Our present and future self

The present self is who we are. It is our Real self. It is what we already have.

The future self is who we wish to be. It is our Ideal self. It is what we desire.

personal development and the dance between our present and future self

They are both changing every minute in our life. Our real self constantly changes, improves and gets closer and closer to our desired self. But our desired self is also changing as new ideas, new desires and goals emerge all the time.

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The whole idea of personal growth is the progressive blending of one into the other until the Ideal self becomes the new Real self.

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We absorb new knowledge and we acquire new skills every day. This change is of course hard to see from day to day. But if we look back a few months or years, the difference between the two will be clearly noticeable.

Personal growth: the gap

The difference between our present and future self is a measure of our distress. The bigger the gap, the more distress and anxiety we experience. Let’s don’t forget that our current self was sometime ago our – then – future self. It probably took quite a painful effort to arrive at the point we are today.

When the gap is small

A small gap suggests that our real self is aligned with our ideal. Whenever these two are in congruence we feel satisfaction and we have peace in mind. We feel comfortable in our skin. We have a greater sense of self-worth and self-regard. Eventually, we feel more successful.

Alias, there is another interpretation for a small gap. Some people can be totally unambitious. They are not setting any goals and are unable to conceive a better version of themselves. Consequently, they rarely put any conscious effort to improve. Most probably they spend a lot of time in their comfort zone where they stagnate. Their life may feel boring and most often they procrastinate.

This is a case where the ideal self fails to motivate the real self.

Exiting their comfort zone and moving towards the growth zone can bring a dramatic improvement in the life of these people.

When the gap is big

If the gap is big, we may have raised the bar too high. We may have too great expectations. We wish to become something very much different than what we currently are. In turn, this means that either our present self does not move fast enough, or that we may have set too ambitious, extremely hard, non-realistic goals for our future self.

Our two selves are misaligned. We begin to experience a dissonance. Distress and anxiety escalate. We perceive our present self as not good enough. Our self-esteem is heading south. We may feel discouraged and disappointed.

Often, distress can open the door for more negative feelings. Guilt or even depression may step in.

It is therefore important to have realistic goals but also a realistic self-image. Change does not happen overnight. In fact, it takes months and years of work with our self. And lots of patience!

Personal growth is closing the gap between present and future self

So, closing the gap between the two selves is in essence a journey. We have to move towards a destination which keeps moving further away.

But this is fine. When the destination stays for too long in the same place, it may mean we are not inspired enough, or we lack ambition.

Before embarking on any self-improvement journey, it is necessary to fully accept our present self. This will be our passport. Without self-acceptance we cannot change anything. Fill your luggage with enough self-compassion and you guarantee that the trip will also be a pleasant one.

It will help, if we ask ourselves the following questions:

1. 🚩 Identify the starting point (Present Self)

  • What am I not happy with?
  • What are my weaknesses and my pain points?
  • Which of my needs are not satisfied yet?
  • Which habits are not good for me anymore?
  • What holds me back?
  • What do I like to change, what do I prefer to be different?

2. ⛳ See clearly the destination (Future Self)

  • What skills should my next version have?
  • Which strong points do I want to build upon?
  • In what other ways do I want to improve?
  • What goals do I want to accomplish?
  • Which of my weaknesses can I remove?

3. 💡 Then move on to the How

  • How can I get rid of some old habits and adopt new, better ones?
  • What techniques can I use, to help me develop new skills?
  • How can I attain my new goals?
  • How could I get some of my needs satisfied?

Conclusion

Thus, personal growth and consequently self-actualization can only be achieved when there is an alignment of our real self with our ideal self.

It is also evident, that true self-knowledge breaks down into two parts. It is knowledge about both the Real Self and the Ideal Self. Effective personal development requires a clear perception of both selves.

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See also our article about the Comfort to Growth zone and understand more clearly what stands between our Present and Future selves.

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personal development and maslow pyramid of needs

The pyramid of human needs and the path to self-actualization

The pyramid of human needs and the path to self-actualization 2560 1789 Manolis Stratakis

The pyramid of needs

Abraham Maslow is one of the most renowned psychologists. He devoted an important part of his career searching for the meaning of life. After many years of research, he managed to deliver a consistent map of human needs. First in a paper titled “A theory about human motivation” and later in his book titled “Motivation and personality”. His works led to the famous Pyramid of Maslow.

All human needs are categorized in a five-level hierarchy:

  1. Physiological
  2. Security
  3. Social
  4. Self-esteem and
  5. Self-actualization

The first two are the basic needs. The next two are the emotional needs. The fifth is the need for self-fulfillment. They dictate the rules of all human behavior.

Maslow pyramid of needs 1

Diagram 1: Maslow’s pyramid: Hierarchy of Human Needs

Material and spiritual needs

The general concept behind the pyramid is that lower stages host mainly our material needs. In the higher ones, we find the spiritual needs. As it happens in a ladder or a pyramid, it is difficult (although not impossible) to climb to the higher steps without first pass through the lower ones. Therefore, the physiological needs have priority over the spiritual, without this being absolutely necessary.

Let’s see how Maslow himself describes it:

“It is true that man can live with bread alone – when there is no bread. But what happens with human needs when there’s plenty of bread? At once, new higher needs emerge and take the place of the physiological. And when these have been satisfied, new even higher ones emerge, and so on”

To a large extent, success in life depends on whether we manage to climb to the top of the pyramid and reach self-actualization. We could think of it as a video game, where we must complete one challenge in order to go to the next. But it doesn’t work exactly like this. Our life allows us to pass to the next step, even if we haven’t yet completed fully the ones before.

The five steps of Maslow’s pyramid

So all our needs can be split in five categories. Let’s look at them in detail starting from bottom to the top.

BASIC NEEDS (Reptilian brain)

Our reptilian brain wants to feel that we have whatever we need to survive.

First level: Physiological needs

This stage contains all the absolutely necessary needs for survival. These include oxygen, water, food and shelter. Anything our physical body demands in order to continue living and reproducing.

Second level: Safety needs

As soon as our physiological needs are satisfied, we start looking for a safer environment. To this end, we seek a job and a stable income. We try to obtain more and more resources. Protect our property. Maybe save or invest for the future.

Maslow pyramid of needs 2

Diagram 2: Maslow’s pyramid: Basic, Emotional and Self-fulfilment Needs

EMOTIONAL NEEDS (Limbic system)

As soon as our survival needs are covered, we will then wish to satisfy our emotional needs. That will keep our emotional brain more happy.

Third level: Social needs

Humans are the principal social animals. Our purpose is to find a good place in the society. So, we connect with others in relationships of friendship or cooperation. We take part in groups, develop an identity and empower all of our social skills. We also learn to be useful. Perhaps, we start a family. Create a pleasant, familiar environment around us. That provides us with love, interest and a sense of belonging. We seek to participate in something bigger than ourselves.

Fourth level: Esteem needs

Given our social nature, we all wish to have good fame, esteem, respect and recognition by others. On top of that, we want to feel confidence, freedom and independence. These needs are also called egoistic needs as they are driven by our ego.

SELF-FULFILMENT NEEDS (Creative brain)

Fifth level: Self-fulfillment needs

This is the higher step in the ladder of human needs. It is our wish to find a place in life. Give meaning in whatever we do. Find a higher purpose. Leave our footprint in our trip through life. However, in order to succeed in all these, we will first need to upgrade our self into its next, advanced edition. We need to make quality changes in our character. Acquire new skills. Exploit our talents. Make dreams and chase them in every way possible. In short, we need to become better.

Growth needs versus Deficiency needs

Needs in the first four steps are referred to as deficiency needs. This means that those needs stem from our wish to get rid of our weaknesses or acquire things we lack. As we acquire more and more adequacy, our motivation decreases.

Maslow pyramid of needs 3

Diagram 3: Maslow’s pyramid: Growth and Deficiency needs

The top need of self-actualization is referred to as a growth need.

It is nothing else than our desire for self-development. As this desire is satisfied, instead of decreasing our motivation, the opposite happens. It is amplified. As we become better, our self-confidence increases. So, we wish to become even better.

Obstacles on our road to self-actualization

As Maslow stated:

“Whatever a man can be, he must be”

He called this esoteric human need, self-actualization.

For an artist, it might be an extraordinary piece of work. For an athlete, it might be an important new record. As for a visionary, it can be a big dream coming into reality.

For each one of us, it can be the satisfaction of our need to feel happy.

It is obvious, that only a few of us can reach the top of the pyramid. Maslow estimated that only 2% of people can reach the state of self-actualization. The main reason people make it to the top, is their ability to focus. They also manage to overcome or ignore most of the obstacles which stop all the others.

Such obstacles can be:

  • Lack of quality education
  • Fixed mindset (the wrong perception that people do not change)
  • Low motivation (inability to self-motivate)
  • Lack of a suitable example (parent, teacher, friend, mentor)
  • Too much attention to the non-important
  • Inability to see the big picture

In the list above, we could add life’s adversities like financial, health or other. These can get us stuck for years in the lower steps of the pyramid. However, life is full with examples of people who proved the opposite. They reached self-fulfillment, despite the amazingly difficult circumstances they met. Adversities not only stopped them, but on the contrary they helped them take-off.

Characteristics and behavior of people who reach self-actualization

  • They have high moral standards. To a great extent, they accept their self and life as it is
  • Usually they tend to focus less on their selves and more outside of themselves. Almost always they have innovative thinking and a somewhat unusual sense of humor.
  • They follow a responsible and objective life approach, with full responsibility for their actions and decisions. In addition, they are honest and never fake.
  • Exceptionally creative: always enjoying to try new things, instead of choosing the known, easy paths. They are reconciled with uncertainty.
  • They are authentic and develop their own views, instead of adopting the dominant standpoint of tradition, authority or majority.
  • Appreciate deeply the small pleasures of life. They live as if they were small children with supreme concentration, amusement and devotion.
  • They value their privacy and personal time. Often, they choose loneliness so they can think and create without any interference.
  • Finally, they have a clear sense of what is important to them and what isn’t. Therefore, they spend more of their time with what’s important and much less with all the rest.

Welcoming discomfort

So there seems to be another, safer way to self-actualization. This is nothing else than make friends with difficulties. Learn to welcome instead of avoid them. The hard way seems to go there much more efficiently than the easy one.

Therefore, perhaps self-actualization is the dominance of our creative brain over its two partners, the reptilian and emotional. It takes many years of fermentation and negotiations among the three of them, in order to get along and reach a smooth state of balance and harmony.

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Read also the article: Step out of your comfort zone to pursue personal growth and development

 

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Comfort zone and personal development

Exit your comfort zone to accelerate your personal development

Exit your comfort zone to accelerate your personal development 1814 1598 Manolis Stratakis

What exactly is a comfort zone?

The comfort zone is the known, the familiar, this which we can do automatically, without too much thought, without too much difficulty. It is where we feel comfortable, sheltered and pleasant. Wherever we feel that we are not in any danger. Where we do not need to try, therefore we do not need to spend any energy.

Although it is often blamed, there is nothing wrong with the comfort zone. It is essential and sometimes indispensable. It often provides us with an oasis of tranquility, relaxation and replenishment. It is the charger we are all looking for when our batteries are going low.

So why can we not stay there forever?

If our mobile phone always needs to be plugged in, it is not a mobile anymore!

There is a reason why we cannot stay for long in our comfort zone. That is, that human needs are much more than just having food and fun. Give a rabbit some carrots every day and it will never ask you for anything else for the rest of its life. Humans however, are equipped with imagination and creativity. Imagination gives birth to ideas and as soon as a good idea sparks, the need to bring it into reality arises. A quick look around, reminds us of all the miracles human civilization has achieved: science, constructions, technology, socialization, art. All these, could never have been made possible by people locked inside their comfort zones.

A cost-benefit relationship

There is an obvious cost-benefit relationship in the process of moving out of our comfort and into our growth zone. Generally, we take the leap whenever the benefit is higher. Whenever the cost is higher, we stay where we are.

As we remain in our comfort zone, the benefits are small but guaranteed. We are having a good time and we are in no danger. Yet, we cannot expect anything spectacular to happen. If we linger there for long, boredom will inevitably strike. People get bored eating crisps and watching TV all day. If they are solving the easy crossword for months, sometime they will feel the urge to try a harder one.

When our comfort zone becomes practically identical to our boredom zone, then there is no more joy. No satisfaction. No benefit. When there is no more benefit, we start feeling the desire to move towards our growth zone. The comfort zone is a pleasant place to be, however, not much is growing there. When we have eaten all the grass around us, we will need to search a little farther away.

Stress, fear and resistance

Usually, we have to pay something in order to buy something. Accordingly, there is a fare to pay in our trip from the comfort zone to the growth zone. Eventually, we have to pass through the zones of fear and learning. The fear zone makes us anxious, lowers our self-confidence and increases procrastination. There are two forces within us. One wants us to move while the other wants us to stay still. One is pushing us forward, the other is pulling us backwards. The first is our creative brain which pushes for changes and improvement. The second is our animal brain which fights to make us stay where we are. Excuses are the way the two of them negotiate. The creative mind provides logical arguments for the potential benefits of change, whereas the animal brain brings up all the excuses, difficulties, problems and obstacles.

Any attempt to depart the comfort zone poses a risk and can lead to an adventure. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to be accompanied by an increase in fear and stress.

In other words, whenever we intent to go out of our comfort zone and try something new or difficult, we have to expect with absolute certainty that stress will step in. Consequently, we have to reassure our mind that everything is fine. In this way, our mind will not be taken by surprise and will be less resistant.

Transform your stress into enthusiasm

A nice trick to use, is learn to perceive stress as enthusiasm. These two seemingly different emotional states are in reality one and same. Stress and enthusiasm cause almost the same chemical reactions in our brain. The actual way however we perceive them, our attitude, makes a huge difference. Stress is blocking us up as it tries to protect us from defeat and failure. Enthusiasm opens us up so we can pursue success and win.

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure, without losing your enthusiasm”

Winston Churchill

Enthusiasm is a pleasant feeling of emotional excitement. It is the active interest, the mood for adventure and risky behavior. Isn’t it very similar to stress? We all know the difference between creative stress and pathological stress. The first is pushing us forward, the second is holding us back.

Exercise: trick your brain by changing hat

Whenever you feel the stress building up, takeoff your stress hat and wear the hat of enthusiasm. Remember that both hats are almost the same, only their name differs. Now, just act as you are full of enthusiasm rather that stress. After you do this for a few times, you will see that it’s not so difficult. Τhe result on your stress levels is quite impressive.

The four zones in detail

The Comfort zone

We already talked a lot about this zone. Here, we have a sense of safety and control. As nothing really interesting is happening, there is not much we need to control. This is the area of relaxation but can also be a stagnation place. If we stay in this area for long, we will eventually feel boredom and apathy.

The Fear zone

As soon as we open the door and step out of our comfort zone, we find ourselves in the zone of fear. The further we walk away, the stronger our fear gets. Often, we are so frightened that we regret and return back. At the same time, we usually start complaining, focusing on problems and obstacles and finding all sorts of excuses so we can ease off the embarrassing retreat. Our self-confidence hits rock-bottom and our procrastination celebrates.

Comfort zone and personal development

The Learning zone

If we managed to come any close to the learning zone, we have already achieved our first win: we passed through the fear zone. Here, we are facing our challenges, we focus more on the solutions rather than problems, spot new opportunities and acquire new skills. Most importantly, we have expanded our comfort zone and feel more comfortable and secure than before.

The Growth zone

The more time we spend in our growth zone the more our comfort zone expands. Old fears slowly fade away. On the other hand, some new ones may appear. We have increased our resilience and we are setting more ambitious goals. We honored our talents and developed our skills. As our personal development continues, our life gains a lot more meaning. Progressively, we find our higher purpose and start to create a long-term vision. Our self-motivation ability is also considerably improved.

Baby steps

The most effective way for growth seems to be leaving the comfort zone in baby steps. Expand your boundaries in a progressive, gradual manner.

If anxiety comes sharply or in a high dosage, it may block you. But if it comes smoothly in smaller dosages, you can use it to build a healthy immunity, which in turn will help you drive further away, more often and with more confidence. With practice, you can do with ease, what some time ago seemed impossible.

The concept of Desired Discomfort

Let’s look at it backwards. We could say that leading ourselves purposefully through adversities, will help us develop and grow faster. No-one has ever excelled in too much convenience.

The lack of difficulties makes us soft and weak, while discomfort in healthy dosages will make us strong and resilient.

Get used to welcome the difficulties which you will inevitably meet. Learn to make peace with discomfort. Understand that anxiety is just a normal emotion which we feel as we grow. Then, passing through the fear zone will become quite straight-forward.

The theory of plasticity of the brain coming from neuroscience, confirms that our mind is a program which continuously learns, changes and improves. It creates new neurons, new paths, new subprograms. It self-upgrades daily depending on our thoughts, actions and behavior.

Therefore, walks away of our comfort zone helps us develop new skills and grow.

How do we move out of our comfort zone effectively?

Here are a few tips:

  • Reading and gathering new knowledge
  • Asking ourselves clever open and challenging questions about what we can improve
  • Trying every day something new even if it’s not easy, expanding our limits
  • Taking trips and meeting new people
  • Acquiring new skills or exercising those we have new line creating and make a note
  • With systematic self-reflection
  • Creating art and innovation
  • Soothing our animal brain and relieving our fears
  • Replacing our perception for stress with enthusiasm
  • Establishing a better relationship with failure and disappointment
  • Learning how to welcome discomfort and life’s inevitable adversities

Exercise: Epic Failures

  1. Write a list with your biggest life failures so far.
  2. Can you think of something positive in each one of those?
  3. What lessons have you got?
  4. In what ways have you become better after each failure?

_________________

If you want to delve deeper into how you can transform the stepping out of comfort zone into art, read the article How often do you experience Flow?

 

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personal development and Pareto principle (important/non-important)

Improve your life using the Pareto rule!

Improve your life using the Pareto rule! 2560 1389 Manolis Stratakis

The Pareto Principle (80-20 rule)

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist realized that 80% of his country’s wealth was held by 20% of the Italian population. It didn’t take long for him to understand that this was true, not only for Italy but also for the rest of the world. On top of that, it was not only true regarding the distribution of wealth but it was valid in a much wider context. All that, led to the Pareto principle.

Let’s see this principle under the prism of personal development. We can say that 20% of our effort is responsible for about 80% of the desired outcome. The rest 80%, accounts only for the 20% of the outcome. The more we apply this principle in our everyday life, the more we realize that it is an invaluable tool for clarity and self-awareness. After all, it helps us distinguish between the vital few and the trivial many. In other words, between the few important and the many unimportant.

personal development and Pareto principle (important/non-important)

Some examples of the Pareto Principle

  • 20% of our clients bring 80% of our revenues
  • 20% of advertisement accounts for 80% of sales
  • We wear 20% of our clothes in the 80% of the time
  • From 20% of our friends we get 80% of support and satisfaction
  • In 20% of our home we spend 80% of our time
  • 20% of emails contain 80% of the important information
  • 20% of a meal contributes to the 80% of calories we take
  • Also the 20% of a dinner gives us the 80% of enjoyment (those eating their dinner indifferently, while eagerly waiting for the desert to arrive, are probably resonating with this example)
  • A 20% of illnesses is responsible for the 80% of deaths in the world
  • 20% of our experiences provides the 80% of our satisfaction
  • The 20% of a book contains 80% of most important knowledge and also 20% of the books we have read, contribute to 80% of our present education
  • 20% of the code running on a computer takes 80% of the CPU time

Of course, the ratio 20-80 is only approximate, it could be 30-70, 10-90 or anything similar. However the principle is valid in many different occasions. You can surely come up with your own examples from your personal experience.

What matters most, is the exact composition of the 20% and 80%. In other words, what falls under the 20% and what falls under the 80%.

Examples

  • Which part is the 20% of your Garde robe that you use 80% of the time?
  • From which 20% of your activities 20% you receive the 80% of your satisfaction?
  • In what do you spend 80% of your money which only contributes a 20% to your happiness?
  • Which 20% of your work brings the 80% of your results?
  • What 80% of the time you spend on the phone is not important?
  • Which 80% of your luggage contents is really necessary?

Pareto’s principle can be applied again and again in an iterative manner. After we have decluttered our wardrobe by throwing away or giving out the 1/5th of our clothes which we rarely use, we can then apply the same principle again achieving an even finer result. The same can happen with our clients, our diet, our appointments and generally the management of all our critical resources.

The Pareto Principle in time management

Applying Pareto’s principle in everyday life can free up a lot of time, which was – until recently – spent in not important activities. For each activity filling up your day, ask yourself how useful it is. Then, use Pareto analysis in order to identify whether they belong in the important 20% or in the unimportant 80%.

Do more by doing less!

Finally, think how much time and energy you would free up after you stopped worrying about the last 20% (the least important), i.e. all those activities which return almost zero results. By doing less you end up doing much more! The trick is knowing which part to get rid of.

___________

See also our article “Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool

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personal development and time management

Essential time management with the Eisenhower Matrix

Essential time management with the Eisenhower Matrix 2560 1784 Manolis Stratakis

Is the time in our day enough?

Time is one of the most democratic things on the planet. Not intelligence. Neither money. Not even health or beauty. Not happiness. Time! Everybody has 24 hours. If you think about it, time is our most important asset. We start off as babies, having all the time of the world and as we grow up we come to a point when every single minute of our day is occupied with something. Then we complain we don’t have time. Wrong! We still have 24 hours. But our day is now filled with stuff. Now, it’s time for.. time management!

The Matrix as a time management tool

“When you don’t have time, make time”. It may sound counter-intuitive, but perhaps it is a perfect advice. The Eisenhower Matrix is the tool we need to make time.

US General and President Eisenhower once said:

I have two kinds of problems: Urgent and Important.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important

Eisenhower Matrix

A common pattern in businesses but also in our personal life is that we often move insanely from one urgent matter to the next, having practically no time to attend to the important issues. Like a never-ending queue of urgent things which, no matter how many we complete, new ones continuously appear. We are at a constant war with a modern Lernaean Hydra. We cut one head and two new heads spring out of nowhere.

Let’s dive deep in time management

If we analyze the four areas of the Eisenhower matrix, it will immediately become clear how it will help us in our time management:

Quadrant 1: (Urgent and Important): Do First!

This is the most critical area, it contains tasks that are both urgent and important. These are “do first” tasks because they are critical for our life or career. Typical Q1 activities include important problems, deadlines and crises.

Quadrant 2: (Important, but Not Urgent): Schedule!

Here we place the tasks that are important, but not urgent. This is where we need to invest most of our time. These are usually our personal and professional long-term goals and activities relevant to the significant areas of our life like education, career, family, recreation or personal growth. Put these tasks in suspension until you find enough time to work on them carefully. Beware, these tasks may not be urgent, but if left neglected, sooner or later they become urgent.

Quadrant 3 (Not Important, but Urgent): Delegate!

If a task deserves to be in this quadrant, then you don’t deserve to perform it. It is most likely a distraction and you better pass it to someone else or postpone it. Many tasks appear to be urgent when actually they are not. Most messages and telephone calls fall into this category. If you answer every call or text you receive immediately, then you will not be able to do anything that requires undistracted attention. The same is true with business meetings. You don’t have to participate in every meeting you are invited, you can choose if you need to be present or not. A common source of Q3 activities is other people. Saying “no” politely or encouraging them to solve the problem themselves usually does the trick.

Quadrant 4: (Not Important, Not Urgent): Eliminate or Keep to a minimum!

These tasks that are neither important nor urgent are simply time wasters and they should be eliminated, or cut down to a minimum. If you drastically reduce the amount of time spent in quadrant 4 tasks, you will free up lots of precious time for your quadrant 1 or 2 tasks. Mindlessly watching television, playing games or surfing the web are only some of the typical ways for wasting time. This does not mean of course that watching a good movie or resting is a waste of time. We need to be very careful when distinguishing what is and what isn’t important for us.

Procrastination and time management

Sometimes, procrastination kicks in when we are not very clear about what is important or urgent. It causes confusion and leaves us standing still while trying to decide what to bring on the foreground next.

When you first try this tool, you may have some difficulty labeling your tasks. It may be frustrating and you may feel you are wasting your time. You are not wasting time, you are investing some of your precious time learning a great skill that will empower you with precious focus and self-awareness. It will save you way more time for the rest of your life.

_______

Increase your awareness by reading our article: Awareness Sharpening Games

 

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Happiness Cocktail

The Happiness Cocktail

The Happiness Cocktail 2560 1789 Manolis Stratakis

Is there a recipe that determines how happy we will be?

Why some people seem to be happy while others aren’t? What is exactly that makes us happy? Is it money, beauty, health, education or genes? Unquestionably all of these play a role.

Do we have a saying in our personal happiness?

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research in identical and fraternal twins has shown that all people are born with a baseline of happiness. In other words, they come to life with their happiness programmed at some initial value. This initial value refers to the temperamental and affective traits everyone inherits from their parents and for every person is different. Higher in some, lower in others.

However, this genetic set point does not exclusively determine the overall level of our happiness, but only about 50% of it.

Life and happiness pie chart

But wait, there are two more factors which play a determining role:

  1. the critical events happening in our life (positive or negative) and
  2. our own, deliberate, intentional activity: our actions

Therefore, in one hand we have what life brings us and on the other, what we do with that. What happens to us and how we tackle it.

Circumstances alone, do not determine our happiness

Most people believe that circumstances, such as our life events or our wealth and health, is the single greatest factor influencing our happiness. But as it turns out from the theory of Adaptation to Pleasure and other positive psychology theories, external circumstances contribute only around 10% to our overall happiness. On the other hand, the way we handle these circumstances influences our life by 40%, that’s 4 times more!

So life deals the card deck for us, but then it is up to us to play the game well.

Looking at it at another angle, we see that genes and circumstances account for a 60%, while our own actions account for the rest 40%. So, we have a 60% which is not under our control and a whopping 40% which is under our influence. Our thoughts, behaviors and actions control this 40%!

Happiness = Genes + Circumstances + Intentional Actions

As everything we consider important, our personal happiness requires some effort, enough commitment and absolute consistency.

So, where do we start?

A few first steps which will lead you towards this goal can be the following:

  • Understand what is good for your body and mind
  • Reduce overthinking
  • Stop social comparison
  • Invest time in your personal development
  • Cultivate your relations with people who are already there
  • Strengthen your resilience
  • Place goals and go after them
  • Increase your flow experiences

Last but not least, begin to feel happy, even if – at the moment – you aren’t! Just like when you start a journey and you still haven’t arrived at your destination.

__________

See also: Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!

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personal development and johari window

A strong realization towards self knowledge with Johari Window

A strong realization towards self knowledge with Johari Window 2560 1957 Manolis Stratakis

The Johari Window

The Johari Window is a great self awareness tool. It is named after the first names of the two psychologists who have invented it, Joseph Lufft and Ηarry Ingam.

This tool can help us discover important aspects of ourselves with emphasis in critical skills such as behavior, empathy, team cooperation and personal development.

Johari Window - Self-Knowledge and Self-Awareness

The four selves in Johari

This tool divides our Self in four areas:

  • Open (known to us, known to others)
  • Hidden (known to us, unknown to others)
  • Blind (unknown to us, known to others)
  • Unknown (unknown to us, unknown to others)

Let’s now explore each of them in more detail:

📖 Open Self

This is the public part of our self, the part which is visible both to us and the others. It comprises everything that we freely disclose and share, like some of our experiences, knowledge, opinion, emotions, character traits, wishes and problems.

People with a large open self possess a high degree of self-awareness, clarity, self confidence and authenticity. They feel comfortable with themselves. They have a good knowledge of both their strong character traits and their drawbacks. As a result, they set their own path to life. They possess a high level of confidence. They are comfortable taking decisions and they rarely feel the need of approval from others.

🔒 Hidden Self

This is the part of our self which is visible to us, but invisible to the others. In this area we keep our very personal information, all those things we are not willing to share with others, since they might be our weak points, dysfunctions, fears, emotions, motives, desires, mistakes, secrets or guilt.

Nevertheless, this area may also contain some of our positive traits which we still do not disclose out of modesty or shyness. The degree of trust we have in other persons, guides us to decide what amount of information we share with them. Consequently, people with an oversized hidden self tend to be more introvert and secretive and may often seem distant or lost.

🔮 Blind Self

It is that part of our personality that is invisible to us but visible to the others. It contains information such as non-verbal communication, our peculiarities and all those characteristics which others see in us, or possibly translate different than us. Through well-intentioned criticism we will become aware of certain things, therefore moving them from the blind to the open or hidden area. People with a large blind area can be extremely naive and this creates trouble in their professional or social relations.

🔬 Unknown Self

This is the part of our self that neither we, nor the others can see. It contains all those things which are out of our awareness. That is, depressed feelings and experiences which have been stored deeply in our subconscious. They can reside there forever and remain unknown, or we may discover them at some moment later. Subsequently, they will move to another area (hidden, blind or even open).

Those with disproportionately large unknown self are persons for whom self knowledge is an unknown word. They have never invest in their self improvement. They usually have troubled relationships with others but also with themselves. Likewise, they generally have a vague picture of the world they live in.

The rest of the Johari iceberg

While the three first areas are only the tip of the iceberg, the unknown self is the rest of the iceberg. It is the part which contains the biggest chunk of information about who we are. Most people never dare to dive in the cold blurry waters of their mind. Even when they are convinced that there is a treasure hidden in there. Those who take the chance, after the first shock, they realize that self-awareness is an art. The more you practice, the better you become, and the better you are at it, the greater the benefits you enjoy.

Self-observation, introspection and meditation

These techniques can help us get acquainted with an important part of our unknown self, with amazing long term results. In addition, Psychoanalysis and Coaching will also open the door for us and guide us hand by hand in the path of self knowledge.

___________

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Response style in communication

What is your Response Style?

What is your Response Style? 2560 1784 Manolis Stratakis

Response Style in Communication

Our response style plays an important role in our communication with people. Builds or destroys our relations in work, family or friendships. Finding our own, gives us the necessary awareness in order to change it, if we need to. It also helps us understand other people responses to us.

There are 4 different response styles:

  • Active Constructive
  • Passive Constructive
  • Active Destructive
  • Passive Destructive

Response style in communication

Response Style Example:

Let’s take for example a response at the good news of someone else. In this particular case it is our spouse. Of course, it could be our partner, friend, kid or colleague.

The husband/wife returns home at the afternoon:

  • Honey! I got the promotion!!

Spouse: (Select one of the following to find your current response style!)

Active Passive
Constructive
  • Excitement
  • Eye contact
  • Authentic smile
  • Joy

Well done baby! Amazing news, I knew you will do it! How do you feel now? (looks into her/his eyes)

Wait for me to open a nice bottle of wine to celebrate this!

  • Low energy
  • Delayed response
  • Quiet

Ah ok… [pause of several seconds] That’s very good for you.

(Gazing at his/her shoes)

Destructive
  • Quashing the event
  • Dismissive
  • Demeaning

Well, we have so many problems and you only care about yourself…

  • Avoiding
  • Ignoring
  • Turns focus inwards

And now we are going to see you even less? Are you sure you can manage with more obligations?

 

Introspection questions

Spend some time to think the following questions:
  1. Which of the four styles looks more attractive to you?
  2. How would you feel when facing someone with an Active/Destructive response style?
  3. Which style do you prefer to see from your spouse? Your boss? Your colleague?
  4. What is your own typical style?
  5. Do you have the same style at work, home or with your friends?
  6. In what ways you could perhaps improve it?

__________________________

Also check out the article: How emotionally intelligent are you?

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