Do you call the gambling industry, "gaming?" Do you now call soda or bubbly water, "sparkling?" Does your teenager use the word, "like," three times in every sentence she utters?
Here’s a sobering truth about you, indeed nearly human beings. Most of us let others – friends and parents, politicians and pundits, advertisers and celebrities influence what we wear, how we speak, what we believe and often even what we think of our selves.
Think about the insidious salesmanship of our age. Did you: Swallow handfuls of Vitamin E capsules in the ‘80’s, guzzle quarts of water during the ‘90’s, buy a Land Rover in the last ten years, how about an “abdominizer”? Do you indulge in trashy magazines about vapid celebrities?
Healthy psyches are better able to resist marketers and other would-be influencers. They also seem inoculated against current cultural biases. They are more timeless and global in outlook or as psychologist, Abraham Maslow, put it, “They are members-at-large of the human species.” First of all, these individuals are self-accepting, self-defining and self-directed that they stand apart from their cultures, their times. Just as their commitment to realism helps them resist current culture so does their autonomy. In other words, they have such a strong and clear sense of self and personal morality that they have a kind of personal force field, protecting them from the invasive marketing and media messages that bombard most of us every day.
The strongest and happiest individuals march to their own drummers and while they fit in with the rest of us on a day-to-day basis, left to their own devices, they can seem detached, aloof, eccentric, even rebellious or odd. Think of the photo of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out at photographers. In Walter Isaacson’s wonderful, “Einstein, His Life and Universe”, the great physicist attributes his original, rebellious theories to his “impudence”. So strongly individual and so mightily focused on their goals, these characters can seem out-of-sync and often out of fashion. At Abraham Lincoln’s famous 1860 speech at Cooper Union, an observer noted that, “one of the legs of his trousers was up about two inches above his shoe; his hair was disheveled and stuck out like a rooster’s feathers; his coat was altogether too large for him in the back, his arms much longer than sleeves.”
The hit AMC series, “Mad Men” is wonderful for many reasons. For me, one of the best is that it reminds us of how differently we viewed and treated each other just a few decades ago. It’s a vivid portrayal of strongly held assumptions and beliefs about women, race, sexuality, fashion, marriage and so much more, which we now largely reject. Keep “Mad Men” in mind every time you take a strong position on current social and political issues. Hell, think how our economic outlook has changed in just the past two years.
To help resist the ideas, biases and short-sighted thinking of the day:
Check out Donald Van De Mark's series on the 19 Personality Traits of the Best Human Beings
Donald Van de Mark is a motivational speaker and has interviewed hundreds of leaders in business and politics including: Andrew Weil, MD, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, Jack Welch, Starbucks' Howard Schultz and Intel's Andy Grove, in his nearly 3 decades as a correspondent and anchor at CNN, CNBC and public television. He is the host of The Wisdom of Caring Leaders and The Wisdom of Teams, training videos used by corporations and schools to teach leadership skills.
Donald integrates practical tips from these great leaders to provide a riveting motivational speech on the personality traits of successful people.
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