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Risks: Take ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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If I tell you to give tight-rope walking a shot, and show you a tight rope strung up 30 cm off the ground, I’m sure most of you would at least try it.

But if I put that rope on top of a high-rise and then ask, most people would think I’m insane and tell me to go to hell. Why? Because whenever we’re about to try something new, we weigh the risks, we see what we have to lose, and based on the cost (in this case, our lives!) we say ‘Yay’ or ‘Nay’.

Now that’s great when you’re trying to not die. But if that’s the case, then why don’t we do the same when we’re looking to live the best life we can have?

It’s because the quality of our lives is inversely proportional to the degree of certainty and control we need in it!

This is a very profound statement so I want you to really take a second and think about it, ok? Let me explain.

I spoke of the self concept in another post but will go over it again here. People’s self concept is made up of three parts:

  • Self ideal: What we aspire to be
  • Self image: Who we think we are
  • Self esteem: How we feel about our self-image, so basically how much we actually like ourselves, believe in ourselves and feel we are worthy

Now when our self-esteem is aligned with our self-image, we’re pretty much in our comfort zone, and that’s ok. So in my case, my self-image was that of someone who was not creative enough to be a writer, and I accepted that as fact, so I went off and majored in something very technical.

Now my self-ideal of course was to become a writer, but I had already completed 10 years of university, and did not really believe that I was capable of pursuing my ambitions at all. So I just went ahead and did my technical ‘thang’.

Then a friend came along one day and she was totally convinced that I was creative. With a few words of encouragement, (it took more than a few words and more than a day!) my self image changed forever and was no longer aligned with my self esteem. Now I thought I could be creative, and what was I doing in science anyway?

Alas, that threw me completely out of my comfort zone and caused a lot of FEAR in my life. There I was chugging along as a scientist, believing that this was all I was capable of in life, when all of a sudden, I had a little view of other possibilities! The possibility that I could actually surpass my expectation of myself and achieve my ambition in life.

Being someone who does take risks, I decided that exploring the hidden potential inside of me was something worth doing. And as a result of letting go of the certainty I had in my life (e.g. being a leader in my field, having a stable job, etc..), I jumped into writing. And two amazing things happened:

  1. The quality of my life went up by about 1000 times.
  2. I am on my way to becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be but never believed was possible.

So what’s the moral of the story here? The moral is this:
Most people live within boundaries that they set for themselves. We don’t push ourselves to take risks or to step out of our comfort zone. So by choosing what we consider a safe problem and by giving ourselves explanations that are acceptable by society and within the rules that have been imposed on us we actually never address the real issue that prevents us from crossing the barrier of fear and realizing that that barrier was totally imaginary.

Many of us die without ever singing the song we were meant to sing, our dreams never see the light of day, and that small piece of ‘magic’ that we were meant to contribute to the universal puzzle dies with us.

We all have hidden potential, but having the courage to explore what we are capable of (and what we are not capable of) directly impacts the quality of the life we are living.

So you know those risks that make you step out of your comfort zone? Take them.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Finding Time

By: Tori Leckie

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We’ve all been guilty at times of complaining about being too pressed for time. Between work, rest and play, traffic jams on Sheikh Zayed Road and bottomless coffee at Costa, days fly by and we run out of hours. But I, for one, am becoming increasingly aware that everything I want to find time for gets a slot in my schedule.  I always find time to travel the world and run races, I always find time to embark on terrific adventures in all four corners, I always find time for my daily yoga fix and I always find time for the people I cherish.

It all comes down to priorities. Maximizing YOUR time is about focusing on the things that are important to YOU. Time is the most important non-renewable resource that each of us has so to not spend it wisely is to do our lives an injustice.

So today’s post … 12 top tips to maximize the hours in your day.

  1. Identify how you spend your time

    Identify any areas where time is being wasted. What counts is not the amount of time that you put in overall, but the amount of time that you spend working on worthwhile tasks.

  2. Set goals

    By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you will know exactly where to concentrate your efforts. Working towards set goals is also a great motivator.

  3. Keep a ‘to do’ list

    Ticking off jobs as you do them gives you a real sense of satisfaction and spurs you on to complete the rest — plus you’ll spend less time thinking about what you need to do.

  4. Prioritise

    Sort out your priorities and deal with the important things first … otherwise there’s too great a temptation to do the things that you want to do rather than the things that you need to do.

  5. Do it right first time

    Take the time to do things correctly or to the best of your ability first time round. The fewer mistakes you make, the less time you’ll waste going back and having to do it all over again.

  6. Stop procrastinating

    Procrastinating is especially easy if you’re surrounded by lots of distractions so try controlling your environment by removing most of those distractions.

  7. Get organised

    Being disorganized only wastes time. Declutter your living and working environment and put things that you don’t need well out of the way — or better still, get rid of them!

  8. Delegate

    Hand over any tasks that someone else can do — particularly if they can do them faster or just as well as you. This can be applied both at work and at home.

  9. Multi-task

    It is possible to get the most out of the time available by multi-tasking … just beware of overload and focus instead of combining your tasks well. I, for example, will listen to the audio books on my list whilst I am running.

  10. Learn to say ‘no’

    Learning to say ‘no’ can be one of the best things you can do to free up time. If asked to do something, ask yourself ‘Is this my responsibility?’ or ‘Am I the best person for the job?’ If the answer is ‘no’, then say no!

  11. Keep concentrating

    If you really need to get on with something, lock yourself away and switch off your phone until you’ve completed a particular task. The world will not end if you do not reply instantly to BB messages or FB invitations!

  12. Look after yourself

    Take time out to look after yourself. Nobody can be on the go all the time and by maintaining a healthy balance in your life, you can respond to problems and tasks in the best way possible.

Finally, bear in mind that you have exactly the same hours in the day as were given to Mother Teresa, Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.

Perhaps Jim Rohn said it best when he said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

I suggest opting for the former!

Have a great week.

Tori

Blogger’s Bio: Tori Leckie is a writer, a runner, a blogger and an adidas athlete. She travels alot, plays hard, works a little and makes every day a grand adventure. Heard of Tim Ferriss’s much acclaimed book, the 4-Hour Work Week?  Well, Tori is a living, breathing Dubai-based example of this.  She’s designed her own life to make every day a gift and is now helping the nabbesh community do same. Visit her blog (www.fitchicksandfastwomen.com), ‘like’ her on Facebook (Fit chicks & fast women) and enjoy her winning words!

The Saboteurs of Success

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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There’s a theory going around these days that most of the world’s problems can be traced back to low self-esteem and most of people’s problems arise from low self-esteem as well, whether they know it or not. So I wanted to investigate the idea of self-esteem a little bit because being successful at anything we do, hinges of having a certain measure of self-esteem, right?

Self-esteem is basically our overall appraisal of our own self worth and it allows people to be convinced that they deserve happiness! It helps us face life with more confidence and optimism, and therefore makes it easier for us to achieve our goals.

Self-esteem is related to three things: our values, our beliefs and our rules.

Values are such deep-seated beliefs that we accept them unconditionally and see them as reality. They guide what we see as right or wrong. We rarely question our own values because in our eyes they are the truth. Honesty, hard work, beauty, failure is bad, or the ends justify the means are all examples of values. Values are extremely hard to change.

Beliefs are the conscious and rational justifications associated with values. If youth is the value, the associated belief is that being young is being strong, loved, attractive, healthy, accepted, accessible, etc… These can be changed but you have to work hard at it.

Rules are things that we have learned along the way and are the easiest to change. They are how we play the game.

To raise our self-esteem we either need to change our beliefs or change our rules because unless these three factors (beliefs, values and self esteem) are aligned, we will never get the things we long for.

Say we value success or achievement and our belief is that having a good title at work is a great indicator of success, but our rule is never to blow our own trumpet (or that self promotion is vain and self serving). What happens is that we don’t get that promotion we were hoping for or that job that we really wanted. This has the negative effect of lowering our self-esteem. We will end up always asking ourselves the same question: How come I never get the opportunities that other people get?!

So what do we do? Well we either have to change our rule (It’s ok to blow your trumpet sometimes!) or change our beliefs (you don’t need to be CEO/Director/Manager to say you are successful or have achieved something!).

Figuring out what your beliefs, values and rules are is not always easy, but starting with a question that you always ask yourself about life is a good start. From there try to work backwards and see what you come up with. Factors that sabotage your self-esteem are also sabotaging your opportunities for success, whatever the measure of success is for you!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

What Bosses Want

By: Kathy Shalhoub

I spoke to the General Manager of a medium-sized company today who regularly hires freelancers for various projects as needed. I was curious to know what are the key attributes that bosses look for in hiring freelancers.

It was no big surprise that in addition to them being qualified, the top three attributes on Jack’s list were reliability, thoroughness and punctuality.

He explained that when companies hire freelancers, they usually do so because they have a rush job that their regular employees just don’t have time to do. They look for someone who is reliable because they need to be sure that the job will be done in time and to the specifications given.

Because the companies pay a premium to freelancers over existing employees and there is a real sense of urgency for the project to be completed, there is no time for too much discussion and they expect the work to be completed on time.

“We need to know that they can deliver,” Jack told me, “so strong references are a must.”

Jack continued to explain that he often looks at the portfolio of work to be more at ease not only with their qualifications, but to be sure of their actual output.

Communication skills, both the spoken and the listening, have to be impeccable. “With your own employees you have the luxury of time and availability to make sure that your message is understood, but with freelancers, you have the one or two meetings to make it clear what it is you need. “

Jack’s final words were about his fears of freelancers. “I worry about freelancers when they start making excuses for not delivering or when they ask for information too late for them to complete the project on time.”

So reliability, thoroughness, punctuality, communication skills, planning skills and a good portfolio is all you need to gain Jack’s trust!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Hear the music

By: Tori Leckie

Hello!

A few weeks ago, I listened to an interview on Dubai Eye with Loulou Khazen Baz, the queen behind the scene at nabbesh. ‘Brilliant,’ I thought, ‘what a genius concept.’ And so I wrote to her and told her so.  Fast-forward a few emails and here I am contributing to the nabbesh blog and hopefully adding to the already wonderful and thought-provoking content from Kathy Shalhoub.

Loulou asked me what my theme would be and the answer seemed to fall off my tongue.  ‘LIFE at play’ I said.  Finding that balance between work and play, pursuing and even identifying your passions, developing your career around what you love and an injection of daily fun and adventure won’t only make you a happier, more rounded individual, but will directly (and positively) impact your performance at work. It’s an approach I try to embrace day in, day out but one that many others struggle with.

I guess it all boils down to facing each and every day with passion and gusto.  It’s about identifying where your priorities lie and how you want to spend your days, your weeks, your months, your years.

For this first post, I’m taking the unusual approach (you’ll soon learn that I defy convention at all costs) of borrowing the words of someone else, those of child psychologist David L Weatherford.

You see, the words in this poem sum up what ‘LIFE at play’ is all about and when you read it, I hope you’ll find it in you to make small changes where change is necessary. Be bold and remember always that the only rules are those we set on ourselves!

SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

Have a great week.

Tori

Blogger’s Bio: Tori Leckie is a writer, a runner, a blogger and an adidas athlete. She travels alot, plays hard, works a little and makes every day a grand adventure. Heard of Tim Ferriss’s much acclaimed book, the 4-Hour Work Week?  Well, Tori is a living, breathing Dubai-based example of this.  She’s designed her own life to make every day a gift and is now helping the nabbesh community do same. Visit her blog, ‘like’ her page on Facebook and enjoy her winning words!

Can Networking Bring You Your Next Big Idea?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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I wanted to talk about networking today. I did a Google search and found tons of secrets, tips, steps and tricks on how to effectively network. But what’s the point of networking in the first place? Where or what is it meant to get you?

Amidst the many pearls of wisdom provided, networking was said to be important in:

  • Finding a job
  • Developing industry links
  • Keeping abreast of news, events and opportunities
  • Growing your business
  • Bringing in clients

And I’m sure there are many other good reasons that in theory, can help improve your work life tremendously. Strangely, though, none of them listed networking as a means of improving your creativity and your innovative potential.

One website said that Attending networking events can be a big boon to your business, or a huge waste of your time.’ But here’s the thing, networking is NEVER a waste of time, and the advantages reach so much further than just where your next client is going to come from. It’s where your next idea is going to come from!

A scientist interviewing a group of entrepreneurs from Stanford (766 of them!) found that their network of friends generally consisted of people who came from the same place and did the same thing as them. BUT they also found that a small subset of these entrepreneurs had a very large network of casual acquaintances.

Instead of going to an event to network, these business people were making new and unexpected connections with different people all the time! They were chatting with strangers in coffee shops and making small talk with street cleaners, they made conversation with people at train stops and regularly spoke to acquaintances at work.

So what’s the big deal? It was this exact group that was THREE TIMES more innovative that the people with a small network of close friends. While it was thought that people were born with creativity, scientists are now finding that being in the right place and doing the right thing are actually more important factors than what you were born with!

Why are people with many casual connections so much more ‘creative’ than those with a few close friends? It turns out that the innovation in people doesn’t happen when we’re alone, it happens when we’re surrounded with collections of acquaintances who inspire novel thoughts in us.

Here’s how it works. Think about it, if you’re surrounded by the same people who think like you do (and generally you are, because that’s our natural psychological tendency!) then the ideas and thoughts you’re exchanging are more similar than not. When you step out of your comfort zone and make contact, connections, with people from all walks of life, with people who think, feel, see and do things very differently than you, your brain has to work so much harder to understand them, categorize them, and to find a common thread between them. In doing so, it takes leaps that it may not have taken otherwise, and at some point presents you with a little nugget of creativity that you transform into something new, innovative and inspiring.

For me, networking is a lot of effort, it’s stressful and I often wonder how to make an impression, how to make a connection, what to talk about. But when I think of it as simply making connections and exchanging ideas, suddenly it’s so much easier and less daunting. And yes, suddenly I have so many more ideas flying around in my head.

Give it a try and tell me what you think!

For more detailed information, read Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, in particular, the chapter on Urban Friction.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Are you cut out for Freelancing?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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So you want to be a freelancer, yes? Well, wanting something is great, and doing it is even greater. But to actually do it, and be good at it, and have someone pay you for it, you should probably ask yourselves a few questions first.

  1. Do you like being alone?

    Sadly, most of freelance work involves you and your skill and no one else. Can you handle that? Some people are made for it, some people aren’t. Think about this point very seriously and don’t try to convince yourself that it could work if it can’t! If you crave company, can you find it? Can you go work in a coffee shop, work with a friend, or find common spaces where other freelancers get together?

  2. Where are you now?

    Ok, what does this mean. It means if you’ve been working in marketing all your life you can’t suddenly quit your job and decide you want to be a freelance photographer and expect the jobs to start coming in. If that’s what you want to be, you need to build up to it and start gradually. Figure out where you are, where you want to be, then find a reasonable (and realistic!) path to getting there.

  3. Can you afford it?

    Need I elaborate? I will anyway just in case. Unless someone can support you while your freelancing career takes off, then you need X amount of Dirhams, Liras or Dollars per month to live on (at least). It will take you Y amount of months when you first start freelancing for you to start making X/month, so you will need to have at least X*Y amount of money in the bank before you start! Develop a financial plan, create a budget for yourself, and stick to it! That means you may have to pass up a couple nights out or those Prada shoes if things are a little slow this month.

  4. Are you flexible and organized?

    Ok, freelancing 101. Assignment comes in, you have a deadline in three weeks. No problem! You have time, it can wait. Two days before it’s due, you sit down to work on it, and all of a sudden three more assignments roll in the following day. Ooopsie! Now you need to pull a couple all-nighters to finish everything. But what about the Madonna concert you have tickets to? No problem, you have notes that will help you finish everything on time! But where are they? Rats, you stuffed them into the cat’s litter box when you were out of litter. It’s ok, you’ll just tell them you’re too busy. Ahem, check your financial plan, can you afford to pass up a couple projects? Be organized! Develop a schedule that works for you, and work for that schedule!

  5. Can you separate work from life?

    Anyone who’s been in a relationship with a ‘freelancer-who-can’t’, will tell you how much they hate it! If you think it’s bad when full-timers are checking their Blackberry every ten minutes, try a freelancer running to her computer every nanosecond you turn your back, so that she can just finish that one last thing that’s been bothering her. If you plan to live with someone more conversational than a toaster for any period of time, develop a relatively normal work schedule and stick to it. Your personal life will thank you!

  6. Can you be your own boss?

    Wait a second! I thought the whole perk of being a freelancer is that you don’t have a boss? Sorry guys, but no matter how much a boss sucks, they do one thing that is imperative to your success: they keep you on track! That means that in the space of an hour, you don’t get a 15-minute cigarette break, a 20-minute coffee break and a 10-minute bathroom break before you’ve even started your project! Being your own boss means pushing yourself to work hard and to be self-disciplined. Otherwise, find someone to do it for you i.e. get a job!

  7. Can you sell yourself?

    Listen, I’m a freelancer not a salesman! Ok ok I know but… you want work? Sell yourself. And do it well! It’s as simple as that. See previous post: Know Yourself, Sell Yourself!

  8. Can you say ‘No’, and can you handle it when someone says ‘No’ to you?

    Imagine this: You haven’t had work for three weeks and that whole budget thing is hanging over your head. Was there a project you were putting off until now? Was there some networking you’ve been planning to do? Now is the time! All of a sudden, a few projects come up with the same deadline. No problem! You’ll just rush through them all and do a mediocre job for everyone, right? Will that get you repeat customers? Nope! Will that help your bottom line? Only this month. Don’t take on more than you can handle, and keep a backup plan for any unplanned stretches of free time.

That’s all folks! Happy Freelancing and enjoy your funemployment!

Disclaimers: I didn’t come up with ‘funemployment’, I read it somewhere on Facebook. And also, this post is based on content from Get a Freelance Life by Margit Feury Ragland.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Know Yourself, Sell Yourself

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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Since last week’s post, I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity and why it’s so important for us to put words to who we are. See the thing is that our brain likes to put things into categories for us because it makes it easier for us to understand the world. For some reason we get very uncomfortable when we come across something that we can’t put into a category. We even have a category for that: Uncategorized, Miscellaneous, To do, Undefined, To Be Determined, etc…

In any case, ultimately, we are born with a certain personality that is ours alone (I can attest to that after seeing the radical difference in temperament and behavior in my two children!), and this psychology of ours is influenced by our social and cultural surroundings that help create our beliefs. And the combination of this all and how we react to it, is what ultimately help us define our goals and objectives for ourselves. We all should have them! I agree with Nietzsche when he said: He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

So I decided that to define ourselves to other people in a meaningful way, we have to tell them a little bit about our mind, a little bit about our emotions or behavior, what it is we believe strongly in, and what we aim for in life. I think it’s as simple as that!

Mind + emotions/behavior + beliefs + goals = Me

So in my case, the strongest component of each category defines me to me:

I am an inquisitive (mind) enthusiastic (emotions) student of life (goal) who believes that nothing is impossible (beliefs).

But WHY is it so important to understand who we are? Is it only to tell people about ourselves?

Nope! It’s much more than that. It’s to be able to value ourselves. You can’t put a value to what you don’t know, right? You can’t tell me how many dollars a bunch of bananas will cost unless you know the quantity AND the quality!

A psychologist named Branden, said that self-esteem is the reputation we have with ourselves and unfortunately, there is no significant aspect of our thinking, motivation, feelings, or behavior that is not affected by our self-evaluation. It’s as simple as that.

Ok now make sure you do this on a good day. A day you’re feeling great about yourself, a day you’re feeling happy. The last thing you want to do is come up with a phrase about yourself when you’re feeling down and your boss just told you that the idea you pitched was worthless, you’ve been depressed all day, you’ve just yelled at your kids or kicked a puppy and the only thing you’re good at is wolfing down a couple pounds of brownies. Otherwise your intro to your self will be something along the lines of this:

Hi, I’m a boring, self-pitying, tub of lard who believes in abusing the helpless. Not good!

So ultimately what it comes down to is this: knowing yourself better, allows you to better articulate yourself and sell yourself. Putting useful words that describe you better than simply ‘writer’ or ‘engineer’ will give people (clients!) the feeling that they are closer to you. And if people feel like they know you better, they will trust you faster, and hire you sooner.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Do You Know You?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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My mom knows a lot about people. She said to me the other day that the main thing people want to know about you is: ‘Who are you?’ And ‘What do you do?’

Simple enough right? I say I’m Kathy Shalhoub, I’m a writer. But it got me wondering, is that sufficient? Based on that information alone can people really decide whether to take an interest in me or not?

So I started looking for a better way of defining myself. I did some research online, I looked at a few books, I asked some people how they define themselves. No one seemed to have a good answer. I’m just me! Someone said. Well yes, I’m me too, but who is that?!

One self-help guru suggested making a list of things that define you. He said ask yourself:

  1. What are your beliefs?
  2. What is your personality like?
  3. What kind of actions do you take in a particular situation?
  4. How do you handle relationships?
  5. How do you influence others?
  6. What are your coping skills?
  7. What are your goals and accomplishments?
  8. What are your priorities?

So I wrote a bunch of those down, and found that I needed a couple full pages to define myself this way. Ok, that’s interesting, and it definitely gave me insight on myself. But I doubted that I could remember to carry around a two-sheet flyer with me and hand it out to people every time I wanted to introduce myself.

Is there a better way?

I came across Sally Hogshead’s book: Fascinate, where she speaks about how each person has a special way they attract people and capture their attention with. I did her little online test and according to her, I happen to ‘fascinate’ with

  1. Passion, which means I am: Expressive • Intuitive • Social • Impulsive • Enthusiastic
  2. Prestige, which means I am: Ambitious • Detail-oriented • Recognized • Uncompromising • Focused

So then there’s this little formula on the website you have to follow to create a single sentence that defines you, using those descriptions and a few others. But I wasn’t convinced one bit! In fact, it felt totally pretentious saying that in an introduction. So I’m back where I started.

I’m just curious, when people ask you who are you, what do you say and are you convinced? And more importantly, when you ask someone who they are, what do you wish they would tell you about themselves?

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Creativity: That Elusive Element

By: Kathy Shalhoub

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Have you ever wondered if you’re creative or not? Do you have that spark in you? Take my creativity test and you’ll know for sure.

Answer the following questions with Yes or No.

  1. Are you human?
  2. Do you have a brain?
  3. Do you live around people?

If you answered yes to all the questions above then, congratulations, you are creative!

See I don’t believe that anyone is born with that something special and elusive we all call creativity. I used to think so but not anymore. I used to think that either you had it or you didn’t. And if you had it, well lucky you, because it sure wasn’t lucky me.

Until one day an artist friend (who I thought was incredibly creative!) took a look at things I was writing, things I was cooking, things I was thinking about and went: Wow! You’re so creative.

I said: what me?! Don’t be silly!

Then when it kept happening I thought, Oh my God, I’m creative!!! When did this happen?

So I realized that if even I had some shards of creativity inside me, it must exist in everyone! Science has finally caught up with me and proven it.

In the book Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer tells us that science has now pinpointed creativity to a tiny fold of tissue in the brain called the anterior superior temporal gyrus that becomes very active just seconds before an epiphany.

So what brings about these moments of ‘epiphany’ that we call creativity? Apparently, something as simple as a casual conversation can lead you to unexpected ideas, and something as outrageous as criticism that challenges your thoughts or ideas can force you to seek alternate paths, and therefore make you more creative.

Have you ever noticed that ‘creative’ people are often disorganized, do a million things at once and yes, procrastinate endlessly? Well it seems that interruptions are not that terrible after all (see my previous post on Procrastination) and being excellent at focusing is not that useful when you’re being creative. A British scientist has shown that it is those very interruptions that give our mind the mental pause it needs to notice a stray thought or random insight and bring it to your attention.

If you want to try being more creative, consider sitting outside by the ocean or painting your room blue since a study shows that this color helps stimulate our imagination. Talk to people, tell them about your ideas, have them challenge you. Try doing things differently, get out of your comfort zone, eat a banana upside down or walk through the city if you normally drive. Welcome interruptions, take breaks from your focus group, turn your brainstorming session into a critique session, don’t give up hope when you get stuck. Just take a break and give your anterior superior temporal gyrus the chance to work on things for you!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.