Self-awareness-knowing your nature, your abilities, and how you react to people and situations-may well be the greatest life-management skill you can have. The Acorn Principle is a guide to doing a complete "life checkup" that will help you pinpoint your talents and strengths. Nurturing those strengths is the key to the success you've always wanted but didn't know how to attain. By reading this book and doing the simple exercises, you'll learn things about yourself that you and most people don't even suspect. You will learn: Why some people attract you and others repel you
• How to predict your instinctive reactions to various situations to understand what circumstances you thrive in and why
• Where your intellectual blind spots are
• Why you like and dislike certain things and how to use that knowledge to motivate yourself
• Who are the most influential people in your life and how to connect with them and others more effectively
• How to control your simple daily actions in such a way that you develop new abilities and continually grow a better life.
The potential to live the life of your dreams exists within you. The more you explore your talents, your relationships, and the patterns in your life, the more readily you will be able to tap into those potentials. A more fulfilling and meaningful life is possible for you without changing your nature; it will come from discovering who you already are. The mighty oak sleeps within you . . . right now.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
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The Acorn Principle
Know Yourselfâ"Grow Yourself
By Jim Cathcart
St. Martin's GriffinCopyright © 1998 Jim Cathcar
All rights reserved.
Never Stop Learning About Yourself
With ten hours of hard hiking ahead of us, we were full of excitement. The mountain loomed above us with a smile, as if saying, "Wait till you see the view I have for you!" At a deep stream we faced a choice. We either had to climb down the embankment and wade across, or try to jump the chasm. Neither was very appealing, but we had to do something.
Most of us chose to climb and wade, but one member of the group, Tony, decided to jump. He got a determined look on his face and leaped! He cleared the chasm with inches to spare but fell to the ground writhing in pain. His knee had given out, the one he'd injured in college.
For Tony, the remaining ten hours were pure misery. His injury took all the joy out of the hike for him, while the rest of us had a wonderful climb.
Have you ever done that? Overestimated your physical ability or endurance and ended up injured? How about psychologically? Have you ever miscalculated your ability to think your way through something or underestimated the impact your feelings would have on you? Most of us have.
Self-awareness—knowing your nature, your abilities, and how you'll react to people and things—may well be the greatest life management skill.
The better you know yourself, the better decisions you make. The better decisions you make, the better your life will be.
As compared to people who don't know themselves very well, people who are self-aware:
are better listeners
are less self-conscious
tend to be less judgmental of others
seldom take on tasks for which they are not suited
do a better job of assessing risks
are more willing to admit their mistakes
recover from disappointments more easily
are less likely to be absent from work
tend to produce better quality work
manage stress more effectively
experience fewer interpersonal problems
In short, people who are self-aware are more likely to succeed and live an abundant life than those who are not. They are also much easier to work with.
Every day you face choices: people to see or not see, places to go, things to do, ways to deal with whatever life gives you. The more effectively you make those choices, the more appealing your outcomes will be.
Someone once asked the famous humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer what he felt was "wrong with people today." He replied, "Most people simply don't think."
On many levels, of course, all of us think. But what most of us neglect to think about is how we think. Self-analysis is what is needed. If we were to recognize the patterns in our own thinking and our own feelings, we would understand so much more about ourselves. We could save ourselves a lot of pain by making better life choices and avoiding or redirecting relationships that were destined for difficulty.
Sigmund Freud said, "The trouble with most people's self-analysis is it stops too soon. They are too easily satisfied." That's what The Acorn Principle is designed to address: your ability to understand what makes you who you are. As you continue to read and do the simple exercises in this book, you will learn things about yourself that most people not only don't know, they don't even suspect exist!
why some people attract you and others repel you
how to predict your instinctive reactions to various situations
to understand what circumstances you'll thrive in and why
where your intellectual blind spots are in the ways you typically think
why you like or dislike certain things and how to use that knowledge to motivate yourself
who the most influential people are in your life and how to connect with them or others more effectively
how to control your simple daily actions in such a way that you develop new abilities and continually grow a better life
Maps, Photos, and Guides
Be patient with me on this one; there is a valuable lesson here.
How familiar are you with Mexico City? If left alone to find your way, how well would you do? Your answer would be influenced by a number of factors: your knowledge of the Spanish (Mexican) language, your natural sense of direction, your ability to notice patterns in the streets and architecture for guidance, even your ability to connect and communicate with other people. All would be factors in your ability to get around.
Let's assume your destination is a business office at 101 Avenida Acorn. Think of how you'd search for that address. One way would be to ask directions. If you understood the language, the person guiding you could direct you with relative ease, assuming he or she knew the way.
Another method would be to use a map. The map would not look like the territory you'd be covering, as it would consist of a series of lines, colors, shapes, and words. Still, it would be a great aid for those who know how to use maps.
Once you reached the neighborhood of your destination, you'd rely on address signs, unless you had a photograph of 101 Avenida Acorn. Then recognition would be instantaneous because it would actually look like the photograph.
Now, how familiar are you with yourself? How about your closest associates and friends? If left alone to try to understand them, how well would you do?
The principles and tools that guided you around Mexico City can also be used to guide you around yourself and others. You can learn confidently to navigate individual differences and unique personalities. All it takes is a map, a photo, and a guide. One of these without the others would leave you still confused and vulnerable.
A photo is helpful, but without a map, you could search forever in the wrong areas and not stumble upon it. A guide is a great help, but without a map or photo, you are totally dependent on the person. A map shows you much but in no way resembles the actual landscape it describes.
My point is this: To understand a person, first we need an overview of the person with information about his or her key traits. In other words, "John is a male, six feet two inches tall, thirty-five years old, grew up in Texas, speaks English and Spanish, has been trained in mathematics, and possesses a great sense of humor." That's a lot of useful information but nowhere near what you are about to learn.
What if I could show you how to notice the following and more in each person you meet, as well as in yourself?
Natural values: the intrinsic motives behind a person's interests and choices—what he cares about
Personal velocity: the pace and intensity at which someone performs best—her "zone" of optimal performance
Multiple intelligences: the unique and varied ways a person is smart—how he is smart
Thinking style (intellectual bandwidth): whether someone tends to think conceptually, strategically, or operationally most of the time and how much information she could effectively process at once
Behavioral style: the predictable patterns within a person's behavior in both positive and negative situations—how he comes across to others
Background imprint: the influences and effects one's experiences have had on her—whether she is working with a head start or a handicap
If you knew that much about anyone, you would have a tremendous advantage in dealing with him. You could predict what he'd like or dislike, how he would approach a new task, what he'd do under pressure, how he might interpret the behaviors of others ... and more.
This is precisely what you'll learn as you continue to read this book. The Acorn Principle gives you a map, a photograph, and a guided tour of people ... including and especially yourself. The "map" is a series of models that help you think about human differences. You'll know how to think about personalities and behaviors in ways that not only make sense but also define the best actions to take with each person.
The "photographs" will be exact descriptions and examples of each trait and behavior along the way.
Your "guided tour" will start within yourself. You will do short exercises throughout this book to explore each aspect of your own personality and the personalities of those with whom you are connected.
By the end you'll have a journal full of self-awareness and understand things about yourself that never made much sense before. You will recognize yourself in these profiles. Psychological researchers have a term called "face validity." It occurs when a person reads his or her own psychological profile and says, "Yes, that is me. This profile accurately describes the person I've known myself to be."
In fact, I'll make you a promise. If you read this entire book and work the exercises and then do not recognize yourself within the Acorn Profile you will have created—if you don't agree that this process has immensely helped in your self-understanding— then I will personally refund your money. Even if you bought my book from someone else. Just send the book to my office with your receipt and a note that it didn't work for you, and I'll send you a check for the purchase price.
Now that's a fairly bold offer, so let's examine why you should even care about increased self-awareness.
Through more than twenty years of conducting training in the area of human development, I have discovered that very few people give much thought to how they think and act or why they are that way. Sure, they occasionally read their horoscope or get a handwriting analysis or call a psychic. But beyond those occasional amusements they don't think much about how they think, why they make choices as they do, how they work best, or whom they connect with most effectively.
But if they did think about these things, they might save themselves a lot of unproductive time and effort. One of my favorite examples is Mike, who grew up in a suburb of New York City where his dad was a journalist.
From his childhood Mike wanted to be a writer. However, when he reached college, his best writing efforts brought him only mediocre grades. His confidence wavered, and he switched his major to premed. A natural interest in science carried him through his premed studies, and he was accepted to medical school. In his first year of medical school he tried to quit, but a counselor talked him into staying. His second year of medical school was worse, and again he tried to quit. He hated his third year, so it was back to his counselor who again prevailed. By his fourth year, it didn't make sense to quit, so he finished his medical program and became a doctor. Then he quit.
Somewhere along the way, to take his mind off medical school, Mike started writing again. Before long, he was supporting himself writing thrillers. By the time he finished four years of medical school, he had rediscovered his true passion and was determined to follow it.
Mike is Michael Crichton, and he might have been a pretty good doctor (though his heart wasn't in it), but he became instead a truly great writer when he chose to follow his passion and use his natural strengths. That choice led him to the career of his dreams and a stunning series of best-sellers including Andromeda Strain, Sphere, The Terminal Man, Travels, The Great Train Robbery, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, The Lost World, Airframe, and Disclosure, plus the hit television series ER.
Those who do take the time to explore and nurture themselves have a tremendous edge in the world. For example, imagine that you are a teacher, and a new student comes to you with a significant sense of self-awareness. Imagine the student saying, "I'd like to learn from you, so here is what I can tell you about me. I tend to think operationally, so I will need concrete examples of the ideas you teach. I can process a few ideas at a time with great efficiency, but my tendency to get confused grows as more ideas are introduced simultaneously. It helps if I can actually do something with the ideas, to make them physical. That is because my physical intellect is higher than my verbal or mathematical intellect. I learn best by doing. My velocity is fairly low, so please make the learning fun. When it feels like work I tend to become demotivated and easily distracted. My top values are wealth, empathy, and aesthetics. That means I tend to learn best when I can see how something relates to making money or to helping people. And it is most appealing to me when the information is presented in a visually appealing way. By the way, my behavioral style is socializer. I tend to be very vocal and often make jokes while I am learning. This is not meant to be disrespectful; it is just my way of interacting with people. My background was not very supportive so pardon me if, at times, my self-confidence is low. I will take action, but I may need more encouragement than others. The sources I trust the most are authorities and personal experience, so you might want to help me learn from other sources as well. I hope this information will be helpful to you as you teach me."
Many people would find that description a bit overwhelming. Anyone would ... that is, anyone who had not learned to do an Acorn Profile. You will learn to use the Acorn Profile to understand others as you explore yourself. With an Acorn Profile you will be able to give that much information about yourself in a way that makes others want to help you be successful. Additionally, you will be able to see and understand that much about other people you meet. In this way, you can use your own self-awareness to help others understand themselves. You'll be able to adapt to them and/or help them adapt to you.CHAPTER 2
The Acorn Principle: The Oak Sleeps Within You
You can still feel the indentation in the bark where Dad carved his initials. It lies directly below the spot where my rope ladder used to descend from our tree house. Boy, the times we had as kids!
Now someone else owns the property, and a new crop of kids gleefully pelt each other with acorns. I wonder how many generations of families, birds, squirrels, bees, caterpillars, and earthworms have lived in harmony with that old tree. I love that oak. I've lounged in its shade, climbed its branches, and raked its leaves hundreds of times.
There is something paternal about a big tree. It offers shelter, warmth, shade, and protection from the rain. It changes and grows. As it does, it prevents soil erosion, provides nutrients for insects and animals, and generates oxygen to renew the atmosphere.
Even if you chop it into lumber it lives on, serving others indefinitely
Do you have a favorite tree? Think back.
What did it feel like to climb it? How did it look? Can you recall the sound it made when the breezes blew? What did it smell like? Trees are powerful symbols in our society. They connect with something deep within us. We feel a natural kinship with them.
The tree is a useful metaphor for personal growth and abundant living. Just as the tree sleeps within the acorn, your future possibilities live within and around you. This book is about finding and developing the natural potential in yourself and others. It is about knowing yourself so well that your life becomes a perfect reflection of your acorn, the seed within you.
Because one single acorn grew into a mighty oak, I, my family, and many others benefited. The world is better in both small and large ways because the acorn grew to maturity. Its growth served us as well as itself.
We are all made of "star stuff." When we look up at the night sky and see thousands of bright points of light, or when we look through a telescope and see the face in the moon or the rings of a planet, we are reminded that we are composed of the exact same elements as those fantastically distant stars and planets.
It's awe inspiring to realize that the same atomic and subatomic particles that compose hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, helium, and other elements can either make up a blazing sun or a human being. It's all basic elements. Even more profound is the fact that you are composed of the exact same elements as the greatest people of all time have been. We all share the same basic building blocks, but how we are formed as individuals is what makes us unique.
So what makes you you?
Most of us would say, "I'm me because of my parents. I've got my mother's ankles and my father's feet. I've got my grandfather's temper and my grandmother's smile. My family, my heritage makes me me."
Another way to answer that question is to say, "I'm me because I've decided to be this way." For instance, your parents may have wanted you to be a doctor, but you decided to become an artist. You consciously chose what you wanted and acted accordingly.
For centuries a debate has raged in philosophical and scientific circles. Is a person the result of the genetic structures within her, or the result of her environment and her experiences, the process of living? Is it our nature to turn out a certain way? Were you born with the nature to be a polite person? An artistic person? An angry person? Or were you nurtured into being that way?
Excerpted from The Acorn Principle by Jim Cathcart. Copyright © 1998 Jim Cathcar. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Griffin.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Denis E. Waitley, Ph.D.,
Section One - Know Your Nature,
1. Never Stop Learning About Yourself,
2. The Acorn Principle: The Oak Sleeps Within You,
3. How Fully Are You Living Now?,
Section Two - Explore Your Nature: A Self-Guided Tour of You,
4. The Living Systems in and Around You,
5. The Seven Natural Values: Discovering What You Care About (Why You Want What You Want),
6. Finding Your Zone of Optimum Personal Velocity,
7. How Are You Smart? Multiple Intelligences in You,
8. Exploring How You Think: What Is Your Intellectual Bandwidth?,
9. Behavioral Style: What Others Call Your "Personality",
10. Understanding Your Background Imprint: Nature + Nurture = Growth,
11. Assembling Your Own Acorn Profile: An Overview of You,
Section Three - Nurture Your Nature,
12. How Your Relationships Define You: Growing Your Inner Circle,
13. Your Search for Meaning: Outside and Inside,
14. Identifying Your Psychological Blind Spots,
15. The Fulfillment Grid: Two Things That Determine Your Life,
16. The Future You See Defines the Person You'll Be,
Further Uses of The Acorn Principle,
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