Short stories are powerful reads. The great thing about them is that they’re so easy to digest, and there’s always a moral at the end of the story. Whether they’re true stories or not is another thing, as many of them are legends supposedly hundreds of years old. However, the stories that I’m talking about in this series are so powerful and inspirational that many of them really do get you thinking.
Short Stories Series
I’ve been reading plenty of short stories in the past couple of weeks and found the lessons behind them truly wonderful. There’s always a moral to learn at the end of each story. So I’ve decided to write out this article highlighting one of my favorite short stories I came across. Next to the subheading I’ve put what for me the story’s lesson is all about. If you like these kind of short stories I can come up with more each month. You can find all of them in this section. For now, enjoy the story of the Butterfly.
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Until it suddenly stopped making any progress and looked like it was stuck.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man didn’t think anything of it and sat there waiting for the wings to enlarge to support the butterfly. But that didn’t happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.
Despite the kind heart of the man, he didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle needed by the butterfly to get itself through the small opening: were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings. To prepare itself for flying once it was out of the cocoon.
The Growth Mindset
Our struggles in life develop our strengths. Without struggles, we never grow and never get stronger, so it’s important for us to tackle challenges on our own, and not be relying on help from others.
Women seem to care a lot about beauty. It is fascinating to have a look at what is being done to look good. Whoever looks at women’s history must conclude that this has never been different, but how we think about things like beauty and what we do to achieve this has changed quite a bit throughout history. Discover Under the Loupe Magazine to find out about the women who preceded us and what kept them busy.
Under the Loupe is an exploration of women’s history. What occupied them? What did they think back then about beauty, what were their experiences and what was made to achieve that beauty. Learning from the past is important. It helps us understand why we live the way we live and why we are the way we are. But such an exploration also enables us to learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, so that we can do better in the present.
Powerful, nostalgic memories can help us cope with change in our lives, give us comfort, and build our sense of identity. Emotions from our past are powerful things, and lag behind in our internal reward system. They can be used to push us in the right direction.
Knowing our history and culture also helps us women to build a sense of pride and belonging.Let them know where they come from – and who preceded them.I think it’s important to have that sense of pride and belonging cause it can make you feel connected with the past and feel part of a group of likeminded women and empower you.
Lotus feet and other questionable inventions
The lotus-foot phenomenon from China is perhaps the best-known example of a beauty ideal where women in particular go very far (in their pain) to achieve it. With the study of special beauty rituals, painful cosmetic procedures and dubious inventions, it seems that there is nothing but the conclusion that one has a lot left for a good appearance and that there is an enormous pursuit of beauty.
With Under The Loupe Magazine we let you get lost in all that (funny) nonsense. The magazine thus demonstrates, on the basis of all kinds of inventions, rituals and beauty ideals from the present and past, the continuous process of striving for beauty. As a result, the magazine shows the funny, absurd and sometimes painful side of the obsession with the body.
Go check it out 🙂
Met veel plezier zal er elke week een nieuwe snapshot op @undertheloupe_worden geplaatst. Ben je benieuwd hoe het magazine zich gaat ontwikkelen?
You know, running a business sounds really cool. And it is: I often find myself smiling to random people at the streets, just because I was thinking about all the great things that happen to me. But on the other hand, there is much that I still have to learn and practice.
We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others sometimes.
In this funny book: How to be Miserable, 40 strategies you already use, Randy Paterson writes how comparing yourself with others is one of the things that makes peoples lives miserable. Not only in your personal life, but in your professional life as well.
Especially in today’s world has comparing yourself with others never been easier. Whether it’s your neighbour or your competitor: social media makes everyone super visible.
And with that visibility comes comparison. Thoughts like: what are the things that this person has which I don’t have? Am I good enough? and: Can I be like her? Let me explain to you why these thoughts are of no use for the most of us.
It’s because these thoughts are judgements. Judgements that you make about yourself and about others. You may classify a person “pretty” and “successful’, but yourself as “indecisive” and “ugly”. Which is no matter how you look at it, of course, very subjective.
You know, judgements can be either positive and negative and they can be quite in your way of becoming fully present.
In the book Nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg I came across this poem written by Ruth Bebermeyer. The way she explains labels stuck with me ever since:
I’ve never seen a lazy man; I’ve seen a man who never ran while I watched him, and I’ve seen a man who sometimes slept between lunch and dinner, and who’d stay at home upon a rainy day, but he was not a lazy man. Before you call me crazy, think, was he a lazy man or did he just do things we label “lazy”?
I’ve never seen a stupid kid; I’ve seen a kid who sometimes did things I didn’t understand or things in ways I hadn’t planned; I’ve seen a kid who hadn’t seen the same places where I had been, but he was not a stupid kid. Before you call him stupid, think, was he a stupid kid or did he just know different things than you did?
I’ve looked as hard as I can look but never ever seen a cook; I saw a person who combined ingredients on which we dined, A person who turned on the heat and watched the stove that cook the meat –
I saw those things but not a cook. Tell me when you’re looking, is it a cook you see or is it someone doing things that we call cooking?
What some of us call lazy some call tired or easy-going, what some of us call stupid some just call a different knowing, so I’ve come to the conclusion, it will save us all confusion if we don’t mix up what we can see with what is our opinion. Because you may, I want to say also; I know that’s only my opinion.
What distracted me from the real doing
The reason why these labels are not serving you is because things become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For a long time, I considered myself as a “bad entrepreneur” and I indeed started to live by that.
That is to say that to respond to this label that I had stuck on myself, I completely started to focus on improving myself. I kept reading and reading about entrepreneurship – from setting up businesses to people’s visions about leadership – I felt like I had to compensate my introvert character that didn’t like to stand out from the crowd at networking parties. It just didn’t feel decent.
So in other words: having an extravert character and enough knowledge of business were both part of how I thought a good entrepreneur should look like.
Both I didn’t have. All of these thoughts distracted me from the real doing.
Broadening my perspective
So as time went on, I spent some time with people and read some other books (mostly self-help) that helped me realize the limiting believe of that mantra.
I remember that I became fully aware of the believe that although I was longing for it, there would never come a moment in which I would be satisfied of all the knowledge that I had gained.
Moreover, I had also to admit that if I had a good look around me, there were ofcourse enough examples of introverted entrepreneurs who weren’t shouting from the rooftops to promote their businesses. Take for example serial-entrepreneur Richard Branson, who is a self-called introvert. He wrote this blog about being an introvert in business: Even introverts can become great entrepreneurs.
I came to realize that I needed to change my perspective on things.
Maybe that label of me being a bad entrepreneur was created by me or my environment. I’m not sure, but it was implanted in my brain and it affected my way of thinking and operating. Labeling others changes the way you perceive them and therefore don’t let them be who they really are. The same as with labeling yourself. Because in fact: a person is not defined by his outer looks, nor his amount of money or knowledge. We are all human, with basic needs, living through unique abilities.
Seeing that unique abilities in others and yourself, that is what I would call a growth mindset. It enables you to think: well I may not have this, but I do have that. And being an imperfect person makes me proud because I know where I came from. Learning that to see in others as well can give you the opportunity to eventually really focus on no-one but yourself, while having the attitude of learning from others. Just to improve yourself.
Let’s see how I am now… A couple of years further I own this website and turned it into a real brand. And I absolutely LOVE it!
Learning from your opposite in business
That is why I like the following TedTalk so much from a business point of view. It’s called: What nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola.
Melinda Gates talks about the strategies that Coca-cola used to become the valuable brand that she is today. The strongest brand out there, to be precise. Those strategies can benefit nonprofits as well, to save lives and make the world a better place.
Consequently, it wouldn’t be constructive to stick the label “too commercial” on a company like Coca-Cola. It would give nonprofits the permission to say: “well, that’s not our cup of tea. We don’t have to look at that because we are not like them”.
Wouldn’t it be a growth mindset to say: “we want to learn from the unique abilities that this company has and incorporate these into the mission of what we want to accomplish in the world”. The same as with people.
Whether we’re talking about people or companies. Having a focus on the things that you can learn from your opposite in order to improve your life or the company’s life, can be incredibly useful. That’s what a growth mindset has to offer you.
Think about what this growth mindset can do for you and your life. Maybe there’s something that you can change for the better.
For now, you may have become interested in the Tedtalk about Coca-Cola and Non-profits. I’m notgonna give you any spoilers, so just dive into this thoughtful talk.