Doubt. A woman contemplating her next move.

Doubt

Every time I try something new, expand my comfort zone, or take on unfamiliar responsibilities, I am nagged with self-doubt. Sometimes it’s a whisper on the wind, sometimes it’s a big sweaty man screaming in my face, but it’s always there.

Self-doubt can be a rational dose of reality, or it can be an irrational, paralyzing nightmare. But in either case, I try, with varying degrees of success, to keep the helpful aspects and leave the rest behind.

Throughout each of our lives, we will periodically be faced with situations in which we are asked to do things that we are not necessarily comfortable with. We may not be confident that we have what it takes to get the job done, handle the decisions that need to be made, or even to understand the issues we will face.

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Intense. Focused man working.

Intense

Time to get your game face on.

Intensity is one of those qualities that can be hard to characterize. It can be positive or negative, depending on its source and how it manifests, and it can easily be misinterpreted as arrogance or impatience. Being intense can often have an impact on our effectiveness, and it is important to be aware of that. Intensity can be a part of someone’s everyday emotional makeup, or it can be something that comes up occasionally when the situation warrants it. Some people are never intense, while others seem to always be intense.

So what is intensity? To me, it’s a quality that allows us to cut to the chase; we get rid of anything that is not immediately relevant and get right to the heart of the matter. This can be interpreted literally or figuratively—intensity can manifest as actions or as an attitude. Through a sense of urgency, intensity can also result in increased efficiency. Intense people cut out the unnecessary and focus on what is required.

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Expressions. Young man playing guitar while sitting at windowsill.

Expressions

True art cannot be judged; it exists as a form of expression.

We each have things we do to express ourselves—a creative outlet. Maybe we want people to like what we do; maybe we will never share it with anyone else.

Some eventually seek opinions about their expressions. When that line is crossed, our expressions become something else: something more formal, something owned by others as well as ourselves.

When I use the word expressions here, I’m referring broadly to those activities we engage in that help us express something in ourselves. Art falls into this category, but it also might be music, writing, or any form of artistic endeavor. It also might be a physical expression. Dance is a more obvious example, but sports and other physical activities might be expressions too. Surfing lends itself well to expression. It might also be the way we present ourselves, our personality, or our fashion. There are many ways we can express ourselves.

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Control. Woman freeing birds

Control

Are you driven by a need for control?

How much control over the details of your life do you actually have?

Sometimes parts of our lives can seem very much out of our control. For some, this can be a very uncomfortable feeling. We might feel an intense urge to regain control and get things back on track. But the truth is that our lives are never really in our control. If we can learn to accept that, we will be much more likely to work with that reality and not constantly struggle for control.

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Friend. Two friends embracing each other outdoors

Friend

We all have people in our lives—people who are important to us, people we spend time with, people we care about.

There are lots of ways we might characterize these relationships—acquaintances, colleagues, teammates—but how many of them are friends?

We tend to use the word friend without a lot of thought. It’s a very common word, and we tend to use it rather loosely, but I think it can be helpful to dig in to what it really means to have a friend. What does friendship mean to you?

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