This is a guest post written by my friend Taylor Schaub, a 4th-year undergraduate architecture student at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She’s pursuing a Bachelor of Architecture degree with a minor in Business. Although she does not have a website, she can be found on LinkedIn, Instagram, and as a previous guest on Life of An Architect Blog.
Please leave a comment at the end of the article and share your thoughts with the author and other readers.
nosce te ipsum: know thyself
Within the last year, podcasts have integrated their way into my schedule almost as effortlessly as a child learns to walk. And as such, it was a rough start and took some time to get used to the change of passively listening to music throughout the day to actively and thoughtfully listening to a conversation. Three years ago was my first encounter with the EntreArchitect Podcast & website during an evening planning for AIAS FORUM 2013. A few conversations later and the committee were on our way to inviting Mark to come speak at the event. The topics, goals, systems, and resources that Mark has here at EntreArchitect have been an incredible influence on my career development and have also made me realize that what I do is bigger than who I am.
Recently I’ve begun to venture from only listening to EntreArchitect and other Architecture-specific podcasts and have been focusing on lifestyle or business topics. Initially, the few Architecture podcasts I first listened to was because I thought I would learn more about Architecture. That was not incorrect but it is a lot more than what it seemed in the beginning. The first introduction of topics beyond architecture was the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, recommended by Mark. Not until after the book was finished did I realize how imperative the impact was. The completion of that book is what prompted a curiosity in listening to other types of podcasts and readings to help direct my path.
As the intro to one of the first external podcasts I chose to follow, the words “Be Present” were mentioned. And they weren’t just referenced. It was the entire topic regarding the idea that “being present” is a major lifestyle choice that many are not even aware they don’t actively practice. It was a relatively short episode but was not short of meaning or personal questioning. Several days later, after the thoughts had begun to fade, I was introduced to this topic once again while listening to one of Mark’s podcasts. Be Present.
During this time I was reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. And in addition to that my podcast-endeavor had begun to focus on lifestyle conversations. The underlying fundamentals of what I’ve been able to interpret are the study and realization of self-awareness.
Self-awareness, as defined by a Google-search result, is the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. How do you react to certain situations? What is a consistent stimulant of frustration, sadness, excitement, or happiness, and why? Answering questions such as this about yourself should lead you to search for further questions and answers that are dense. Asking these questions is not meant to find or solve an issue, but rather to recognize the intuitive reactions and thought-processes of how one lives. It is the practice of identifying, to the fullest-extent, how your operation works and removing yourself from the current situation to deconstruct your internal mannerisms and external responses. Being able to take a step back and get to the core of how and why you react to circumstances the way you do is so undeniably important to taking any sort of step toward a goal or changing your lifestyle.
Listen, Think and Articulate
A second focus that has struck me from this short but powerful journey is being able to listen to what a person says, think about it, and carefully articulate individual thoughts based upon the conversation. It is easy to just agree with what someone says or to respond subconsciously in order to keep the dialogue simple. Even if you do not verbally contribute to the conversation as others may be, beginning to actively listen to what others are saying and going through, an internal process of thinking is how we are able to truly identify our values and opinions. Some may believe that they have already obtained this skill, but it would be beneficial to step back and approach a topic from a different angle. Questioning your thoughts on an opinion should justify your position on it. I have begun to actively think through most of my conversations, during a podcast, or reading a book.
Many blogs and podcasts have a growing popularity of, “5 tips to be successful,” or “10 must-do routines,” articles. Personally I find these types of articles provocative because they are presented boldly and are relatively simple to understand. However, these are some of the most important articles that one should be interpreting for their own use. These articles need to be approached with discretion in order to retain positive personal gain. Since beginning college, I’ve tried to find a new routine for myself. I’ve actively tried to utilize the pre-planned routines that I hear or see in podcasts and blogs. The problem is, those routines are manifested from the author’s lifestyle and is fitted to suit them. Here is where the ability to actively listen and process information by using self-awareness and acknowledging presence has recently been a growing part of my day:
A few weeks ago Mark released a podcast in which he mentioned he has been doing the amount of pushups for his age every day. Simple, straightforward, rewarding. I liked it. That is what inspired me to take values I’ve been trying to define for myself and find a way to incorporate what my days are missing back into it. This turned into a personal project similar to Mark’s 12/12/12 project and created the 21^3.
It is broken down into three separate sections – physical health, mindfulness, gratefulness. These are three main classifications that are most important to me, from which I’ve narrowed down based on a larger list of more general values. It also should be mentioned that my 21st birthday was a few weeks back and that was another inspirational piece to the puzzle.
- 21 pushups per day
- 21 miles per week of running or biking
- 21 minutes per week of planks or wall-sits
- 21 minutes per day of stretching
- 21 days per month for making time for silence or attempted meditation
- 21 journal entries per month whether it be writing or sketching
- 21 hours per year of volunteering
This list may seem mediocre to some or difficult for others. Honestly it is not the most intense routine I’ve been involved in, but it resonates with my current lifestyle and goals, and therefore I’ve left it subject to change as time goes on. I’ve also left it flexible where I am not recording anything. Even though it was created based on a 21 rule, I’ve learned from personal experience that if I set myself to a certain standard and fall short, that I immediately and unconsciously get frustrated and ultimately give up on trying it again. It’s extremely difficult to take someone else’s specific routine and apply it to yours. I will share that I have not stuck to this exact project as I may have liked to but I know it was produced for & by me. My goal is not to accomplish all of the tasks on the list, but rather to have something to depend upon as I start one of the busiest semesters I will go through in college.
Time, patience, and practice are the defining elements of being able to successfully distinguish and evaluate thoughts. I’m still struggling to take my interpreted thoughts and form confident positions on certain subjects. Listening to podcasts or reading daily, running 21 miles per week, and being present in all aspects of life is just as challenging. It all takes practice and willingness, but overall even establishing a goal or certain mindset can entirely change how you operate. I may be just starting my professional career but from observing those around me, I believe that deconstructing and evaluating who you are as a person at any age can answer a lot of unknown questions and possibly lead to a lifestyle change that you never knew was possible.
I can’t thank Mark enough for the tools I’ve gained from following him and for giving me the honor to write an article for EntreArchitect. I would love to hear any type of feedback whether it is based on the topics of the article or the writing. Thank you for reading.
Question: What daily habits or rituals have you established in order to better “know thyself”?