88 Important Truths I’ve Learned About Life

By: David Cain / Source: Discover Your True Unique Life Path (take the free test)

Everyone gets drilled with certain lessons in life. Sometimes it takes repeated demonstrations of a given law of life to really get it into your skull, and other times one powerful experience drives the point home once, forever. Here are 88 things I’ve discovered about life, the world, and its inhabitants by this point in my short time on earth.

 

1. You can’t change other people, and it’s rude to try.

 

2. It is a hundred times more difficult to burn calories than to refrain from consuming them in the first place.

 

3. If you’re talking to someone you don’t know well, you may be talking to someone who knows way more about whatever you’re talking about than you do.

 

4. The cheapest and most expensive models are usually both bad deals.

 

5. Everyone likes somebody who gets to the point quickly.

 

6. Bad moods will come and go your whole life, and trying to force them away makes them run deeper and last longer.

 

7. Children are remarkably honest creatures until we teach them not to be.

 

8. If everyone in the TV show you’re watching is good-looking, it’s not worth watching.

 

9. Yelling always makes things worse.

 

10. Whenever you’re worried about what others will think of you, you’re really just worried about what you’ll think of you.

 

11. Every problem you have is your responsibility, regardless of who caused it.

 

(Related: How to Identify Your Unique Strengths And Find Your Ideal Career?)

 

12. You never have to deal with more than one moment at a time.

 

13. If you never doubt your beliefs, then you’re wrong a lot.

 

14. Managing one’s wants is the most powerful skill a person can learn.

 

15. Nobody has it all figured out.

 

16. Cynicism is far too easy to be useful.

 

17. Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours.

 

18. Whenever you hate something, it hates you back: people, situations and inanimate objects alike.

 

19. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s works alone can teach you everything you need to know about living with grace and happiness.

 

20. People embellish everything, as a rule.

 

21. Anger reveals weakness of character, violence even moreso.

 

22. Humans cannot destroy the planet, but we can destroy its capacity to keep us alive. And we are.

 

23. When people are uncomfortable with the present moment, they fidget with their hands or their minds. Watch and see.

 

24. Those who complain the most, accomplish the least.

 

25. Putting something off makes it instantly harder and scarier.

 

26. Credit card debt devours souls.

 

27. Nobody knows more than a minuscule fraction of what’s going on in the world. It’s just way too big for any one person to know it well.

 

28. Most of what we see is only what we think about what we see.

 

29. A person who is unafraid to present a candid version of herself to the world is as rare as diamonds.

 

30. The most common addiction in the world is the draw of comfort. It wrecks dreams and breaks people.

 

31. If what you’re doing feels perfectly safe, there is probably a better course of action.

 

32. The greatest innovation in the history of humankind is language.

 

33. Blame is the favorite pastime of those who dislike responsibility.

 

34. Everyone you meet is better than you at something.

 

35. Proof is nothing but a collection of opinions that match your own.

 

36. Knowledge is belief, nothing more.

 

37. Indulging your desires is not self-love.

 

38. What makes human beings different from animals is that animals can be themselves with ease.

 

39. Self-examination is the only path out of misery.

 

40. Whoever you are, you will die. To know and understand that means you are alive.

 

41. Revenge is for the petty and irresponsible.

 

42. Getting truly organized can vastly improve anyone’s life.

 

(Related: Find Your Unique Strengths And Weaknesses!)

 

43. Almost every cliché contains a truth so profound that people have been compelled to repeat it until it makes you roll your eyes. But the wisdom is still in there.

 

44. People cause suffering when they are suffering themselves. Alleviating their suffering will help them not hurt others.

 

45. High quality is worth any quantity, in possessions, friends and experiences.

 

46. The world would be a better place if everyone read National Geographic.

 

47. If you aren’t happy single, you won’t be happy in a relationship.

 

48. Even if it costs no money, nothing is free if it takes time.

 

49. Emotions exist to make us strongly biased towards or against something. This hinders as often as it helps.

 

50. Addiction is a much greater problem in society than it’s made out to be. It’s present in every person in various forms, but usually we call it something else.

 

51. “Gut feeling” is not just a euphemism. Tension in the abdomen speaks volumes about how you truly feel about something, beyond all arguments and rationales.

 

52. Posture and dress change profoundly how you feel about yourself and how others feel about you, like it or not.

 

53. Everyone thinks they’re an above average driver.

 

54. The urge to punish others has much more to do with venting frustration than correcting behavior.

 

55. By default, people think far too much.

 

56. If anything is worth splurging on, it’s a high-quality mattress. You’ll spend a third of your life using it.

 

57. There is nothing worse than having no friends.

 

58. To write a person off as worthless is an act of great violence.

 

59. Try as we might to be otherwise, we are all hypocrites.

 

60. Justice is a human invention which is in reality rarely achievable, but many will not hesitate to destroy lives demanding it.

 

61. Kids will usually understand exactly what you mean if you keep it to one or two short sentences.

 

62. Stuff that’s on sale usually has an annoying downside.

 

63. Casual swearing makes people sound dumb.

 

64. Words are immensely powerful. One cruel remark can wound someone for life.

 

(Related: Find Success In your Career And Life by Learning About Your True Self)

 

65. It’s easy to make someone’s day just by being uncommonly pleasant to them.

 

66. Most of what children learn from their parents isn’t taught on purpose.

 

67. The secret ingredient is usually butter, in obscene amounts.

 

68. It is worth re-trying foods that you didn’t like at first.

 

69. Problems, when they arise, are rarely as painful as the experience of fearing them.

 

70. Nothing — ever — happens exactly like you pictured it.

 

71. North Americans are generally terrible at accepting compliments and offers of help.

 

72. There are not enough women in positions of power. The world has suffered from this deficit for a long time.

 

73. When you break promises to yourself, you feel terrible. When you make a habit of it, you begin to hate yourself.

 

74. A good nine out of ten bad things I’ve worried about never happened. A good nine out of ten bad things that did happen never occurred to me to worry about.

 

75. You can’t hide a bad mood from people who know you well, but you can always be polite.

 

76. Sometimes you have to remove certain people from your life, even if they’re family.

 

77. Anyone can be calmed in an instant by looking at the ocean or the stars.

 

78. There is no point finishing a book you aren’t enjoying. Life is too short for that. Swallow your pride and put it down for good, unfinished.

 

79. There is no correlation between the price of a brand of batteries and how long they last.

 

80. Breaking new ground only takes a small amount more effort than you’re used to giving.

 

81. Life is a solo trip, but you’ll have lots of visitors. Some of them are long-term, most aren’t.

 

82. One of the best things you can do for your kids is take them on road trips. I’m not a parent, but I was a kid once.

 

83. The fewer possessions you have, the more they do for you.

 

84. Einstein was wiser than he was intelligent, and he was a genius.

 

85. When you’re sick of your own life, that’s a good time to pick up a book.

 

86. Wishing things were different is a great way to torture yourself.

 

87. The ability to be happy is nothing other than the ability to come to terms with how things change.

 

88. Killing time is an atrocity. It’s priceless, and it never grows back.

The blind man who can ‘see’ – and how he shows that humans really DO have a sixth sense

For blind people to regain the power of sight usually requires a miracle  –  either of the old-fashioned, Biblical variety or of the modern, medical sort.

Yet an extraordinary case reported this week shows us that there may be another form of miracle that can help the blind to ‘see’  –  and it’s one that may force us to rethink our whole understanding of the way in which the human senses operate.

In the journal Current Biology it is reported that a man left totally blind by brain damage has astounded scientists by flawlessly navigating an obstacle course without any help or practice whatsoever.

This is perhaps the most persuasive example to date of what is termed ‘blindsight’  –  the extraordinary ability of some who have lost their vision to be able to ‘see’ without, apparently, any ability actually to receive images in the eye and brain at all.

Because blindsight is a nebulous concept, often linked to paranormal manifestations, it has often been dismissed by researchers as myth. Yet here was a case that defied any straightforward explanation.

Scientists at the University of Tilburg in The Netherlands found that the unnamed man, known only as ‘TN’, was able to negotiate his way past a series of boxes and chairs, despite the fact that a series of strokes had damaged the visual cortex of his brain to such an extent that tests have shown he is completely blind.

So how on earth does he do it? What does it tell us about the way we ‘see’ the world?

And is it conclusive proof, as many have claimed, that humans have a hidden ‘sixth sense’ that can detect aspects of the world around us in a way that defies any logical explanation?

The first thing to realise is that science loves to categorise things. We have ‘five senses’ in part because ‘five-and-a-bit senses’ is messy and ‘ unscientific’.

And yet it may be a far more accurate description of what is going on in the complex interface between the outside world and our brains.

It seems that in the case of TN, for example, although he has no conscious awareness of the visual world, his brain is, somehow, keeping tabs on his surroundings, by processing the electrical messages that are travelling through his eyes and optic nerves (which remain undamaged by his stroke) even though the normal ‘visual’ part of his brain is damaged beyond repair.

To use a scientific term, his mind is not creating any visual ‘qualia’  –  the name given to conscious experience of sensations, such as sight or sound.

Although he is not actually aware of the cause, scans have even revealed that certain parts of his brain, not normally associated with sight, ‘light up’ when he is shown pictures of other people pulling a variety of different facial expressions  –  such as fear, anger or joy.

This weirdness should perhaps not surprise us. Our senses form part of the most mysterious system in the known universe  –  the human brain.

Indeed, compared to the kilogram of grey jelly in your skull, even the mightiest stars and galaxies hold few mysteries.

Anyone who claims they know how the brain works, or exactly what is going on when our eyes view a splash of red, or our noses scent a whiff of coffee, or our tastebuds pick up on a tang of brine, is simply deluded or lying. Despite centuries of probing, such mysteries remain totally unsolved.

We do know, however, that there are a number of peculiar anomalies.

For example, we know that humans, compared to other animals, have extremely good vision  –  on a par with the birds and far better than most mammals. Sight is our primary sense.

Yet, rather mysteriously, it is another sense  –  smell  –  which in many of us has the ability to evoke the strongest emotional responses.

Shown a photograph of our old primary school, say, most of us will respond with a vague sense of recognition.

In contrast, even the merest hint of the smell of the school’s polished parquet floors, or of the heady tang of boiled cabbage from the school dinner kitchens, will be enough to bring all the childhood memories flooding back.

Equally mysteriously, our senses seem to operate on several levels. If you are sitting down when you read this article, think for a moment of the sensation coming from your bottom and lower back.

The moment you do, you will become suddenly aware of the pressure of the seat cushion below you, the contours of its shape and how comfortable (or uncomfortable) it is.

In psychological terms, you are now ‘attending’ to these sensory inputs.

Yet before you chose to swivel your ‘mind’s eye’ to the chair, you were probably completely unconscious of all these sensations, even though the relevant one of the your five senses  –  touch  –  was working all the while.

Then there is a well-known psychological phenomenon called the ‘cocktail party effect’.

This is the ability of the human brain to detect, immediately, pertinent and important information from an otherwise meaningless sensory melange.

If you are at a busy party, for instance, you will probably be aware only of the random babble and hum of voices. Yet should someone mention your name, even quietly and from across the room, the chances are that you will immediately pick up on it.

It is as though you have an unconscious monitor sitting inside your head  –  a ‘little man’, if you will  –  checking what is coming in from your eyes and ears and so forth, before deciding which is important-and letting your conscious mind know.

Of course, the idea of a little man inside your head is an absurd (but remarkably persistent) analogy  –  but it does serve to illustrate the fact that our brains operate on all sorts of levels of conscious awareness, and not always in ways that we recognise.

Think of the last time you drove to work, for instance, or did the school run. How conscious were you, actually, of the journey? How many of the twists and turns can you remember?

The chances are that the answer is ‘none at all’; you probably were able to operate, quite safely, a complex piece of machinery (a car) almost like you were an unthinking robot while you were thinking about something more interesting. Extraordinary.

The interaction between the ‘mind’ and the senses really is one of the most amazing aspects of the natural world.

And since we cannot be sure how it works, it does seem foolish to dismiss, out of hand, ‘sixth sense’ phenomena such as blindsight.

It is probably even the case that we should not rush to dismiss, completely out of hand, even stranger ‘paranormal’ mental powers, such as telepathy, even though hard scientific evidence is lacking for such things.

The only certainty is that the more we learn about the workings of the mind, the more fantastical its abilities are proving to be.

Russian camera can see human soul

Source: RT.com

A wonder device can see the soul of a dead man pass away… or at least that’s what the inventor claims.

A publication of the popular Russian tabloid Life.ru gives a dramatic account of the experiments of an inventor from St Petersburg, who has created a device able to see human aura.

Accompanied by pictures suspiciously reminiscent of a series of thermal images of a woman at different temperatures, the report claims they are made with a special “gas discharge camera” built by Konstantin Korotkov, a professor at the Research Institute of Physical Culture and State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics.The paper goes on to say that the device can register the circumstances of death, differentiating between a victim of a violent crime and a person who died quietly in bed. It also registers the changes in aura presumably made by a strong psychic working on somebody.Disregarding the glib comparison of the religious term “soul” with the new age “aura”, the claims – they can hardly even be expected to get support in peer-reviewed scientific papers in our opinion – prompted RT to take a little investigation into the wonder device.

Kirlian camera

The instrument, which was presented to us as something involved in the study of death, turned out to have been designed as a medical diagnosis tool. With about 15 years of development behind it, its inventor claims that it’s an affordable early-diagnosis tool, capable of identifying any disease, from an ulcer to a brain tumor, by scanning irregularities in an aura. Sort of a spiritual healer in metal and plastic, available to everyone for a small fee. No mystical stuff here – a patient can see his own aura on the computer screen, all thanks to the “gas discharge visualization” or GDV.
The spiffy name is actually modern application of a well-known phenomenon called Kirlian effect, named after Semyon and Valentina Kirlians, a Russian couple who greatly contributed to popularizing it back in 1960s. Kirlian experimented with photographing objects with high voltage applied to them.

The strong electric field causes faint corona discharges around the edges, which can even be seen with the naked eye. The visual appeal of the effect won the hearts of mystic-oriented people.

Starting with Kirlians themselves, many people claimed that the electrical phenomena was actually a way to visualize otherwise invisible auras of objects. Korotkov is one of these claimants. According to him, corona discharges around fingertips, which his GDV cameras cause, have information about one’s physical condition and this information can be used for diagnosis. The claim was never confirmed by clinical tests, but it didn’t prevent the device from becoming the cornerstone of a widespread business. With different models costing from $4,500 to $13,000, and official dealers all across Russia and abroad, the invention seems to generate enough cash for Korotkov to travel the world and promote his product.

Not for diagnosis

Meanwhile, critics openly call the GDV “quackery”. Back in 2002, when the device drew the attention of the Russian media, RTR TV channel (now called Rossiya) did an investigation of their own, producing a 20-minute-long report. They revealed that, in the testing of a GDV scanner done in the Military Medical Academy, one of the strong-points trumpeted by the producer was actually its ability to kill bacteria on hands, which it successfully did. It was never used for diagnosis of any kind.

Another selling point – the testing of the device on Russian sportsmen – showed that readings of the device may vary slightly with the state of mind of the subjects. As it does with variations in the environment, like a change of air temperature or humidity.

In an interview given to a newspaper two years ago Korotkov said his invention was like a knife: it could be used for good or for bad purposes. Indeed, the beautiful Kirlian effect can be used for dubious intentions, or for inspiring works of art like those of photographer Robert Buelteman here.

1 Absolutely “Weird” Trick Turns Your Mind Into A Natural Money Magnet

Source: The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles

“Since belief is all important, it behooves you to guard your thoughts; and as your beliefs will be shaped to a very great extent by the things you observe and think about, it is important that you should command your attention.

And here the will comes into use; for it is by your will that you determine upon what things your attention shall be fixed.

If you want to become rich, you must not make a study of poverty.

Things are not brought into being by thinking about their opposites. Health is never to be attained by studying disease and thinking about disease; righteousness is not to be promoted by studying sin and thinking about sin; and no one ever got rich by studying poverty and thinking about poverty.

Related: How To Release Your Undiscovered Millionaire Mind!

Medicine as a science of disease has increased disease; religion as a science of sin has promoted sin, and economics as a study of poverty will fill the world Do not talk about poverty; do not investigate it, or concern yourself with it.

Never mind what its causes are; you have nothing to do with them. What concerns you is the cure.”

“Do not spend your time in charitable work, or charity movements; all charity only tends to perpetuate the wretchedness it aims to eradicate.

I do not say that you should be hard hearted or unkind, and refuse to hear the cry of need; but you must not try to eradicate poverty in any of the conventional ways. Put poverty behind you, and put all that pertains to it behind you, and “make good.”

Giving-to-the-Poor Opportunities are multiplied when seized – Sun Tzu, Art of War

And you cannot hold the mental image which is to make you rich if you fill your mind with pictures of poverty.

Do not read books or papers which give circumstantial accounts of the wretchedness of the tenement dwellers, of the horrors of child labor, and so on. Do not read anything which fills your mind with gloomy images of want and suffering.

You cannot help the poor in the least by knowing about these things; and the wide-spread knowledge of them does not tend at all to do away with poverty.”

Related: The Truest, Easiest and Purest Way To Get Rich

“What tends to do away with poverty is not the getting of pictures of poverty into your mind, but getting pictures of wealth into the minds of the poor.

You are not deserting the poor in their misery when you refuse to allow your mind to be filled with pictures of that misery.

Poverty can be done away with, not by increasing the number of well to do people who think about poverty, but by increasing the number of poor people who purpose with faith to get rich.”

The poor do not need charity; they need inspiration.

Charity only sends them a loaf of bread to keep them alive in their wretchedness, or gives them an entertainment to make them forget for an hour or two; but inspiration will cause them to rise out of their misery.

If you want to help the poor, demonstrate to them that they can become rich; prove it by getting rich yourself.

People must be taught to become rich by creation, not by competition. Every man who becomes rich by competition throws down behind him the ladder by which he rises, and keeps others down; but every man who gets rich by creation opens a way for thousands to follow him, and inspires them to do so.

You are not showing hardness of heart or an unfeeling disposition when you refuse to pity poverty, see poverty, read about poverty, or think or talk about it, or to listen to those who do talk about it.

Use your will power to keep your mind OFF the subject of poverty, and to keep it fixed with faith and purpose ON the vision of what you want.”

An Awesome Way to Make Kids Less Self-Absorbed (PARENTS THIS IS GOOD!)

I’ve been inspired by recent news stories of children who are working to make a difference in the world, committed to projects much bigger than themselves. There’s Malala Yousufzai, the young advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan; Craig Kielburger, who advocates for the abolishment of child labor; and Ryan Hreljac, who raises money to build wells in developing countries. The list goes on and on.

But there’s a flip side to these stories. Research suggests that some young people in the United States are actually becoming more self-absorbed and less connected to others.

A recent study that examined the empathy levels of almost 14,000 university students between 1979 and 2009 found that students have become dramatically less empathic over the years, particularly since 2000.

In addition, narcissism, which correlates negatively with empathy, is on the rise amongst university-aged students. Narcissists, by definition, are extremely self-focused and tend to see other people in terms of their usefulness rather than true friendship—not exactly a recipe for empathy.

What’s more, a 2006 survey showed that 81 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds think getting rich is an important goal, and 64 percent think it’s the most important goal. Sadly, only 30 percent believe that helping others in need is important.

While these studies focused on university students and young adults, the findings suggest that somewhere in their earlier development, they weren’t cultivating the skills needed to connect with others.

So how can teachers help students avoid the joyless path of self-absorption and instead cultivate a life in which they feel part of something larger than themselves—one of the keys to a meaningful life?

There are, of course, many strong programs that have been designed to help students develop empathy and positive relationships.

But new research suggests another way: awe.

Very little is known about the experience of awe; however, several new studies, many conducted by the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner, have shown awe to be a potentially powerful positive emotion that might just help our students develop empathy.

Here’s how it works:

When we see a grand vista in nature such as Victoria Falls, or experience an inspiring work of art such as Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” or Michelangelo’s Pieta, or ponder the phenomenal inner strength of a great soul like Gandhi who non-violently led India to independence, we often feel two things: 1) a sense of vastness that gives us 2) a new perspective on the world and our place in it. This is awe.

Dacher’s lab has found that awe makes us feel very small and like we’re in the presence of something greater than ourselves. We also may lose awareness of our “self” and feel more connected to the world around us.

Imagine the potential of this life-changing emotion for students—and, in particular, for our hyper-self-focused teens! Since adolescence is a crucial period for identity-formation, some researchers have suggested that adolescence is a particularly important time to experience awe—it could help them see themselves as deeply connected to the world around them, not the center of it. Inducing the uplifting experience of awe could also be a positive way to keep narcissism in check.

While scientists haven’t yet examined if this temporary loss of self-focus directly impacts empathy levels, they do know that awe makes people feel less impatient and more inclined to volunteer their time to help others—strong evidence that it makes them feel more connected and committed to something bigger than themselves.

So can teachers actually create awe-inducing experiences for their students?

Absolutely! In an experiment to see if awe could be elicited, Dacher and his team had one group of university students look at a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and another group look down a long hallway. On a follow-up survey, the only difference between the groups was that members of the T-Rex group felt like they were part of a larger whole—a defining feature of awe.

It’s probably not too difficult to imagine something that might induce awe in teens, or kids of any age; I’ve named a few examples above. Stories of exceptional modern-day figures such as Nelson Mandela (consider his ability to forgive) or pictures of the universe such as the birth of a star may be engaging and effective—especially if you find the subject matter to be awe-inspiring. Many teachers already bring content like this into the classroom, and this research on awe validates that approach and suggests it should be tried with more frequency and focus.

Here are two important points to remember if you want to expose your students to awe-filled experiences:

1) Not all students will get it. Dacher has found that some people are more prone to awe than others—usually the ones who are comfortable changing how they see the world. So, if you’ve got some students who seem immovable, don’t fret. If nothing else, they’re still learning about “awesome” art, music, nature, and people.

2) Help students process what they’ve experienced. Awe requires what psychologist Jean Piaget called “accommodation”—the process of changing our mental models to incorporate something to which we’ve recently been exposed. Discussing and writing about experiences of awe will help students understand and process at a deeper level what they’ve just felt.

Awe is not a term heard very often in schools, but its potential is vast. Think of the enthusiasm and wonder and joy that awe-filled experiences could bring to our students—experiences that could not only help them out of the narcissistic funk of adolescence, but also put them on a path to a life lived in compassionate connection with others. Awesome!


This article is printed here with permission. It originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). Based at UC Berkeley, the GGSC studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.

Develop Your Brand By Telling Your Story

15 changes you should try to aim for in 2014

Resolutions? Fuck them.

It’s tough to hold on to them. Let’s aim for changes instead.

I am game. Are you?

Let 2014 be your blank slate. So what then, do you want to put on this slate? What do you want to make for yourself this year?

This is life man. It’s all about making good decisions and change for the better. Let’s let go of resolutions cause they’re annoying and easy to fail.

Let’s make a change now. Let it be so that at the end of 2014, you’ve developed new habits.

Here are 14 changes you should try to aim for in 2014:

1) Cut down on social media. Stop mindlessly surfing Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. You’d have a lot more time in your hands then and also become more aware of what’s going on around you.

2) Read more. Read more books. Blogs too, but make sure they add real value. Go to your library.

3) Appreciate being alone.

4) Stop being so pissed and upset over little things. Do you want some totally, uncontrollable event ruin your entire day? I don’t.

5) Stop procrastinating. Just get off your ass and do something. Do one thing first, then let it flow. It WILL flow.

6) Meditate.

7) Let go of toxic friendships which aren’t doing you any good any more. Seriously, dump the friends you don’t need.

8) Loving yourself with full compassion, because you don’t really need others to give you that.

9) Exercise more.

10) Appreciate the art of doing absolutely nothing.

11) Eliminate shyness. Don’t hold back on socializing.

12) Lower expectations.

13) Create.

14) Have fun in everything you do. Because most of us forget to.

WRITTEN BY Alden Tan HE HAS A GREAT BLOG CHECK IT OUT  http://alden-tan.com/about-me/

Want to jump start your changes this year? Check my books out. I’m pretty sure they can help you out.

Understanding How to Frame Your Creative Expertise GOOD

Again and again I see talented people with ideas they want to share – books they want to write, talks they want to give, businesses they want to launch – holding back because they think they “don’t know enough” about their topic.

“After all,” they reason, “there are real experts on this out there – and I’m not one of them.” They’re thinking about the people with advanced degrees and decades of deep experience working in the field.

In fact, that’s just one type of expert — “the specialist.” There are three other kinds of experts that make world-changing contributions, without specialist training.

You are likely one of these four types of expert, when it comes to the work you most want to do. As you read, identify which type (or types) of expertise you could bring to the projects you are currently pursuing as well as those that you want to pursue:

1. The Survivor

You’ve been through something, learned a heck of a lot along the way, and now you are on fire to share what you’ve learned. Maybe, like best-selling author Kris Carr, you lived through cancer and want to write about your path to health. Maybe, like Jonathan Fields, you’ve started a few businesses and want to share insights about entrepreneurship.

“Survivors” often worry that their personal experience is not enough to earn them credibility or allow them to make a meaningful contribution, but consider these powerful strengths of this source of authority: You have an ability to move and connect with your audience that most formal experts on your topic don’t have. You can provide inspiration and role-modeling– not just information. You have insider insights that will help you create a more compelling offering for your audience.

But, be careful, here’s where you could get in your own way: it’s easy to over-generalize from your experience to that of others. If “survivor” is your source of expertise, tell your story as powerfully as you can, and pass on your lessons learned as just that – without making claims on having the truth or the solutions for everyone. People will listen up simply because you are honestly sharing what did and didn’t work for you.

You have an ability to move and connect with your audience that most formal experts on your topic don’t have.

2. The Cross Trainer

When an athlete cross-trains,they “train in a sport other than the one that they compete in, with a goal of improving overall performance.” In our context, the “cross trainer” is the physicist who takes a look at a problem in medicine, the family therapist who writes about fixing dysfunctional teams at work. Cross trainers have deep expertise in field “x,” and bring ways of thinking from field “x” to bear as they look at field “y.” Business leaders Whitney Johnson and Clay Christensen each apply theories on business development to personal development. Tom Ford applied his expertise in fashion design to cinematography when he created the stunning film, A Single Man.

Cross trainers make interdisciplinary connections and drive innovation. They see the blind spots of the conventional thinking in the field they’ve turned their attention to.

However, if you are a cross trainer, here’s where to watch out: you may miss seeing how insights from your field of expertise are not applicable to your new topic. For example, many MBAs have hindered nonprofits by assuming that all the planning tools and metrics used in a business should be applied to nonprofits to make them more efficient.

For cross-trainers, the charge is to be bold in asking provocative questions and making interdisciplinary leaps, but humble about the applicability of anything across fields. Focus on starting new conversations and prototyping cross-training-based solutions without assumptionsabout what will in fact apply across fields.

3. The Called

Then there are those people that dive into a project out of a sense of calling. They feel an inner, mysterious sense of “this work is mine to do.” Jessica Jackley felt outraged that conventional charity didn’t empower the poor to help themselves, and out of a persistent frustration with that status quo, and a sense of calling, began developing Kiva.org, now the world’s largest microfinance platform.

The called bring many gifts to their work.  They have sustainable passion. They have vision and – perhaps most important – ardent dissatisfaction with the status quo where insiders may have become resigned.

The challenge for the called is to trust their sense of calling. That is particularly difficult when they can’t find a logical reason why they’re attracted to a project, or qualified for it. The called generally feel that they don’t have what they need – and they aren’t who they need to be – to complete their calling.

Their charge is to start anyway in whatever partial way they can. They also need to gather mentors to fill in knowledge gaps –those who support (and aren’t threatened by) an outsider bringing new ideas and vision.

The challenge for the called is to trust their sense of calling.

4. The Specialist

In our culture, this type of authority is most validated and embraced. The specialist has formal training (degrees, certifications) or lots of work experience in the area of their project. They might also achieve their specialist knowledge by conducting extensive research on their topic.

Brene Brown, a professor of Social Work spent years conducting research on shame and vulnerability and now speaks and writes widely on these topics. Dr. Harriet Lerner honed her expertise with hundreds of clients in her private psychology practice before writing her best-selling books on our emotional lives.

The pluses of this kind of expertise are many: specialists have a sense of the standard industry knowledge on their topic. They have the benefit of industry networks. Because they’ve seen so many examples over the years, they can tell apart the trends and the outliers.

The downside? Specialists often get stuck in inside-the-box thinking. They can also get distracted with the politics of their field or in debates about minutiae. To avoid that, specialists must talk regularly with colleagues from related but different disciplines, and seek out rebels and dissidents at the margin of their fields, listening to their perspectives with an open mind.

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Immeasurable contributions are lost because many of us think that #4 – formal training/work experience – is the only kind of legitimate authority. We usually don’t hold that belief when it applies to other people – we are thrilled to read that nonfiction book based on someone’s personal journey or to listen to the interesting TED talk by a cross trainer. But for ourselves? We think we don’t know enough.

To be sure, specialists are extremely important. We benefit enormously from living in an age when there is so much information available, when formal education is becoming more and more accessible, and when there are people with deep, specialized knowledge. All of that is invaluable – but it is not the only kind of value.

Identify which source – or sources – of expertise you bring to your current project. Leverage its strengths. Most of all, trust that it is enough – not because it enables you to know everything, but because it enables you to make the contribution you are uniquely qualified to make.

How about you?

How have you successfully framed your expertise?

Tara Sophia Mohr

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Tara Sophia Mohr is an expert on conscious leadership and the creator of the Playing Big leadership program for women.  You can download her 10 Rules for Brilliant Women Workbook here.