In September 1995, comedian Pat Cooper made an infamous appearance on Howard Stern’s radio show. It was another situation where Stern (purposely or not) goaded a celebrity into an argument, and the result was pure entertainment.
I clearly remember the moment during their on-air fight when Howard challenged Cooper by asking “What are you a genius of?” To which Cooper responded “I am a genius of myself.”
There’s debate on what Cooper meant by that phrase. Some think he had just spouted nonsense. Others thought he was being smug.
But my favorite theory is that Cooper believes in knowing himself, and his abilities, very well.
Wisdom from a Howard Stern broadcast? Just stick with me here.
Cooper made me think of the saying “Know Thyself.” You may have seen this phrase (also known as an aphorism) used by Greek philosopher Plato (who is perhaps slightly more famous than Pat Cooper). Plato’s gist was this: you have to understand yourself before you can understand anyone else. It’s a beautiful paradox that self-knowledge ultimately leads to other-knowledge.
This is why we, as men, have to fight against the bad habit of ignoring our mental and emotional depth. We have to commit to unlearning the stereotype of the “never-weak” male, where sensitivity and exploration of our feelings is perceived as weakness. Because avoiding internal self-improvement is the root of much of the conflict we experience in our daily lives.
When we don’t understand ourselves, how can we hope to understand others?
Guys, it’s simple: we need to stop beating ourselves up. For our own sake, and the sake of those around us.
But don’t just take my word for it. You can read up on the sociological and psychological research regarding the dangers of being a stranger to yourself.
So what can you do to get to know yourself better? Start with the conscious decision to command the direction of your life.
Captaining Your Fate
If you’ve seen the movie “Invictus,” you know the quote from the William Ernest Henley poem of the same name: “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
We all want to be the master of our own fate, right? The problem is, too many of us wait for external circumstances to give us the signal that we can take charge of ourselves. We tell ourselves we’ll work to be better personally when we get the right job, the right romantic partner, the right connections.
Don’t wait for outside permission to work on yourself, because the “right time” will never come.
We often become frustrated when the world around us seems to thwart our plans. But if we focus on what we can control – our inner world – we can learn to react calmly and effectively to external forces we can’t control (especially other people).
So, inner-mastery should be a priority in our lives. That’s the foundation for outer-mastery. But what can we master within ourselves?
Primarily, it’s important to choose how you will react to any circumstance life brings your way.
We often cannot change the situations we find ourselves in, but we can change our reactions to those situations. It takes mindfulness and practice, but the change can be made.
The better you know your own human condition, the more tolerance you’ll have for the seemingly random events of circumstance as well as the actions of others. You’ll also develop the emotional resilience to rebound when things don’t go your way.
Remember that everyone on this planet is on a path of struggle and growth, just like you. Whether you realize it or not, your actions can seem just as random and confusion to other people. Very often, the misunderstandings we encounter in life are the result of miscommunication and the bad habit of assuming too much. This is why it’s important to simply talk to other people, and to stop believing you know what other people are thinking.
So here’s my challenge to you: make the decision today to be the genius of yourself!
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About the Author
Anthony Simeone is a writer, speaker, personal development activist, and social change warrior with over two decades of experience studying the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of his work is the Live the Hero concept, which he offers as a life path for use in overcoming life’s daily obstacles. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to modern neuroscience.
You can contact Anthony and learn more about his work at livethehero.com.