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Relationships make the world go round

July 20, 2012

Sal\t and pepperBy: Pavel Konoplenko

Have you ever sprinkled some pepper or salt on your tongue? Or how about eat a big tablespoon of Caesar dressing? I’m willing to bet few people have done that because pepper, salt, and Caesar dressing taste terrible. Yet, almost all of us have added salt and pepper to the meat we’re cooking, and have added some Caesar dressing to a salad we’re preparing.

Clearly there is no problem with pepper, salt, and Caesar dressing; they just serve to illustrate an important point. Many of the things that we encounter in our lives can only be appreciated and enjoyed when connected to or complemented by something else. Clearly, the examples aren’t only limited to food and cooking. The retina display on my iPhone is a technological marvel, but if the battery is dead, there goes the eye candy. I love some Nas on my iPod, but if I forgot my headphones, then the iPod is useless. My bed on a late Sunday morning is comfortable and cozy, but if my mischievous little sister takes my blanket, then I’m cold. Batteries, headphones, and blankets – by themselves – are actually pretty useless too. However, given the right relationship with other things, they create wonderful combinations that add great value to our lives. The context, relationships, and interactions between things are vital. It’s nice to have a roof over your head, but without walls, you just have double the floors.I

In fact almost all things in our lives have their significance and value wholly based on their relationships to other things. Each part in the relationship would lose its meaning and purpose if it wasn’t combined or interacting with the other. A car is useless without wheels; conversely, wheels are just as useless without the rest of the car. Hinges are garbage without a door and what’s a door without some hinges?

Relationships are essential in our society. In fact, they go as far as to help define the very nature and meaning of our society. I’m not referring only to relationships between people and groups, but between things and ideas as well. The knowledge contained within a literary classic written in Spanish is useless to you if you do not possess the understanding of the language. The interactions of things and ideas within our world ultimately create their very essence.

This somewhat obvious but often overlooked insight into our world isn’t simply a detailed examination. It becomes a revelation in the understanding of how to fulfill your own inner potential. Our definition of value and success is closely stipulated by the interactions and relationships that exist around us. Understanding their significance and your place within them gives you the opportunity to create a a valuable purpose for everything and everyone around you.

The value of the relationship is derived from the value exchanged within it. A relationship between toothpaste and a toothbrush is a lot more valuable than one between toothpaste and a frying pan. The relationship exists as an interaction between two distinct parts. The distinction of the parts is vital because two identical parts cannot have a valuable exchange or function. Two identical parts offer nothing new to the relationship thus value cannot be created. If I need a piece of paper to write down my idea, more pens is not a valuable solution.

For a person to create a valuable relationship with other people, things, and ideas, he or she must become distinct too. A mindset that embraces novelty will spur the individual to adopt new methods and original ideas that ultimately create new and valuable relationships in the world. Steve Jobs embraced novelty and created the iPod, which altered our relationship with music forever. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and W.E.B. Du Bois challenged us to redefine our basic relationships with other human beings and extend them the same ideas of equality and freedom.

Novelty is what drives the growth and success of relationships that will guide you on the path to personal fulfillment. Differences must be present for a relationship to exist, let alone function. Be novel, be distinct, be different and become valuable to the relationships between ideas, things, and people. Only then can you further yourself and begin making an impact on the world. After all, without relationships, your actions will have no meaning to nothing and no one.

Suits are nice but ties are ridiculous

July 2, 2012

By: Pavel Konoplenko

Picture a stylish, fashionable man dressed to impress.

What’s he wearing?

A suit, nice belt, shiny shoes – and a tie.

Why a tie? Ties are pointless – absurd really. If your argument is that ties help cover the buttons then you’re missing the point. (And why cover the buttons? Buttons are nice.)

Ties just dangle from your neck, and dangling isn’t classy. Just look how sad the POTUS is:

Dangling in the wind

We have to call a tie for what it is: a superficial status symbol ingrained by popular culture over many decades.

Now so we’re clear, I don’t hate ties. I use the popular example of ties to demonstrate how mired our beliefs, ideas, and perceptions of society are in arbitrary symbols and connections. We associate jewelry and ties with success, sandals and socks with bad fashion, and ice cream with happiness (ok that’s just me). By themselves, these arbitrarily defined symbols are not a problem. 

The problem starts occurring when we fail to realize that these connections are meaningless and that they’re based on a myriad of separate societal and cultural phenomena. For example, society has done a good job at conditioning itself to associate money with happiness. This monetary connection to happiness leaves little room for more important pursuits like passion and fulfillment. 

To maintain our focus on the things that are truly important to us, we must learn to stop perceiving our role and value using societal standards which are oftentimes skewed away from personal fulfillment and growth. To achieve this, we must learn to view the world using our own vision. Not only will it help you grow, it will allow you to transcend the everyday complacency of society.

When we worry about ties and how it reflects our place in society, we begin to lose a sense of personal value and identity. We begin to cloud our own personal view – a view imbued with the humanity of self that would allow us to connect with the world around us and make it interesting again. Ideally, we are driven to create a mark on our world and fill it with novelty. However, before we create novelty within our world, we must create novelty within ourselves. 

Steve Jobs said think different, but  let’s take it further and be different and be novel. You have to embrace your own novelty before the world can take notice of your contributions. 

Why novelty?

When you embrace your novelty, you’ll finally be able to see the world as it appears and appeals to you. Everything should be ultimately centered on you, because you are in control. Embrace your novelty, embrace your you-ness, and embrace your person-ness. Everything in society is ultimately people-centric. From technology to institutions, major functions of our society ultimately derive their power from people. Why should you willingly give that up?

To understand where you are and where you want to be in life, you must understand the complex dynamic between people that make up society. A lack of a clear understanding can undermine you. Without a vision, you’re just chasing empty symbols and dead connections. To see the world for what it is and navigate it, you must see it a novel way. First, you must see yourself in a novel way.

(Famous example: Neo saw the world in a novel way — just don’t try to dodge bullets)

I’m not selling you the idea that you are a unique snowflake in a winter wonderland of society. No. I’m selling you the idea that you have the ability to create your own connections between yourself, ideas, and other people. From there, you become more free to choose your own path following self-defined success. Once you understand your path and your place on it, you’ll be able to position yourself in the most favorable situations. You’ll be able to more clearly understand your strengths and weaknesses, and spot opportunities and threats on your self-determined path.

This blog is dedicated to understanding and rediscovering your power by invoking passion, novelty, and curiosity in our world and in ourselves. Writing is a great form of self-discovery, and I wish that this blog will inspire you as much as it inspires me.


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