August 30, 2023




The Approval Paradox, Live Intentionally & More

At a glance

Good Morning. Welcome to all the new readers of Faster Than Normal who have joined us since last week!

Here’s what we’ll cover today:

Mental Model: The Approval Paradox.

Insight: Live Intentionally.

Quote: True Resilience.

Question: Fearless Pursuits.

Visual: Keep Going.


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| Mental Model

The Approval Paradox

Consider a magnet. When you try to force the same poles together, they repel each other, no matter how much force you apply. This is the Approval Paradox: the more you crave someone's approval, the harder it becomes to gain it.

The Approval Paradox is the notion that an intense desire for acceptance or approval can often lead to its exact opposite. Seeking approval can reveal signs of insecurity and neediness, traits generally considered unattractive, thereby making the desired approval more elusive.

Imagine you've started a new job. You're eager to make a good impression and find yourself constantly seeking your manager's approval. You ask for feedback on every task, overly worry about their opinion, and compare yourself to your coworkers. This approach, rather than winning you the approval you seek, may make you come across as insecure and needy.

Ancient philosopher Lao Tzu provides wisdom on this matter: "When you're content to simply be yourself and not compare or compete, everyone will begin to respect you." His words encapsulate the solution to the Approval Paradox. By being authentic, secure in your own abilities, and not seeking validation, you naturally attract respect and approval.

Just like the magnet, forceful attempts for approval can push people away. Instead, focus on being your genuine self, growing in your own unique way, and the right people will be drawn to your confidence and authenticity. In other words, your magnet will naturally attract the right people when you stop trying to force it.

Here’s how you can think about the Approval Paradox in various areas of your life:

1. Career: Focus on building competence, not just on earning validation. Your job is a chance to grow your skills and contribute, not just a platform for gaining approval. Aim for excellence in your tasks instead of constantly seeking positive feedback. Accept constructive criticism with grace and use it to improve. Also, avoid workplace politics that often stem from a need for approval.

2. Health: Choose health goals that align with your values and needs, not societal expectations or trends. If you love swimming but loathe going to the gym, choose swimming as your way to stay fit. Don't force yourself to follow a trend just because it's popular or because others may think highly of you for doing so. Remember, your health choices should serve you first and foremost.

3. Finances: Don't let your financial choices be dictated by the desire to keep up with others or impress them. This might mean driving a modest car even when everyone else in your neighborhood drives a luxury one, or living in a comfortable but not extravagant home. Prioritize financial security and your long-term goals over short-term validation.

4. Relationships: Build genuine, authentic connections based on who you are, not who you think others want you to be. Honesty and authenticity attract the right people and deepen existing relationships. If you feel like you're constantly trying to earn someone's approval, it may be a sign that the relationship isn't healthy or serving you well.

| Insight

Intentional living leads to greater fulfillment.

Challenge: Reflect on your daily habits and routines, and identify one area where you can make a conscious effort to live more intentionally.

Example: Begin each day by setting specific intentions or goals, such as practicing mindfulness or spending quality time with loved ones.

| Quote

Sharon Salzberg, a meditation teacher and author, on the transformative power of loving-kindness:

"True resilience is not about armoring ourselves against difficulty, but opening our hearts to embrace our shared humanity."

| Question

What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?

A Poem I Enjoyed

"Keep Going" by Author Unknown

Don't give up though the pace seems slow—

You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out—

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, all.

Until next time,


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