As a trained Life & Business Coach with degrees in Communication, Social Work, and Depth Psychology in addition to 5+ decades of life behind me, I have come to believe that the building blocks to a fulfilling life are our Values. Through this blog, The Entrepreneur’s Alphabet, (and forthcoming book on the topic), I use the alphabet to prompt reflection on different values and how we prioritize and integrate them into our lives and work. Today we focus on the power of VARIETY (Values A -U can be found at: https://workspacemanchester.com/blog/).
From the Latin variare, to “change, alter, or make different”, variety can be seen as the inclusion of diversity, multiplicity, and unpredictability as well as the absence of monotony or sameness. The 18th century English poet William Cowper (1731-1800) is credited with coining the phrase, “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” Italian scholar, poet, and humanist Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) stated that “Sameness is the mother of disgust, variety is the cure.” American author, coach, speaker, and philanthropist Tony Robbins (b. 1960) lists variety as one of our 6 core needs. How do you think about variety…or do you at all?
Is the variety you experience in life forced on you by what is happening to you, or do you choose to proactively spice things ups? And if so, is variety a central ingredient in your recipe for life or is it sprinkled on top as an add-on, like shaking salt and pepper into our soup when something is missing?
We often seek variety outside of ourselves such as through recreational activities, forms of entertainment, and types of food. Assortment in these areas is important as they stimulate the senses, make life interesting, and expose us to new experiences. But, what about the variety that exists within? What about the different personalities and perspectives that exist in all of us that can come out to play at different times in different contexts?
I have a client who is a sophisticated businesswoman, known as a visionary leader. She has a great deal of responsibility and the skills to meet those responsibilities. She is also inherently flighty. When this was brought to her attention, she was initially offended and defensive. However, after talking about aspects of her life that she most enjoyed and her most fulfilling experiences, she realized that her sense of whimsy was not a deficit but a bonus. It gives flavor to the other aspects of her life that might otherwise be bland. Now that she embraces her capriciousness, she is able to integrate it in ways that elevate her work and inspire her team.
As human beings we all have a variety of moods and modes….some that seem inconsistent with others. If not hospitably received in our youth or respected in our professional environments, some parts of us become suppressed and prevent us from experiencing the full variety of who we are. In Song of Myself, American Poet Walt Whitman (1818-1892) asks and answers, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” It is normal to experience contradictory values. We value rational thought and emotional feelings, we crave a sense of belonging while desiring independence, we want both adventure and stability, and we simultaneously want Thin Mints and a thin waist. Founder of Analytical Psychiatry Carl Jung (1875-1961) stated that our life’s work is to balance the tensions that exist within ourselves. Our challenge is to find a way to embrace and integrate the variety of aspects that make us who we are.
What aspects of yourself would you like to experience more often? What impact might it have if you do? What impact will it have if you don’t?
Wishing you a live of variety and values,