Working hard to hone and develop inner character rewards one with a deep appreciation of life’s beauty.
But character strength must translate into practical living.
It’s all well and good to spend time honing one’s ability to think, to create and to be a person of sound morals and ethics, knowledge and courage.
But such an inner fortress must bear fruits in the real world. And so the ideal of self-development aims at a purpose, a goal, a translation of that inner beauty into a practical walk and a living light in this messed up old world.
How do we achieve our dreams? How do we live a practical life that reflects those inner qualities we work hard to cultivate and nurture? How do we contribute to the lives of others?
In a world that is terribly corrupt, where so many people seem bent on evil, where war, mass hunger and disaster stalk billions of ordinary helpless people, how do we make a transforming difference?
We have to first of all believe that one person could make a significant difference.
Throughout history, we see one person shaping the times. History is a biography of outstanding individuals. In this new century, this age of meritocracy, the individual stands powerfully able to make a difference in the world.
All that’s stopping any person from stepping out with a big dream to transform his or her community is this self-belief. “I can, and should, make a good difference”, must be our constant mantra.
In this country, where so much has fallen apart, we have the greatest gift in this ability of the individual to step up and be strong and make a difference for good.
Many people do harbour thoughts and wish to contribute good to their fellow human beings. It seems ingrained in our DNA that we desire to do good.
The world seems such a hard place to get things done. How do we translate our good intentions into practical results?
After building a lifestyle of reading and writing, after being dedicated to comprehending the world and living with wisdom, and being able to express oneself well or compose great thoughts to our society, then what?
How do we go about doing good?
Self-development must develop us to achieve something. It’s not an existentialist experience. We do not self-develop just for the sake of it.
We educate ourselves, read literature, and embark on these deeper journeys because we desire to live for a greater purpose than just existing.
Edward de Bono may have answered the question of how to live with sound practical application in this world, with the simplest of solution: design thinking.
To design newspaper pages, for example, graphic designers take the basic shapes of rectangles, triangles, squares and circles, and position these in inspiring new ways.
Within these shapes, the designer positions the day’s pictures, texts, headlines, blurbs and subheads and colors – along with advertisements and graphics – in a way that attracts readers.
The world has embraced design thinking with a passion. In fact, de Bono’s work plays a key role in public education in America and Europe.
Corporations know the value of designing to attract customers.
Design simply converts blankness, emptiness into aesthetic, pleasing, eye-catching experiences.
Space is designed into comfortable homes, or inspiring offices, or great outdoor recreation parks and gardens. Design converts nothingness into experiences of emotional connectedness.
Design plays a crucial role in our enjoyment of life, and even our security and sense of belonging.
Design is an intangible concept that translates into practical application.
For example, in designing a project, one moves from the initial idea to the actual results. In between those two, the intangible idea and the tangible results, design is the road map.
In this country, so many people think with innovative flair. As a people we are genius at coming up with original solutions to difficult problems.
This includes how we build and design houses, how we maintain cars, especially in the old days when spare parts were not easily available in stores.
This innate national ability to find new ways of solving problems means that we have the ability to design solutions to our problems.
We must move to the point where we see this as an individual responsibility, rather than fold our hands and wait on government to “fix things”. Our experience with this is that things fall part even more, and we the individuals suffer.
We have to come to the place where each of us takes on the development of this country. We have to realize the power each individual possesses to build a life of contribution to this society.
Were we to conduct a national poll, we would find that everyone has some idea of how we could achieve greatness as a nation. We have the ideas.
We need to start designing those ideas into projects, and design those projects to achieve results that benefit our communities.
If we have only a few people in each village designing a project each for their community, we would start to see real transformation in this country.
Of course, we live with the leaders failing to design a society that would inspire us. Even the space around Parliament, where the leaders visit so often, looks so drab and old and nasty and mismanaged.
Each individual must work that much harder at self-motivation.
But it’s possible to climb out of the pit of a poverty-stricken society. To embark on a lifestyle of achieving real results, embrace design thinking.
Think how to take whatever is there, whatever resource is available, and put these together in new ways that solve crushing problems. One by one, brick by brick, small project by small project, we could make a difference.
To achieve something practical today, look around, think about what is available, contemplate that problem that cries out for a solution, and design a solution.
That’s the gift that each person possesses, here and now: to convert our inner development, our ability to read, write and think, into practical solutions that make a good difference.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way” de Bono said. For us to turn this country around, we have to “look at things in a different way”.
That’s design thinking at work, as a lifestyle.