Uncovering your greatest asset, positive outliers, and avoiding the trivial

Building Blocks: Actionable insights to build an Intentional Life

Hey everybody,

Here’s another batch of actionable insights to start your week off right, so you can be more intentional with how you live, work, and create.

Let’s get started.

Insight 1: Authenticity is your greatest asset

Throughout college, internship, and early jobs, people told me to be more professional.

• “Don’t cuss.”
• “Dress formally.”
• “You’re too casual.”
• “Cover your tattoos.”

A few months ago, I was a guest on a podcast.

• I cussed.
• I wore a t-shirt.
• I was super casual.
• I showed my tattoos.

I did everything people told me not to do to succeed as a psychologist…

An editor for Psychology Today saw the episode and liked what I had to say, and reached out…

Ever since my intro psych class in 2007, Psychology Today was always the first magazine I’d pick up at my local bookstore.

Every issue was enthralling and the writers made psychology easy to understand.

Fast forward 15 years and I’m now a writer for Psychology Today.

My new section is called Human Flourishing 101: How to get the most out of life and work.

It’s surreal.

Here’s my advice if you’re trying to figure out your life and make an impact:

Embrace your authenticity.

It’s your greatest asset.

And ignore the fuck out of anyone who tells you to conform or embrace mediocrity.

Insight 2: Study the outliers

Do you strive to be average?

If so, I’ve got great news for you—most research focuses on average people doing average things.

But, according to Shawn Achor, this causes a problem:

“If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”

Think about it. When was the last time you read a headline for a research study about “positive outliers?” People who excel, who achieve peak performance, who flourish

This is the issue with clinical psychology (and most of the medical field). It defines health as the absence of disease.

But just because you’re not sick, doesn’t mean you’re healthy, let alone thriving.

In this TED Talk, Shawn Achor sets out to help us understand positive outliers—both why they’re important to study, and how we can become one.

Bonus point: He’s also hilarious.

Insight 3: Don’t get bogged down in the trivial

Have you ever been in a work meeting where everyone spends the entire time talking about a trivial issue, then leaves with a sense of accomplishment…but nothing actually happened?

At my last job, we spent three months-worth of staff meetings talking about the exact same thing. It was so insignificant, I don’t even remember what it was. But boy, did we run out that clock so we didn’t have to go back and do actual work.

That’s the thing about salaries—you don’t get paid to be effective, you get paid to be busy.

And nothing keeps us busy like bike-shedding.

According to this Farnam Street article:

“Bike-shedding happens because the simpler a topic is, the more people will have an opinion on it and thus more to say about it…even if we don’t have anything of genuine value to add, we feel compelled to say something, lest we look stupid…Everyone wants to show that they know about the topic at hand and have something to contribute.”

If you want to learn more about bike-shedding and how to overcome it, check out the article.

Question for the Week

When was the last time you took a “gratitude inventory?”

This week is a great opportunity to practice the habit of writing down 3 things you’re grateful for (or positive things that happened) each day.

Share Your Insights

Know someone who’d love this content? Share it with them!

My goal is to help people be more intentional with how they live, work, and create.

So if you enjoy Building Blocks, I’ll be forever grateful if you help me spread these insights by sharing this issue with one other person who would find it valuable.

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Let me know what you think and what you’d like to see in future issues. I’m always working to making Building Blocks more valuable for you.

Until next time—memento mori,

Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Executive Coach


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