John Dunne was the first to write; No man is an island. There has never been a truer observation of the human condition. No one forms beliefs, ideas, emotions, opinions in isolation. The quest for self-improvement is no different. We can only find our inner self through others.
You only need to look to other great thinkers, visionaries and philosophers to see the truth about associating with like-minded people. Great men and women, including Aristotle, Manet, Shakespeare, Yeats, Virginia Wolf and Einstein, shaped their ideas and vision by expressing their ideas and hopes to others around them. Aristotle to sort out Socrates; Edouard Manet came from a bourgeois Parisian family, but he had the courage to leave his comfortable assured future and seek out fellow artists on the Left Bank; Shakespeare left his wife and family in his native countryside and traveled to London to seek his true destiny; Yeats founded the famous Irish theater Abbey Theater and gathered around him some of the greatest writers of the 20th century; Virginia Woolf the great feminist, essayist and novelist was part of the famous Bloomsbury group; Einstein did not formulate his idea of relativity while working in a patent office or at a university, his theory was born in his after-work meetings with other ‘dreamers’ in Zurich cafes.
Ideas and dreams die without being nourished by discourse with your pillars. The feedback you get from other like-minded people serves as a yardstick for your ideas and dreams. Sometimes your ideas may not always measure up, but by listening to what those around you are saying, you can begin to reframe them into something stronger. Only crazy people believe that their ideas are worth anything when everyone else around them says otherwise.
This brings us to the next point; you have to associate with people of the same vision. It’s not good to bounce your ideas off people who don’t sympathize with you. You have to look for those who will nurture your inner self. This can sometimes require enormous courage. You may have to let go of those from your past. You may think you’ve found people who can help you only to find out that’s not the case. But what if you can’t find those people? Let them find you. Advertise yourself. Let others know your inner self; don’t hold back. Use all means to do so; write a blog online, form a self-help group, and advertise meetings in the local paper; post notices in your local library. This takes courage, but what is the alternative? Remain unfulfilled?
Another thing to ensure is that you both give and take in these associations. Many people book a self-development seminar on their own and then sit back and listen to someone else talk about improving their own life. This is fine. But remember, these are just cheers; sitting and listening is the first step, but talking and expressing your own ideas is the next and most important step. It’s only when you’ve talked and received feedback that you can really start acting on your thoughts.
No one can expect development if he stays alone. Human beings need the company of those around them in order to fully develop. Our ideas, dreams and aspirations are born from within ourselves and therefore also require the company of others. Take courage and take them out. Of course, there is always the possibility of failure if you do, but one thing is certain; keeping them away will inevitably lead to failure. Bring your true, inner self into the public arena; your real self will stand the test and will almost certainly flourish when you team up with others of the same vision as you.