Free-will and growth mindset.

Have you ever received critique that you were happy and grateful to hear? What was unique about that criticism? It is likely that the main ingredient of a successful critique, is a healthy relationship between the two parties. But there is another crucial factor – critique that is solicited, is much more likely to be well received.

Thinking that we were doing well, we aren’t too happy to hear otherwise. Upon embarking on acquiring a new skill however, we happily and readily admitthat we don’t know. We want to expand our capabilities, and so we are happy and grateful for helpful critique.

If a person develops one skill set, and never seeks to grow, they will not see their lack in other areas as true deficiencies. They say: “true I can’t play guitar, but that’s because I never tried.” A growth-oriented person however, will always look ahead to new horizons. They are excited by the thought that there is a new skill or level to master. Rather than flee from feelings of inadequacy, they embrace them.

Maharal (the great sixteenth century sage), explains that the very definition of a human being is his potential. In this perspective, self-actualization is a process. Each level of growth acts as a springboard for yet another level, and so on. True perfection lies not in the greatness attained, but in the journey itself.

The work of self-actualization isn’t simply about bringing out and developing latent potential; it is a creative process. Unique amongst all creations, from angles to animals, man alone has free-will. His choices can be free, predicated on no prior cause. This free-willed choice is a raw creative power, prior to ‘the choice’, it doesn’t yet exist in any shape or form.

“If you believe man can destroy, you’d better believe he can build.” (the Chasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Breslov).” If you want to see the incredible power of man, just look at the destruction and suffering he’s created. So much of the pain in this world is man-made.

Creativity used to advance self-centered interests isn’t truly creative. Sinceit’s predicated on selfish biases and wants, it’s not free, and therefore it isn’t creative. There is an incredible paradox at play here. When man follows his natural biases, he or she expresses only the selfish person they are at this moment. This form of creativity can’t possibly bring about unity, as it’s only an expression of one individual.

However, when one lets go of their selfish desires, they can tap into the Divine voice of creativity that is deep within their souls. This wellspring of creativity, while being the truest expression of self, is also universal and unifying.

We often see the world as a place of limited resources. If Jamie has the most successful restaurant in town, then by definition Joe’s restaurant is second fiddle. But this is only so, when we act and think as slaves to our circumstances. As humans we are free, andto be free means to be creative. We are not limited by the present: to the contrary, the present is just a stepping stone to a reality that has yet to be created. Only we, with a will that is truly free, can create the future.

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