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A highly successful senior businessman lives in our neighbourhood.

His name is well-known in the financial services circles in Cyprus. Let’s call him George Ioannou.

Mr. Ioannou lives a few houses away from us.

His grandchildren attend the same school with our kids, just a walk away from our home.

I’ve been hearing about this gentleman for decades now. I had never met him before nor had I ever seen a photo of him. Despite this fact, my mind subconsciously painted a low resolution image of him that I kept; an image that used to surface in the theatre of my imagination whenever his name came up: a tall, well-built man dressed in business attire (suit) with an intimidating look.

A few days ago, it just happened that Mr. Ioannou went to pick up his grandchildren from school; presumably his son or daughter-in-law, who usually perform this task, were unavailable. Thus I had the opportunity to see him in flesh for the first time after all these decades: he is a fairly short, gentle and approachable man in his mid-seventies, dressed casually and conducting himself in a very gracious and friendly manner. The actuality I encountered stood in stark contrast to the image my mind painted.

The lesson?

Do not trust your mind.

Your mind is a prediction machine that automaticity fills in blanks and paints scenarios about the future based on memories of the past.

The mind hates a ‘blank sheet of paper’ – it will always paint an image, no matter how flawed, incorrect or inaccurate that image may be, so as to ameliorate uncertainty by providing us with a semblance of familiarity; no matter how flawed our prediction map may turn out to be.

The only way to close the gap between fantasy and reality and to minimise disappointment is by encountering actuality and facing reality.

Action cures uncertainty, and experience not only replenishes but also enriches our imagination, crucial tools in any professional’s arsenal.

How about you? Have you ever fallen victim to the artistic machinations of your mind? I’d love to hear how your perceptions have shaped or reshaped your reality.

I look forward to hearing from you.


PS1: For a similar theme please check out my previous article titled ‘Bricks of Mind: Building the Future”:

PS2: For more insights on how the mind works and how our envisioned future is painted using our past memories check out the 2nd edition of my book MARVEL of Happiness: Principles, Stories and Lessons for Living Fully:

PS3: I’ve been away for a while hence the lack of newsletters during the past few weeks. I will aim to return to normality as regards this newsletter the soonest possible.

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