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Self-Renewal

A resolution for better ideas

Physically speaking, we are constantly becoming new people. Our stomach lining replaces itself every five days. None of the skin cells we have now will be there in four weeks. We’ll have a completely new liver in a year or two. Even our bones will replace every cell in them after 7–10 years.

So with all this new material, why don’t we feel like new people? It’s probably because of the most stubborn part of who we are: our thoughts and ideas.

One of my favorite reads this year was an old book called Self-Renewal by John W. Gardner. Published in 1964, it’s something of a mix between social commentary and philosophy, and surprisingly relevant still. The core idea is that a healthy person, and a healthy society, is constantly going through a process of self-renewal.

New Year’s is a potent time for self-renewal, and yet for some reason we mostly use it to just make resolutions about eating better or exercising more. There’s nothing wrong with those or other aspirations, but perhaps they don’t stick because we keep thinking and believing the same things.

As you consider the coming year, maybe give time to how you can improve your thinking in 2021. After all, there’s no truth we believe that can’t be refined. There’s no thought about others that can’t use more grace. There’s no idea about ourselves that can’t be improved. 

We still all have so much to learn. And improving the way we think is a way that we improve ourselves.

What thoughts and ideas do you have that you can improve?

Seeing Good at Work

Every kid needs good teachers. After pioneering the Teach for America program in the United States, Wendy Kopp founded Teach for All. Since 2007, they’ve built a global network of partners who recruit young professionals to teach in underserved schools in their home countries.

The approach works especially well because kids and communities are all unique, so local perspectives and solutions are much more likely to get better outcomes. For example, placing top university graduates in Chile into underserved schools improved math and reading scores, as well as the kids’ self-esteem and self-efficacy. 

Promotional Stuff

I would love to hear from you what good work you’ve set out as a goal for 2021. If you’re willing to share, please tell me all about it.

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