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On Self-Perfection

How would my life be different, if I chose three things to do perfectly?

First of all, I would like to smile perfectly. A smile is many, many things. It is an expression of a good feeling. It is also an indication of understanding – that you “get” something.

It is a way to engage others, and to elevate their spirit in the process. It is a way to encourage them. It is also a way to encourage yourself: to be able to smile to yourself in the midst of adversity helps you rise above the occasion.

It is not the mechanics of the smile that I want to master. We all know how people can flash a smile at you that is clearly phony. The smile I want would be the real thing. It would be an expression of true feelings. Of course, I would really have to be feeling those feelings in order for my smile to be authentic. My perfect smile would actually be an expression of the truly good feelings I have about myself and others, and my desire to celebrate them.

If I could consistently carry that goodness within me, my relationships with all people would be highly enriched. There would be much more joy in my world. I can be pretty serious, and a broadened spirit would do us all a lot of good.

The perfection here, then, would be one of attitude and outlook. I would like to be able find a kernel of goodness in every situation, no matter how bad it seems. This certainly does not mean making light of the cruelty and evil that is perpetrated around the clock on this planet. What it does mean is being able to examine every occurrence and find just one aspect that can serve as a starting point for making things better. Optimism to me is the perfect frame of mind.

Another goal I have is to perfect my thinking. By this I mean making it a completely subconscious effort. I would like to be totally in the moment and not consciously trying to do anything. What I do, and how I react, would be totally a product of my training and preparation. I would want my “true” self to “naturally” take over in any given situation.

Obviously, this means molding myself into someone who would feel comfortable and confident regardless of the circumstances. A foreign environment would actually feel familiar. A verbal or physical threat would be seen as the weak posturing that it is. Even mortal danger would be understood as an inevitable consequence of living. We are all going to die; my goal would be to make that as “natural” an occurrence as possible. If I play my cards right, I will not do anything – or let others do things to me – that could lead to my own untimely demise.

The perfection here, then, would be of “being”. It would be the “mind/body integration” that is commonly emphasized in martial arts circles. I would have such a degree of self mastery that I would never let myself deviate from the way I should be. In this manner, only those things that are “supposed” to happen, will happen. I will have avoided the nonsensical messes people create for themselves when they lose touch with reality.

Thirdly, I would like to perfect my society. The bottom line would be a very simple ethic: do not take unfair advantage of people. This is very clearly to me the mandate of the Jews when we were liberated from Egypt, and I do believe it applies to all people. Nobody likes abuses of power, whether they take place in personal, commercial, or political settings.

People often think they do not “have” to do the right thing when they feel they have the advantage in a situation. Personal and political power can give people a false sense of security, of immunity from consequences. But, we are all interconnected, and affect one another across time and across continents. The idea that “what goes around, comes around”, or that God responds to your actions in kind (“midah kneged midah”) is true. We all need to remember that, since we all have some power in some situation, whether it involves one person or many.

A lot of my own power is concentrated in my business. I own it, I run it and the buck stops with me. The challenge for me is to avoid falling into the “ego and politics power traps” and becoming part of the problem. The solution would be to make my business as “perfect” as possible. It should be considered a mini-society that is built on the ethic of the proper use of power. This idea is being developed. At this juncture, I do know one thing for sure: to do this would be the right thing to do both as a human being, and as a businessman.