Ran Zilca | Research Scientist, Personal Coach & Author

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“Knowing your weaknesses makes you resilient not only to the things you can effectively resist, but also to the things you have to flow with…”

Ran Zilca is a research scientist, technology entrepreneur, and certified personal coach, who pioneered the use of mobile devices to deliver programs of positive personal transformation. His research in engineering and psychology has been published in major scientific publications over the past 20+ years, and during the course of his work he developed a step-by-step process of personal transformation. The result was a 6,000 mile solo motorcycle ride across the USA, which he has written about in his new book Ride of Your Life. He joins the courageous conversation for The Vulnerability Project sharing his personal insights about resilience, pressing onwards through fear and the peace that comes with being in flow with life.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” Vulnerability is often seen as something we admire in others but detest in ourselves. How do we actively try to close the gap with these concepts?

There is often confusion between strength and aggressiveness or violence. The two are actually opposites. One of the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of strength is “the ability to resist being moved or broken by force”. A person who is confident about her/his ability to face external events can allow herself to be calm, and when something bad happens, to feel less threatened, and respond in a focused and thoughtful way. A person who feels inherently weak, becomes a victim, and like Byron Katie told me when she and I met: “victims are violent people”. So, a sense of inner strength results in peaceful behaviour, and a sense of inner weakness leads to violence, and attempt to assert a perception of strength by applying force.

Another important (but also confusing) aspect, is that one’s strength depends on the ability to recognize one’s weaknesses. When I met with Deepak Chopra, he suggested focusing on flexibility instead of strength. To be flexible means to acknowledge your weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses makes you resilient not only to the things you can effectively resist, but also to the things you have to flow with and lower your resistance.

In summary, a person who is self-aware knows what her strengths and weaknesses are, and feels strong. As a result, such a person faces the world in a calmer fashion, and knows when to resist and when to flow. The opposite is also true: a person who lacks self-awareness behaves violently to compensate for an inherent sense of overall weaknesses, and often fights with the world instead of letting go.

 

Ran Zilca“When you breathe into fear it becomes adventure.” What was one of your most terrifying/rewarding experiences?

The entire Ride of Your Life experience was based on the notion of “breathing into fear”, and indeed it was a great adventure. On many days, while riding, I found that I had to face my fears to go on, and when I did, fear quickly turned into excitement, and eventually into pride. On the 8th day of the ride I rode in pouring rain from Tennessee through Georgia into Alabama. I had no prior experience of riding a motorcycle in the rain, let alone a nonstop, dense downpour. At first, leaving the parking lot and going on the back roads I was anxious and afraid. Then, going on the interstate and gaining some speed, I gradually started feeling more confident. My heart continued to race, but it was out of excitement and not fear. As the day went by, I started to realize that I am passing the hurdle and conquering it, and started to feel very proud. This is something that Barbara Fredrickson reinforced when she and I met a few days before: “Pride tends to get a bad reputation, but I think that when we do things that are virtuous, we should feel good about it”.

 

“Creativity is inspiration coupled with initiative. Acting on our creativity is an act of faith.” How much do you rely on ‘divine intervention’ to create? Do you feel you control your creativity or does your creativity control you?

When thinking about creativity, most people recognize the importance of having a spark of inspiration, but often people forget that initiative and agency is key. Research tells us that one needs at least 10,000 hours of practice to develop world-class skills. When you see art work that moves you, hear a song that brings you to tears, or read a piece of text that inspires you and opens up your thinking, it is fair to assume that there were buckets of sweat involved.  The process of refining the initial spark of inspiration into a book, a song, or a painting is an inherent part of the creative process.

 

Ran Zilca spoke at London’s TEDxRusselSquare event in 2013. Here he shows a scientifically-based process to awaken and pursue one’s dreams, and how he used this process to transform his own life.

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