“Many peoples' tombstones should read 'Died at 30, buried at 60.” Nicholas M. Butler
I think most people will agree there’s truth in the above quote, and everyone will certainly agree they don’t want their own lives lived out this way. And yet, despite our desires to live extraordinary, meaningful, creative, fulfilling lives, so many of us get stuck in the drudgery of routine. Safe choices, whether personal or professional, are often motivated by fear and uncertainty. But as any successful person will tell you, it’s those who dare to risk their comfort, those who push past the boundaries of ‘what is’ to discover ‘what could be’ who yield the greatest rewards in life.
This fantastic award winning short animated film by Pixar, ‘Alike’ underscores the emotional toll of conformity. As the film illustrates, society works hard to put us into a mould from a very young age; this carries on into adulthood, when meeting targets and deadlines, saving money and getting ahead of the competition are held up as the standards of success.
Is it though? Is it really success when we simply repeat the formulas of successes past, following the beaten path, doing the same things that have done before you by a thousand others (even if you are doing it really well)? I emphatically disagree! In a rapidly changing world, where innovation takes place at lightening speed, we need to uphold traits like creativity, flexibility and daring.
In this age of Disruption, not taking a risk IS A RISK, and that carries into your personal brand, as well as your business capabilities.
For most of us, risk is scary. We are afraid to fail. We are comfortable. Guess what? Taking a risk is a good thing! How will you evolve if you don’t try or learn something different? How would you like to stay the same for the rest of your life? Hello no, right? This means you have to TRY. Begin somewhere, learn from your successes and mistakes, improve, repeat. If you aren’t feeling a little nervous, you’re not doing progress right.
Whether you’re speaking in front of a large audience, mastering a skill at work that is holding you back, asking someone to be your mentor, any type of change is going to feel scary and exciting, all at the same time.
In our personal and professional lives, we need to honor our authentic selves to flourish. That means acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses and being authentic with the people around us. It’s communicating with honesty, transparency and integrity that attracts people and creates longstanding relationships. This is good advice for the individual and for the corporate entity – being real and open is the glue that forges long-standing relationships.
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
- Dr. Seuss
I challenge everyone reading this blog to watch ‘Alike’ and ask yourselves these questions and answer honestly:
1. Am I a change resister or a change leader? Why? Do I embrace change, or hide from it? How does this impact me?
2. What is holding me back? Think of 3 barriers to your progress that you are reluctant to change for reasons of fear or any other insecurity.
3. What will happen if I don’t change or make progress against this barrier? What will my life, my career be like?
4. What am I going to do to make progress against this barrier?
One of my favorite tricks in mastering something I am not comfortable with is I read 3 books on the topic. It gives me an introverted way to understand and get great advice on how to progress, and build my comfort level and confidence on the topic.
Learn. Evolve. Be Brave. Be You.