Seems like these days, a lot of people are looking for mentors to help them navigate the waters of professional life. Who can blame them? It’s a scary world out there and it seems that for every person you know who makes it, a dozen more step out on faith and despite the Facebook & Instagram feed that says all is well, a more intensive glimpse at their lives would say others. Even if they’re doing great, we can all too often benchmark ourselves against what others are after in their own lives. This negates our own desires, goals and things that are motivating us towards whatever we really want to be doing.
If I had a dollar for every time I thought, “If I knew then what I know….,” I’d have a lot of dollars. The thing is, I’m less interested in going backwards as I am trying to move forward employing what I’ve learned to help me make better decisions now and in the future. So long as I do that, I don’t think past failures are all that bad. My dad always says — and I agree — it’s about making different mistakes not about making the same ones over and over again.
With that being said, I’ve been reflecting a lot about work lately. Talking to friends the past few years and hearing their own challenges, it’s pretty clear to me that lots of us are wrestling with many of the same insecurities, worries and wonders.
The thing I’ve learned more than anything, is nobody is going to save you. All of the advice in the world doesn’t make it any easier to act, if you’re not sure where you’d really like to be. I re-read most of “Escape From Cubicle Nation” this week. I read it a few years ago, but I wasn’t as ready for it. Because as I read it this time, I felt like it was written for me. All I did is shake my head vigorous as I got through the first few chapters. Reflecting on it a few days later, I’ve realized that my struggle is feeling that the uniqueness of my circumstances weren’t like anybody else’s.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that my mistakes were worse than everyone else’s and all of that somehow made me unfit for the future I wanted for myself.
I’ve been canvassing a lot of my friends and professional colleagues lately to bounce off of them how they ended up where they did. So much of our destiny is about the confluence of events that lead us to where we are at a certain point. More than that, it’s about choices. I think sometimes it’s easy to romanticize the amount that fate plays into our decision-making process, but when I think about everything that’s led me to this point right now, it’s really about a series of choices. Some of those choices happened twenty years ago, but nonetheless, there were choices.
When I set out to write this post, my goal was to come away resolved with a pact to write everyday for the next few days. Every time I read people who are involved in writing for a living, they talk about the commitment to the process. That no one is too good for practice and that sort of thing. All of this is instructive, except my job isn’t to write. It’s not even my passion, it’s just one of the most effective ways for me to reach out to you strangers and friends among you.
I’m less interested in doing things for the sake of doing them in 2015. It’s really about embracing a mantra of consciousness action. I want to do things that matter, while realizing that not everything I do will matter to anyone else. And I want that to be okay.
In a world full of ninjas, rockstars and gurus, I just want to discover my own inner superhero. I know he’s in there, because half of what’s propelled me here is driven by a spirit that’s far bigger than anything I can contain. The problem is, superheroes hide. We don’t see them all of the time, because if we did, they’d be the kind of fallible heroes that we don’t acclaim until they’re lost forever.
My goal in the coming days is to use this space and others given to me, for exploration of a different sort. I think we have a lot of power within ourselves to affect change in small ways and in big ways every single day. For too long, I’ve personally succumbed to the whims of whatever was around me for a fear of being perceived as something I’m not. In the process, I’ve masked my superhero and kept him out of situations where he could truly help.
The funny thing about superheroes is they’re usually normal people. I call them Clark Kent Tendencies. They bumble and are usually the last people you’d expect to save the day in their normal work clothes. It’s not until they put on the mask and go to work, that people become believers. Except, we don’t know who they are in real life and that’s part of the mystery. I have a lot of those Clark Kent Tendencies, but when I’m giving a talk or interacting with other smart people, I almost have an out of body experience because I don’t always recognize myself.
“Who is that guy? Wait, maybe I do know what I’m talking about!”
I remember thinking at a certain point last year, that I didn’t want to live the rest of my 30s doing things I didn’t really want to do or living places I didn’t want to live. I’m really cognizant of how important each day is and this is just my opening salvo towards living, working and doing better.
It starts by rediscovering my inner superhero.