A post by Sean Bonner has been bouncing around my head for a bit. In his post, he talks about looking around and thinking that everyone else has things figured out. That they had "cracked the code" or "have a pro account or something" on life in general.
I used to feel the same way. I'd wonder how I would ever get up to speed to what was going on around me in the world.
The truth dawned on me over time.
First, the group of guys I went to college with grew up and slowly started taking positions of power in the business and the military. We'd kept in touch since living in the fraternity house together. The same guys I watched do stupid, foolish, and occasionally felonious stunts, were now responsible for important things. Seeing a guy that put his motorcycle back together so poorly it literally caught fire was now flying a $25+ million fighter plan was a bit strange.
And then it dawned on me that maybe there weren't a lot of people out there that did everything right in life and had life 'scoped' completely.
Once I moved up the corporate ladder, I started working with the people that decide what and how you see things on television and in the movie theater. Surely, these people must be no nonsense, super sharp, focused individuals. I mean, how else do you steer a Fortune 50 company correctly? It didn't take me long to realize that the vast majority of people making the 'big' decisions in business weren't all that different than you and me. Some liked facts, some liked numbers, some liked their gut, but none of them I saw ever take everything into account like you might read in an MBA textbook. A lot of the decisions I saw get made were because they were the ones that helped them avoid blame.
But because of their title, most viewed their decisions as 'brilliant'. That is until they were ejected from the Company, upon which a new 'brilliant' individual would take their place.
My point is that you have it within you to be as good as anyone you admire. Even if you can't see it, others can see your potential to do great things. The trick is looking at your strengths rather than looking at your weaknesses. I'm not saying you should ignore your weakness, just that you shouldn't get caught up obsessing on how someone is better at something as you.
I guarantee you that you have a skill or ability that someone you admire is jealous of and wishes they could have.
I've only met a few people that were truly inspiring, innovative, and 'game-changing' in business and life for that matter. They all have the same basic characteristics.
Passion - They were driven by an ineffable passion to push forward. Not money, status, or reward, but by the prospect that they could move the needle in their field, even if only a little.
Openness - They wanted to hear what others thought. Not to refute or argue with them, but to listen to alternatives. They never lost sight of their goals, but were truly open to different paths to reach it.
Optimism - They are not cynical people. They see failure and problems as inevitable parts of the road forward. Rather than focusing on who is to blame for the tree that feel across the trail, they are busy climbing over it and leave a rope behind to help others get over it as well.
If there is anything we could all do to head toward having a 'pro account' in life, it is to follow our passions, listen to others with an open mind, and stay positive in the face of adversity.
Here are some concrete things you can do to to have a better 2013. No hand-wavy, touchy-feely resolutions. Just a few simple things to do that will make your life a little better.
Don't sleep in the same room as your phone.
There's no reason to be checking your phone first thing when you wake or last thing before you sleep. Let your mind rest a bit. Charge it in the other room when you sleep.
Send a gift to someone that doesn't expect one for no reason other than they could use some love.
Why wait for holidays? People can use a little boost any time of the year. Receiving something out of the blue is a wonderful feeling. Knowing someone is thinking about you during a tough time is sometimes just what's needed to get through. With internet shopping for pretty much anything you can conceive, there's no excuse.
Go outside and exercise at least two times a week.
Exercising your body is the best possible thing you can do for yourself. Being outdoors and away from screens and into the sunlight is also great for your body and mind. If you don't like to ride or run, even just walking during your lunch hour is great. Get outside, move your body, feel the sun on your skin and a breeze on your face.
Read book that is non-fiction, not self-help, and about a topic you don't know well.
Getting outside of your normal zone of information is the only way to expand your perspective. Learning new things will help you make connections that you might normally miss. Our world is amazing, take some time to see it.
Listen/Read/Watch these things:
Bullseye - Podcast w/ Jesse Thorn interviewing people involved with popular culture from today and the past, shining a light on great things. Jesse's interviewing is top notch, bringing people out from behind their standard PR answers and offering a glimpse of the person, not the persona.
Saga - Comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. The best written and most innovative comic book out there today. Romeo & Juliet meets True Romance meets Alice in Wonderland. Not for kids, it's an comic for thinking adults.
What Technology Wants - Book by Kevin Kelly - A look at how technology affects and drives human society. Are we technology's master, or are we doing it's bidding? Well written and comprehensive.
The Diaz Brothers - Song by the Mountain Goats - My favorite song of the year. Simple, but with strange allusions to films and literature. A catchy tune that earwormed me for months.
The Great Hobini - Truly wonderful music mashups with a hip-hop touch.
Moonrise Kingdom - Movie by Wes Anderson - Finely crafted movie about an adventure in the world of 12 year old children. Touching, funny, and with enough commentary on adults to add a few layers of meaning.