Here’s something to step back and seriously consider.
What are you up to?
Who are you really?
What were you born to do?
If you believe in a Higher Power, what do they want you to do during this lifetime? If you don’t believe in a Higher Power, what is the true purpose that really lights up your heart? (That’s actually two ways to ask the same question.)
If you don’t know, pretend that you do and answer the question temporarily, just for fun.
Here’s something to remember. The people who changed the world weren’t any different than you or I when they were born. We know who they are because they were talented, lucky and successful. They were also up to something and they believed in themselves and they worked very, very hard in service to their higher purpose.
In some cases that higher purpose was to secure equal rights or freedom for a group of people. In other cases that purpose was to create great art or uncover the keys to the secret of the universe. In many cases that purpose was to accumulate a pant-load of money or power. In every case they were being true to their own nature. People don’t get to be great at something they settle for. People don’t inspire other people when they do things in service to a purpose they don’t believe in.
It just doesn’t happen.
“But wait,” you say, “I don’t get it. My grandfather is my hero but he wasn’t successful. He struggled to make ends meet. He worked in menial jobs his whole life but he inspired everyone he knew with his quiet dignity, his faith and his dedication to his family. Despite everything he created a loving home for…
“I get it.”
(In case you didn’t get it: Your purpose may not make you famous, it probably won’t, but if you are living a life of purpose you will touch the people around you in a profound way.)
So here’s how this applies to me:
A short time ago I realized that what I had done most successfully in my life was to encourage other people to follow their passions and bring people together to create miraculous results. I did that in college and in Seattle and in Los Angeles. My question for the first 35 years of my life was always “What are you up to? What do you really want to do?”
Then I stopped.
In hindsight I can see that there were a lot of reasons that I stopped but I think I can sum it up by saying that I had an unexamined, unexpressed belief that grown-ups didn’t do that kind of thing and it was time for me to act like a grown-up and stop encouraging everyone.
Let someone else do it.
Sound silly, doesn’t it?
Even sillier is that it took a bit of effort to keep from doing it. I broke myself of the habit of trying to inspire people and help them find what they wanted to devote their lives to.
Here’s the thing that I realized in a flash of insight in the middle of the night.
Nobody else was doing what I did. Other people were doing what they did.
Let me be really clear about this because this is the part that applies to everyone. This is the part that applies to you. There are many people who inspire and encourage and many people who bring people together. There are much better leaders in the world than me. There are people who are more talented at inspiring people than me.
But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t say what I have to say and do what I have to do. What I have to offer is unique just because it’s coming out of me, out of my mouth or mind and into the minds of the people around me at the time.
Like now. You’re reading this. Maybe it’ll make a big difference to you that I wrote this. Who knows.
If I didn’t write it, I know it wouldn’t make a difference at all because it wouldn’t exist.
I am not saying that I am better at what I do than anyone else. I am saying that I am the only person who can do what I do.
That’s true of you as well.
“There’s an old Vulcan proverb: ‘Only Nixon could go to China.’”
-Spock, Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country
This doesn’t mean that because it’s uniquely mine it’s automatically worthwhile or valuable or right. That kind of relativism drives me crazy. But my point is that just because other people do something doesn’t mean you or I can’t or shouldn’t.
“What I really want to do is direct” is a cliché but that doesn’t mean that if you really want to direct you shouldn’t or you don’t have the right to try.
Go for it.
Please note that “try” is the operative word. You will fail. Everybody does. What I’m saying is that you (and I) should strive toward the goals that light us up and makes our lives worth living. We should organize our days around the things that we think are important. Make your family or your creativity or your passion for social justice the center of your life. Be awesome.
Don’t think that being awesome is beyond you or is for your next life. It’s now.
So that’s what this blogging is about. I know I have something unique to offer because I know everyone does.
I also think I can help people find what that is. I have a talent and a passion for that.
People who know me know that I’m grumpy, lazy, bitter and mean. People who know me also know that I’m inspiring, diligent and compassionately wise. I am more the latter when I am being true to myself.
And this is what I do when I’m true to myself.
This, right here.
Hope you like it!
I’m gonna do it anyway. (This is me throwing my hat over the wall, by the way).
So now, what is it you’re up to?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
This quote is often mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela but it is actually from Marianne Williamson (who has said that she is honored that something she wrote might be attributed to Mandela.) Here’s the rest of the quote with more for those of you who are more motivated by spirituality or who think it’s better to be small and humble.
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
(Did you catch that part about your playing small not serving the world?)
I ran into an old friend who quit his teaching job after 20 years to pursue his passion for acting. A passion that had brought him to Los Angeles in the first place.
So now it’s your turn.
What are you supposed to be doing?