“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland
Usually, at some point when we’re kids, we hear an adult say some version of “You can be anything you want when you grow up.” And we believe that. So when you ask kids what they’re going to be when they grow up they say with absolute confidence things like doctor, professional athlete, ninja, Jedi, etc.
Somewhere between that stage and adulthood we realize there are in fact some things we can’t do (trust me, if I could be a Jedi I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this right now). Unfortunately, too many of us take it too far. We go from believing we can be whatever we want to believing we have to be whatever somebody else tells us. We lose (or at least misplace) the ability to dream things for ourselves and instead settle for somebody else’s mediocre. Then we tell ourselves it’s the best we can do.
It’s not. Your business or career or personal life can be what you want it to be. But you have to start with figuring out what you want it to be, and that usually starts with figuring out some things about yourself. Ask yourself: What really gives me energy? When time seems to fly and I’m having a great time, what am I doing? What do I look forward to doing, even if other people think it looks like work? In essence, what are you passionate about?
When you ask yourself those questions, I challenge you to do two things. First, write down your answers. It’s easy to have some great ideas or some great personal insight or some epiphany and then later it gets pushed aside by the rest of the noise in your life. Write it down and put it somewhere you can see it.
Second, when you’re writing, don’t filter. I have meetings with otherwise great people who say things like, “Well, I’d like to do this, but…” and then they talk themselves out of it before they even get the sentence out of their mouth. Stop it! That’s other people talking. That’s this stupid idea that you have to be like everybody else, or be like everybody else thinks you should be, or that you can’t make waves, or that someone in your situation doesn’t have the right to think big. Don’t let those voices in – get down on paper exactly what your honest answers to those questions are.
Now the hard part – start making that real. You may not be able to create the life or business that looks exactly the way you want today. But if you start today, a year from now you’ll be a lot closer. And five years from now you’ll be closer still. And a lifetime from now, you’ll know you spent your whole life working on being what you are supposed to be – and it was awesome.