Only you can tell people about your life.
The best anyone else can possibly do is share lessons from their own life.
Maybe some of those lessons are going to be based on observations of you, but they are our observations, coloured by our experience of the world, shaped by our priorities and bounded by the range and depth of our vision.
You may see flashes of things you feel and understand in the communications of another, sure. The way we learn to see our hidden heart is to see it reflected in choices others make that compel or repel us, or maybe to examine our own choices. Their choices aren’t your choices, even if their choices illuminate your own choices.
Our experience of our life is shaped by the forces we feel putting pressure on us. “We do an improvisational musical,” a director told me, “45 minutes created on the spot. I tell performers that if they feel that everyone else is pushing them to do something, they are probably the protagonist.”
We have to create our own life, making the best of where we have been, what we have learned, who we are and what unfolds before us.
To many, this is a terrifying thought, because it requires them to not just accept but also to embrace who, what and where they are in life. The cost of our past choices aren’t going away, and the future will always be uncertain, demanding choices of us that will not be perfect in the moment. There are no Mulligans, no do-overs, only the chance to choose different, choose again in the future.
In the end, there are no shortcuts in life. Every choice changes the direction and outcome of your life, maybe a tiny bit, maybe a huge amount. That makes looking for shortcuts really looking for diversions, ways to divert ourselves from choices and ideas that scare us, that look daunting or too hard. In life, there are many bridges we all have to cross, no matter how much we delay or defer those choices.
When I was hiring people, I always looked for people who had made successes in their past, no matter how small or how different than what I needed from them. I knew that those people had a much better chance of making another success than the people who accepted a life of mediocrity, those who hadn’t yet learned to work hard to invite success into their lives.
Successful people know how to focus and commit, know how to sacrifice comfort for something bigger and better. They know that they can’t just wait for success to fall into their lap, can’t just dream of someone coming to give them what they want, but they have to write their own story, own their own choices, create their own life.
Success demands that you work with what you have, and not moan that you don’t have what you want to have. God grant me the strength to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.
I don’t have a crystal ball that will predict your future. I just have my own experience and hard won understanding that lets me make a good guess on how choices will turn out. I can see the elephants in the room, in other words.
And I can’t tell you how to shortcut your life. You see the mountain in front of you, and you just have to get over it.
I always wanted staff who could learn from their own mistakes, yes.
“He’s great! ” I said of one staffer. “He never makes the same mistake twice! Of course, he is always finding new ones.” To me, that was high praise, because as long as he got smarter everyday, he also got more seasoned and valuable everyday.
More than that, though, I really wanted staff who could learn from other people’s mistakes. This is the mark of a really sharp person, one who is actually open to RYFM — “reading the friendly manual” — or tapping into the knowledge that exists in the world. The wheel has been reinvented many times, so having an understanding of what has been tried before can really help improve outcomes.
It’s a smart thing to look for people you can learn from, however they share their stories and wisdom.
But in the end, your life is your life. Only you can tell us about your life, only you can shape it into what it can become, a co-creation between your nature, your world, your history and your choices. Only you can decide which mountains you will climb and cross and how you will do that.
The privilege of a life time is being who you are.
And the challenge of a lifetime is being who you are, too.