The future needs you to be the best version of you possible. Here’s how you can start.
The unfortunate truth is that the world does not need another brainless, fungible cog to plug in the corporation. We don’t need another parasite skimming off the efforts of others.
We don’t need more mediocrity.
We need you to create the breakthrough products, movements, and industries for the agile century.
In order to do that, we need you to break the cycle of mediocre thoughts, beliefs, and actions that are holding you back from reaching your full potential.
To be the best version of you, stop living a life of quiet desperation
The first problem is that we lead lives of quiet desperation, as Henry David Thoreau famously put it.
We don’t make time to reflect. We don’t close our internal feedback loops. We don’t give ourselves permission to fail. We don’t opt out of harmful activities. We settle for the mediocre too quickly because of the Ellsberg Paradox.
This leads to a life filled with an incredible lack of self-awareness.
You won’t know what the best version of you looks like unless you try different things
We literally do not know what will make us happy.
How would you know whether or not you could cook Indian food unless you tried? You might turn out to be the next great world class chef.
Or maybe skiing is the activity most aligned with your passions. How would you know unless you get some boots and poles and hit the slopes?
You might be depriving yourself of your true calling in life if you never pick up that pen or that paintbrush. Or never open that blank document and start pounding out that novel that is burning to get out of you.
Stop deferring your life
Our giant houses should be the biggest investment of our lives, the Herd says. Except when the Herd was gloriously wrong during the housing market crash.
The Herd tells us we should spend fifty to seventy hours a week at the office climbing that corporate ladder, because that is what will give our lives meaning.
The Internet Age is making it easier to say no to the daft logic of the Herd.
The cost of change has fallen dramatically for anyone with access to the web, so long as we choose to set aside the belief systems that have become obsolete.
It takes work to find your true passions. But once you find one thing that brings you that transcendent joy, it becomes easier to expand on that idea and replicate it in other avenues of your life.
For me, my one overriding passion is writing. I love to put words together and impart ideas to others. That means I should try to find different mediums to replicate that same passion.
I write this blog, I write strategy articles, I write fiction, I write scholarly articles.
I do everything in my power to focus on this aspect of my life because I believe it will make me be the best version of me possible.
It breaks my heart that so many people go to their graves never finding their true callings. Either from fear, self doubt or pressure from the Herd, they live all too brief lives of quiet desperation without ever developing their passions.
Don’t let this happen to you.
How to find your best you
Here are 5 ways to be the best version of you:
1. Champion a cause. It’s not okay to stand on the sidelines anymore. It’s not somebody else’s problem that the world isn’t as fair/just/sustainable as it should be. It is your problem and it is my problem. Strive to make life better for people and we will love you for it. When you dedicate yourself to a cause, all of our lives get better because of it.
2. Be passionate about something. It doesn’t really matter what you’re passionate about. But for heaven’s sake, be passionate about something. Passionate people are more fun to be around. Passionate people create experiences worth savoring. Most of the history of life on this planet has been about death and misery and neurosis. Passionate people can move the ball forward–for all of us.
3. Give people a chance. Everyone is capable of adding value to the conversation, regardless of the name of the university on their degree. The best people who will lead us into the agile century will not discriminate on the basis of arbitrary status symbols. The best version of you is generous and patient.
4. Be tolerant but hate evil. There is a wide range of possible ways to lead your life. There is no one perfect, correct lifestyle for everyone. That said, mass murdering, oppression, rape, and torture are never going to be okay things. Be brave enough to call out evil as evil. Moral relativist gobbledy-gook is intellectually lazy and a cop-out.
5. Embrace change. You can hide in the corner and try to ignore change or bargain with it. But it will happen regardless. Leaders who see the wave coming will help carry the rest of us with them. The human species has enormous potential to transform and transcend our history. But it takes leaders who will see beyond the next quarterly report, and the petty divisions that keep us apart.
When you are the best version of you, the whole world improves just a little bit. The Herd cannot see past the next credit card bill to worry about anything else happening in a global society.
Happy, passionate, fulfilled people can change the world.
Image by Michael L. Baird.