If you receive applause, you’re not there yet.
If you make more money, you’re not there yet.
If someone you admire notices your work, you’re not there yet.
If you receive more invitations, accolades, likes, comments, shares, snaps… you’re not there yet.
If you’re able to vacation to far-off islands and take selfies while your friends slog away at 9–5 jobs, you’re not there yet.
Because most of those things are not destinations. They’re temporary visions in a desert of other people’s expectations and images of success.
The only way you’ll get “there” is if you decide your own destination and why it matters. And most of where you need to go has nothing to do with your external environment, and everything to do with the ability to notice and appreciate where are you are right now, in this moment. When you can see and manage what’s in your control, on the inside, you’re there.
If you’re feeling caught up in some future scenario, pause. Where are you now? What feelings do you have today? Appreciate why you’re feeling that way (you care deeply, you are trying to provide, etc) and then look for ways to shift to where you want to be and what you want to feel — without changing any external factor. Hint: most of the time, it begins with gratitude.
Lately, a few specific moments have reminded me where my “there” is…
- Sharing dinner with a student who recently graduated our year-long program and hearing her speak with glowing confidence about the new job she just landed.
- Reading The Shapeless Shape to one of my best friend’s daughters and watching her see herself in the story.
- Making plans to share dinner with an old friend who needs a listening ear amidst a challenging time.
- Helping a class of students get to know one another on a more personal level as they prepare for months of learning and work.
Of course, I want those things to expand — to change how higher education works for thousands of students each year; to infuse the workplace with more curiosity and creativity; and to inspire children and adults on every continent with a simple story. When people’s lives change for the better because they’ve learned how to make an impact, make a living, and walk through life with confidence, I’m there.
The better you know where you need to go, the more likely you’ll get there. And if you don’t know, it’s ok. Just beware of everyone else’s destination becoming your own. That’s a dizzying place, and not good for anyone. Especially you.
PS: Your notes and comments to last week’s words were inspiring and heartwarming. Thank you.