I have a mantra on the wall, above my work table. It states simply “In a world where you can be anything… Be Yourself.”
The wisdom is profound and simple.
The wisdom is often ignored.
We live in a world that is constantly telling us how we should act. We are repeatedly being told what our feelings should be on matters. We live a culture where individuality is both glamorized and criticized.
In school we are given placement tests and aptitude tests. Year after year, repeating the process over and over again. Measuring us against each other. Measuring us against some invisible bar of “What We Should Be”. These test are designed to see if we measure up and to test our scholastic ability. The process is repeated so many times we don’t realize it’s twisting our perception of achievement.
These tests try to determine how we measure up in math. Or to see if we excel in language. And our reward is a high test score and accolades… Or a low test score and a feeling of failure.
Recently I heard this put very eloquently. The reward for taking a French class isn’t an “A”. The reward shouldn’t be high test scores. The reward should be the ability to talk to people in French. It should be the ability to connect with people that speak French and make new friends.
When looking at aptitude tests, I always came out with high scores in Math and Science. I was told this meant I would be an engineer. I was a fairly agreeable child, so when I was told I would become an engineer, I took them seriously. I become an engineer.
I never compared notes with everyone else in in my class. But looking back, I wonder what kind of career list we were working with. Did someone ever come back with a result that stated “You will be a painter.”?
I don’t ever recall anyone anyone mentioning that their test results showed that they would be a spiritual mystic, or even a church pastor. My results certainly never stated “You will become a yoga teacher and spiritual guide.” There was no result that stated “some day you will write a story about these tests”.
Wouldn’t the impact on the world be profound if we could actually guide people toward professions that could key into aptitude and passion? Wouldn’t it be amazing if people got results like “You will be a fly fishing guide.”, “You will start your own company.”, or “You are best suited to write a blog.”?
Instead of being told you are best suited to be a cog in the gearbox of society, we could encourage people to strive for a life of passion and fulfillment.
You reap what you sew. I doubt the people that create standardized tests and piece together the options on the career lists are entirely fulfilled. Do you think when they were in grade school their tests responded with “You are best suited to make more of these tests.”?
I would love to hear someone results come back as: “You will stand in the middle of an open field embracing the new day and people will flock to you for your wisdom and insight.” Perhaps a little too poetic, perhaps not.
There is no proficiency test for greatness. There is no qualification exam for passion. Nobody else can tell you what you can and can not achieve.
But you can.
You can talk yourself out of pretty much anything if you’re not careful. The voice in your head may be constructed from messages outside of you in the past. But it’s you now. Own it. Or better yet, disown it. Identify it. Key into where it may be holding you back. Keep what you need and release what you don’t.
I would argue that it is your mission in life to tap into your core essence and find out what makes you tick. Find your passions, find your abilities, your true abilities. I don’t mean math and science. I am referring to your core essence. Tap into in, reveal it, utilize it and own it.
Don’t let anyone, including yourself, hold you back.
Unleash your potential.
Think of it as a puzzle. You are trying to get all the pieces to fit together. Maybe you haven’t even found all the puzzle pieces yet.
Here are a few books to help in your search for the edge pieces:
StrengthsFinder 2.0 – This test helped identify my character strengths. The book helps unpack what it means, but it can really help to have someone unpack it with you. I know some life coaches that are excellent at this, so please contact me if you’re interested in their contact information.
The 4-Hour Workweek – This book is great at stirring up your passion to break your work pattern and find what makes you tick and builds income
Picture a 200 carrot perfectly cut diamond. Now take that beautiful 200 carrot cut diamond, gorgeous and glittering in the sunshine, and dip it into a thick gooey mud puddle. Bake it in the sun for a few days, then take a look at it. Doesn’t look like a diamond any more, does it? But you know it is. You probably guarded the diamond day and night while it was baking, because you knew there was value in there.
Every person is a 200 carrot perfectly cut diamond covered in mud. Some of us have just spent more time polishing the surface and removing the dirt. Keep polishing and get ready to shine.
You are already great. Your work is to expose how great you are.
In a world where you can be anything… Be yourself.