Generally three people.
1. People similar to us, but who have accomplished something out of the norm.
2. People much different then us.
3. People who are dead.
“Dr. Powell asked the audience, ‘What’s in your hands? What can you do? Don’t look at what you can’t do, but what you can do”
I just finished watching a You Tube video titled 55 Unemployed Faking Normal by Elizabeth White. Elizabeth discusses a low point in her life when the reality of her situation became all too clear. She was in her fifties, out of a job, didn’t have enough money to retire on, was tired of being shamed by her situation, and struggling to keep up the appearance that everything was alright.
Elizabeth also holds a MBA from Harvard Business School, a Master’s in International Studies from John Hopkins University, and a BS in Political Science from Oberlin College. This woman is discussing some very real issues and demonstrating how someone can reinvent herself past the age of 50. As a current MBA student approaching midlife what Elizabeth has to say is very important to me. What’s even more important is the vision she casts of what is possible in life.
People that are similar to us, but who have accomplished something out of our idea of the norm can provide us a vision of what is possible. They give us permission to take what we have and do something different with it. They validate our ideas. Wow look at what they did! I can try. They show us a new path by their example and pave a way for us to live a new life. I found Elizabeth this week and she has provided me an example and encouragement for the journey. Who have you found?
Diversity—people different then us.
Think of the person you are closest to. Now think of the people you tend to conglomerate with at work and socially. Do they share a common thread with you? Are there similarities between your lives?
Co-workers—we work together.
Friends-we are in the same activities, we attend the same organizations, are in the same faith, are united by a life stage, or share the same interests.
Family-could be a diverse group of people, but who would know. We tend to push one another to sameness, but in reality we may have diverse interests and desires.
“Learning is not a task or problem; it is a way to be in the world. Man learns as he pursues goals and projects that have meaning for him. He is always learning something.” (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2005).
Do we learn best among that which is safe and familiar, or do we learn from that which causes us anxiety about our present state?
When we are surrounded by the familiar we learn to maintain status quo, stop dreaming, stop trying, and to stop growing. When we are surrounded by something new to us, even when we don’t like it, we grow. Our world has wrapped and sold us the idea that if we don’t like a thing or person we should shun it. If others aren’t like us they should mold themselves to fit our idea of what is right and good in this world. Yet the beauty of the world is the different people that make it up and who said we had to like it and who said that we can’t interact with those who have very opposite ideas then we do.
A wise woman that I encountered many years ago taught me a valuable lesson that completely changed my life. She taught me the importance and value of human beings and how vitally important each one was to my growth and development. Meeting people that were different then me was an opportunity to learn and grow not something to be feared and avoided. From that point on I made it my mission to get to know people very different then me. Who didn’t do things I liked or supported for the purpose of seeing a different way of living. Through others lives I see possibilities and you can to.
In December of 2016 my daughter and her husband sold everything they had and moved to Florida in their four door Ford. It was a shock to us as parents and to our way of living. They literally showed up to a city they had never even visited and opened up shop on a new business. They got a short term lease through Airbnb and in a few weeks had an apartment. In the mean time we were at home going what the hell just happened? This didn’t fit the mold we were given. Get a job and live in the same town most of your life. Our daughter has taught us a valuable lesson and has shown us a new way of living. A way that we now want to follow. She has given us a vision for our future.
So this weekend try a new activity, sign up for a club doing something completely foreign to you, attend a college continuing education class on a topic that you haven’t even heard of, go to an event that has nothing to do with your life, and make an effort to meet people whom you would normally walk away from. These experiences will help you grow and learn if you let them and give you a new vision for what life can be like.
People who are dead—also called history.
We would like to think that our epiphanies and understanding of the world is unique. We are unique and what comes from us is unique to who we are, but our epiphanies are similar to those who have lived before us. Great people have done great things and have passed from this world and we can learn from them. Reading biographies can give us a view of what is possible and teach us how to overcome challenges. There have been others who have wanted to start businesses, change their lives, go on new adventures, get out of bad relationships, get new jobs, go back to college, and you name it. In the stories of their lives we can capture a vision of what is possible and learn how to overcome the challenges that get in the way of living the life we truly want.
After a good week at work I felt pleased. For a brief moment I was engrained in the culture and felt safe there. A scary scenario. Who I am and what I want to do with my life has nothing to do with my place of employment and the only way I can maintain my vision for the future is to continuously grow and learn from situations and others outside of my comfort zone. There is a time coming soon when we will sell everything we have and move to a city we have visited. We will set up shop at new jobs and enjoy the adventure of our lives. To maintain that vision we must surround ourselves with people who can help us see a new vision for the future. You may need to as well.
What do you want to do, where do you want to go, and if you were honest what would you change about your life today?
Surround yourself with people who can help you see a vision for your future and you will get there one day.
Surround yourself with safety and familiarity and you will stay where you are emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
Go! Start something,