“Become such as you are, having learned what that is.”
How do you get to the next level? How do you level up?
Aspiring to take anything to the next level is a sign of leadership. Leaders ask questions in the pursuit of doing something better. They see something better and they go get it, they make it happen. Leaders push to create a reality that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Leaders continually reinvent themselves in order to address the new challenges they face in pursuing their vision.
Marshall Goldsmith said,
“What got you here, won’t get you there.”
In order to become who we want to be, we need to continually reinvent ourselves. We need to shed constricting skins like a snake. We expand through learning. We learn through indulging our curiosity.
People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.
Unleash Your Curiosity
Its a continual process of growth, like being a caterpillar, cocooning, and emerging a butterfly. This is a sequence we repeat over and over as we learn new things.
Its about having the presence to deeply listen to what you are drawn to and having the discipline to follow those threads. Many know the path, few walk it. This practice reveals out true nature to ourselves. We ignore it at our peril.
This is a path that reveals itself one step at a time. We have to trust in the direction of seemingly disparate motivations and interests. We can only connect the dots in retrospect.
In our caterpillar stage we don’t really know what kind of butterfly we will become. All we can do is trust the process. And follow.
Leaders challenge themselves to learn new things.
Knowledge is Power. Its the power to transform us.
To take it to the next level requires a shiny new you.
This is the new stuff. Shed that skin.
“Become who you are!”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
Letting go of habits and notions that have outlived their usefulness or relevance are like experiencing a small death. It is the way of the world: trees lose their leaves in autumn, snakes shed their skin, caterpillars cocoon in chrysalis, baby chicks crack out of eggs. Each is a death into a new life. We are meant to change and grow and shed out former selves. What is truly lethal is to stop growing and embracing change. Small deaths prevent big deaths.
So long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.
The growth is incremental and can go unnoticed. Keeping a journal is a good way to document growth. When we go back and read previous stuff it can be shocking how much we have changed. It is useful to have that sometimes embarrassing record to measure the new us against.
Be an Infinite Learner
We need to be infinite learners who constantly soak up new knowledge and ideas. We live in an age of unprecedented resources at our disposal cultivate, educate, and grow ourselves. There are blogs, podcasts, MOOCs, audio books, eBooks, and paperbacks available at little or no cost. It just takes the commitment to intentionally being a life long learner, an autodidact.
Learning is good for what ails us.
Curiouser and Curiouser!
We need to indulge our curiosity and pursue our interests. We need to be in hot pursuit of anything that catches our intellectual fancy. Chase down fleeting interests. Tumble down rabbit holes.
Use your curiosity, don’t be used by it.
Curiosity can have a shadow side as an excuse to indulge distraction and procrastinate. Be mindful. First, is it something related to your vision or goals. If the answer is yes, go for it.
If it is not directly related to your goals and vision, it may be important as a way to trigger lateral thinking. Here are some further questions to ask.
In each case, check in with yourself as to the strength of the curiosity urge. Is it strong or weak? If its strong chances are its something worth investigating. If its weak, capture the idea by writing it down in your notebook or journal and see if it keeps recurring. If it does then pursue it further.
Ask yourself the following:
Is it a distraction?
Is it a signal for needed course correction?
Does it possibly represent a previously unseen angle for how to overcome an obstacle and move forward on your priorities.
Use your curiosity, don’t be used by it.
Change Your Attitude
That attitude of gratitude is not just a platitude.
We tend to focus on what is deficient and get frustrated by obstacles. Cultivating a positive mindset not only makes the journey more enjoyable and easier on those around us, but it helps with our cognitive functioning and ability to problem solve. Our attitude is a choice.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
— John Milton
Be more Bayesian
This is a mathematical model for revising and updating based on acquiring new knowledge and information. Its a core concept in artificial intelligence.
True life is lived when tiny changes occur.
- Leo Tolstoy
We can incorporate a Bayesian mindset and update our opinions and beliefs as we encounter new information. We can be fluid in our thinking and, as the contours of our understanding evolve, respond to those new contours with revised opinions. We can change our minds in light of new information.
This is the way we refine out ideas and become more enlightened.
Less dogma, more transformation.
We can be like water. Gold is what is left when the rest is washed away.