For any dreamer walking the path of actualizing an unborrowed vision, it is important to stand on the shoulders of those that have come before you as a way of seeing further than what we otherwise might have.
Looking at the examples and warnings set by previous generations, and learning from the giants of any field, offers great insight to anyone setting off on a journey that would otherwise lack the all-too-comforting road map handed to those walking the path more trodden.
However the further I travel along my own journey the more I realize that while we can learn from the footsteps of those that have come before us, it is even more important to ensure that we are ultimately guided by our own personal compass.
I posted the key message of this article on my Facebook profile recently and was intrigued to see that it resonanted with so many people:
‘Being you’ is something that can be scary and lonely particularly when we live in a world that continually broadcasts the illusion that someone else, somewhere else, has the answers you so badly need.
Several industries are built on you believing that you’re not okay yet, that you’re not able to make the big decisions. The psychiatry industry that insists you’re broken. The fantasy-pushing personal development industry that has cracked the code of the exact make-up of all successful people everywhere (and can teach it to you), or the traditional education system which perpetuates the belief that the most effective journey of self-discovery and education happens inside the four beige walls of a classroom – so long as you brought your textbook.
The problem is that all too often we can find ourselves surrounded by a world that is ushering us down a pre-determined path that someone else has laid out so perfectly for us.
And rather than have you believe that you should follow your own bearings and listen to your own intuition, we live in a culture that externalizes validation and rests it firmly in the hands of anybody in a position of perceived authority.
When we do look at the giants that have come before us, we are often met with seemingly paradoxical approaches to creating ‘success’ – whatever success may mean for you.
Sir Richard Branson for example loves to try new things and actively scours the globe looking for the next adventure.
If he comes across an opportunity he thinks he will enjoy, regardless of industry or his past experiences, he will get busy learning about it and surround himself with those that can teach him and help make good decisions. He is happy to invest in high-risk ventures and gets a kick out of being the underdog. A dyslexic who until he was in his 50’s didn’t understand the difference between gross and net profit.
If we then look at Warren Buffet, a titan of his industry who believes firmly in staying within your expertise.
“It doesn’t matter how big your circle of competence is, what matters is that you stay within it,” he once said. Buffet lives by the principle when there is nothing to do, do nothing. He says that if you could only make 10 decisions in your life, you would be a billionaire because you would ensure they were great decisions, protesting against how many people ‘busy’ themselves with things that distract from what really matters. Buffet has two rules in business; Rule number one, “don’t lose money.” Rule number two, “don’t forget rule number one.” A financial genius with a photographic memory that could recite numbers from over 2,000 balance sheets of America’s largest corporations at any given time.
When looking at people who have achieved a high level of success in any industry, the only thing they do the same is that they all do it differently.
They all play the game according to how they want to play it and what works for them, irrespective of what the textbooks might say. Guided by an innate calling or intuition, these people have learnt to honor their inner voice, at all time being guided by instinct and intuition.
When the voice inside your head is louder than the voices outside your head, you’ve begun to master your life.
With a complete disregard for the status-quo and what others might think, the leaders of today lead from the front embracing their own unique self and their own unique style in a way that makes onlookers whisper, “wow”.
Be you, unapologetically.