Stop Waiting for Permission to Be Extraordinary
In school we’re required to raise our hands for permission to speak. If we answer correctly or the teacher approves, we’re praised. If we answer incorrectly or the teacher disapproves we’re criticized, and given labels that in the future can destroy our potential. To make the situation worse we treat this all as a prescription for how we should live our lives. We get so concerned about being wrong that our tolerance for risk diminishes and before long we’re just waiting for permission. It’s rather sad, but our fear of being wrong kills the curiosity within us as we go through life. Yet it’s this curiosity that has caused some of the most creative accomplishments of humanity. It’s this curiosity that forced us to ask questions like
- How can we put a man on the moon?
- How can we make computers faster?
- How can we conserve energy?
- What can we do to make the world a better place?
The list goes on and on. But what you don’t see on that list is the question “what if I’m wrong”? If we all walked through life asking ourselves that question, the progress of humanity would eventually come to a screeching halt and we would be stuck.
There are no wrong answers
We need to get over this idea that there are any wrong answers if we intend to stop chasing ordinary. Unlike school, in life, the more mistakes you make, the more you’re going to learn. I should know since I’ve had a series of failures that have brought me to where I’m at today. Without those failures I wouldn’t have had the lessons. In school, when I failed, the only thing I learned was how to get a better grade. To make matters worse I don’t even remember what I learned.
Too many people let their failures define them. This whole idea that past performance is an indicator of future results is such bullshit. Yet, it’s how we put people into boxes and get them to buy into all those myths that help corporate America to fuel its own existence. But look at the visionaries, the mavericks, the renegades and everybody else who was crazy enough to think they could change the world and you’ll see an entirely different way of living life. They realized the one and only thing that matters when it comes to success, that it has no expiration date. My past is somewhat of a sordid affair consisting of broken hearts, financial problems, IBS, ADHD and uphill career battles. But the best thing about it is that it’s all done and over with. There’s no point dwelling on it and experiencing it all over again. As I’ve said before, you can’t paint a masterpiece on a cluttered canvas. Some of us just happened to be late bloomers. The way I see it it’s better that you shine at some point in your life than never at all. If you’re not where you want to be with your life, you might want to consider a 5 year perspective. Anytime I’m talking to a friend about where I’m stuck in my life I usually tell them “a year from now we’ll be have having a very different conversation.” Every time I see that person after a year, we usually are. I just make it a point to focus on what I can do today and move forward. If you keep dwelling on your past, it’s all you’ll see when you look into your future.
It’s never too late to be extraordinary. So stop waiting for permission.