We were taught that the harder we work, the more we will be rewarded. That’s obviously not true, as we look out upon a world filled with very hard working folks who don’t have much. We were then told to work smarter, not harder. But we’re not all smart enough or smart in the right ways.
We learn that we have what we have because of what we’ve done. We learn that if we do better, we can get more. We learn that we sometimes have to stand our ground and say no. We learn to say yes more. We learn that we have unique interests and individual perspectives. We learn that we can conform to the norm of our time, or we can embrace our deviance and go on a few unorthodox adventures. We learn that not everyone lives fantastically.
We were convinced that only a select few get to be majestic; the rest of us plebs must tow the line and do like everyone else. It’s not that there aren’t many people reaping lots of rewards from their hard and smart work. It’s just that it’s a mixed bag. The common factor isn’t how hard one works nor how smart one is. The most common factor is the level of self-responsibility and determination one has in achieving their own goals; the “never-give-up” factor.
Our tribes, our packs, our communities, our families, they all serve to either hold us back and keep us from stretching too far, or they encourage us to grow as much as we dare. Often both, in unequal measure on different subjects. Both scenarios can be practised in a healthy way or in a toxic way. Again, often both ways are practised in reality.
It’s like any activity or sport. You want to be stretched a little, to become better, to grow up, to develop. But you also want to feel contained and safe, supported and nourished, without being too restricted. It’s that balance that we play with as we grow up. Sometimes we don’t have a safe space and are forced to grow up very quickly. Sometimes we have too sheltered a space and don’t grow up quick enough. As adults, if that balance is still off, we must find our own way to having a contained space in which we can stretch ourselves sufficiently.
Stretch, Expand, Stand Out
We are unique individuals. We all have different natural interests. We have different skills. We have different personalities. We have different wants. We express ourselves differently. We may all be human but, like trees, we are all very, very different. And it’s a very pointless endeavour trying to pretend like we’re not each one in eight billion.
This trying to fit in has us developing a nasty side effect; we care a little too much about what we think other people think and, on top of that, we take those thoughts way, way, way too personally and seriously. Instead of taking on the adventure of discovering ourselves so that we can live more to please ourselves, we wind up trying to please other people who don’t seem to know how to please themselves nor care that we aren’t pleased.
That’s a lot of responsibility to take up in adulthood. Because there’s not just one person to be pleased. We have parents and spouses and bosses and friends and family and co-workers and all the people who are our perceived superiors and inferiors and strangers on the bus and the people on the net and everyone. Everyone! Those people I know and also those people I don’t know, I need to please them all!
My gods. If we’re all thinking like that, you can see why it’s easy to get sucked into the rat race of competition.
The key is to be a little more selfish. This may seem counter-intuitive to us who’ve been taught to serve others. But think about that deeper. We would only need to serve others if they weren’t able to serve themselves, right? And that’s the world we find ourselves in, with so many people relying on so many other people who are relying on so many other people who just want a break from having people rely on them so damn much!
Rather than serving others, let’s teach more people to serve themselves. The more self-reliant and confident we become, the more we uplift not only ourselves but everyone who has the privilege of crossing our paths. In other words, shine your weird little light bright and loud. And give others permission to shine their own lights, too.
An economy of light and sparkles
As we all shine our individual sparkle, you will notice that there are thousands if not millions of pockets of people who have similar interests to us, and what we have to offer. As you are getting to know and honour the value you have to offer, you will rendezvous more with the appropriate people who are on the same wavelength.
Your value and the price you command becomes a unique offering that cannot be disassociated from you. You choose your market, how you want to work, and with who you want to work. You don’t necessarily have to create a fancy new start-up. You can still work within somebody else’s company. Or you can freelance in this gig-based world. It doesn’t matter who you work for or with, you hold intrinsic worth that moves with you. And the more you honour that worth, the more you will only work with the people who honour that worth, too.
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