We live in an era of relentless change. Whether we’re dealing with technology, work or even politics, the ground seems constantly to be shifting beneath our feet. As a result, we face new challenges on a daily basis, and we have to continuously adapt if we want to be successful.
Of course, this is easier said than done. How do you do it? The secret lies in implementing the strategies that will enable you to perpetually reinvent yourself as mentioned in the book, Reinvent Yourself by James Altucher. By doing this, you can put yourself in a position to conquer the challenges of modern life. As the proverb goes, if the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. The world isn’t going to adapt to you – so it’s time for you to start adapting to it.
Once upon a time, the road to success was straightforward: you earned a degree, landed a stable job and saved up for a comfortable retirement. This road has become a thing of the past, and yet many people are still trying to follow it – saddling themselves with debt from student loans, credit cards and mortgages along the way.
The old road is no longer viable because in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world there simply isn’t a linear, fixed and preestablished route to success; you need to blaze your own path.
One of the keys to doing so is to avoid letting your degree or job title define you. Consider a company that exemplifies reinvention: Google. Catching up with a friend who works at Google, the author asked, “What are the latest projects your company is working on?”
The author expected them to be search-related. But, actually, they were totally different: building an automated car, developing a bracelet to cure cancer and connecting remote areas to Wi-Fi through stratospheric balloons. In other words, Google doesn’t let its “job” (providing a search engine) define it.
Google’s cofounder Larry Page doesn’t let his degree define him, either. He majored in computer science, but his job today isn’t about tinkering with software; it’s about solving major societal problems.
Of course, breaking free of the confines of your degree or job title is easier said than done. Fortunately, just because you have to blaze your own path doesn’t mean you have to go it alone; mentors can provide guidance. Here are some steps to finding them.
First, do some research on a person you respect and want to learn from. Read her bio. Check out articles she’s written or interviews she’s given. Next, contact her with ideas that might help her. As you continue on your journey, provide your mentor with progress updates every three months. That way, she can see her influence on you in action and feel appreciated.
Finally, don’t just seize opportunities to meet up with your mentor; create those opportunities. It might even be worth going so far as to fly to another country and send her a message saying you’re available to discuss an idea further!
Some of history’s most creative people have also been the most prolific. Pablo Picasso created 50,000 works of art, which averages at two per day. Jimi Hendrix recorded enough music to fill nearly 70 albums, despite living only 27 years.
Now, you don’t need to churn out work every minute to be creative – but high production can help you sharpen your talents. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. But how do you decide which one to practice? How can you tell which one lies in the direction of your calling?
One way is to recall your childhood and ask yourself: What did I love doing or dream of doing back then? Which activity made me lose my sense of time while doing it or imagining doing it?
There lies your calling. It might not seem practicable – but even if it was childish, it can still give you a starting point from which to set out.
Chip Conley, the head of hospitality at Airbnb, for instance, was led into his career in the hospitality industry by recollecting the hours he would spend imagining he was running a restaurant as a child. And a friend of Chip’s went from being a dissatisfied lawyer to a world-renowned pastry chef by remembering the pastime of her six-year-old self: making mud pies!
Imagine if every morning, you woke up feeling so motivated and excited about the day ahead that you practically bolted out of bed. Does this sound like a dream compared to your present reality? If so, it’s a sign that you need to identify the goals and activities that will fill you with a burning desire to start your day and pursue your passions.
Once kindled, this desire will give you the drive to overcome the obstacles in your path – a power that’s exemplified by the story of Wayne Dyer.
To say the odds were stacked against him would be an understatement; he was an orphan who spent his childhood bouncing between foster homes. Nonetheless, he was able to earn a PhD in educational counseling and become a professor. He then wrote his first book, Your Erroneous Zones, which eventually sold a whopping 35 million copies.
But his journey from orphanhood to best-selling author wasn’t a smooth one. At first, his book sold only 5,000 copies, which he considered a failure. However, rather than give up, he decided to buy all of the unsold books from his publisher and go on a cross-country adventure, visiting bookstores in person to convince them to sell his book.
To market his book, he also tried to appear on national television – only to be rejected by the producers of every show he approached. But once again, he refused to give up; instead, he drove from station to station and promoted his book face-to-face. Thanks to his tenacity, he was able to take his initial sales numbers and multiply them by 7,000!
Empowered by a burning desire like Wayne Dyer’s, you’ll be able not only to overcome your obstacles, but also to conquer your fear of failure. To see the importance of doing so, consider the Rolling Stones.
Two of its founding members, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, were childhood friends who were brought back together by the passion they shared for music, which led them to form the band.
The rest is history, right? Well, not quite. At first, music critics panned their songs. Reviewers derided Mick Jagger’s voice, which they said was “fuzzy and undisciplined . . . complete chaos.”
But the band didn’t give up. Instead, they welcomed every gig that came their way, performing 200 concerts per year, despite earning little money from them and attracting audiences as small as four people.
It was their zeal for music that enabled them to overcome their fear of failure and to become one of the most successful bands of all time.
Imagine a world without borders – one where trade flows freely between nations, innovation flourishes in its wake and people extend their generosity to everyone, overcoming their ethnic, racial and social divisions. Wouldn’t this be an ideal world to live in?
Well, it may take many years for this vision of the world to be realized, but we can still live by the values that animate it in the here and now by continually striving to benefit others.
One person who embodies such a spirit of generosity is Pope Francis. Here is just one example. A young woman became pregnant, and her husband pressured her to have an abortion. Wanting to keep the baby, she divorced him. Afterward, she sank into depression.
Desperate, she sent a letter to the pope. A few weeks later, her phone rang – and, to her surprise, it was Pope Francis himself! He comforted her over the phone, and later he even baptized the baby himself.
If you think about it, such an act of kindness is remarkable. After all, the pope leads an enormous, nearly 2,000-year-old institution. Nonetheless, he frequently takes time to call the ordinary people who write to him, just to bring some happiness into their lives.
Such acts of kindness earn the pope plenty of adulation – but rather than basking in it, he actively discourages us from viewing him as some sort of moral Superman. Instead, he reminds us that he is a human being who laughs and cries just like us. Why is that truth important? Because the flip side is that we are just as capable of kindness as he is.
Check out my related post: Can you Pivot? – Part 1