Your most important contribution to the world.
Is to be like no-one else.
Be part of creating the world you want to live in.
You should feel free to live from your ideals, and honour the desire to pursue all that you are passionate about. As long as you remain sensitive to, and respectful of, the cultural norms in your environment.
Through thousands of years we have evolved to where we are today. We have thumbs, we can reason, we invent, we create beautiful products and art. That expresses our inner emotions and inspires others.
More so, we are able to notice each others individuality. Not only in how we look – but our behaviour, mannerisms, how other people see and react to the world. We make choices based on other peoples behaviour. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers on the street. And even fictional people in movies and books, are part of who we are and become over time. And that is a beautiful thing.
But who is the original You, who are we – originally? And should we be concerned with preserving our original selves – or embrace continuous change?
Luckily, as we go through life, most of us will get a good sense of it. We realise that, as we go about figuring out who we are – we become more and more unique. We are the sum of all the people we meet and interact with. All our unique experiences. We are continuously becoming originals.
Your most important contribution to the world, is to be like no one else.
The ship of Theseus
The legend of Theseus have us imagine a ship. Undergoing a long journey, and being maintained underway. By the time it arrives at its destination – it’s had all its wood, nails, ropes and sails replaced. Is it still the same ship that left – or has it slowly become a new and different ship? This philosophical question has roamed for centuries – with several scenarios and thought experiments.
As we journey through life, we undergo continuous change. Our amazing body repairing and replacing itself. The cells in human bodies have an average lifespan of ~10 years. Many of them live only a few days. Others; notably our brain cells, central nervous system and retinas, lasts our entire lives. Making them equally indispensable and precious.
We certainly notice growing up, rapidly changing till we reach our steady adult bodies – and then we age, with grace of course :). And our mind, our soul – or how else we define the thinking and feeling part of us, is equally changing. Yet we don’t see or register how we replace or displace memories in the same way.
We actively and by inspiration and influence of others. Change our preferences and behaviour – as we are the sum of our experiences and all the people we meet. And we should exercise our minds like we do our bodies, every day.
Herein lies a good analogy for the culture in our tribes, businesses and companies – our organisms. And how we see ourselves and the world. Culture is the nervous system connecting us all – internally and with our surrounding world. Our eyes bringing the world inside.
How do we nourish and maintain the cells in our businesses – our organisms? What is the average lifespan of the efforts and Cores that drives them? It’s our central nervous system – all the people who’s envisioned and created it all – and their combined individual cultures it’s made up of. The DNA we fashion into living organisms.
Theseus’s ship was renewed by the people who sailed her, crafting and bringing energy and renewal to the ship that brought them into the horizon. We should consider the companies we work in, in the same way as our bodies. Create them with the same ability to restore and renew.
We’re renewing our businesses – our organisms – with new fresh cells, from the template of the originals. Our core DNA remains intact. And like humanity evolving, when we work with and collaborate with others. The strength of our combined DNA creates new possibilities.
We are born unique. There’ll never be another exactly like you, living exactly the same life in the same time and space. Even accounting for identical twins, multiple theoretical parallel universes and time travel ;).
Even we didn’t choose the place and time we were born, or under what circumstances. And we don’t control all that will influence us or the way the entire world turns out. It doesn’t make us powerless robots, forced to aimlessly go with the flow, and simply become what our surroundings dictate. We can make conscious choices, change direction, choose the company we keep.
We are photographing our daily lives like never before. Algorithms are serving us similar photos and experiences of others. And while an image is worth a great many words. They rarely convey your underlying thoughts, or the little idea in the back of your mind, that spawned a dream that day – when you were there. Let alone the instinct that made you take the photo.
We’ll never be able to fully comprehend the thousands of influences shaping our lives and future path every day. Which is good, for our natural instinct to control it would stifle us. All surprise and wonder of our diverse world would be lost to us. And we’d find little reason to pause and reflect.
So remembering, exactly these moments that makes us pause and reflect, is immensely valuable.
Taking notes and writing down experiences, ideas, your instincts. Especially those impulse thoughts, the ideas you get in the shower, riding your bike, walking the dog, drifting off when talking with others… yes – it’s allowed. Will help you gain a high number of seemingly chaotic and disconnected notes. But over time you’ll begin to see threads and common patterns form. They’re your subconscious mind – your intuition, speaking to you.
You will find your own working style, your way of helping others and engaging with people.
There is tremendous amounts of experience to be had from books on business, personal development, psychology. And attending seminars, classes and online discussions.
There’s advice for doing everything. From getting out of bed, to finding the perfect partner and become a billionaire. And there’s so much to learn from even the most mundane parts of everyday life – when we lift our eyes and notice its little nuances.
When you are new to an area, or entering a new company. It is of course important to follow the manual, the methods and advice of others – observe and respect local culture. Be the student.
Take it all in, listen to others. Distill it and learn from it all. Then take the square root and derive your own methods. Only when it becomes natural, when it fits in with your natural way of doing things. Only then will it become part of you.
With time, everything you learned will become second nature. It feels and becomes natural. You make room for new learning, others will learn to do things your unique way – and make them their own.
Mirrors helps us see ourselves, as obvious as it sounds.
Every person around us is a mirror, every experience a chance to see ourselves. We are amongst thousands of reflections. And they’re more than just shiny surfaces to reflect our appearance. They will tell us far more.
As we go through life, passing by these mirrors – all the other originals in the making. We will see ourselves in them.
You’ll recognise your own culture and ways of doing. Discover new aspects you wouldn’t notice when you’re in your familiar daily surroundings. It might spur you on to engage with, and nurture your own culture on a deeper level. And hopefully engage more often with theirs.
You’re more likely to come across interesting reflections in different cultures and new settings. Where we tend to be more curious and aware of our surroundings than closer to home.
Seeing our selves in a mirror. We know we’re not showing the world everything that we are. Our feelings, emotions, dreams and aspirations, our innermost state of mind and being. The experiences we may not be ready, comfortable or willing to show the whole world. Like everybody else – we have a private self.
So we know. It’s by looking past and behind the mirrors, behind the reflections, we see the strengths in ourselves and others. And understand how our experiences, while different – are similar and closely related to everyone around us.
Recognising we are all equal, and share many of the same traits. And we are all distinctly unique. We can help each other recognise our unique traits, helping each other be comfortable with them. Celebrate being originals together.
Cause there’re millions of ways to live a good life. And a hundred ways to do the same thing.
The little things you tend to hide from view. Unique as they may be – they are usually not as abnormal as you’d think. It’s just that – there’s no other mix of unique little things like yours.
They can often be a great source of inspiration and comfort to others. And you can invite them into the beautiful space between you, and get to know each other a little better.
The space between us is a beautiful place. Where we can meet and learn from each other.
You will find like-minded people. In every local and global culture, in the well known and unexpected alike.
There’s something exciting about discovering, that you’re not seeing everything you are all at once. That some of it is hidden, and will only become apparent when you see yourself in others. It can be addictive, looking for the next bit of you. Meeting more people, discovering and helping them see more of themselves in us too.
Experiencing your world
We all need mirrors to figure out who we are. As self discovery is near impossible without references. Or rather – how do we notice and appreciate who we are becoming, as we revolve and evolve around each other?
We need references to learn from and about ourselves. Starting with our parents, family and school friends. We begin making individually small decisions like; “I want to be more like her”, “biology is no fun” or “I feel light and happy when I dance”. We make thousands of evaluations and decisions like these every day. They’re based on watching others, mimicking others. As they mimic us, like passing mirrors.
Consider how you came to read this article.
Consider it in the simplest term. Going left or right at street corners – or forest paths and other natural markers where you live. Some are well known routes you travel daily. Other times you decide based on instinct, wanting to explore or spurred on by others.
There’s always something new round each corner. Places and their people changes every day, every hour. It’s turn by turn fresh input and inspiration.
Every little piece becoming part of you. A constant flow for your brain to evaluate, sort and decide to include or exclude from your repertoire.
Most often we make decisions with purpose and what we need to do for our current task at hand. But it’s likely your sudden craving for cake. Was spurred on, by someone in your peripheral vision with a bag from a baker. And you decide to turn in he direction this bag of delights travelled from.
There is no other person who will experience exactly the same as you. Grow up in the same surroundings, go to the same school, read the same books, have the same friends, the same job. Go through the same periods of challenges, hardship and pain as you. Or watch the same movies, and pass by the same people on the street.
All these are part of creating your perception of the world. Your own views on how things should work, what it should look like, and how you would like others to experience it. And experience you – how you present yourself to the world. Which we do, even we may not think about it as such.
And we in turn, lend ourselves as mirrors to people around us. Much more than we realise.
Change is natural
Change is what brought us here. Via a couple billion years of universal expansion, natural evolution and a few thousand years of human creativity. Entropy is one of the core factors of life and how the universe has evolved.
Here’s the incomparable Brian Cox explaining entropy.
Even our human bodies have relatively low entropy – it’s re-creating itself as it is. Every past and living human, and every human to be born in any perceivable future will be different. Low entropy ensuring the continued journey of the human race.
But our minds, our beliefs about the world we live in, have the ability and capacity for high entropy. We can learn new things, comprehend novel ideas, innovate and re-combine. We can re-imagine ourselves and the world we live in, and still be the same. We are born with the capacity for change – without compromising who we are. A wonderful notion.
We have the ability to influence ourselves and others. Making it even more important for all of us to actively participate in creating our world. With all our diverse perspectives, needs and dreams for what that means – what it feels and looks like. So that we may inspire each other.
Diversity looks different in various cultures. Just because it doesn’t look diverse to our eyes – doesn’t mean its not there. it can be subtle; the use of language, rituals, spices, gestures. It differs from family to family, one street to another – across beliefs, cultures and global tribes.
When you change address or job – you are bringing You along. You bring diversity to the neighbourhood and new ideas to the company. Mixing with what’s already there, informing and influencing each other. Another step on our entropic journey. Which is exactly what being in search of You is equipping you for – discovery, change, transformation.
We cannot turn back time or undo the past. But we can learn, and do things differently. We can change – and increase our entropy as individuals and society. You may not revel in the ever changing nature of entropy. but you can still be part of influencing what we do with this incredible gift of life.
Related . . . When you change
Embrace and absorb
We can’t know for sure where new experiences, well researched and meticulously thought out changes, or spur of the moment activities, will take us. We cannot know what it feels like, or how we feel about it, until days or years after the change.
All the related and tangential influences we couldn’t possibly foresee. The positive and sometimes adverse effects and consequences, will tell us what it actually means – the outcomes. We can only be open to and appreciate all that we learn, and wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.
Some are reluctant to try new experiences. Concerned that spending time with people who are unlike themselves, will change them too much. That they will no longer be themselves. When in fact, the more diverse influences we have – the more unique we will become. We will become more ourselves. Funny how that works isn’t it.
How do you know you are right. If everybody agrees with you ?
If everybody disagrees with you. It does not mean you’re wrong.
The future lies in all the things we don’t know – we don’t know.
You have a unique place in the world
Being unique, an original, standing out. Excites some, and makes others uncomfortable. For some it’s at the very core of what makes them feel alive. Others prefer to ‘melt in’ with their surroundings a little. Everyone of us live equally multi faceted and uniquely individual lives.
We often think about being unique as standing out visually, with what we wear, music we listen to or special hobbies. Or voicing opinions and views that are foreign, controversial or even extreme. Things that are readily apparent to us.
Just as often we believe there’s nothing special about us. Or certain things about us, are so special or weird that we are afraid of telling others about it. We are possibly all of that. We are all equally human, and there’s something very special and unique about us all.
But, being unique. Becoming more our original self every day – it’s a great journey. We will find likeminded people to share it with in new, previously unknown and quite unlikely places.
The Internet has made it significantly easier for us. To find likeminded souls across borders and cultures, and be found ourselves. Provided we dare to put ourselves out there, with some of all that we are.
We are not limited to learn from, and see opportunities, in the local community we are born into. We can engage with people we would otherwise never have even known existed. And see the millions of ways to live good lives. Although they may sometimes appear almost adversely different from ours.
One man in a small village, is quiet about his passion for knitting. Not because anyone would necessarily mind, but because ‘He knows he’s alone in the world… I mean – men don’t knit… come on right ?’
That was then. Now knitting clubs report more than 10% male members. And knitting clubs dedicated for men, exist in major cities across the world and online.
Knitting is generally acknowledged for its meditative qualities. It works as therapy for people with anxiety and anger management issues. And is often prescribed as such.
The world has changed for the better.
Maybe it’s time you put down the phone for an hour, and take up knitting ?
Spending time with people who are unlike you is your best opportunity to learn. You’ll learn more from people who differ from you. They will challenge and question your ideas, methods, beliefs and observations. And just as often confirm them.
You will see new angles, further opportunities, obstacles you hadn’t thought of, and you will expand your world. And though you will often disagree – you will build your network and make new friends.
You have a place in this world, even you may not feel completely at home where you are right now. You can make it yours just as much as everyone else, and you can continue your journey.
If you want the human race to evolve further. To something even better and smarter. More compassionate to each other, and the world we live in. Real positive outcomes! Then continue to be original, and embrace it in others.
If we all think the same, watch the same tv shows, listen to the same music, have the same opinions, beliefs, orientations … we will go stale. We will retreat to a feral state, where very few people, will dictate the lives for the rest of us. If you call that life.
Now. Being You, does not mean that you bring your Saturday night party animal with you to work. Neither is extreme positions necessary for you to be heard or get to where you want to be. If people don’t listen or react to your ideas – try listening and adjust your arguments.
Remain professional and work in tune with the culture you are part of. There’s still plenty of room for your individuality to shine through in your work, and when engaging with people around you.
Neither should you be chasing constant change. Let it come in waves as new experiences and your curiosity about the world around you brings about more substantial changes. Making conscious and healthy decisions about how you spend your time, where and with who. Means you are still at the wheel – even it can feel like changes are ‘just happening’.
The impatient you, might see revolution as an option for achieving the changes you’re looking for. But healthy and sustainable change, real change. Is far more likely to come about as we revolve and evolve around each other. Moving together, as individuals.
Tell stories about the world you see, so others may better understand where you come from – and where you wish to go. Speak because you you want to learn. And patiently listen to the experiences, ideas and concerns of others.
Remember, change takes time. What may seem obvious to you, is often quite foreign to those new to the ideas. Slow down, bring others into your vision of the future, inspire and lift them. Pull them along – so you can speed up.
Invite people into your life and culture, and go exploring in theirs.
Create the world you want to live in.
Photo by Johannes Plenio