“That was almost a complete waste of time,” I said to Caanan, frustrated that we didn’t spend the time exploring more of Mumbai.
“I know. And can you believe how most people were just blindly agreeing with everything that was said?” he replied.
We had just wrapped up a “brainstorming” call with other business consultants, and we were both feeling, well… a little non-plussed by the whole thing. Which is probably why I bookended the term brainstormed with quotation marks. While there was no shortage of groupthink going on, brainstorming was in short supply.
Maybe it should have been called an “agreeing” call.
Whatever the case, we definitely should have been taking in more of India.
We’ve developed quite a track record for disliking those kinds of events and the associated dismal outcomes. You do not succeed in life – and in business – by operating like the rest of the pack. Our virtual business succeeds, in part, because we meet a need in a way that differentiates us. As we witnessed on this call, most people aim to succeed by merely duplicating what others are up to – exactly what others are up to.
Of course, the same is true in life – probably even more so. People tend to focus on parroting others’ path rather than forging their own. This is particularly true at the dawn of a new year when the circadian rhythm of the universe pushes us to make the 12 months ahead better than the 12 months behind.
So, for many people, the beginning of the year can be a trigger for anxiety. Others’ talk of resolutions, goals, and plans can be nothing but a big arrow pointing to an inability to do the same. The pressure we put on ourselves to have a direction-fueled life can be paralyzing and can prompt some not-so-flattering self-assessments. We then tend to follow rather than lead. We prefer to look for a hero rather than being our own.
The greatest challenge in life is figuring yourself out. Once you’re on that path, what once was a challenge becomes a gift. You feel empowered and emboldened. You become more likely to be the best version of you and less likely to wear someone else’s skin.
Here are 4.5 of our best tips for harnessing your inner superstar.
1) Stop Looking around
Really. The answer to your success, your path, your life, lies in you. Looking outward for these sorts of things is usually an indicator that you have some “inner” work to do. The sweet spot is knowing yourself and then looking outward for a bit of inspiration, a nudge toward a fresh idea, a landscape check. We refer to this as “glancing sideways."
2) Invest and divest wisely
This year, with a big focus on streamlining, we’re on a big invest/divest kick. We’re investing in those things – friends, activities, etc. – that energize us. Similarly we’re divesting ourselves of those things that are depleting and useless. Which friends make you feel better about yourself, more comfortable in your own skin? Which activities make you hum? Lean into those.
2b) Get honest
This is where we have our fair share of trouble, so it gets its own semi-header. Although much better, we still do a lot of stuff because we feel like we should. And not the good kind of should. Rather, the kind of should that stems from thinking “It’ll make her happy” and that sort of stuff. Our problem in this area is what spiraled us into jumping on that useless brainstorming call. Giving of yourself is good. Mindlessly giving of yourself is detrimental.
3) Question everything.
We, as a society, have lost the ability to constructively resist. It seems that everyone believes everything they hear. This is a fast track to a boring reality and plummeting self-esteem. The more we condition ourselves to think critically, the more we fuel our own creative fire. Make this the year that you probe. This is also a great way to find the gaps that you’re here to fill – the problems you’re here to solve.
4) Leverage wisdom.
Aspiring entrepreneurs will often ask us what we do, the details of our business, etc. Those are the wrong questions because they propel a copy-cat mentality. Smart, aspiring entrepreneurs ask us how we determined what business to pursue, how we knew we’d be good at it, etc. These questions elicit responses that inspire – that point to information that the askers can apply to themselves when determining which direction they want to go.
Make this the year you lean more into you and less into the dreams of others.
You’ll like yourself more. We promise.
We're currently traveling in India and SE Asia. For a blow-by-blow account of our adventure, click here.