The juxtaposition of youth and maturity (growing old) had my full and undivided attention this past week. In a brief 24-hour period, I found myself standing in a hospital room and a college classroom.
At first glance, I didn’t consider for a moment there could be similarities. How could it be possible that the intersection of youthful anticipation and the pursuit of graceful aging could share something so powerful in common?
Knowledge is a commodity. Just ask “Siri” or “Alexa.” If you would have said, “Google It,” 10 years ago, few people would have known what that meant. But today “Google It” and “Ask Siri or Alexa” are part of our daily lexicon. Thus some of us are only as smart as our “smart phone” allows us to be.
Known answers are at our fingertips and we are bombarded (even overwhelmed) with data. High alert—“the value of explicit information is dropping.”
I lost something. You’ve likely lost it too. We had a lot of it as kids. But something happens on our journey to adulthood that allows it to slip away seemingly undetected. We lose our innate curiosity and stop asking questions.
It happens to all of us—some more than others. We’d rather stick to what we know. But what we know won’t be enough. In fact, what we know today won’t even be enough to sustain the present let alone allow us to make meaningful contributions in the future.
We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right.
Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
I am not good with punctuation and grammar. Goodness my writing software just proved it by correcting “grammer” to “grammar.” I get reminded fairly frequently that I didn’t pay a lot of attention in my youth during English class.
I pay a lot more attention today. I am still working on the grammar and I’ve come to appreciate the value and power of words through the years.
We all carry a question around with us every day. It’s a persistent question that doesn’t have a singular answer. We may not verbalize this question, but it always presents itself anew each and every day. Am I making an impact?
Who do any of us know, including ourselves, that doesn’t want what we do to matter? We can’t suppress our desire to make a difference because it is embedded in our DNA.
It happens over half of the time. It may be happening right now. Sometimes we don’t even realize it is going on. Then we catch ourselves and wonder how our minds got sidetracked.
It is easy to get sidetracked and lose focus. We all lose focus. The question is not whether we are going to lose focus—we are! When we employ clarifying personal filters it enables us to focus on the people and outcomes that are most important to us.
It is easy to miss. We rub up against it from time to time but may never truly grasp the magnitude of the moment. Let alone embrace the depth of its impact. But in those brief “ah-ha” moments we can’t help but think, “I need to employ the power of compassion more often!”
I was speaking at a conference in Texas earlier this year. During the break before I was going to be introduced a gentleman urgently approached me. It was clear he had something he wanted me to hear.
One of the first books I remember that truly changed how I lived and worked was Seeds Of Greatness by Denis Waitley. I loved this book! It exposed me to think about many things I could do to increase my personal and professional impact.
“Knowledge is the frontier of tomorrow,” Waitley wrote. He suggested “one of the most important aptitudes for success is also a mystery to 95% of the world’s population.”
It’s not rocket science! This is a bold declaration of hope for those of us who scraped by chemistry class with only a vague recollection of the details. I don’t remember a lot (okay very little) from my chemistry classes. But I do remember the power, importance and potential of a catalyst.
In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed by the reaction. It creates, speeds up and ignites a specific change but is not consumed by the reaction. In life, the catalyst is a purpose or mission that truly motivates.