It is an age-old question. We use it when pondering some of conundrums of life—which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well of course you know the chicken came first. But what about success and happiness? Is there a happiness advantage?
Are you happy because you are successful, or are you successful because you are happy? Many people, maybe most people, think success leads to happiness, but it actually is the other way around.
You know by now that I like questions. I have not always had a warm relationship with questions. I am sure I am not alone. Goodness, learning to invite inquiry capable of exposing ignorance is uncomfortable.
Through years of being rewarded for having answers we learn to lead with confidence and rely on what we know. Slowly but surely we extinguish our innate teachable spirit and insist relying on a base of knowledge grows more fragile every day.
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 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.
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.
Do you ever think about excellence? It may not command your daily thought but you most certainly have dreamt of what it would be like to be truly great at something. I think about achieving and producing mastery all the time.
No one (absolutely no one) works at anything thinking, “I sure hope I can achieve mediocrity!” But breaking through mediocrity and producing excellence presents a tough challenge. I hear people say all the time, “I love a challenge.” We’ve all said it, but our love for challenges has its limits.