Most of the stories we hear about “unlocking potential” are those of rags to riches, zero to hero, corporate-slave to craft-beer, financial services to social services, near-death to real-life… These are stories of truly amazingly individuals who have moved mountains to get to where they are today. They are “inspirational”… They pump us up, stimulate us, make us feel aroused.
However, for me, a few hours later this stimulation subsides and we are often left with little… It might be an issue of relatability — maybe I can’t relate with the rags to riches story, or maybe whilst these stories are “inspirational” they are not “aspirational” for me…
Referencing my (online) dictionary:
- Inspiration — “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something”
- Aspiration — “a hope or ambition of achieving something”
This is stimulation versus ambition. Excitement versus action. And most significantly, external versus internal. This is not taking anything away from the amazing stories we hear. But inspiration is something we ingest from outside. Aspiration is something we cultivate within ourselves.
Whilst inspiration is often necessary in order for aspiration to grow, it is only once we’re filled with aspiration, self-initiated and self-defined, do our lives really begin to transform.
So the question becomes: How do we seek and maintain the aspiration to build an authentic and fulfilling life? How do we tell more stories about the people who are stuck, searching, lost, unfinished? How do we embrace the good and the bad, the successes and the failures?
This is where I am on my journey… It is not a particularly glamorous story — but one of exploration and small imperfect steps. I am quickly finding that there are no shortcuts, but there are tools and practices that can support us in our growth. A core part of my long and winding journey is uncovering these practices and making them accessible and relevant for others. In essence: How do you do the things you love with the people you love (and get paid for it)? How can you build sustainable change, show up as your best self and unlock your potential?
So am I just an idealist millennial seeking meaning in our VUCA world? HELL YES. BRING ON THE EXPERIMENT OF LIFE.
Lesson #4: Life is an exploration.
Today is an opportunity to take a small and imperfect step towards something greater.
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