I believe everyone came into this world with a particular destiny: a distinct blueprint, a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present in potential in one’s life — like an acorn that holds the pattern for an oak tree only. Socrates and Goethe referred to this as their “daimon,” a kind of inner spirit or voice that compelled them to fulfill their destiny. Albert Einstein also spoke of an inner voice that shaped his speculations.
You can see it at play in the lives of the world’s accomplished people – the successful entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and others of this world – who have actualized their soul’s calling and fulfilled their personal myth, guided by this inner force.
Yet not all acorns grow into the magnificent oak trees they might have become. If we all have dreams, why is it that so few of us manage to turn them into a reality?
Here are the excuses I made to silence my soul’s own calling… as well as the insights I gained from researching the lives of those who actualized their potential.
Stop Making Excuses: Your Destiny Is Waiting for You!
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
– Steve Jobs (more quotes)
“I have no particular talent.”
If I had any particular talent, we would have known about it by now.
Does this sound familiar?
I fell prey to a common trap, which is to believe that blueprints manifest out of the blue — without the 10,000 hours of practice and hard work involved in any journey of self-discovery and self-mastery.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jacques Brel once said in a famous interview that he is convinced of one thing: “talent does not exist.” To him, talent is simply “having a burning desire to make one’s dream come true.” The rest is “all sweating, discipline and hard work.”
Think about it: Steve Jobs was fired from the company he started; J. K. Rowling was jobless and poor as a single parent. Others were clearly disadvantaged at the outset by physical standards: Michael Jordan was famously cut from his varsity team in high school; Muhammad Ali was thought to lack the physique of a great fighter. Other such stories abound.
But they had a dream, and a burning desire to make it real, so they put in tons of effort to achieve it.
“I’m trying hard but nothing’s working.”
After years of disarray, I started to ponder the daunting question: are you trying hard at the right thing? Do you think Michael Jordan could have been a great scientist, or Einstein a great basketball player?
Many people live their lives with their ladder leaning against the wrong wall, so every step they take brings them further in the wrong direction. As brilliantly said by Einstein: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
Here’s a clue: when you are aligned with your soul’s calling, working hard does not drain you — it energizes you. This is precisely why you can outwork your competitors. You feel like a fish in water.
“I need to master everything before I can get started.”
I’ve been working very hard at leveling up my weaknesses over the years. It was painful enough, but I thought I could not start anything valuable beforehand.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: successful people focus on developing their strengths and natural capabilities, NOT their weaknesses.
You can’t be great at everything. The efforts and time you put in on your strengths will be much more rewarding in time — both in terms of personal satisfaction during the process, as well as in terms of return on investment.
This is confirmed by research that shows successful people share one thing in common: self-awareness. They know themselves well, and use this knowledge to choose the environments and situations that are most conducive to their success.
If they are not good at one particular skill, they will partner with someone who is, or will compensate with one of their strong points whenever possible.
“I don’t know what makes me tick.”
Though I readily acknowledge that I need to exercise physically to stay in shape, I long believed that my inner world – or inner muscles so to speak – should be left untouched. I mistook it for who I was.
Your soul’s voice is a whisper – the sound of which has long been subdued by the world’s noises, as well as your own conditioning, which is the result of how you internalized other people’s opinions over time. When you live life from the outside in, you let the world’s voices (whether internalized or not) dictate the way you feel and act. You loose touch with your inner wisdom.
But you are not your conditioning. Unless you work on separating the wheat from the chaff, you will be living by other people’s standards, thinking they are yours!
You have to re-connect to your soul’s music: it is truly a powerful guide. It takes courage to let it play. But once you do, it will give you an unstoppable drive towards self-actualization through the blossoming of your unique seed.
“I don’t want to risk losing what I have”
Following one’s inner voice implies taking risks – sacrificing short-term comfort, status, wealth, etc. for something that is uncertain per se. It seems easier to conform and settle for the comfort of our current lives, even if they make us feel emptier and emptier inside.
You get to choose.
You can be the hero of your own journey. You have a personal myth that’s asking to be lived.
Will you settle and die with your dream inside? Or will you choose the road less traveled?
What is it in your heart that you know you must be, do and have? And most importantly, why?