I used to be smart. Really smart. My life depended on it. My inner life anyway. I competed with my classmates in physics and calculus to get the highest score each exam. As a young leader in business, I needed to have the best idea, the best team, the most innovative take on the idea. And I often thought I did.
I had learned as an adolescent that if I knew the right answer, I would garner praise from all the important people in my life. I was told that if I worked hard and got good grades, I would get a good job. I was told I would get promoted if I got the advanced degree or if I knew how to do all the right things better than anyone else.
This all worked out just as they had said. I was the A student. I got the good job. I got promoted. I led big teams of people. It worked.
Until it didn’t.
I submit that this is a moment that comes for most of us in our lives and in our careers. The strategy we have used to find success has stopped working. Some people call this a mid-life crisis, some call it a breakdown, others call it an awakening. I like the word awakening--but it definitely doesn't feel like that. I had never felt more lost in my life.
Here's the bad news--I can't tell you what you need to do when you reach this moment. I certainly didn't know what to do. So I stopped. I let the waves of life wash over me for a bit. I started learning about me. I actually started becoming me instead of trying to figure out who I should be.
Here's the good news--if you are in this moment in your life or you feel yourself approaching it--you are in for a wonderful ride. You are like the caterpillar heading into the cocoon. If that caterpillar could talk, what would she say as she becomes a pile of goo? That was me—it might be you.
The best news of all is that the you that you have known for your whole life may be on the way out but the next you will be more real, more present, more creative, and more truly successful than you can imagine.
Do you want to get to know him? Do you want to get to know her? I do.