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The most important question to ask yourself if you want to create change might not be what you think. Most of us focus on what it is we want to DO. But there’s a shift that needs to happen before we take any kind of action. One that makes all the difference to how effective an impact we can have. And I realised just how much this one question mattered on an ordinary morning towards the end of 2019, in the most unexpected setting…
My local café is playing back to back classics from 25 years ago. These were the tunes that accompanied me around my first GAP year tour around Europe.
Green Day, The Beautiful South, Sinead O’Connor…
What are the tunes which take you back?
What song, when you hear it on the radio, transports you through time to a moment decades ago – maybe being driven up to university, dancing with friends on a night out, wracked with adolescent angst in a room with the curtains drawn?
Because, hearing that music, I’m forced, and I mean FORCED, to reflect back on what has happened over those 25 odd years.
(Trust me – I’m trying to do a completely different job right now – but the power of music is hard to ignore.)
What have you achieved over the past decade or two?
I did a medical degree. Travelled a lot. Lost my virginity. Directed plays. Dated. Was a doctor for a time. Was an acting student for a time. Found my true calling. Fell in love – way too many times. Spent a long time perplexed by men. Started a business. Struggled. Cried a lot. Succeeded. Laughed so much my sides hurt with my family. Toured the world doing what I love. Was heartbroken by the insensitivity of humans more times than I care to remember. Burned out. Rested.
Started another business. Succeeded. Got married. Tried to have a baby. Had palpitations. Had a miscarriage. Stopped. Re-assessed. Learned to sail. Got pregnant. Had a baby. Started One of many. Moved to the English countryside. Met great friends. Grew what’s becoming a movement. Started another business with one of my best mates. Had another baby at home in the bath, all 10lb 14oz of her. Impacted a load of lives. Went to Necker Island and met presidents, business mavens and human rights leaders. Sang carols in my loungeroom with my friends.
I’ve done A LOT of awesome in the last 25 years.
But what I’m MOST present to listening to these old tunes is that WHO I AM is so different to who I was then.
Indeed who I am is different to who I was 10 years ago. Five years ago.
Dammit, who I am today is different to who I was 1 year ago!
And I think that’s because throughout my life I’ve asked myself the same question over and over.
If I want to do x, then WHO do I need to BE?
You see, the me of twenty five years ago? You probably wouldn’t recognise her.
Perhaps the one thing we still have in common is that she cared, deeply and passionately, about the world around her. I still do.
But almost everything else: how we approach life, how we decide what to do, how we show up in relationship with friends, family, colleagues… all of that is different.
How about you?
When you think about the difference you need to make, have you ever asked yourself that question?
Or have you tended to get caught up in the far more common one: “What do I need to do?”
When I look at the challenges the world is facing, I see so many things that will require our energy, commitment and passion to solve.
In our society as we grapple with inequality, injustice and intolerance.
As a planet, wondering what impact climate change, artificial intelligence, and our ever more connected society will have.
And as stewards to the next generation, wondering what on earth they need to know to thrive and find joy in the coming decades.
Today, I think perhaps the answers might lie in asking the right question.
Not what do we need to DO.
But who do we need to BE?
It’s the only way I can credit the big changes I’ve been able to make. And it’s something I think we could all do with reflecting on more as we set goals.
What is it you want to achieve in the coming year? How are you ready to change?
Start by asking yourself that simple question, and you might find the key to many of your challenges, dreams and ambitions.
Find out who you need to be
This important question is just one of the ways you can set yourself up for success in the coming months. To find out how to turn it into results, join me in September 2020 for a LIVE interactive workshop.
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