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.
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. Reassessed. 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 living room 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: 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.
I think perhaps the answer 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 attribute the success I’ve had. 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? Ask yourself that simple question, and you might find the key to many of your challenges/
Find out who you need to be
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