Live Life With Your Eyes Open
Your middle school coach. Your barber💈. The person you sit across from on the train🚊 to work. Your next door 🏘 neighbor…
That individual whom you may never suspect could very well be the agent of change in your life, the person whose wisdom, encouragement or perspective would help you to identify, unlock, and maximize your gifts in ways you never thought possible, the person who would help you both dream and accomplish something very special.
Unfortunately, it’s a proven fact that we often overlook him 👳🏿♀️, her 👩🏼 or them because of our own unconscious biases against people, information and actions. It has never been more evident.
How many of us are drawn to the individuals with the most followers, the biggest shoe deal, or simply the most hype? Because of our fascination with fame and notoriety, we all too often become blind to many of the people we come in contact with everyday.
Imagine if you’d spent a few more minutes talking to the man you just met at Starbucks, or if you hadn’t stopped listening to your 4th grade music 🎻 teacher. What if you’d responded honestly when your accountant asked you if you really wanted to be an entrepreneur?
During this great adventure called life, people will cross your path who can change the course of your life in ways that at that moment you were completely oblivious to. What’s that? Life is not an adventure. If that’s the way you currently feel, you likely haven’t discovered your personal agents of change, perhaps because they weren’t famous or you weren’t ready to listen with your eyes and ears.
My agents of change weren’t former soccer superstars or billionaires or those playing the lead roles in reality TV series. Mine were right there, right before my eyes. They were people like Nita Mace, who was one of the unexpected catalysts of my passion. I will talk more about this fiery mother of 6 in my next blog and the trait she possessed that made her an agent of change.
Fortunately, my eyes were open just wide enough for me to let her and others into my world. The Innovation Blind Spot captures my thoughts below in one brief sentence.
“It’s not who you know, it’s who you get know.” — Ross Baird
Better still, it’s who you allow yourself to get to know.
My eyes weren’t always open. Age and success have a sneaky way of developing more biases and thus blinding you to those who really matter.
Many of your gifts are likely still locked within you. Moreover, I can say with confidence that those who could change your life are already in your midst. She👩🎤 may not look like you. He might be older 👴🏾, or richer, or poorer, but one thing is certain: You’ll be a much richer person once you’ve unlocked your inner genius with their help.
Without agents of change in my life, my goals and dreams would’ve only been words on paper.
Go ahead. Live life with your eyes 👀 open… and maybe even with your smartphone turned off on occasion. You and your soon-to-be agent of change will both be better for it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Wilson is a speaker 🗣, CLEMSON 🐅 ALUM, and an advocate for the importance of fun, play, and passion in work and life.
Congrats, you’ve recognized your gifts, acknowledged the barriers, and taken “the first step.”
So what’s next?
Start thinking like a kid.
As I pursued my passion for speaking and soccer, I went back and reflected on what I did as a kid to maximize my gifts.
To be honest, at the time I didn’t realize I was using a 4 step process to maximize my gifts. These steps were formed out of my hunger to create more joy in my passion.
Educate — step 1
Listen with your eyes 👀 and ears 👂🏽. What does this mean? Let me explain… Your individual senses are amazing, but combined, they are more powerful than ever. By “listening” with your eyes, as well as your ears, what you hear is reinforced and permanently etched as images in my brain.
As a kid whenever my coach demonstrated a skill, drill or technique, I would watch 👀 every part of his body and listen 👂🏽 to his voice, recording them both in my head so I could replay them later. Try it! It’s very effective.
Today we have Google, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on to gather information/knowledge about pretty much anything.
I had VHS Tapes! Remember those big over-sized rectangle-looking cassette tapes? My coach would give me those tapes and I would watch them over and over, pressing rewind to make sure I didn’t miss a move or technique.
Kids learn a huge amount in the first few years of their lives by listening and watching everything. Everything to them is new and fascinating, and they absorb things like a fat sponge sucks up water. They ask why and how questions a lot.
Be curious like a kid. When you are curious you seek out ways to educate yourself.
Curiosity is the key that lets us really learn.
Motivate — step 2
You must be optimistic and constantly encourage yourself. This is crucial to going beyond where others stop. Sometimes you are the only one who’s still there past a certain point and left wondering if you should continue.
Kids are often filled with optimism and the innocence that life was made for them.
It allows them to try things that adults might not. Rather than thinking they can’t do something, they simply try it, certain that they can. Over time, they begin to realize there are certain physical restrictions (no, a Superman cape will not allow you to fly), but generally, the more they optimistically stretch out and try things, the more things they really are able to do.
Scientists explain the optimism of a child by the concept of instinctual optimism, the idea that optimism is built into us from birth. We actually start out life believing with great confidence that no matter what the challenge, if we persevere, we will finally succeed. 🤔Being optimistic motivated me to not only learn, but to put what I learned into practice. Practice is where the learning really becomes real, where it moves from being theoretical to being the thing you know to be so. Motivation is the glue that connects the two. Without it you lose.
Pursue your goals with optimism.
Train— step 3
I drove my parents’ nuts throwing the ball off our tin roof trying to trap the ball like the players I watched on the VHS tapes. That’s how I replicated having someone throw me a ball to trap out of the air.
Kids have creativity built right into them. I didn’t need anyone to teach me to throw the ball off my parents’ roof. It flowed out of my love for wanting to enjoy the game more and a need for someone to return the ball to me!
Parents here's the good news: You don’t need to be an expert in anything to be a great parent, teacher, motivator, or disciplinarian.Kid’snatural creativity will work wonders if you let it and foster it. 🤔When kids are free to learn, they love learning. When they love learning, they learn amazingly fast. When they are allowed to try what interests them, they will begin to teach themselves.
Herein is yet another secret. When a child is allowed to set aside something that is no fun, boring and hard for them for a time in favor of something they’re really interested in, they will do better later and actually enjoy the thing that once was no fun, boring and hard.
Repeat — step 4
Educate Motivate Train Repeat-Educate Motivate Train Repeat-Educate Motivate Train
This final step may be the most important. As we get older and wiser, we tend to forget what’s been working, and decide to move on to something new or leave behind a piece of the process that’s allowed us to grow our gift.
We live in a world that is fast-paced, with new ideas and concepts being thrown at us daily. At every moment, something new and shiny is being dangled before our eyes.
You can get caught up in details that may not apply to you, that draw you off course from the path that was leading to your success. Be aware that such things are around you in abundance, all the time.
It’s not wrong to add new things to your life or to try something different, but remember what worked for you in the beginning. Remember when work didn’t seem so much like… work.
If ever the joy seems to have left your life, perhaps it’s because you left your joy. 😎Sometimes you need to go back and start throwing the ball off the roof again.
The Habit is More Important Than The Intensity
Remember that kids learn to walk and talk without a whole lot of pressure from anyone. That’s because they just keep trying, at their own pace, certain they will succeed… and they do.
Take time to reflect, to rediscover those simple actions that led to your earlier success.
We all want to be high achievers. We search for the newest ways and technologies to maximize our gifts and passion, but the solution may well be in your past, if you’re able once again to just think like a kid.
About the author:
John Wilson is a speaker 🗣, CLEMSON 🐅 ALUM, and an advocate for the importance of fun, play, and passion in work and life. @johnawilson25
John Wilson is a speaker, mentor, championship winning athlete, and an advocate for the importance of fun, play, and passion in work and life.
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