Each of us has things we’d like to change about ourselves. We might want to eat less or exercise more. We might want to be more assertive. We might want to read more or become experts in something. We might want to be more adventurous.
How many of our desired changes would fundamentally alter who we are? Are we evolving as people?
Evolution has a lot more nuance than change. Evolution means we are building on what came before. It means that exposure to some events, ideas, or changes in circumstance has resulted in our moving forward in a different way.
Many things can lead to our personal evolution. Examples include an epiphany we’ve had about how to make our lives better, a recognition of some truth that had previously evaded us, a wake-up call we’ve had about our health or our state of mind, or an experience we’ve had that alters our worldview.
As children, we grow up wanting to be rock stars, or bestselling authors, or the president. We are “thinking big” — thinking about reaching the pinnacle of our passions. But achieving this height does not just happen. The realization of any big dream takes a combination of hard work, cultivating relationships with the right people, diligent preparation, and luck.
For some, the image of our dreams drives us to obsessive routines. Practicing for hours and hours every day, reading anything they can get their hands on, endless networking. For others, dreams remain dreams.
When things in life are going according to plan and clicking along, it can be comfortable. Sometimes so comfortable that we hesitate to make changes or take risks. It’s when things aren’t going quite right (or horribly wrong) that we often make fundamental changes in our lives — changes that can lead to evolution and growth.
Life never happens according to a script, and thank goodness. How boring would that be?
Everyone has times in their lives when it seems like the world is against them or they can’t catch a break. It’s very easy to feel sorry for ourselves, or feel like the world is against us. But it’s during those times that we might have an opportunity to “reboot” our lives. Instead of thinking about what we’ve lost, think about the potential for what we have to gain, or change, or try. There’s no reason we have to try to get back to our life as it was — we can try to get to where our life is going.
It may not always feel that way, but, if you think about it, everything you come across is part of who you are, part of your life experience, part of your own little empire.
From that perspective, we are all responsible for our interactions, our perceptions, our feelings, and our experiences; they are the elements of our realms, and we are the monarchs.
We can decide what kind of rulers we will be. We can be hands-on benevolent rulers who take responsibility for our realms and don’t abdicate our duty. Or we can be thoughtless rulers who don’t pay attention to the business of our realms and let others determine their fate.
We all have people in our lives—people who are important to us, people we spend time with, people we care about.
There are lots of ways we might characterize these relationships—acquaintances, colleagues, teammates—but how many of them are friends?
We tend to use the word friend without a lot of thought. It’s a very common word, and we tend to use it rather loosely, but I think it can be helpful to dig in to what it really means to have a friend. What does friendship mean to you?