With the heightened romanticism around entrepreneurship, there is a growing propensity to try to emulate those who face the cover of magazines. While it can be useful to learn lessons and gain inspiration from those who have come before us, it is important that we do not view ourselves, or our path, in comparison to them.
As Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal highlights in his book Zero to One, “The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network”. Indeed, to copy the greatest is to not learn from them.
Whether it be the building of a flourishing company, raising a happy family, or embarking on a meaningful career, human beings create great things when what they do is fuelled by who they are.
Some call it intuition, some call it gut, some call it heart, or perhaps they call it soul. Others call it God, and some don’t call it anything at all. It’s that piece of us that science can’t explain, but to be human is to feel it. It’s that hunch, that inner sense that feels so clear. It’s the feeling of joy that makes time disappear or the curiosity that urges you to take a step forward.
I believe that inexplicable feeling that lights you up right where you are or that pulls you in a particular direction is your intuition speaking to you. The things that resonate with you do not resonate with you by accident, but rather because they have struck a chord deep inside.
One of the key differences I’ve observed between those who live a life that reflects their true potential and those who don’t is that the latter spend a lot of time seeking validation and asking permission from others. Often, we are taught that when we are making important decisions in life, somebody else will have the answer we seek – someone smarter, someone more experienced, someone more qualified. While it can be wise to seek the counsel of a trusted guide, it is important that your decisions ultimately rest in the hands of the only person qualified to make them: you. When the voice inside of you is louder than voices outside of you, you have begun to master your life.
The challenging part about letting your own self-guide your life is that we live in a culture that places too much emphasis on intellectual rationale and too little on intuition. Often, when our intuition is suggesting we explore a certain path, it goes against the conventional wisdom or the rationale of the tried and proven way of thinking. While it is important to be intelligent in our decision making, it is equally, if not more, important to feel what our heart is saying and to trust our intuition. In his Stanford University Commencement Address in 2005, Steve Jobs said, ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’ Your intuition is your compass.
The scholar and mystic Rumi said, ‘There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.’ Intuition is the language of the soul. It is your inner GPS system that will help you walk and navigate your path in life if you let it. Those who strive to live a life that is aligned with their true self must first pause long enough to hear what their true self is telling them.
To know thyself is simpler than many believe. It starts with listening to your intuition; giving volume to your inner voice. Follow what brings you joy, follow what makes you curious. These are the senses that lead you in the direction of your best self.
The more clear you are in your own direction, the more familiar you are with your own strengths, and the more engaged you are in your own journey, the less you will look to others as a frame of reference or a means of comparison. While you will still learn from the example of others, you will not view your life in comparison to theirs.
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published here. It is inspired by my recently released book Unwritten: Reinvent Tomorrow. You can get your copy today from iBooks, Dymocks, Booktopia or Audible.