I call this “uniqueness” your original promise, original because it’s not a copy or imitation of someone else, and a promise because it moves you into action. When I discovered my original promise I was 11 years old. It looks different today from when I was 11, but the underlying promise continues to shape my thoughts, words, and actions. It’s what I stand for.
I started thinking in this direction after a conversation with my friend Wally Arnold. We were confronting some business issues and Wally said, “We need to solve the bigger problem so we don’t resolve this one issue, and find that another one pops up later.” Think of the image of Hercules fighting the mythological hydra, where you chop off one head only to have another emerge.
Too often we’re solving the wrong problem in the first place, so we end up with solutions that are temporary at best. What if you started identifying the bigger issue, so when you resolved it, not only could you solve your current problem; you could also fulfill an overarching goal. Think about creating a BIG goal that contains the problem that needs to be solved. When you set and achieve a big enough goal, you not only solve the problem of the moment, you benefit spiritually, financially, or physically for the long run.
Deciding what matters most to you is a key factor in changing habits that no longer serve you. When that’s clear, you can give up what doesn’t bring you happiness. You’ll find that it gets easier to sacrifice anger for insight into who you are, what you want, and the contribution you make in creating a life worth living.
Not too long ago, my husband and I were consulting a company that was moving to another state. Some people who worked there were losing their jobs, while others were faced with a decision: to move and start a new life somewhere else, or stay where they lived and find a new job. The common denominator they all shared was change. A few people were lamenting their fate and wondering why this was happening to them, though most found it simultaneously unnerving and exhilarating. Unnerving because there was uncertainty about what was next for them. Exhilarating because change was calling them to a new adventure. They all understood, at least theoretically, that change happens, whether you like it or not.
After a few laughs and some tears, we reflected on the importance of including your past—all of it—the good, the bad, and the ugly, so you’re present to learn and engage with what’s possible now.
There’s no question that it’s important to learn from past mistakes and errors in judgment. However, it’s also important not to be so weighed down by them, that you cease to be present to this moment. It’s often not the mistake itself, but the self-judgment you carry around that relentlessly pursues you.