Remarkably unremarkable? Huh? Isn’t that an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp?”
Wait just a minute, Joe, here we are in the season of New Year’s resolutions and you are actually advocating that I should aspire to be remarkably “unremarkable?” As in content and at peace with my life?
You mean you don’t want me going 100 miles per hour, 24-7-365, to do anything it takes to become a millionaire, acquire more stuff, get a promotion, get more Facebook likes and Tik Tok views? You want me to be OK with, dare I say, just being OK? And you call yourself a motivational speaker? Well forget you. Get me Tony Robbins or Brene Brown, now!
My simple answer is yes, and no. It depends. I absolutely want you to be the best version of you and to achieve your goals. What I want to make sure is that you have spent intentional and deliberate time thinking about what the best version of you looks like and how you are measuring it.
I truly want you to be successful and to love your life, but it really depends on what standard you are using to define “success.” Remember the old saying that “One person’s junk is another’s treasure?” Are you using money and worldly possessions as your benchmark? Political power and influence? Is it changing the world? Becoming a celebrity? Or is it having great health, a loving spouse, and raising a loving family?
Or perhaps you are looking for what the Dali Lama promises Bill Murray’s character in the golf comedy classic Caddyshack, “when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.”
While some people aspire to be the next Jeff Bezos, Oprah, Jack Ma, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg or Steve Jobs, not everyone will be or even can be. Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company, and author of “Discover Your True North,” says, “…not everyone can make it to the top; there isn’t enough room anyway!”
There are even those (such as financier Bernie Madoff, Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes and cyclist Lance Armstrong) who succumb to immoral and illegal temptations in order to achieve certain goals, just to “make it big.”
So, while you are considering your New Year’s resolutions, I want to challenge you to go about it a little differently this year. I want you to pause, take a step back, and look at your world from a 30,000-foot view before you make and implement your resolutions and just get back to your daily to-do list and routines.
That’s right, I am giving you homework that is not for the faint of heart. There are currently 7.6 billion people on the planet, and 331 million in the United States, and if you take Gallup’s research at face value, the vast majority don’t like their jobs, aren’t happy and are still trying to “find their passion.”
Given my space limitations we will only be able to scratch the surface of this very complex, deep and personal topic and I will follow this column with additional information on this subject in the future.
Do not misunderstand my message. I am not advocating that you lower the bar for your expectations and be satisfied with mediocrity. I am suggesting that you better understand what your objectives are, what really matters to you, that you be honest with yourself about your skills and competencies, and your willingness to actually do what it takes to attain your goals. Once you have done your deep dive into what you really want, will you commit to achieving your goals?
Do you really know what you want from life? What is your purpose? Is it really to change the world? Just exactly how do you achieve that and measure it? If changing the world for the better is really your goal and is within your grasp intellectually and you have the demeanor and mindset to persevere to make it happen, then it would be a shame not to aspire to achieve that greatness.
The idea that 7.6 billion people on this planet (and growing) or even the 331 million in the United States can all be “superheroes” and “make it to the top” is simply unrealistic. What if everyone was successful in “changing the world?” Chaos would ensue. We all have our strengths and gifts, but we also have our limitations and being self-aware enough to make the most of our talents that align with our dreams is one way to measure our own definition of success.
As a society we have placed such a ridiculous level of importance on making more money, living in bigger homes, driving fancy cars etc. There are far too many people who live a shallow, status lifestyle driven by consumerism. People buy houses and cars they really can’t afford and run up significant credit card debt because they lack the self-discipline to simply say “no” to the impulsive need for instant gratification.
It would also be a shame if you are ready, willing and able to reach a different level of excellence, or contentment, and choose not to because you are lazy, scared to fail or lack the fortitude to see it through.
If you consciously choose to live a simpler, more manageable lifestyle because of your values and what you deem important, then it takes just as much courage to pursue your own course and not follow the conventional wisdom.
There is nothing wrong with the goal of being at peace and being content. What if your definition of success is to have a loving spouse or partner, to be a good parent who deals effectively with the ups and downs of parenthood, to make a good wage with good benefits, to have hobbies and causes? To have a few really close friends and a lot of good acquaintances, to eat healthy and exercise regularly and to be generally happier than not (dare I say content) and ultimately love your life?
Remember that every day, ordinary people are living extraordinary lives according to their definition of success. They have what they want because they have taken the time to determine what matters most to them. They really are remarkably unremarkable and loving it.