The hardest thing about trying to make your way in the world these days is that there is so much that you just can’t know.
You can’t know it because you haven’t seen it, you might have seen it but you don’t deeply understand it, and even if you think you understand it that understanding completely shifts once you experience it.
For the longest time, I felt like there was no place for me in the world. I didn’t know where I would fit, and I couldn’t see anywhere that I could.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of decades is to just go out and do stuff. See a bunch of perspectives and keep an open mind.
Ask people about their lives, about their jobs, about their passions. Find out what people do with their spare time, and why you wouldn’t spend your spare time doing the same. Understand what the day-to-day of people you don’t know looks like.
You can’t understand what you don’t know.
And what you think you know probably comes from a terrible dramatised version from a movie or TV series. I thought I knew all about life as a lawyer, or an angel investor, or a barista, or a sportsperson, but reality rarely reflects what’s projected on those shows.
I’ve learnt some big lessons by keeping my earphones in my pocket on long train rides, fate sitting me opposite fascinating entrepreneurs or chairpeople of large organisations. This can feel uncomfortable, if you’re tired or low on energy, but it doesn’t have to be hard work.
I remember one conversation vividly, about a fashion designer who moved from a leading design agency in New York to run her family business in Cheshire because she knew it would give her an edge in her industry. It seemed so counter-intuitive at the time, I loved it.
Trying things can mean something different to you. They might be days volunteering with a charity or social enterprise, or emailing a CEO or politician you admire and asking them if you can shadow them for a week. It might be trying to persuade your favourite artist to come onto your podcast or give a talk for your community.
Ask good questions, learn how to listen deeply. One of the best skills is being able to know when there is a thread you can continue to pull to learn more, like an unraveling knitted scarf.
Learn how to say yes and importantly how to say no.
Perhaps the most important skill to develop here is the ability to keep an open mind. Sometimes the best adventures don’t look that way from the outside in, but you need to look for clues. It might take you hours of exploring to find one small clue, but they all help to complete the giant jigsaw puzzle of life.
There are books I’ve spent 10+ hours reading only to take one thing from them, but that one thing has been a major breakthrough. Equally there are books I’ve read and taken nothing from them, but even then it triggers other thinking and perspectives on something I thought I knew only too well.
Read books that you think have nothing to give you,
Say no when your heart tells you to. Not the lazy part which can’t be bothered, but the part which knows that you’re not thriving. This is hard. You will feel resistance as a result of learning and stretching. Like the lobster shedding its tight old shell it feels uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Focus your mind on this skill, when your fixed mind is telling you to stay still or when your passion is going unspent.
Finding your place never ends, but it also never starts unless you act.
📬 №1/50 #50Things
I hope you find some value in me putting these down. I’d love to hear your perspectives on the topics, Twitter is the best place to find me: @GarethTSq