How often have I heard the well-intentioned advice, “Live in the moment.” Even Henry David Thoreau suggested, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Yet, in spite of how long we’ve been encouraged to be ‘in the moment,’ that’s precisely where the greatest risk to our ability to reinvent ourselves lies. Staying in a zone of immovable “mindfulness” is precisely why so many people yearning for more in life continue to merely live in an ongoing state of complacency and habit without ever daring to step out of their comfort zone and explore future possibilities.
To merely ‘live’ in the moment means:
Wall Street investors would never buy stocks because they would have no interest in future return on investment.
Michelangelo would never be driven by the source of his greatest accomplishments: “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and in action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” He would simply leave the granite block sitting in the middle of his studio.
Songwriters would stop creating music because they would cease imagining the future pleasure their songs would give to others by sharing them.
Rebecca Webber’s Psychology Today article, Reinvent Yourself, contains invaluable reinvention wisdom: “Major life changes are never easy, because your instincts and the urgent matters of the day work against you. But when you learn to focus on your future self, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. “ It is only when we leave aside the preoccupations of the day and move on to the most important issue of living the life we imagine for ourselves that we move from the moment into a future of self-realization. Then, and only then, do moments have meaning and purpose as stepping stones to a life of true meaning.
Twentieth century literary giant Franz Kafka produced such iconic works as The Metamorphosis, The Trial, and The Castle. Trained as a lawyer, he worked after law school graduation at an insurance company, dedicating his spare time to writing; reminding me of Patrick J. McGinnis’ book, The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job.
Validation of Kafka’s passionate pursuit of and commitment to writing comes from the fact that few of his works were published during his lifetime and those that were, such as Contemplation and A Country Doctor, received little public attention. His motivation came from a deep, authentic calling not unlike that felt by entrepreneurs for whom his advice is on the mark:
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
American entrepreneur Tony Hsieh is the epitome of success. After co-founding Internet advertising network LinkExchange and selling it to Microsoft for a cool $265 million, he led online shoe and clothing giant Zappos to household name recognition and financial success.
Yet, Tony Hsieh’s advice to entrepreneurs puts the passion horse before the revenue cart: “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”
English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels and films, Neil Gaiman’s gift for words fills the pages of such outstanding works as The Sandman, American Gods, Coraline and The Graveyard Book. He has won such recognition as the Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker awards and is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.
His profound wisdom that has meaning for every entrepreneur is this: “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”
The fact that Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was born shortly after a visit by Halley’s Comet could arguably be the tongue-in-cheek reason for his meteoric rise as a writer, entrepreneur, publisher, humorist and lecturer. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. Mark Twain’s simple observation demonstrates his profound insight into the quest of the entrepreneur:
“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”
Born into slavery, American abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the underground railroad.
Harriet Tubman’s passionate message is a mantra for every entrepreneur that feels a calling deep within his or her soul to pursue that which is most important:
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
You, me, all of us…we share the ability to dream as big as we want to and to go in the direction our heart beckons us. “There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela