80 years of wisdom…
I was sitting at Thanksgiving dinner last night with a bunch of people I have never met before. My girlfriend invited me to a party that was being hosted by a friend of hers and as her guest I made sure to introduce myself and “make the rounds”. I met some incredibly interesting characters from a holistic doctor to a traditional psychotherapist and a web developer. Each had great stories of what they do for work or for fun. There was a stay at home mom who was more than happy to tell me about her sons’ white water rafting excursions and the father of the hostess was sharing some insights about adventures about his world travels.
One person in particular stood out more than the rest. Beatrice. We were there to celebrate Thanksgiving but it could not be overlooked that it was Beatrices 80th birthday. A few years ago I got into the habit of asking anyone who is older than me one question on their birthday, “what do you know now that you wish you knew at my age?” I of course saw a great opportunity to learn something amazing and when I posed this question to Beatrice she had two answers
1. Don’t be afraid of anything! She was adamant about this. She said so many times in her life she had let fear stop her and hold her back from achieving something great and those moments were the ones she regrets now. She made sure I understood that the moments that she cast fear aside and “went for it” she realized those fears were unfounded.
2. Don’t worry so much. Beatrice told me how she spent so much time worrying about what others would think or say. It’s not that you should go out and purposely make an ass of yourself we live in society and there a societal norms that we should use to make sure that we are being good to the tribe. Just don’t let the opinions of others stop you from being great. Don’t let someone else's judgment of a perceived failure or a concern that if you miss the mark that people will “laugh at you” stop you from being great.
That’s about it. I have asked this question dozens of times now and it gets the same response from virtually everyone. Sure there are some people who say things like I wish I would have traveled more or that they wish they would have spent more time with family and friends but over and over it is the above response. It seems that so many people have let fear hold them back. It seems that so many people have let worry about what others will think and say keep them from greatness. So today put fear in its place. Because you will always be afraid. Let go of worry because others only want to tell you that you can’t do something because they know they are too afraid to try. Maybe you’ll fail. Maybe you’ll go broke. Maybe they’ll all say I told you so…maybe you’ll change the world.