How do we become who we say we are? Is aspirational language how we grow into our lives? We often describe ourselves in generous terms. Are we who we say we are?.
I call myself a social entrepreneur. I say I am one so it is so, right. Not so fast. We are not what we say we are!
I attended the spectacular Skoll World Forum a couple of weeks ago to meet with like minded people from around the world--so I thought.
For me it was the Skull Forum, because I felt my cranium get filled up!
In my skull sized kingdom, ala David Foster Wallace, I am pretty good at what I do. A legend in my own mind! I know this is not true but I deceive myself by saying things and going to places where I look good. I joke I have always been in the top 10% of the bottom half of my class. :) Never fully convinced I belong or deserve to be there.
So at the Skoll conference I pushed myself to meet real social entrepreneurs. People who put their careers on the line for their ideas, to help others and solve a problem. It was so refreshing and humbling.
There were some sages on the stage--from Richard Branson to Malala who made me think. But the real impact of the conference was in the aisles and in the conference rooms where I sat with people from all over the planet who are dreaming and doing amazing things. (Did meet some wannabes like me too :)
They reminded me what social entrepreneurs look like, what they sound like, and what they do. Without role models we have nothing. Great inspiration for what I have to do--where I have to walk. Not to be like them, but to become who I am. Make sense?
Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the way is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road–
Only wakes upon the sea.
Walking the talk is ultimately about authenticity. Who am I and where am I going? What do I stand for? How do I learn? How do I make a difference? The truths.
Once we get real and stop believing our press releases we have a chance at becoming something.
Ambition, if it feeds at all,does so on the ambitions of others. Susan Sontag
If you allow it your ambition is altered by others. Your best ambition is open source and needs inputs and energy. It can not be static. And developing your ambition takes effort. When we are younger we just want more, more opportunities, more growth, more responsibility, more titles, more influence, and more money. As we mature, we realize that more is undefined and this type of amorphous ambitiousness is aimless and meaningless. That we must have purposes that energize us. Our paths will be defined by what we do versus what we want. And when we are fully engaged, wholeheartedly entwined, then we see the benefits of connecting to and learning from others. That our mission is not a solo flight but a community fight. Iterating requires the ideas and inspirations of others, not to get there first but to make progress towards the goals together.
Walking the talk requires walking. Walking down the path of others, with others. Walking in their shoes. Walking to make progress and to push forward. Talking is never walking. Let your walking do the the talking.
When you walk you meet people, especially if you are not following a single route, but a meandering path to your ambition. That way you can't just walk with your friends or family. You must walk with new sources of ideas and perspectives.
When you learn new things you change your path, you alter your gait, you become less certain about your original destination and your ambition grows.
To some this sounds wish-washy and unfocused. But to me and others, it is the path to clarity.
When you go through the turnstile to enter the library of ideas-- to check out every aisle and every book--not to peruse the aisles and books you know, then you will confront new sources of truth and reality.
Ambition is connecting and ambitiousness is isolating.
Everyone says they want to change the world. But we all know that saying things and doing things are two entirely different universes. Walking your talk does matter. That's your ambition. Change your talk by walking.
Think about what you say to yourself and to others. -How you define yourself and your future. Then start walking.
Thanks for reading. John