One of the characteristics about life is that it doesn’t stop moving forward regardless of what you think, what you feel and what you want. You can spend your time fighting it, accepting it, flowing with it, tolerating it, changing it or working with it.
The fact is, everyone on the face of the planet will evolve and ultimately change who they are as a person. Some people just evolve faster and more consciously than others but everyone evolves and everyone ultimately changes – even if it’s the tiniest amount. It might not be in an emotional sense or their manners might not improve but for everything their mind won’t budge on, I promise you that their body won’t be so steadfast.
This is the beauty of this perfect system of life and death. It is the most powerful agent of change.
Some fear life and death and elect to preserve it as long as possible by taking few risks with belief that this path will bring them longevity. Others embrace the ticking clock and throw it all on the table. They figure that the biggest failure of all (their body) is inevitable, so with such limited opportunities why squander them?
In a car’s gearbox, some cogs are built to move faster, run hotter and ultimately live shorter lives than others – but they all provide an important role in moving the car. Second gear is used more regularly and with a lot more pressure than sixth gear so it’s plausible that it has the potential to give way first.
Sure sixth gear will typically last longer but it’s much less fun when accelerating. If sixth is what keeps you cruising comfortably and second is what gets you racing, which is more important? Well, they both are. This isn’t a dichotomy; it’s a system.
Yet despite all these expensive and fancy gears, it’s a $1 bearing at the front of the gearbox – that if it fails – will render the whole system broken. It seems that no matter how big or small, every part is just as important as the next to keep it moving reliably.
And grimly when a part breaks, it shuts down the system temporarily, it gets removed, analysed and ultimately replaced with a new part. It seems sterile but in fact it’s the reality. We simply attach a lot more emotion and meaning to people than we do to gearboxes but the function of being merely a cog in a bigger system is still the same.
Some people spend a lifetime to make small, incremental decisions whilst others take just a couple of years (or even months or days) to make large, deep cuts into the fabric of life. Neither is right or wrong – they are just the inherent properties of being a different type of ‘gear’.
Greatness isn’t defined by the size of your cuts; it’s whether you are doing work and living a life that is congruent and authentic with who you are. Being the best gear you can be. The results of this harmony will be your legacy and whether the world benefits from your contribution and if your successors are an improvement.
If you remain true to who you are and do meaningful work that makes you happy, improves the quality of life for others and you do it honourably and with pride, you’re already on your way to greatness, so keep on doing it.