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The Path Well Travelled

 

This may come as a bit of a shock to some readers, but we are not necessarily as unique as we’d like to think. And I believe that’s a good thing.

Being completely unique would be a lonely existence. Having nothing in common with others, always out-of-sync and perhaps to some extent, feeling the pressure not to conform (or else lose the identity we link to our uniqueness).

Our differences certainly set us apart, but people are actually very alike and that’s not as bad as we’ve perhaps been led to believe. It’s why we have terms like ‘human nature’ and ‘behavioural patterns’ – because those who study that sort of thing have discovered that people tend to respond in a similar way to similar situations.

We all have fears and insecurities, milestones to mark, and an inner voice that has a lot more in common with the person next to us than we may imagine. We have similar scars, familiar stories and attitudes shaped by our shared experiences.

I take comfort in that because it reminds me that I’m not alone.

There has always been a lot of emphasis on being unique; of blazing trails and conquering new ground, but that can be exhausting if it’s all you ever do.

Now, I’m not saying there’s no place for pioneers, but if 90% of life involves walking on a well-worn path, why don’t we talk a little more about following? It’s great to lead. We need good leaders. But the whole point of good leadership is to have someone decent to follow - to be encouraged by them, and walk a path together.

This wonderful quote, “A wise man learns from his mistakes, a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others” has been drummed into my children at every opportunity because I’ve always thought this is closest I can get to saving them from unnecessary pain.

Look, listen, and learn from those ahead of us on the journey.

Instead of being wrapped up in the search for uniqueness, find comfort in the fact that many have walked the path ahead of us. They may have dashed off to create their own trail now and then, but the majority of their walk has been very similar to our own.

There is an incredible freedom in that thought. You don't have to invent the wheel!

You’re not the first young mum to feel utterly incompetent, or the first person consumed by grief. You aren’t the only person wrestling with addictions and you aren’t the only one to feel completely lost. And those words aren’t meant to be harsh – they are meant to remind you that you aren’t alone. It doesn’t all have to depend on you.

Find those people who have walked ahead of you. Listen to what they have to say, delight in the wisdom of their experience and learn from their mistakes. Hook your finger through a belt loop and just follow for a while. Revel in the fact that they’ve “been there, done that” and lived to tell the tale. Enjoy being taught. Allow life to be simple for a while and collect shortcuts and hacks from those who have already cut through the complexity.

‚ÄčThere will still be times to roll up your sleeves and clear some bracken, but for now…Don’t be afraid to follow.

GTx

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