I just read a heartfelt article from Fast Company called: “Anderson Cooper: Why ‘No Plan B’ Is the Only Plan.” written by Anderson Cooper himself. I have had a news-crush on him for years. I think it first happened after reading his book: “Dispatches from the Edge” that is about his life growing up and his career in journalism. Maybe because his integrity seems to ooze out. Sure he comes from a rich family, he knows luxury. How could you not when your mom is Gloria Vanderbilt. Yet, he chose a different route.
He chose his passion. How many wealthy kids choose to go and be in the middle of a natural disaster, war, riots, poverty, just to tell the story? Not many that I can think of. He has an interesting life. If you read his article, you will learn a bit more about him — about the loss of his father at the age of ten, and the suicide of his brother when he was in college. I love this idea that he shares:
“I’m a big believer in creating your own opportunity if no one gives you one.”
What if we all did that in life? How many opportunities would we bring to ourselves and the world? When did we stop looking for them?
Maybe I relate to Cooper because I have lost a lot of my family. Losing my parents at such an early age made me in some ways grow a shell. It made me realize that I had to look out for myself, and that there wasn’t any “adult” that was looking out for me. Sometimes I think we have this built-in defense mechanism that says oh my parents will be there to pick up the pieces, even when we are 30 and 40 and so on. That never was a reality for me. The words he shares to explain how he felt after losing his father and brother are exactly how I too felt:
“I wanted to become autonomous, prepare myself for any eventuality, and protect myself from further pain.”
While my autonomy means I still have a Plan B, and C through to Z, my story is different. My fears are mine, how I react to them is my story. I hope Cooper’s story resonates with you. You might just find a new opportunity opens up because you are looking for it.
I am a people person. I am fascinated by other individuals. What makes them tick. What inspires them. What makes them do the things they do (whether good or bad). Really each of us have our own modus operandi — and that is what I care about understanding. I want to know what fuels people to live their lives. What creates a fire in a person, what calls forth their badass self.
Due to the fact that people amaze me, I have also been called out for staring. Yes, I stare. I want to learn everything I can about someone. From what they wear to their accent, to how they treat others, to how they get the job done, to how they relax. It all matters to me. Ever last bit. I learn a lot from others. Sometimes it is poise, other times leadership, sometimes it is patience, or passion, or humor, but I believe that everyone is on this earth to teach us something. Often we do not even know what it is they are here to teach us, but we know that they are meant to be in our life for a reason.
What if we tried to suck the learnings from every individual we encounter each and everyday? We could learn a lot. Not just what we want to be and do, but what we do not want to be and do. I learned a lot from my parents and how I did not want to live my life. Maybe that has made me more cautious and maybe that has meant that I have often taken the safe route, but what I experienced with them meant that I had a life with constant unknowns (food, electricity, etc). All I wanted was to know that I would have the basic essentials every day. If I have that now, then generally speaking I am good to go.
Can you tell that about people? Can you tell what they need? Is it words of affirmation? Patience for their life situation? Humor to get them through the day? Whatever it may be, we each need something different. We each are amazing, and need each other to be our best selves. How are you helping someone else be amazing today?
We might all answer this question differently. What do you fall in love with? Maybe you might answer it with the person you love in your life and you think about how each and every day you fall in love with them over and over again. You might answer it in relation to the work you do and what a badass you are, by delivering kick ass delivery of _____ (you fill in the blank). Whatever it is that you continue to fall in love with, I hope you are falling in love each and every day.
“If we can fall in love with serving people, creating value, solving problems, building valuable connections and doing work that matters, it makes it far more likely we’re going to do important work.”
Gosh, if more individuals could think about our work, our day-to-day jobs and think about solving problems, creating value, and building connections the world would be a better place. I feel that is what I try to do each and every day. Maybe I sorely miss the mark, and maybe I am peeling back a layer of the onion to make things better. Sometimes it is hard to know. What I do know is that there are a plethora of problems to solve, from vast to tiny. If each day we continue to solve the tiny problems, eventually the larger problems are solved.
I feel most successful, most happy, and most inspired when I solve problems, create value, and connect with others. That is what the world is truly about – making change through people, resolution and, in the end, making things better for all. What is it that makes you passionate? What is it that you fall in love with again and again? Those are the things that you should continue to do daily.
It is a good thing. Yes, when you can crawl into bed at the end of your day, and know that you have truly sucked every moment out of your day. You have been present.
I like to think of it as absorbing every molecule of life. The good, the beautiful, the ugly, the stinky. Absorb. What an interesting word. It makes me think of a sponge and how when it attracts water to it, it expands and becomes absorbent. When it does not have liquid, it contracts and dries up. A sponge is such a great analogy to sucking the life out of your day. If you do not fill your day with items of interest and engagement you start to wither and dry up.
Think about all the things in your day that you are passionate about, the things that inspire and give you energy. Did you come up with what that is for you? Is it helping people, pushing them to see life differently? Or is it designing the best new innovative product? What energizes you? Whatever it is, when you feel that passion and energy, that means your sponge is filled. It has absorbed the energy, and there is an urgency within you.
Urgency. Now that is another topic of interest. When you feel passion for what you are doing, when you are engaged, you feel a sense of urgency. You want to make things happen. You want to move people to look at their life differently. You want to launch that new technology that will change lives. You absorb and suck the life out of your day. You live and breathe all that you stand for, and you make things happen.