Sometimes, I’m asked who my hero is. I used to answer by naming a celebrity.
Earlier on I would have mentioned Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, Barack Obama or other well-known personalities. Then my answer gradually changed. I started answering that my hero is myself in 10 years. I am chasing myself as I will be in 10 years. And now, 10 years later, when being asked who my hero is, I still answer: “Myself in 10 years”. I’m not even close to becoming my own hero. But maybe I’m getting closer. So, who knows, maybe in 10 years?
The truth is, that we all need something to strive for. To thrive, we need to continually keep learning. We need to be part of something that is part of something bigger. We need to fully use ourselves. And the more we do to develop ourselves the more we can do to help others. Self-interest is mutual interest.
“Do you remember how it felt to be immortal?”
Most people, I believe, live four or five years behind the curve of their own transformation. I see it all the time, in my own life and others. The temptation is to stay in a place where we used to be comfortable, making it difficult to move to the frontier that we have now arrived at. Sometimes we have actually already made our decision. We just don’t know it yet.
You are judged on your actions, not on your intentions. Your boss is not a mind reader. You are employed to perform some tasks. But you will not be promoted by just performing those tasks. You will be promoted by showing initiative and creating extraordinary development, not just ordinary operations. My advice to you, therefore, is to find out, what only you can do – and then contribute with exactly that.
Grit will bring you a long way. Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It must outrun the fastest lion or it will be eaten. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a gazelle or a lion. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
The other day, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 400 young high school talents and their parents at the annual Diploma Ceremony of the Academy for Talented Youth. It was so much fun to sense their raw ambition and deep down belief in the future. Do you remember how it felt to be immortal? I was especially struck by the way they differentiated themselves. They truly had ambitions about conquering the world. One talked about working on a tiger farm in Asia. Another mentioned becoming a monk in Tibet. Many of them had been to China. Most talked about doing good by volunteering.
What they also had in common was that many of them already looked at work as a means towards achieving the overall goal, which is to live a good life. I was impressed by the maturity of some of these young talents. Dimensions such as freedom and independence already mattered a lot. They want a future work life where they can be in control as much as possible. Of course, I had to tell them that they would be judged on three things: Results, results and results. Don’t declare, deliver!
One final theme we spent time on was the difference between self-confidence and self-worth. Self-confidence is related to your skills, whereas self-worth is related to your personality. You can obtain high self-confidence by performing well. This, however, is no guarantee that you maintain a positive attitude towards yourself. You must appreciate yourself for who you are.
So, again, who is your hero?