REINVENT YOURSELF WITH PURPOSE
“If you’re going to stick around in this business,
you have to have the ability to reinvent yourself,
whether consciously or unconsciously.”-Dennis Quaid, Academy Award winning actor
Reinvention is a tricky word. What does it really mean? Do you throw everything away and start from the beginning? Do you remold what is already there? Do you create something totally different than before? Depending on the circumstances, the answer is “yes.”
The dictionary gives a clue with 3 definitions: 1.To make as if for the first time something already invented – such as inventing the wheel. 2. To make or redo completely, as in a different form. i.e. at 60, he reinvented himself as a cabinet maker. Or – We have the opportunity to reinvent the government. 3. To bring into use again; revive: to reinvent trust and accountability.
For over three decades I have coached people, teams and organizations to reinvent themselves. On the personal side, reinvention might be strengthening a relationship, choosing a new career, developing a hobby or fulfilling a dream. On the business side, reinvention could be developing a new product or brand or changing a style of leadership. I firmly believe that in order to remain vital and alive, one needs to review their life or business and look at ways to reinvent and renew at least – every 5 years!
There are many reasons that individuals choose to reinvent themselves but all of them stem from two major forces:
The first is extrinsic, something that happens from the outside. The perfect example is the hundreds of thousands of people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Their dreams are temporarily shattered and they are thrown into survival. There are other reasons – the loss of a spouse, partner or child, the experience of being in battle or the destruction of your home. Sometimes it’s a wake-up call and sometimes it’s a necessity. (not sure what you mean by necessity here)
The second reason is intrinsic, a choice that is prompted by boredom, dissatisfaction, being stuck in life or the realization of mortality. Statistics indicate that over 80% of the population is unhappy with their job, career or family life. Many of these individuals have come to the same conclusion as the poet Henry David Thoreau expressed when he wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” They develop an inner hunger to grow.
There are two schools of thought about change and reinvention. The first is a belief that personal reinvention is not about change but rather about living life from who you truly are – your most authentic inner self. The second school of thought is that reinvention is, in fact, about change.
My personal feeling is that in order to reinvent yourself, you have to change something – your beliefs, behavior, focus or actions and that will always involve some discomfort. But, on the other side of the discomfort of change lies the priceless commodity of passion, joy, excitement and flow?, that sweet place of creativity.
Before you can even seriously consider reinvention, you must take 100% responsibility for your life – for where you are now and what you have, including freedom, finances and relationships. Being 100% responsible takes courage but without it, any attempt at self-reinvention is futile. This means not blaming your boss, your government, the economy or your parents for your present circumstances. It is only by accepting responsibility for everything that happens to you – both good and bad, that you can truly take control of your life. That can be a challenge but it also can be a simple choice.
I know this because, in addition to coaching, I am in the midst of personal and professional reinvention.
“People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves
must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas,
fitting in instead of standing out.”
Warren G. Bennis, author and management expert
Here are 10 tips to reinvent yourself so you can live an exceptional life.
Review your own story about yourself and the messages you carry:
Before any effort of reinvention can move forward, it will be necessary to take an honest inner look at the beliefs you hold about yourself and – perhaps – make some new decisions. Some of the beliefs that hold individuals back represent what I call “faulty thinking.” For example, never wanting to upset another human being by telling them ‘your truth’, thinking you have to be perfect or what you do has to be perfect, being in a constant state of worry about upsetting others, focusing on what you don’t have, thinking you’re too old, not having enough resources or simply believing that you don’t deserve to have an exceptional life. Accept responsibility for your life, acknowledge faulty thinking, forgive yourself and – move forward.
Re-discover your passion, what really makes you happy: Go back in time, perhaps when you were a child, and recall what you were doing when you felt alive, engaged and excited. Then, examine the qualities of what you were doing that made you feel that way. Next, ask yourself, “How can I bring some of that back in my life now?” There is always a way. “What do you really want to be when you grow up?” Use the wonderful gift of your imagination.
Identify your strengths: No one can be good at everything but if you can identify your strengths, you can build a network of people to handle what you are not good at. On a personal note, I’m not a detail person and when I try to force myself to be one, the results are just short of a disaster. So, I have talented, wonderful people around me who take care of the details and free me to be creative.
Make a plan and broadcast it: What is your ultimate vision of what you would like to reinvent? Create the picture, the image, the mental movie. Work backwards and ask yourself, “What is the first step I can take today to begin my reinvention?” Once you have your plan in place, let people know. It anchors your commitment and puts others in a position to hold you accountable.
Set goals: You are not going to get anywhere without them. In fact, setting personal goals and passionate goals is a “must-do” to motivate and inspire you to move forward. Goals don’t have to be earth shattering or so huge they are de-motivating. Baby steps do get you up the mountain.
Find models of success: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take the time to search out others who are already successful in your arena and research what has made them successful. Build your unique self by modeling success.
Measure your progress: What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done. If your goals are doable and you take action, you can measure and course correct.
Be patient and gentle with yourself: There will be the unenviable setbacks and failures. That’s the way it should be so – make friends with failure. It’s your gift – your learning tool. Reinvention is challenging and the challenge is part of the fun. It takes not only patience but tenacity, perseverance and fortitude. If you want it badly enough, that’s the price. Just ‘take one step at a time’.
Acquire new knowledge and skills: The reality is that what worked for you in the past may no longer work this time around. In today’s world, knowledge and technology expand exponentially. Learn and develop the new skills necessary and sharpen your existing ones.
Expand your network: There are clubs and organizations full of knowledge and experience that can help you expand your network and therefore your support system. No matter your age, embrace online social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Use Google, Dogpile and Bing for research. Just get out there and get with it!
One of my favorite Broadway Musicals is “Ben Franklin in Paris.” My good friend Sydney Michaels wrote the lyrics to a song sung by Robert Preston as Ben Franklin. I love it. “I invented myself. I invented myself – out of odds and ends. “I invented myself. I invented myself – out of bits and specks. But, the damn thing works. The damn thing works. Though it ain’t quite true or level. Though it ain’t well knit, though it don’t quite fit, the damn thing works like the devil.”
Have fun reinventing yourself. It can only be a grand adventure.