Are we flying too low?

Icarus was instructed not to fly too high. His wings made of wax would melt if he flew too close to the sun and he would surely parish.

However, Icarus was also instructed not to fly too low. The weight of the sea would inhibit his ability to fly and he would parish.

We are not hard-wired to fly high. It’s easier (and if feels safer) to fly low. It’s difficult to stand up and say follow me. It’s not easy to take responsibility and to not worry about credit.

We fly too low too often. We give in to the resistance and accept that we are not like the few who are chosen to fly higher.

Follow me

When Kerouac said grab your rucksack and climb a mountain.

He wasn’t saying wait until you get your ducks in a row. Wait for the market conditions to be right. Or wait until you have enough school or the right job and then when its safe take a leap.

He was saying, “Follow me.”

And it ignited a revolution. It broke down the old system to enable the impossible.

He changed the way we think.

Imagine how much easier it would have been to say, “Follow me” with Twitter or Facebook to spread your ideas back in the 50’s and 60’s.

This is the golden age of connection. It is easier than ever before to stand up and say, “This is me. This is what I do. Follow me.”

Chasing killdeer

Why can you still find people using a rolodex? It is a far inferior technology. Better yet, why can you still buy a rolodex?

It is because of lock in. An unwillingness to change.

Change is hard. Change is difficult. It’s easier to keep doing it the way you have always done it. (However exhausting it is to maintain the status quo.) Change can be scary. Only because it might not work. But people who are unwilling to change stay on the hook. They hope that something better will come along that they can chase. But in the end they are chasing Killdeer.

The Killdeer is a bird that spends a significant amount of time on the ground (particularly around golf courses). They make lots of noises causing distractions to get your attention. The interesting thing about Killdeer is that they will run in front of you to try to get you to chase them. They will pull ahead and stop. Repeating this process over and over again. At first, it is really amusing to chase them. But after a while you realize that they stay just far enough away so that you can never catch them. They just make you think you can. But you can’t and you never will. This gets so infuriating that eventually you quit.

There are lots of Killdeers out there in the world. They are distracting us. Taking us down a path you don’t want to go. Causing us to waste our time and talents. They frustrate us. They take away hope.

Too many of us think that we have missed our opportunity. We were too distracted. Too many of us saw what was happening and got caught up in following Killdeer. Now we think that it’s too late to try that thing we always wanted to try. So we keep chasing Killdeer: by checking our status, seeing if the world has ended, catch up on a never-ending conversation, watch more cat videos. It is all leading us away from the work that actually matters.

The iPhone is not even 10 years old yet. Think about that for a minute. (It will be on June 29, 2017).

We have come so far in the last decade. But the leap is now. And we are only starting to scratch the surface of what is to come. Right now, it is only getting easier to do something that matters. Not harder. But it won’t be like this forever.

Waiting for the tide to come back in

It’s a big ocean. And there is plenty to go around. We don’t need to wait for the tide to come back in.

It never seems like the right time to start something. It’s risky. And yeah someone out there doesn’t approve.

When Gutenberg launched the printing press in 1467 less than 30% of the population in Europe was literate. What a terrible time to go into the book publishing business.

But we don’t have to wait for the next card to turn. Or our number to be called. Or to be picked for a promotion.

Technology is going to keep going. And it’s getting faster and cheaper and easier to access.

The time is now. It’s better than ever before to leap into something new. What are you waiting for?

School system

65% of our grade-schoolers may end up doing work that hasn’t been invented yet. So how can the school system prepare us for something that doesn’t exist?

They can’t by doing it the way it has always been.

It’s not good enough to know the answer (Google takes care of this). It’s not even good enough to say that I am studying to become a lawyer, CPA, or doctor. Who knows what these industries will look like 30 years from now?

We have to be able to go find the answer.

Instead of teaching us specific formulas and measuring specific results; we should be taught things that are universal: how to make a difference, solve interesting problems, relate with each other, virtues, community, art, find higher purpose and meaning.

The professional

One of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, has a short lecture called Leap First.

At the 25 minute mark, there is a distinct humming noise in the background. Going back, you can hear someone vacuuming in the background during his lecture.

You got to think that he is in front of a live audience, being recorded, and now you have a vacuum creating a distraction. For most of us, it can throw our game. But it didn’t phase him. He didn’t miss a beat.

Because he is a professional. He is someone who steps up and does what he does best despite the distractions. Amateurs blame the vacuum for not doing their best work.