Webster defines the word invent as follows: to produce (as something useful) for the first time through the use of the imagination or of ingenious thinking and experimentation.
Wow, what a fantastic word, the definition of which in my opinion outlines a clear path to fulfillment and happiness within the human condition. If you were to break down anything you’ve ever accomplished that is worth noting, my guess would be that it all started as a process of invention, or in many cases reinvention…….of yourself. Every book, every movie, every new technology or product started with someone’s imagination or ingenious thought, followed by some form of experimentation. But even more than that, every adventure, every new business and every new relationship started as a process of invention. Most importantly, every new habit, every new way of being, every transformation of yourself, started in the realm of invention. You imagined something different for your life and then you applied ingenious thought and a willingness to experiment. In many ways, to invent is to be alive.
If you see the logic in this, then why are some of us reluctant to invent or reinvent ourselves and our lives? To me, the answer is pretty simple, fear. Fear holds us back from reinventing ourselves. I can imagine a lot of things that would have me creating a brighter more fulfilling future, but my fear, specifically my fear of not being good enough, holds me back from applying ingenious thought and even more importantly experimentation. For it’s in the willingness to experiment that determines whether we capitalize on our imagination and ingenious thought. Human history is littered with millions, probably billions, of amazing inventions that never happened because fear got in the way of the experimentation phase. We weren’t willing to risk failure so we simply stopped.
And I’m not just talking about inventing a new product, I’m really talking about inventing a new you, the one that breaks free of the fear and tries a new career, or a new passion, or a new way of being inside your marriage or with your kids.
When we stop the process of reinvention in our lives then a part of us starts to die, namely our spirit I’m guessing we can all conjure up someone that is essentially dead inside, someone that has stopped living, even though they are still breathing. And what has really stopped for them is the process of invention, or more accurately, the process of reinvention. They have succumbed to the mundane; in essence living a “groundhog day” type of existence where every day folds into the next, where they simply check the box in their marriages, their careers, their health, their family, their passions, their friends, their entire lives, one box at a time. And if you talk with them about their lives, they may something like this “you know me, I am who I am”. Really?
One of the biggest disservices ever perpetrated on the human condition is the phrase: “you know me, I am who I am.” Hmmmm. So, does that mean you can’t possibly change who you show up being? That somehow you are living in a fixed personality, one that is unchangeable, one that is set in stone. What a load of bullshit that is. You are who you are in this moment. If you want to be something different then reinvent yourself…..in this moment. The only usefulness to having that belief is it provides a giant “out”, permitting us to play small in so many ways. “I didn’t mean to treat you like a jerk, but you know me, I am who I am so, please forgive me because I can’t possibly change.” Does that sound familiar? Have you used “I am who I am” to get out of something in your life? Would you be willing to let that belief go?
Who and how you show up being is a choice, one that you can change or reinvent anytime you’d like. Every day is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. There is no age limit as to when reinvention becomes impractical. What is impractical, at least to me, is believing the thought that I am who I am and my life is what it is and it ain’t gonna get any better.
What are you wanting for your life? Whatever that is you can start the process of inventing it today. All that’s required is your imagination and a willingness to experiment, to fail, and pick yourself up again and experiment some more; all the while applying ingenious thoughts, your ingenious thoughts, the one’s that are unique to you to produce a life that will seem beyond your imagination.
Postscript: As I consider pressing send, I am overcome by a sense of irony. The irony is this post is a perfect example of reinvention. You see, I’ve had this article written for over three years, and yet it has remained hidden, in silence, waiting for me to muster the courage to finally push send. The fear that has had me stuck is a familiar one; the article might not be good enough. And so, like many other articles that I’ve written, it has remained in the safety of my “vault” where I am it’s only judge and jury. And every time I have thought about this post, or any other that remain unpublished, I am filled with upset and disappointment for letting fear get in the way of living full out. Playing small, which I have done plenty of, is so destructive because it stifles growth and kills possibility. And so today I have chosen to push through my fear and just go for it. And in the small action of speaking my truth I have reclaimed my power and spirit by reinventing myself.
From where I sit, the difference between living an ordinary life and one that is extraordinary often comes down to one very simple question – what bold action (in the form of invention) am I willing to take today to positively change my circumstance? Reinvention is one such action, are you willing to take that step? By When? Your highest self is waiting.
See Todd deliver a message of reinvention to the 2015 graduating class of Steamboat Springs High School