Over the last few months I have been obsessed with stories.

Not because I am looking for a good way to be entertained, but because I am looking. Yes looking. Looking for snippets in the lives of others who have grown themselves beyond the usual. I want to be one of them.

This has been a long time coming for me. I have never exactly fit into one place or another and I often seem to go against the crowd. Like being a anthropologist who needs to learn to code. Or, learning to code and landing that coveted full time paying job, and needing to become a computer scientist because learning to code is just not enough. I have a thirst for knowledge yes, but truth be told my real hunger is for reinvention.

I feel compelled to push myself further in order to become a higher version of myself.

So I listen to stories of others who go beyond the norm. And like a good researcher, I noticed some patterns in those that reinvented themselves, their life, and the world around them.

1. Two Ears One Mouth

“The Great Spirit gave you two ears and only one mouth, so you can talk half as much as you listen.”

My grandmother is of Native American descent and spoke of this phrase. Also has companion quotes in African proverbs. Good wisdom never gets old. Many of those who make the next great thing are not spending their time telling everyone why they are so awesome, or even what their hopes and dreams are. They spend a large amount of their time listening. It is from this practiced observation that they learn where to focus. In a world that is full of people talking over each other, it can do you a great deal of good to sit back and listen instead. You may find that you can plainly see the solution that eludes many others.

2. Incubation
It seems that everyone is in a hurry to be on the next 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 list. Who cares how young you were when you started your first business, make your first million, or fill in the blank? Call it the 10,000 rule, or steps to mastery. The truth is that there is no substitution for beating on your craft for hours and hours until you reach a line of demarcation from the pack. That is where you really shine. So don’t be afraid to put your head down and work for awhile. Without praise and without fanfare. This time is precious and should be treasured. This is where you spin your cocoon and don’t emerge until you are a butterfly.

3. Know Thyself
The last major pattern that I noticed was that these innovators took the time to really know themselves and what they wanted. Knowing yourself means that you aren’t afraid to follow your inner guide. You aren’t looking to hacker news to tell you what the next great tech product is. You aren’t mindless nodding to music just cause its on. You know what you like, you know what you want, and you aren’t afraid of being unpopular to get it. How many of us take the time to really know what we will sacrifice our time for? Having this understanding puts you head and shoulders above the rest of the pact simply because you know why you are going through the struggle.

Like many of the magical things in life, reinvention is a serious a small steps and hard work. The real reason why we see so few true innovators is because most of us are not willing to put in the time. It is so much simpler to find your crowd, hang with your group and be comfortable in your space. No shade–everyone needs a comfort zone. But those that stand in the sun and bask in its rays don’t get there in a pack. They step out of the shadows and into the light.

Who doesn’t want to dance on a beam of light? That is where the magic happens.


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