The advice that is dispensed around personal growth and improvement is very often about understanding yourself and what you do. That approach makes a kind of intuitive sense and to some extent it is correct.
I have learned that what you don’t do is as important as what you do.
We are often defined by what we do more so than what we say. To learn about yourself is to understand what you do and why you do it.
One way to learn about yourself is to just try a bunch of different things. I am in favor of this approach on a lot of things in life. For example, you never know if you like a certain kind of food until you try it.
Makes sense right?
Sure, but there are limits to this approach. Should you eat poop? No, I don’ think that is smart. Should you jump out of a plane without a parachute? No.
So, the try everything approach doesn’t always work. Sometimes, you need to use your intuition to understand what you aren’t willing to do, even if other people are doing it.
As my mother used to say, “just because your friend jumped off a cliff, that doesn’t mean you should.”
Living someone else’s life
There is another side to this idea of learning by trying things. Sometimes you find yourself following someone else’s blueprint and living someone else’s life.
You are not supposed to live someone else’s life or someone else’s truth. We each have our own path.
As I’ve built things and explored things, I found myself chasing someone else’s success. I wasn’t trying to copy their exact thing. Instead, I would apply what they do to what I do.
This is not the path to success or fulfillment. It is the path to trying to be someone you aren’t.
In the end I learned over and over again that works for other people doesn’t work for me.
What I do is different. Not better or worse. Just different.
Learning what I am not really influences who I decide to be.
As I continue to paint every day on the things I create, it becomes more clear what I am really about and what I’m not.
What aren’t you?
So, instead of worrying about who you are, I think it is a good idea to reflect on who you aren’t. What kind of things do you not want to do? What don’t you believe in?
What aren’t you?
As you learn that, you will gain all the more clarity on who you are and what you want to do.
At least, for myself what I am not is as important as what I am. If anything, it’s probably more important.
P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius