People love to talk about themselves but do they really know themselves?

I thought I knew myself well until I was recently asked to provide an insight.  It all sounded very easy.  “Provide an insight, not a life story”.  No luxury here of being able to scrounge over my life’s events and pick out historical data.  No, I have to pick my thoughts instead.  For most of my life my thoughts have slumbered peacefully, alone and undisturbed.  Now I was to disturb them.

I could have cheated and based this story on any number of people, or even a fictitious person and nobody would know the difference.  Or maybe I could have picked somebody else and still been right.  I am, after all, a reflection of everybody I have ever known.  I have taken the thoughts and philosophies from a great many people.  I have imitated the shrewdness and cunning of others or the gentle heart until it become inherent in me.  I am a blend of the thoughts of thousands, but above all, I am still an individual.  Whatever I have acquired is now mine to keep, until I learn something better.

To surrender while I am content would not be very rewarding.  I am aware that tomorrow, next week, or next year more people will enter and shape my life.  That is how it has been forever.  Life has delivered me to this day.

Having always been of management status has provided me with the gratitude to acknowledge a variety of credits.  My success in management is more due to the good fortune of working in good teams filled with good people.  I have gained as much from my subordinates as I have from those who manage over me.  I also reserve some credit for myself: had I not learned from every moment or mortal I encountered I believe I would not be in this position of authority, and I would not be surrounded by the trappings I have earned.

The funny thing is I’d never stopped to look at it this way until I asked myself to write this story.  Tho hours ago I was purely a self made individual.  But like a self made millionaire has gathered the millions of dollars that has come their way, so too has a self made individual gathered the experiences that have come along.  I was born with barely a thought in my head.  Some I grew, and as I have said, some were borrowed.

Initially I had intended to write about the “home grown” thoughts.  These were the only ones I knew and are still worth mentioning.  Like many others I thought that I had a point to make or a purpose to complete (and while this is certainly creditable), I was a victim of the “I’ll do it my way” syndrome.  And all of my life I have believed, simply and solely, that I did do it my way.  In truth, nobody on Earth ever has.  There is not one person on Earth who has not gained or learned something from every interaction in their life.  Remember the old adage “We learn something new every day”?  I might extend it to “We can learn something wise every moment”.

In the past two hours I have learned so much.  What then, can a lifetime provide?

To the reader, I hope your own thoughts have been stirred as much as mine.  Or perhaps my words have meant nothing.  In that case, stop reading and travel in life as you please.  But maybe tomorrow, next week or next year we may meet and I’ll be fortunate, because I will learn something from you.  Sadly, I may have nothing to offer in return.


(Photo credit: Erik Eckel)