This week Ashton Kutcher delivered an acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards. I wasn’t expecting to find my inspiration here, but I haven’t been able to let go of his three key ideas – particularly the third one. So here it is (paraphrased):
1. Seize opportunities. And opportunities usually look like work – hard work.
2. Be sexy – and there is nothing sexier than being smart, being thoughtful, and being generous. Everything else is crap.
3. Build a life – don’t live a life. Everything around us that we call life was made up by people that are no smarter than us. You can build your own things and you can build your own life.
The third point is the one that strikes me the most at this time, particularly in light of my earlier post here
We don’t have to follow the proscribed path – but it takes most of us a lifetime to wake up and realize this. Ashton Kutcher just completed the biopic on Steve Jobs and he credited that work with reminding him of his third tenet. Steve Jobs himself summed it up very well in his commencement speech at Stanford. He said,
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Read more about Ashton’s speech on the Business Insider
Watch the complete commencement speech by Steve Jobs via NPR
Raising children inevitably leads to thoughts about their potential. More simply stated, what are they going to do with their lives? It is an amazing feeling, to see the world laid out before your children and the vast potential out there for them to take advantage of. I know they can do amazing things.
However, the reality is that few of us really grasp this potential and make the most of it. We allow life to jostle us on our way, but we often don’t grab the steering wheel and drive fast in a clear direction. To mix my metaphors, we drift on the sea of life, letting the waves take us where we are going.
Yet how to convey this to my teenagers? How to explain that focus and passion are the real keys to success, the real keys to maximizing their potential.
I had a conversation yesterday with two British friends of mine. We all went to school at around the same time. Two of us drifted into degrees and subsequent careers. One of us never made it to college, but chose a career early and had the confidence, the drive, and the focus to pursue it very successfully. Yes, she had a passion for her work. With passion comes a desire to work hard and put in the extra hours; with passion comes focus.
We set to discussing our hopes for the future of our children. The general consensus was that one should pursue an interest one enjoys because it is better to be happy and poor than to be miserable in a career that you will probably quit. I have to add a very important rider to this. Don’t just choose an interest you enjoy. Luke warm interest will just make you poor. Find something that you really love, because in order to be successful in life you have to be willing to work hard. Really hard. And you will only be willing to do that for something that you are passionate about.
So, to my children, I offer you a world of opportunity. Yet for you to participate in it, be willing to dedicate your energies to the things you love. Just liking something isn’t enough. Do what you love.
It has been back to my roots in the month of June. I and my 15 year old daughter have traveled back to Cornwall, England, and to London. It is her 16th birthday present from my parents and it has been very much enjoyed and appreciated. However, we are starting to wrap it up – just one more long weekend and we will be back in Tennessee.
So…. revisiting my haunts. Not exactly eye-opening, but definitely some clear reminders. We can change, but our past made us who we are and we can’t and shouldn’t deny it. A couple of popular references that come to mind are “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye” by Christopher Brookmyre and the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”.
I feel as if I have come from a lot of contradictions. But not really. It is the patchwork that makes up me. Punk rock wannabe, Oxbridge candidate, straight A’s, hair dyed red (and blue and silver), bartender, daddy’s girl, NME aficionado, philosophy reader in my spare time. And now a mother of three. Three fantastic individuals who are going to make their own way in life.
One thing I have learned from this trip is that I need to embrace the whole that is me and enjoy it. I am unique. I have a lot to offer. And at this point in my life it is more than potential – I have really been there, done that. So I need to value it more. So from here on out I will continue to learn and think, but I will never devalue the experience and knowledge I have already gained.