“All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts” As You Like It, William Shakespeare
If your life was a movie, would people pay to watch it? Or would they be watching your life story with someone else as the leading character. Perhaps a parent, spouse or child? Do you live vicariously through them?
If your life revolves primarily around someone else, their aspirations, desires or values, they are the star of your movie. Life is a story that unfolds in days, weeks and months. We don’t get much say over the beginning or sometimes, the end.
However, we are expected to self-determine in the course of our life, to practise the freedom to be who we choose to be.
In our life story, many characters will come and go, playing a supporting role just like in the movies. Yet we must always remember that we are the constant in the movie of our life.
Start by putting yourself at the centre of your life. You are the one whose names go in first, in bold letters. Just like in the movies, you are the hero or heroine in your story, not the victim.
Many of us play the martyr, the sacrificial lamb that put themselves last so that everyone else could get ahead. Yet there is such a thing as depleting yourself to the extent that you have nothing else to give. Pouring, as it were, from an empty cup.
Kevin N. Lawrence writes that this thinking is also pervasive among business leaders. He writes in Your Own Oxygen Mask First, “You probably believe there is literally no time in your life to take proper care of yourself, to indulge in activities that are just for you and you alone. You believe as a leader, a spouse, a parent, a community organiser – whatever combination of roles you play – that these roles far outweigh your own personal needs. You are conditioned to believe this is what adulthood looks like.”
Secondly, it is your life story, determine to make it an epic tale. Take a few calculated risks, go on some adventures. Go further than your parents did. Live so that you have some interesting things to share with your grandchildren.
Third, embrace your complexities because they make you human. You are not perfect, and part of what makes us identify with the star or leading character, is their flaws. We see them experience struggle and then rise up above it. We are then inspired to believe that we too, are capable of great courage. A great tale is not possible if we do not dare to live courageously.
Fourth, the star of the movie is usually resourceful. They have a challenge to overcome, and they usually do not have everything they need. Yet, they begin where they are. They use what they have. They improvise if they need to. They get the job done.
Finally, it’s never over for the star unless the fat lady sings. This year, avoid the temptation to discount yourself, to quit early or give in. Keep engaged and active in the movie of your life for as long as you can. Until the credits roll with your name in bold.