We begin the New Year with strong motivation to build on our experiences and set out to rid ourselves of the shortcomings of the past. We aspire with greatness to set goals and romanticize our dreams for the coming 12 months. So often, we focus on overcoming our weaknesses or eliminating our bad habits – quit smoking, eat healthier, drink less, exercise more. We cherish dreams of greatness for the year ahead, hoping to be not only better, but to attain perfection by ridding ourselves of everything we do poorly. We imagine eliminating our bad habits, completely, and sticking to a regimen of flawlessness. The New Year offers a fresh start and a grand invitation to dream about the coming 12 months without fault.
This past fall, the movie Man of Steel was released – Superman, the well-known super hero, was chronicled in the latest. As we think about our goals, dressed metaphorically in Superman’s cape, blue suit, and red boots this new year, we subscribe to goals like reducing our Kryptonite intake, leaping tall buildings more frequently as we get older. Kryptonite is a fictional material – an ore form of a radioactive element from Superman's home planet of Krypton and it causes the Man of Steel to become weak – no different than many of our own vices, bad habits, and weaknesses. Of course we would set a goal to take in less of those things. However, if we are truly destined for greatness in 2014, it’s less about reducing Kryptonite than it is about flying better and saving humanity more frequently…build on our strengths rather than reduce our weaknesses!
A resolution is “the firm decision to do something.” And if that something is to do more of that at which you’re already good, then your world is going to be a better place. No Kryptonite – don the cape and suit, fly higher, faster stronger - vanquish your enemies - aspire to greatness!
In July 2013, the world said goodbye to Robert Bellah, whose works include Beyond Belief, in which he describes three types of work – a job, a career, and a calling. When you show up at work tomorrow, you’ll likely be subscribing to one of the three – a job, working for a paycheck – a career, working for a longer term advancement, or a calling, working on behalf of a greater purpose. Many of us fall in to the first one or two.
As you approach your resolution-setting for 2014, think about what it would take to turn your job in to a calling – are there aspects of what you do that can scale or be expanded to have a broader impact? Are there strengths that you exhibit in your day to day work that you could apply in volunteering or other areas that could stretch beyond your day job? Look in the mirror and find greatness.
2014 is going to be a great year. We are living in one of the greatest periods of human achievement and advancement – and every one of us has the opportunity to leverage technology and communication advances to have impact across the planet – sharing our thoughts and voices to bring a greater good to our planet. A single voice (yours!) delivering a strong message can be amplified and spread to millions overnight. There’s never been a time in human existence where an individual has had so much influence. So, as you think about your goals for this coming year, think about how you build on your strengths and have an impact across the planet.
Napoleon Hill said, “You must get involved to have an impact. No one is impressed with the won-lost record of the referee.” Take stock of your strengths and figure a way to share them with others in a way that has you involved and making an impact. The beautiful outcome here is that your strengths will grow stronger – and you’ll be making a difference.
When we think about strong people, we think across physical and cognitive domains – Helen Keller, Hercules, Einstein, Martin Luther King, Amelia Earhart, Atlas, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Sisyphus, and Nelson Mandela. I’m sure it’s safe to say that all of these had weaknesses too – but they were known for their strengths. Superman’s weakness to Kryptonite is well known – but he spent his time focusing not on this weakness, but on using his super powers for good. As we approach 2014, we can all choose to do the same. Too often, our New Year’s resolutions focus on reducing our exposure to our weaknesses – do less of this or that, fix this shortcoming or heal this wound. Instead of focusing on ridding your world of Kryptonite as we approach 2014, I invite you to focus your energy on flying, doing good in the world, and saving humanity!
If we can start to up-level the work we do to view our daily expenditures as more of a calling than as a job, then we will all be better off. As we think about the agendas of the organizations we work with, there is a greater purpose – and an opportunity to view our worlds more broadly.
Einstein said, “The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything” – as each of us look in the mirror at the start of 2014, as helpful as it might be to address our weaknesses, we owe it to the world to leverage our strengths for good. We come with a toolbox to help – responding to a calling – and if we can build on those strengths and offer them to the greater good, then surely, 2014 will be a great year…
Take action in 2014. Resolve to be great. For a change this year, set your New Year’s Resolutions to build on your strengths! – Save Lois Lane – don’t worry about reducing your Kryptonite intake, but focus on flying higher, stronger, and save humanity – build on your strengths – highlight those areas of your job that are a calling – that align with your broader worldview – and rise to greatness.
There is nothing more magical than flight – for those that have had dreams of flying, you know it to be true. As we approach this New Year, don’t focus on your weaknesses, but instead, build on your strengths – develop further that which already sets you apart. Fly higher and liberate yourself from the bounds holding you back – celebrate freedom and express the glory of freedom that flight brings – trust that the universe will provide the wind beneath your wings – and don’t fret about what Kryptonite might be lurking – go big!
Thoreau invites us to “Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”
Every one of us brings something to the table as humans on this planet – the renewal that is the New Year can inspire all of us to ante up our best offerings and make positive change for the future. As you focus on your strengths, it will be exciting to see how you challenge yourself!
We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true. – Woodrow Wilson
Fly, just fly! 2014 is your year!