We live in a beautifully connected world where anyone can be anyone they want to be. They just need an internet connection. But in a world that's grown so noisy, just how do you stand out?
Do you get another degree?
Grow a larger Linkedin Rolodex?
Buy that software that promises to give you 100k followers?
While all of these may give you the credibility you're looking for to live your life on purpose, you may not need them. All the ethos needed resides within when you follow your bliss. As Joseph Campbell once put it: "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls."
To help find this bliss, here are three ways to create your own ethos.
1. Pursue Your Chosen Mastery
There's a story of a man in his forties who wanted to pursue a Ph.D -- the cream of the academic crop. He talked himself out of it because it'd take about five years to achieve the Ph.D -- and he'd be 49 years old or older after completion.
When asked what age he'd be in five years without pursuing the degree, he realized he'd be the same age regardless. The only one holding him back was himself.
If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that we can be anything we want to be, regardless of age. Just take a look at Edwin Dannen, who at age 93 still pursues mastery on a daily basis.
Lately, the Ph.D has been bashed because it no longer holds as much societal clout any more. Plenty of Ph.D.s file for unemployment. While often times academic goals do hinder our ability to create our life's work in the present, if a Ph.D is what you strive for, go for it, no matter your age. You define your own means to mastery.
2. Your Rite of Passage (Own Your Ethos)
It's amazing how the world's many cultures have defined the transition from childhood to adulthood. Whether it's a tribal celebration around a bonfire that culminates in a post-pubescent circumcision (ouch!) or donning a long black robe w/ cap and tassel to receive a slip of paper that says "You Are Now Credible," each culture has attempted to clearly define the transition from childhood to adulthood.
In Freudian logic, it's where we transition from looking to Mommy and Daddy for safety and become Mommy and Daddy ourselves.
In Western culture, academia plays a key role in our cultural rite of passage. You are an adult when you get your diploma.
But it's so easy to put off ownership. It's a lot easier to blame someone else for the mistakes we make. Instead, recognize your genius right now. Understand that you came into this world with a beautiful unique set of gifts that no diploma, mother, father, or ceremony could grant you.
Your rite of passage came with your first breath. And breathe deep my friends, because the air is as crisp as a fresh apple.
3. Create Your Life's Work Now (Even If You Want a Ph.D.)
So often we hold ourselves back from putting our work out there in the present, mostly because of imminent failure (even in small doses).
In school, students write essays and create projects that don't go further than the teacher's desk. The world outside academia rarely gets to see all the incredible work students create on a daily basis. So we wait until we don a cap and gown (w/ tassel) and receive a slip of paper that hopefully proves we won't make a fool of ourselves.
But we will (even in small doses). And that's okay.
Without getting too grim, we like to think that the sun will always rise tomorrow, but it doesn't have to. And that breath you just took? It's a beautiful gift.
So create your work now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now.
Just take a look at Bhavani Esapathi who recently won Wired's Creative Hack Award. Diagnosed with a severe chronic illness at a young age, Bhavani has gone on to create Chronically Driven -- a collection of real stories from people around the globe who have persevered through chronic illness and created a better world. For these people, illness has not doused their flame. It's set their life on fire.
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