Yuri Bashmet was born in 1953 and is a Ukrainian-born, world-class violist. He is known to produce a unique blend of impulsive daring as well as musical sensitivity that is simply breathtaking. Yuri revamped viola’s repertoire and image through his world tours and his spicy performances of new works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Gubaidulina and Schnittke. He has since set up his very own string ensemble called the Moscow Soloists, where he is a part-time conductor.
I tell you this in order to make a point about reinvention. I can guarantee that Yuri did not wake up one morning and say to himself, “Today I will become one of the best violists the world has ever known.” While there may have been a defining moment in which he committed himself to this goal, it did not happen on that day, or the next, or the next. Transforming himself into the virtuoso he became took many long years of practice, dedication, and persistence. The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is true for empires, world-class musicians, and anyone who seeks to reinvent themselves. As author John Tarnoff states, “It is not an event, but a process.”
The lesson for today is that after one has made the decision to transform themselves, they must be ready for the process to take much longer and be much harder than they ever expected. Reinvention will not happen overnight, but rather by embarking on a journey of difficult pathways, uncertain destinations, volatile circumstances, limited resources, fair-weather friends, broken promises, and the personal battle with fear and doubt. Reinvention is most certainly not for the faint of heart, but for those who are willing to confront their fears and overcome uncertainty, a new version of life, as they know it, awaits. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot describes people who reinvent their lives as “border crossers who let go of the fear of the unknown and the fear of failure,” and Steve Donahue speaks of crossing borders on his journey across the Sahara Desert in his book Shifting Sands as “significant turning points, moments of truth, and opportunities for quantum inner growth and healing.” To repeat myself, reinvention is not for the faint of heart and will take much longer and be much harder than expected.
Just as a world-class musician will spend a lifetime perfecting their ability to master an instrument, we who are reinventing ourselves must have the patience and determination to be in our reinvention journey for the long haul. We must let go of thinking it will be quick and easy. As my mentor Derric Johnson states, “Easy doesn’t do it – never has, never will.” However, the transformation will come if we don’t give up. As Donahue states, “All that mattered was heading in the right direction.”
Reinvention Lesson #5: Expect it to take longer and be harder than you thought.
Go reinvent yourself and lead well.