We’ve spent the last few week introducing the topic of reinvention as it relates to our professional, personal, and leadership life. We’ve discussed how the need for reinvention, more often than not, is the result of a change in external circumstances about which we have little control, and that we must be proactive about its inevitability and embrace the belief that we can, indeed, become a whole new version of ourselves. As you can imagine, my reinvention journey has been a process of learning and reshaping my mind to think about things that I didn’t see as necessary when I was younger. I’ve done a ton of reading and writing as I continue to create a new me that includes some of my best traits of the youth, but also expands my perspective, which have become more open to new concepts and critical thinking, which I never imagined would happen.
A few years back, John Tarnoff of the Reinvention Group LLC, wrote of the “beginner’s mind,” which is a Buddhist expression describing “someone who approaches new situations with openness, willingness, and humility.” He states, “Curious leaders are always interested in learning and understanding more.” This has absolutely been my experience in reinvention. In order to become the next generation of our best selves, we must be open, willing, and humble, beginning, I add, with a vision of who we can become and what we can learn to understand. Supporting this is another writer whom I’ve enjoyed, Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot, who stated, “We must develop a compelling vision of later life, one that does not assume a trajectory of decline, but recognizes this as a time of potential change, growth, and new learning, a time when our courage gives us hope.”
There are so many important principles in the writing of both of these authors that we will cover at some point, but today let’s focus on vision. Today’s key lesson for reinvention is that before we can do the hard work to reinvent ourselves, we must have a vision of who we will become and where we want to go. I do an exercise with the students in my introductory leadership courses in which they must write out a detailed description of their leadership profile fifteen years into the future. In the assignment, they must describe every aspect of how they will be functioning, from basic daily events to bold new professional adventures, and how they will be feeling about who they have become. For those who really grab hold of the exercise, it is life-changing, because the vision of tomorrow begins to direct the behaviors of today. It’s an exercise that I have personally done and continually update. It’s been amazing to me to see how my vision, written long ago, is in the process of becoming a reality. Certainly not everything has worked out exactly the way I thought it would, but since this is a living document, it has plenty of room to flex with the new circumstances that sometimes suddenly appear.
To reinvent, we must start with a vision of what our reinvented self looks like.
Reinvention Lesson # 3: Begin with a vision.
Go out and reinvent yourself.