I grew up in a small town. So growing up, my world was very small. We never went on vacations because my dad was a workaholic. He was always at work. My mom drove, but not far. Just to the store or downtown or to visit my Grandmother. And she never drove after dark. She was absolutely terrified of getting lost. So mostly I walked to school and played in our neighborhood and the surrounding woods.
One day, most likely in about the 1st or 2nd grade, I went on a bus field trip that took us out on the highway. As I stared out the window something amazing began to dawn on me. I realized that what I was seeing in the distance, out of the dirty, badly scratched bus window, was other neighborhoods.
This sounds strange, but it honestly was the very first time it ever occurred to me that there were other neighborhoods. And other people in those neighborhoods.
I was incredibly shy, but out of sheer excitement of the moment, I grabbed the shirt of my seat mate saying to him; “There are other neighborhoods out there. Do you see them? I can’t believe this!!! Did you know about this?”
My world view changed at that very moment.
That simple realization that there were other neighborhoods and other people out there opened my world in a way that’s hard to describe.
We talk often at Brains on Fire about this idea:
People want to be a part of something bigger than their own lives.
We talk about that set of words and idea often. Even a modest stride in becoming a part of something bigger than your own life can have a huge impact on your life.
That day on the bus that I realized I didn’t want an ordinary life.
And by most standards, I haven’t had one. My work has allowed me to travel to amazing places all over the world. I’ve meet and had conversations with the most remarkable people. We’ve been a part of pushing great causes forward and peeked inside the walls of wonderful organizations. We get to learn and grow and expand our thinking every single day. And personally, I’ve worked alongside some of the most brilliant people on the planet who have challenge me to grow in wonderful ways.
Some nights, when I lay my head on my pillow I’m humbly and gratefully stunned by it all.
But here’s the truth.
If not for that ride and keeping my eyes open that day when I was so young; if not for dreaming about neighborhoods beyond my own, my life could have easily been so much less. I believe that with all my heart.
Are you looking out the window?
Are you moving yourself or your organization toward being a part of something bigger than making widgets or selling services?
We’re living in a very ME centered universe right now.
I stumble on these words in a old notebook I found on my desk today:
A ME centered universe = a mediocre life.
How might you become a part of something bigger than your own life today? How might you be a part of a bigger story than just your own?