I guess it’s appropriate that I work in the search industry, because as I turn 40 I’ve decided that the search is a big chunk of the meaning, and the beauty, of life.
I was an insufferable know-it-all when I was 20. I had life all figured out and had no patience for hypocrisy or timidity.
I was a big Tom Peters fan, Keep it Simple, Ready Fire Aim, etc. Just believe and don’t overthink and it will all work out.
My views of human nature, and of religion were also centered around a simpler world.
Things were naturally good and simple, and problems were avoidable. We were given a simple world and we just needed to keep things straight. Now I believe we were given a complicated world and a problematic nature, and that’s where all the fun begins. We didn’t start with a pure nature and a perfect world that we messed up. We were given love & hate, compassion & anger, humility & ego, and thrown into a messy world and told to make it work.
Some people find that depressing but I love it.
Me at 20 vs 40
|When I was 20||Today at 40|
|Human Nature||Good||Good & Bad|
|Problems, complexity||Avoidable or Imaginary||Everywhere, part of the fun|
|Religion||About revelation and faith||About the search for goodness and meaning|
If I could go back and talk to the 20-year old me, I’d tell him to calm down, recognize his flaws and his greatness, and to love the adventure of life.
To be fair to the other side though, there’s plenty that the 20-year old me would love to remind the 40-year old me. Sure you need to provide financial security for your family, but don’t forget the joy of work. Don’t get so lost in the money that you forget the importance of serving people with great products and services. I made some dramatic decisions in my early 20s — moved to Israel, got married, had kids — and they worked out quite nicely. The challenge is for the older and wiser 40-year old me to maintain the courage and integrity that came more naturally when I was living in a simpler world.
So my birthday wish to myself: to live the next 40 years with the humility and patience that I’m still trying to gain, along with the enthusiasm, courage, and integrity that I hope I haven’t lost. And to love the search for meaning, for connection, for beauty, and for excellence.