“No man ever steps into the same river twice.” This quote by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, refers to the idea that the world is ever changing. Just as the flow of water is constantly changing the stream, our interactions with the world are constantly changing our body, mind, and spirit. This is one of the main concepts focused on in Zen Buddhism, and as a result of this I have devoted a ton of time to thinking and meditating on this idea. In today’s world, change is often looked at as something to be avoided and feared, because we feel safe and comfortable with the status quo. What people often fail to realize though, is that change is an inevitable and necessary part of life. Furthermore, a lot of the time, the products of change are actually a good thing, because they bring about progress. Over the last month, my siblings and I have all gone through major life changes. We have all turned the page on one chapter of our lives, and now we are all beginning new adventures. This got me thinking about how our lives are always changing, and how by acknowledging and accepting these transformations, you can enjoy greater happiness and success.
My sister, Stephanie, graduated with honors from law school last weekend. Obviously this is a huge accomplishment that she worked very hard to achieve, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Even more impressively, after taking the bar exam this Summer she already has a job lined up with a law firm in New York City. With this achievement comes the transition from student to employee, as she begins this new phase in her life. This is also a major milestone for the Drotar family, because it marks the end of the academic careers of all three Drotar kids. After a combined 21 years, five degrees, and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, we are all done with school. Despite our best efforts, we must all three now face the real world, and our student loans.
My life has also gone through a large transformation over the last few months. I have gone from out of work statistician with no direction to professional speaker following his passion to help others. I have created my first website, started my first blog, and developed my own speaking program, and all of these endeavors were successful beyond my wildest dreams. As a result of my professional success, I have also made some positive changes to my personal life that have made me both happier and healthier. Looking back, I almost feel like Roll Models and www.scottdrotar.com acted as a cocoon for my metamorphosis from the average, mundane life I used to lead to the beautiful, fulfilling life I enjoy now. Although I never would have had the courage to start with the goal “build a successful blog and speaking program in four months,” by accepting the changes in my life gradually over time, I have achieved so much more than I could have ever imagined.
Last, but definitely not least, are the major changes my younger brother, Ryan, has experienced recently. He had been looking to change companies for a while, and thanks to his hard work, personal development, and determination, he was just offered a new job. Not only is this a better job in terms of money and perks, but it also means he will be relocating (on the company’s dime) to Chicago, which is where he wanted to live anyway. I am filled with brotherly pride at his new career, but I am even more impressed with the changes he has made in his personal life. While he has been an “adult” for a long time now, over the Spring he has matured into a whole, new category. He is taking more ownership of his life, and taking steps to improve himself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I cannot tell you how great it is to talk to him and hear that spark, that energy, in his voice that had been absent for some time. His willingness to take the plunge and not only acknowledge, but embrace, the changes in his life have brought him a level of happiness and success that he has always dreamed of having.
All three of us are finishing one part of our lives, turning the page, and starting fresh on a new, exciting chapter in our life stories. I have already discussed the importance of persevering through the difficult, trying periods in your life, in order to overcome adversity and achieve your goals, but there is another quality that is equally as important. You must be open and accepting of change in your life. My sister could have remained in the business world instead of going back to law school, but she saw an opportunity, and had the courage to make a change. I could have continued looking for work in data analysis and mathematics, but I saw a chance to help people in a meaningful way, and I began marketing myself as a professional speaker and blogger even though I had no idea what I was doing. I trusted my instincts, and I took a chance on change. My brother could have not worked his ass off preparing for his job interview, but instead he saw an opening for change and seized it.
All three of us could have easily played it safe, stuck to what was familiar, and our lives would have been fine. But who lays on their deathbed and says, “I’m ready to go. My life was fine.”? No one. You want to live a great, full, exciting life, and in order to build this kind of existence, you must be aware and accepting of opportunities for change. You have to keep working and bettering yourself, while always being on the lookout for new chances to improve your life. When a new experience presents itself, and you get that warm, excited feeling in your stomach and that voice in your head says, “Go for it,” just trust your gut and have the courage to do something different. Break the status quo. Rock the boat. Carpe diem! This will not only give you the opportunity to do something great, but you will also finish your life with no regrets because you had the stones to take the plunge.
I have had conversations with both Stephanie and Ryan about how good it feels that all three of us are reaping the benefits of all of the hard work, determination, and time we have each put in over the last several years. It is so great to not only enjoy the fruits of our labor, but to enjoy it with each other. I cannot wait to see what this new chapter in our lives will bring. You can be sure though, that whatever is in store for us, we will all be changed along the way. When was the last time you saw an exciting, new opportunity and went for it full throttle? Pay attention to that voice in your head, turn the page, and muster up the courage to try something different. Be brave enough to be great. At the very least you will learn from your mistakes and feel good about trying to be great, and with a little luck you could achieve a life beyond your wildest dreams.