Following a week of rich conversations, thought-provoking videos and a challenging work situation the terms activist, artist and critical thinking came to mind. I realized how each of them relate to the personal change required to create the lives we want.

This week I talked with someone who was sharing his wife’s management “horror stories” of university student employees. I watched two Ted Talks, one from Carol Dwek titled “The Power of Believing You Can Improve” and one from Boniface Mwangi – “The Day I Stood Up Alone.” And finally, I reflected on how I can help a young co-op student cross the divide between what she says she wants and what her current state of performance is pointing her towards.

The conversations, videos and supervisory role prompted reflection about critical thinking, activism and artistry. As I thought about them I realized that in order for anyone to create the life they want, it is necessary to combine, what on first look, are totally unrelated efforts.

The willingness to go it alone

The definition of an activist is someone who wants to create positive change. Critical thinking occurs when someone acquires information from various sources and is able to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. An artist is someone who through use of imagination and talent or skill, creates works of aesthetic value.

Each of those require the willingness to go it alone for at least a part of the process. First, only you can envision what you want. And, only you know the questions  you feel compelled to ask and are curious enough to seek the answers. Finally, only you can be the force of positive change in your life.

I have witnessed what can only be called a multi-generational apathy towards defining and creating a life that will have the type of lasting legacy we crave. We want our lives to matter and yet we can slide into a soft, effortless way of living that will never allow us to achieve all the areas of our lives which have so much potential.

We are quick to point out what the younger generation lack – ambition, initiative, work ethic, responsibility and accountability. Yet the irony is that it is parents of ” that generation” who have created the entitled youth. Setting goals for them and then managing their lives for their achievement. It is so prevalent that a term has been developed to describe them – helicopter parents. Rather than teaching and leading by example in a continuous, life long manner we enter their lives and abandon ours. Many of us may have an excellent work ethic but have totally abandoned the responsibility, accountability and initiative that could make our lives match the dreams we secretly hold. Even if we have allowed our children to live their lives, somewhere along the way, we gave up on ours.

How to move from apathy to action

So, how do we get from the land of apathy to the one of enjoyment, satisfaction and yes, fun?

Can we start with our fears? They are often a pretty good indicator of what we want but are afraid to go after. I started writing a book over five years ago, it is sitting under my desk, incomplete. I would like to be a published author and I would like my work to make a difference. That won’t happen unless I make it happen.

I suspect that finishing the book is the easy part. The place where fear resides is taking it out into the world. What if no one wants to read it? What if I work really hard and put it out there and am just another unread author? So what if I am? What if nothing comes of it, but the effort? What I have learned so far, is that the effort matters. I can’t control success but I can tell you, that pushing myself to do what I say I want, to go after it, has me feeling differently about myself. It has in fact broadened my world, given me a great deal of satisfaction, enjoyment and yes, even fun.

I am learning about personal activism, of working towards creating positive personal change. By inviting new areas of knowledge I challenge my critical thinking.  Varied thoughts from different disciplines has expanded my world and my ideas. The artistry comes from the faith that my skill becomes greater as I use it and as I become comfortable with the not knowing.

How are you showing up in the world?

If you want to be more, to live a fuller and richer life, then consider how you are showing up in the world. In what ways do you use your critical thinking, your activism and your creative ideas about your life desires? Are you accountable, responsible and willing to take ownership of all that you can be? Are you willing to stand alone as you choose to pursue your dreams, or are you willing to shrug it off and claim that your time has passed?

The biggest and best gift we can give ourselves and teach the next generation is how to blend those three forces. No one can do it for us and we can’t do it for anyone else. Each of us must, as does the child taking the first steps, do it ourselves. When we do, our worlds will benefit from the focused energy, thought and imagination we bring forward.

Comments? Please. I’d love to hear when and where the trio have or are showing up in your life and what difference it makes for you.

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