Jamie Meyer, years 2018 to 2023
I've gone to write this piece many times over the years. All the things I would say to a younger version of me. The version of me that was living a life trying to navigate the assumed expectations of others. The woman who was starting her career and then her first company.
Many successful People have a list of things they would advise their young start-up self, things to either do or avoid. A set of instructions for the way to get the thing they achieved done. What advice would I give? What detours or directions would I alter?
I have never been gripped by quite the right words. Until recently. I realized, that while I could write an encyclopedia of advice of everything I have learned and discovered in my life and professional pursuits. A set of instructions simply isn't going to cut it. If I were to arm my younger self with all of it, how much would she really understand? She would know it, but I doubt very much whether it would have as strongly impacted who I became, as living it did.
I question whether I would be who I am today. For there is a vast difference between knowing and learning.
This reminds me of when I travel and try to explain the places I have visited to those who haven't been. There is something different about the description of a place and being in that place. One far outweighs the other in what can be gained. Mostly because it is impossible to fully comprehend something we have never experienced.
I could have dated the guy that wanted me to leave my high school boyfriend for him. But then I wouldn't have married the wrong guy at 23 and realized that I had been living my life confined within expectations.
I could have followed my nose to be a Fashion Designer. But then would I have become as passionate about impacting the Fashion Industry from a sustainability perspective?
I could have gone to Business School. But would not have had as much intimate Business knowledge as I did at 23.
I could have moved to Milan. But would it have been as spectacular and thrilling as when I visited for my 34th birthday? It definitely wouldn't have been such an impactful milestone as it was.
I could have started my Company earlier. But would I have even known how to do what I do if I had?
I could have left the guy with two kids when I already had one foot out the door. Instead of staying because his daughter asked me to and I was concerned for her.
I could have charged more when I started Freelancing. But would I have ever grasped what I could build for other People if I did? And further more, would I have realized what it was worth?
I could have given up every time I nearly did. When I could have sworn there was no way to make it work. The times that self-doubt was suffocating. Would I have even been able to follow the instructions at times like this? Because even with the instructions it would have required everything I was willing to give to get it done. Would I have been able to give that? Would I have even had it to give? If I hadn't had the opportunities that fortified my resilience, could I even call myself resilient? Would I have had that skill to draw upon?
I could have stayed in Australia and acquired an Executive Job with security and no responsibility for my own paycheck outside of doing my job. But would I have helped as many People and Companies, seen as many places, met as many People, had as many experiences and grown as much as an individual if I had?
I could have waited to have more Clients and more Capital before moving my Company to an International Firm. But would I have been as open to learning the International Market if I had already been solidly Successful at home? And would I have been able to serve my Australian Clients as well without that knowledge?
I could have stayed with the guy who was not in love with me. But if I had, I wouldn't have walked all the way out into the world, dared myself to do anything and learnt so many languages.
I could have followed the paths, the standard of what is generally done in the Consulting or 'Expert' Industry. Continued to call myself a Business Consultant. But if I didn't have the knowledge from all the things that didn't work for me, the risks I took, would I have been able to make the things that did work, work as well? Would my Companies look as they do now?
It is natural to reflect and wish you had known sooner, started earlier. But it was through the journeying that I discovered and was able to recognize what I was capable of. Had the journey been altered I wouldn't understand everything that I do. Had I had an assurance what the end would look like, would I have dug as deep, tried as hard, stretched myself to the enth degree to discover what I was made of?
My life has been made of up striving for perfection, messy bits, setting everything on fire and so many new beginnings I have lost count. Every minute of it has been glorious. I wouldn't change it for earlier Success, for avoiding some of the things I lived. I hope it never stops. Because for a reformed perfectionist, the messy bits are my favorites and they are where I get the greatest inspiration.
We take for granted that our experiences build who we are. Always trying to make other People’s answers work for us instead of finding our own. Thinking that by doing so we will be more, do more. But what if we are missing out on the best parts of our own answers, our own building because of this?
I would tell my younger self only this; No matter what, you will always rise to the occasion, in every possible circumstance. You will do so many things you once considered impossible. And then you will make a whole new list of impossible and do those things too. Despite you never thinking so, you are fearless. Enjoy the ride because it will only be as good as you decide to make it. And no matter what, smile, because the worst parts turn out to be the best thing that could have ever happened.
Omaha, Nebraska, United States of America
It isn't that we are influenced by another but that the culmination of the influence around us influences our actions. Our actions lead us somewhere. Yet when those influences are interrupted by something new or unexpected it changes how we perceive what has influenced us in the past, the actions we choose and ultimately what is available to us outside of the reality we created. These new experiences hold the opportunity to set our world on fire.
I was out with friends in a small-town country bar. This young woman and her mother were admiring how I couldn't possibly be from 'around here'. Apart from the fact that they had never seen me at their local spot, I was the only one not wearing flannel and as soon as I open my mouth my Australian accent drips out.
The daughter, an exuberant and cheerful young woman was a Vet Technician. Naturally, when we see a foreign object we want to understand how it came to be. So she wanted to hear all about what brought me to her part of the World. She couldn't believe her luck to find someone from the other side of the World, who spends most of her time travelling in a such small place and so far off the beaten track.
The sky ablaze across farm land on the edge of the Platte River.
It turns out that she dreams of having a career that takes her around the World. She wants to be the kind of woman that can take on anything and be an inspiration to others. From what I experienced of her, there is no doubt that she will someday.
The irony is that as much as she couldn't believe to have met me, I was equally surprised to have met her. And quietly laughing at all the scenarios that had led me to that place in time. And while she was excited about the possibilities for her that I embodied, she too embodied possibilities for me.
Our interaction had me thinking about the power of influence. It is one thing to be intentionally influential, investing in ways we want to impact others, creating things or entities to support the encouragement of an action or ideal.
As we make choices for who we want to be each day, in the pursuit of what we want to design for ourselves. We seldom consider what those choices have the power to do. No matter how small they are. And if we are doing it right, we consider even less what others think of the choices we make for ourselves. It is because of this that it never crosses our mind that in just living our life we can be influential to someone else. Someone we have never met, or may never meet may merely find exactly what they are looking for in who we are, without us even trying.
This brings me to the strength of our actions and words on any given day. And the possibility that such things are even more influential than those that we nurture intentionally and on a grand scale. As we interact in daily life far more frequently than we do on stage or out to the public, it could be said that it is our everyday way of being that determines the influence we have in a more concentrated affect. Our repetitive actions compounding to become who we are, which in turn impacts another either directly or indirectly. Multiplied by how many times we encounter People in a lifetime, maybe our understanding of influence is entirely wrong. And it isn't that something influences us to do something but that through the influence of our interactions with others we make choices based on who we become because of them.
This young woman was so grateful to have met someone like me. It was as though her dreams had rolled up on her doorstep inviting her to take them on. What I don't believe she realized though, is how grateful I was to have met her, That young woman reminded me of the sheer impact our lives have on the environments we walk through. How we each hold something within us and within our lives that has the power to encourage another however they see fit. How who we choose to be every day is powerful and how greatly we create change and impact without trying. For it isn't for us to decide what others need, nor for others to decide what we need. But an exchange of giving what we are, so that others can find what they need.
It is odd, our misunderstanding of “get” and “receive”, well mine was. I was raised with the idea that life is about doing, acting or behaving a certain way, to “get” something. Do your chores, you’ll get an allowance. Work harder you’ll get a promotion. Be helpful you’ll get approval. Meet expectations you’ll get validation. Please and you will get acceptance. Cultivating an ideal that one needs to be or take action to get something. And the deservedness of the getting is determined by another’s assessment of your being and doing. The power of the getting becomes the responsibility of someone else. Instead of us being able to acquire it ourselves. Rendering all our being and doing fruitless, unless another decides to bestow it upon us. Kind of feels very sixteenth-century.
“You have been weighed, you have been measured and you have been found wanting”. - Count Adhemar de Monteil
The Angel Oak Tree, Charleston, South Carolina, United States of America
The idea that we can only “get” what others deem fit, is generally a problem. That is because the most that we will get from others, is capped by what they see themselves worthy of. In turn, we accept that as a reflection of our worthiness. Rather than the outcome being equal to our own worth. Which we can't possibly know, because we are on a merry-go-round of measuring ourselves against what we "get" from others.
We don't yet have the understanding that most of our being and doing and "getting" aren't in the pursuit of things we want. Our lives become less about the pursuit of who we are and what we want. And instead, built on a hierarchy of expectations that this or that is the next logical step.
At school, we consider our teachers and what they like and don't like in our work to get the best grades or mess about the most. Your parents tell you to be a certain way so you make friends. In our twenties, we work towards acquiring property and purchasing our own vehicles. In relationships, we assess and determine the disposition of our partners. We work out when to ask them, how to ask them for something. We do more of what they like and we be less of what they don't like. To "get" them to like us, and approve of us further. We know what they do and don't like. We move into together and get married. At work, we know how our boss likes things. We understand their level of expectation and the additional capacities they require for consideration of promotion or recognition. And we work towards the direct promotion of our position because it appears as forward motion. Unknowingly perpetuating a predisposition to "get".
Some, become aware that it is society designing our lives instead of us. Others do not. But even for those that throw caution to the wind. That forge their own paths there still remains, without realizing, a tinge of perpetual being and doing within the guidelines and acceptance of someone else. Our achievements still resting on the hopes of being everything and doing everything right to result in us "getting".
We cannot "get" and really get anywhere. It is a contradiction. Doing things that you want. To build a life you want. Only to receive it from someone that isn't you. Leaves what you want in someone else's hands, appointing them the determiner of whether you deserve it or not.
So then, what is the difference between "getting" and "receiving"? By the definitions I have acquired through life;
Is an attempt at concerted control of external factors. It requires one to assess and determine the expectation, that if executed exceptionally will result in the hoped outcome. Not to be confused with being given something freely by another.
Is focused internally. It involves recognizing the design one wants. An expectation that what you want, you will become. The being and doing are then aligned with what is wanted and pursues the direction of it. In which the pursuit becomes the validation, the approval. You are the one who determines your deservedness. It requires you to credit your own efforts, to allow opportunities time to come to fruition, without dismissing them, yourself and moving on to the next. It requires you not to run away from your own results.
Most of us don't realize that a choice exists between "getting" and "receiving".
This tree, The Angel Oak Tree, has grown exactly as it saw fit. Upwards, outwards, through the ground and back out again, for an estimated 400 years. And because it insists on doing so, because it determines from its environment what it deserves, it has a life expectancy of another 500 years. In comparison, we have such a short time to receive and we should make the most of it.