We need to return to the Age of Exploration

It’s been a tough time for everyone. COVID-19 is the great equalizer. It has brought everyone to their knees and cast a spell of pessimism world-wide.

Yet there is always hope, if only we shift our thinking and view life through different lenses.

In the world of work, we have no choice other than to get more creative, more resourceful and more reliant on our only security – our competence.

No block of marble, tiny canvas, or eight basic notes ever stifled creativity and so like the artists that we know, we must be more than just technically proficient. We need to return to what got us fired up when we started doing what we are doing. We need to examine what worked then, what has morphed into the status quo and what is capturing our attention right now in the world that we simply cannot accept.

Transformation requires imagination but the key ingredient that we all need to do more of is to explore.

Believe it or not, there was a period in European history, loosely defined as the Age of Exploration. It began early in the 15th Century and lasted through the 17th Century. It was a time when the Europeans began exploring the world by sea in search of new trading routes, wealth, and knowledge.

The impact persists to this day, with many of the world’s former colonies still considered the “developing” world, while colonizers are the First World countries, holding a majority of the world’s wealth and annual income.

Here are some other impact areas:

  • Explorers learned more about areas such as Africa and the Americas and brought that knowledge back to Europe.
  • Massive wealth accrued to European colonizers due to trade in goods, spices, and precious metals.
  • Methods of navigation and mapping improved, switching from traditional portolan charts to the world’s first nautical maps.
  • New food, plants, and animals were exchanged between the colonies and Europe.

We need to suspend what we think we know and believe to be true because if we don’t, we will limit ourselves to the options that have been in front of us all along.

I ask questions. The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. Wisdom comes from having a question for everything.

MILAN KUNDERA – Author

According to author Matt May, the Universe has posed to each of us, a very specific question of paramount importance that only we can answer in our unique way.

This is how artists and scientist sculpt their work, around a central question so they own the work. Their world revolves around masterful work performed for worthy reasons toward a meaningful end. They go their own way in the face of what to most looks to be impossible.

There is a dark side to this approach of course. We get criticized, denied, rejected, dismissed and laughed at.

But this is par for the course and we shouldn’t let this hold us back.

  1. We need to protect ourselves from those “keepers of the status quo” also known as our peers, and trust in our own strength.
  2. We have to believe in our own ideas and to daily recommit to making things happen.
  3. We need to explore and experiment with new approaches and new ways to do things

The truth is, we are being taught a valuable lesson:

Nothing and no thing is permanent. Change is always around the corner. We can choose to dance with it or resist it but resistance only leads to pain.

We don’t control many of the things we pursue in life – yet we become angry, sad, hurt, scared, or jealous when we don’t get them.

THE DAILY STOIC JOURNAL – Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Expect that people won’t agree with you, like what you’re doing, support your approach. That’s ok. They are not your tribe. Those who need you will read about what you’re doing, and want to learn more.

To succeed you need to be both artist and scientist. You need to keep tinkering, tailoring and trying. Examine your results, and make the necessary changes. Don’t look for shortcuts. This IS the shortcut.

There is a story that I absolutely love that tells of an exchange between Martha Graham and Agnes De Mille who was hired in 1943 to choreography the musical Oklahoma. She was feeling dispirited despite the success of her musical and confessed to Martha over a soda at Schrafft’s restaurant, that she had a burning desire to be excellent but no faith that she could be. This was Martha’s quiet response

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have so far used about one-third of your talent.”

The world is driven by social response. We measure by likes and give up on our dream because someone who doesn’t even understand WHAT we’re doing weighs in.

I know and understand that we have to earn money but I think we totally miss the point when we chase “doing it like everyone else” versus doing what that inner voice compels and haunts us to do.

Kill expectation. Do what you know is your work, your art and good things will follow.

You don’t need to be saved or rescued. What you need is the knowledge of your power, how to access it, how to communicate your value and how to earn accordingly in exchange for what you’re offering.

If any of what I’ve said resonates then your are in the right place and I definitely have solutions for you. Email me giselle (at) gisellehudson (dot) com

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