I had some time off work last week and I spent it by water with loved ones while reading and listening to podcasts. I recently learned through the VIA Character Strength Survey that one of my character strengths is love of learning and this is how I fuel my well-being. I enjoy thinking about ideas, connecting the dots from different lanes and wrapping my mind around something new. This is bliss to me.
During my downtime, I learned from the book Sapiens that humans have only been here for a second in the big picture. If history was a year, just the last milliseconds on New Year’s Eve mark our arrival.
Janna Levin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University said on The Tim Ferriss Show, “We are direct descendants of the Big Bang. We are direct descendants of the generation of stars that made carbon and oxygen. We are direct descendants of neutron stars colliding and providing us with gold, which is actually this insane monetary thing that we exchange with no understanding that the absolute only place that it came from was the collision of two dead stars somewhere else in the universe that threw it our way. Like, that gives me such a good, warm, fuzzy sense of meaning that I don’t need to turn to fairies and fantasies.”
We have stardust in our atoms and cells. We are made of stars.
That kind of makes me feel like anything is possible.
And I just started reading How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen. He talks about how in the 1960s Honda tried to compete in the US motorcycle market which was led by companies like Harley-Davidson. The big bikes Honda made leaked oil on long road trips and ended up costing the company a lot to ship back to Japan to fix. They also were not meeting sales targets. They had initially sent a few small bikes to America, the type that were used for deliveries on narrow streets, not thinking anyone would buy them. One day an employee rode one, someone liked it and wanted to buy it. Things grew from there and a new market was uncovered. These small Honda off-road bikes are sold in sporting equipment stores rather than motorcycle shops. Clayton explains that Honda’s emergent strategy grew from failure and opportunity, and then morphed into their deliberate strategy. In other words, success stories often do not end where they began.
The school courses we take, the careers we pursue, and the lives we lead have roads full of bumps, detours and changes in direction. We must learn to pivot, be agile and see rejection as redirection. As they say, life is what happens when you are making other plans.
So, as we face life’s challenges, may we remember that the earth has been spinning for millions of years and if we reach deep inside us, we will find stardust, solutions and success.