It’s global hurricane season and I’m not talking about weather patterns breaking over coastal cities. I’m talking about the confluence of global storms that are impacting every aspect of our lives: lingering covid, war in Europe, rising interest rates and rampant inflation, slowing economic growth, post-pandemic mental distress, continuing supply chain bottlenecks, the transition to a hybrid existence and rapidly accelerating technological change. It’s easy to get vertigo in this environment as the hits keep on coming.
But here are the four truest words in the English language: this too shall pass. As it is said, for everything there is a season, and a time for every [a]purpose under heaven: a time to break down, and a time to build up. This is the time to build up in anticipation of the next wave of opportunity that is already flowing in abundance towards us.
Unleash Your Imagination: Be a Perennial. Being a Millennial is a function of birth date; being a Perennial is a function of mindset. Unlike annual or biennial plants that die after one to two seasons, a perennial is a plant (like a rose or a geranium) that flowers season after season. A Perennial person is someone who does likewise. They are always new because they’re always reinventing themselves in sync with their environments. Age is just a number if your spirit is forever young.
Glenda Jackson, the legendary two-time Oscar-winning actor, is a Perennial. In the spring of 2019, at the age of 82—after two decades as a member of the UK parliament—she returned to acting in as the role of King Lear. King Lear is regarded by many as the toughest male role in all of Shakespeare’s plays. Being an octogenarian woman made it even tougher. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Jackson described the extent of her nightly performance: “In a strange kind of way, you should have nothing to take home. You should have put everything that has to be put on that stage. Shame on you if you have something to take home.”
Compared to Jackson, how much of yourself are you investing in your day-to-day activities? How much more could you do if you were curious and committed enough to find out how far you could go? What could you achieve if you were willing to unleash your imagination and follow it wherever it chooses to go? How much is riding on your discovery of a better way? Who is depending on you to help them get ahead? How much does it even matter to you?
Clint Eastwood is another Perennial. At the age of 88, he produced, directed and starred in the 2018 blockbuster movie The Mule. Eastwood plays the role of an octogenarian drug runner for a Mexican cartel into the US. The movie’s budget was $50 million; it grossed over $170 million. In a conversation with Toby Keith, the country singer, Eastwood shared his personal mantra: “I never let the old man in.” This inspired Keith to write the title song for the film, “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”
The great baseball player Satchel Paige once asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” What would your answer be? And why? I would be 35. That’s the age I was when I delivered my first professional keynote. It was a thrilling renaissance out of a time of personal darkness and doubt. I still experience the same sense of magic every time I get up to speak.
As a self-declared Potentiator, I am heartened and disheartened by the latent power that people are carrying around within them. I’m heartened by the potential of people to produce remarkable results, but I’m disheartened by the disinclination of many people to turn their latent power into real power. Latent is defined as existing but not yet fully developed—dormant or hidden until circumstances are suitable for manifestation. Latent talent needs to be intentionally activated.
Some kind of wake-up call is required for people to unleash their imagination. In the cases of Jackson and Eastwood, it’s a natural drive fused with extraordinary talent. In my case, it was
a prolonged struggle with clinical depression in my early 30s that prompted me to become a motivational speaker—partially as a way of vaccinating myself against the disease. Now, it’s the hunger for relevance and appetite for adventure. To quote the great Springsteen, “Now some guys they just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece. Some guys come home from work and wash up and go racing in the street.”
What is it for you? Let’s go make some magic together. And if you like this magic, check out my newest book, The Potentiator on Amazon, Kindle or Audible. This is Mike Lipkin and I’ll race you in the street.