I have always enjoyed listening to the wisdom of people who have lived a life longer, or seemingly bigger than I have; so much so that I built a career on it. I seek out the words of people who have experienced challenges, heartbreak, loss, and pain, and I use it to reflect on my own life. Recently, I came across a video of Oprah interviewing four innovators and asking them the age-old question, “what one thing would you tell your younger self?” There were two general themes. I believe they are the marks of wisdom and experience.
First is “talk less, listen more.” The older I get, the more I see the need to stop talking and truly listen to what is being said. In my own life, people are less interested in what I have to say to them as much as they desire to be heard and understood. By taking the time to listen to what people are saying, you not only open yourself up to a deeper connection with another person, but you will also learn something about yourself. How people connect and talk to you is in direct relation to how you portray yourself and how that person sees you. It is a chance to reflect on who you truly are and how this wisdom reminds you of that.
The second was a more prevalent theme which was not to worry, “all shall be well.” The second theme was a call to remember that everything happens for a reason, in its time. These innovators wanted their younger selves to stay in the moment and not to worry, their time will come. One woman talked about the “chaos and restlessness” that she experienced by knowing that she had a gift to share with the world and couldn’t figure out what it was or how to express it. I think so often we get entangled in the image we have of the perfect us that we forget it is a lifelong process. These innovators were reminding us that everyday is one step closer to the person we are meant to be but you can take tomorrow’s step with today’s knowledge.
After watching this video and Googling “letters to my younger self,” I started to contemplate what this 44-year old woman wanted my 16 year old self to know. Given the wisdom I have gained up to this point, what would young Cheryl benefit by knowing? This is what I came up with…
Take time everyday to be good to yourself and appreciate where you have been and where you are trying to go. Everything you are meant to be you ALREADY are, you will realize that in time. Talk less and listen more. You have an amazing ability to listen with your whole heart and spirit, that is a gift you were given to share. You are beautiful from the inside out so don’t get caught up in what people believe they see (you will learn to love your freckles). Do not let yourself feel stuck in life, it only takes one step forward to create momentum. All is Well.
Your 44-year old self
I invite you all to contact your younger self and let her or him know what they are desperate to hear. It will be an exercise in seeing how far you have come and where you have yet to go. For those of you that are passionate about mentoring our future generations, post your letters in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.