Have you ever felt like you or what you do has reached the sell-by date? Like it is time to move on, -up, -out?
I am not referring to feeling pissed off at your boss because she leaves earlier than you or when you want to throw a stapler at Pete in Accounts because your expense claim hasn’t been approved.
I mean when you actually feel like there is nothing more for you to do here, nothing more to learn, nothing more to contribute or to extract. When you feel you have come to a metaphorical cross-road and have the urge to change direction. Maybe you are there now, maybe you’re looking ahead, you see the cross-road coming. It is not a feeling that just popped up because your co-workers or spouse have been irritating you. It’s not made up of emotional spikes and dips – it is more of a progressive realisation that you have come to, but it is emotional none the less. It does not necessarily mean you are unhappy; you might be quite content and have this realisation.
It could be in different areas of your life like a relationship, your job, a business venture, a friendship, a course or degree you are completing. I am young, but I have faced this a number of times in a job, in my first business, in relationships and friendships that have all had to come to an end for me to move forward.
These periods of your life will occur, no matter who you are or what you do. If not, you are living way below your capabilities and potential with no regard for your personal progression. If you die one day without experiencing this cross-road-feeling in at least one or two areas of your life, it means you never stopped to ask yourself if there is more to it than this. It means you have never tested your confidence in yourself to achieve more, you have never tested your levels of perseverance or your resilience. Only when you ask those questions of yourself and push those limits, will you bring yourself to cross-roads.
Crustaceans, arthropods and some insects go through a process of moulting their exoskeletons (shells) as they grow. Now, as a human, I hope you have never had to shed your entire skin at once and wait for the new one to grow. But I do hope you have had to do this metaphorically and multiple times. Just like a crab or lobster, this is part of your personal growth and necessary to become a bigger, better and stronger version of yourself. Like a crustacean, your ‘shell’ also grows back bigger and thicker as you mature.
Also like a crustacean or insect, you fit into an ecosystem. However, your role and responsibility as a human in a family/community/larger society requires you to grow-moult-grow, over and over in different areas of life (your career, relationships, emotionally, physically, spiritually) so that you and those around you can benefit and move forward. I’ll say that again – it is your responsibility to outgrow your shell and mature in various areas of your life so that you and those around you benefit from that growth. An extreme example is Elon Musk who is solving problems like how we store renewable-energy, reduce the use of fossil fuels, move faster between cities and finding a new home for humans once we have completely destroyed our current habitat. Elon Musk continuously pushes himself to outgrow his current state to be better and contribute more to the world. Luckily, we don’t all have to take on that kind of responsibility, but we do have some form of responsibility even if only toward our families and immediate communities.
Crabs, lobsters and insects cannot moult the way we can. We got a better deal from nature. These creatures moult in a linear fashion; shedding their shells to continue growing in one dimension – physical size. As humans, we get to moult and grow at an emotional level, intellectual level, spiritual level and personally. We also get to choose the role we want to play in society as we grow in these areas.
Then there is a bonus too…
In a series I recently watched, one of the characters speaks to the company psychiatrist about a problem. He is concerned about what to do with a new reality he faces; a realisation he has come to that his services may no longer be needed at the company they work for. She says to him:
“So now he [the CEO] doesn’t need you anymore.
And if he doesn’t need you anymore, no one does.
You have outlived your utility; there is nothing left for you to do but die”.
…long pause… then she continues,
“But you’re not dead.
Which means it is time for you to pivot.”
Isn’t that amazing?! We get to pivot when we wish, to whatever we wish. What would a pivot look like for a lobster? I tried to think of an example here, but I literally couldn’t imagine any type of pivot for a lobster. Sad if you think about it. Butterflies pivot, but the only option they have is to die as a worm or become a butterfly. Not many options.
Sometimes we forget the blessing of being who we are. Being human. We are probably the only creature on earth that can choose from one day to the next what we want to do, who we want to be and what we will become. Think about that for a second. Who has told you otherwise? I mean, even though society suggests we do not become a criminal, we can if we want. We can also be a president, a vet, a surfer, a nurse, a fiction writer, an influencer, anything. No limit. You can be all those things in your lifetime if you want. Even be some of them at the same time.
Yet some choose to give up, give in, blame or become the victim to the moments in their lives where they have the opportunity to pivot. They let point where they have outgrown their shell or the situation they are in become their demise. The cross-road where they could become more or better or choose for themselves what happens next becomes a dead end. They put their dreams in a suitcase and they lock it.
If this is you, don’t be a lobster. You do not have one direction in which you can grow. You can pivot. Don’t look at the challenge ahead or your current situation and tell yourself “This is it, nowhere to go”… Pivot! It is not easy. It takes courage. It is usually difficult for others around you to understand. It may need to happen a few times. But it is very rewarding. It is a blessing to have the option to pivot.
PS… If you are thinking about starting a business, or have one and want to challenge what you think you know about it, then my book might be of interest to you – here is the link and it costs less than a t-shirt to invest in yourself by purchasing the digital copy: