‘Be yourself. Everyone else is taken’ - Oscar Wilde
It was 2015 and we were researching a host of new and exciting material for our Trend 2020 series of events. These one-day summits were to be held across the world featuring Landi Jac and myself and a host of magnificent experts in what was coming in the next five years. This included alternative currency, robotics, nanotech and a bunch of new topics but one thing reigned clear. The future was going to be the age of #Youism. This means the expectation was for everything to be able to be individualised to your personal preferences.
We hashtagged the word and started spreading the news.
Ladies (or men), imagine turning up at someone’s wedding wearing the exact same clothes as one of the other patrons. Would you be horrified? Many of you would. Our ability to individualise our personal brand, home, company and life has never before been as profound, nor more in vogue.
We are incredibly unique from each other. Whilst Fingerprints and Retina Scans are ways to protect what we have through our uniqueness, nothing is so unique as our DNA.
Watson and Crick discovered the complexity of the makeup of DNA in the 1950’s, which led to Watson’s book; ‘The double helix’ in 1968. Since then our DNA has been through all sorts of tests to prove our individuality. Whilst many credit the original discovery to Swiss-born Friedrich Miescher in the 1860’s it is obvious that the Egyptians and Sumerians knew about DNA thousand’s of years ago, with evidence of some genetic style experiments that they carried out.
Landi and I were in a small Bed & Breakfast outside Inverness in Scotland. At breakfast we sat with a couple from Philadelphia. He was an African American lawyer. We asked why they were in Scotland and he said to trace his genealogy. The look on my face amused him as he said: ‘Yeah I know I’m a black guy but I’m Scottish.’ He went on to tell us that on doing his DNA test he found out he was only about 15% African American whilst he was in fact 60% Scottish and about 20% Arabic.
We were sold.
We did our DNA tests for our heritage and whilst mine was no surprise, mostly Celtic and 30% Viking, Landi my partner was very unique. The issue of being born in South Africa, which is a melting pot of humanity saw her as 30% Viking also, she does have blonde hair and blue eyes, but also 1 or 2% Khazakstani, Bantu (an African tribe) and Tongan. We later traced her roots from the Sami Eskimo tribe in Lapland, through Viking journeys to France and finally to South Africa as part of the French Huguenot exodus from France. We had a lot of fun with tracing the paths of our ancestors. It reminded me very much of an exercise we did at one of our events.
We asked people to solve this puzzle.
‘If you have two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents and so on, and every generation was twenty-five years apart (so your parents had you at 25 and their parents them
at 25), from 500 years ago until now, how many people have contributed to your DNA?’
The answer was rarely solved in the time allowed. 524,288 is the answer.
A half a million people.
Then we asked people to consider all the wars, famine, natural disasters, illness, murders, death at childbirth and problems that occurred between the 16th century and today and our
‘What are the chances of you being alive today?’ The answer is of course tiny, almost zero.
Then we asked:
‘So what are you going to do with this life that has been given to you?’
It was a powerful exercise and there were always lots of tears as people realised that their existence was absurdly improbable. It was a powerful motivator.
You are an amazingly unique individual who is alive and living your life despite all reason for you not to be. You have the most generous gift of all and you have a responsibility to maximise it.
When the Emperor Fsu Hsi sent his scholars out to discover the macrocosm five thousand years ago, of which the writings became the I-Ching he would never have known about DNA, yet the relationship between the I-Ching and DNA is simply uncanny. Martin Schonberger wrote a hard to find book on the comparisons but I have summarised them here:
The lesson is that there are patterns and mirrors in our world every day that show us the way. It doesn’t need to come from books or teachers. Conscious wisdom lies all around us. Most of us are blind to their teaching.
I sat there over Christmas after finding out my DNA researching my family. I’m an only child who was orphaned at fifteen so to find a remote 4th cousin was surprising at the least. The investigation became overwhelming. As and when I gave up I had located over 400 actual records of my ancestors with surnames like Paine, Burt, Greenaway, Archbold and even De Wickersly whose lineage came to England with William the Conqueror and fought as a knight at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The simple scale of just 400 was overwhelming.
This rabbit hole opens the big questions:
Who am I?
Why am I here?
Judy Garland summed up life in a brilliant quote: ‘Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.’
I would suggest you tackle these two big questions and do it this way. Take ten minutes and write down everything that you are and have. Your list should look something like this sample: Skills in Engineering, Communication, IT and a Business Degree in Economics
Father of two children and husband, born in London, living in Canada, Homeowner living month to month, Part of the following associations: BNI, CommunityHub, Circle of Excellence and EO.Good health, love walking, travel, reading books and rugby Industry awards, a small circle of friends, been in the same job for 4 years This is the sum total NOT of who you are, but of where you are at right now.
Why were you given these associations, this wealth, health, and situation? Is that what you had hoped for your life? What are your big dreams that are unfulfilled? What is next for you? Who are your mentors?
What are you prepared to invest to get where you really want to be?
Bottom Line: Are you the type of person that the five-year-old version of you would have been proud to grow up to be? If not - it’s time to address that.
You are a brilliant individual and there is no one like you anywhere in the world. Consider the words of guitarist, songwriter, Frank Zappa:
“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”