And then I realized that I live in a small space…
On some high profile perspectives, that may not appear to be the case. I fly the world. I appear on television, I am all over the Internet. I work with a diverse and engaging group of people every day.
It doesn’t look like a small space, but it is. I don’t know anything about Bhudists. I have never been to Iceland. I don’t know what a factory worker thinks. I have never been in a union, nor have any of my friends. As far as I know, I have never talked to an ex-con. No one I ever talk to has been on welfare. Nor written a symphony. Nor danced in the New York ballet. There are no Nobel Prize winners in my entourage.
None of the people I play with, work with, drink with, hike with, are really that different from each other. This didn’t just happen that way. It is not random selection. It is self-selection.
I decided, unwittingly, to become an island unto myself.
This is tremendously limiting. I lack the wide cross pollination of thinking one gains when you swim in alien waters. In dangerously different seas. In bodies of water your natural path would rule out.
We have all just witnessed the terrorist attack on India. I know the culprits are scum, but I know nothing else about them. I don’t want to get under the skin of their cultures so that I can make a case for their disgusting acts. They are slime and I want them eliminated.
At the same time, however, I realize I know nothing about India, save for Ghandi cliches. I know nothing of Pakistan, save for its nuclear intoxication. I know nothing about Kashmir, except that it inspired Led Zeppelin. I know nothing about any of this in great part because I believe it is unimportant to my role as a businessman, an entrepreneur, a friend, an observer of life.
And therein lies the rub. Am I an observer of life or of a tiny, self-selected slice of life? The latter, of course and this makes my observations, my knowledge, my perspectives and the advice that eminates from them, limited.
Great people reach into new dimensions. They push the envelope, finding ways to see and absorb beyond what the paths laid out before them in their lives would take them to.
They venture into the unknown. They move out of their element. They seek out experiences that come anything but natural. They leave Ivy League schools to join the Marines and volunteer for combat. They fly to foreign places, where no one shares their religion or speaks their language, and set up shop to start careers and launch ventures. They refuse to live and die close to where they were born.
Recently, I watched for the tenth time Spike Lee’s great film, The 25th Hour. It operates on multiple levels, but the one that fascinates me most, is the drive on the part of the unlikely protagonost to find a way into another dimension before the dimension he knows and lives in swallows him up. His drive to reach into the NEXT is created by fear and need. But the voluntary search for the BEYOND is where the stuff of discovery, true human discovery, is found.
Yes, I am an island unto myself. Yes, I think it is limiting.
No, something tells that won’t change. Not proud to say it, but it’s the truth. And that’s where it lies. There are island dwellers and island hoppers. The latter are the true change makers. They absorb enough to see their own limitations and to extend beyond them en route to creating powerful ideas and extraordinary companies. And the kinds of lives we all learn from–even if from a distance.