[This post is Part Two in a four-part series. Stayed tuned next week for Part Three—Expectations!]
P is for Possibility
Last week, we talked about the opportunities in our lives.
Specifically, how do we become more aware of the unique occasions that arise and start to be better consumers of those opportunities?
Step One in becoming open to your unique mission in life is learning to make choices that feel right to you rather than blindly choosing whatever opportunity presents itself first.
And when you're discerning what opportunities are right for you, sometimes you hit snags.
Sometimes, the most readily available choices aren’t the right ones to move us forward.
So what happens when our present opportunities just don’t sit right with us?
That brings us to the P in OPEN—possibility.
In order to see outside of the ever-present opportunities in our lives, we have to become people of possibility.
I can practically see you sitting there, wondering…
Tracy… what the hell does that mean?
Ok, fine. I’ll indulge you.
But first, I’m going to lean on my friend Webster for a solid definition to get us going in the right direction.
As a quick aside, I put the word “possibility” into Urban Dictionary, which yields one—yes, only one—definition.
“Referring to men or women that are of interest to the opposite sex. The person comes across amusing, and could possibly be a potential mate. But until that is known, the person is referred to as a "possibility"
I’m sorry, I just had to share that. I spit my water out while reading it.
Onward, we go!
According to the other, more credible dictionary, a possibility is a thing that may be chosen or done out of several possible alternatives. A thing that may happen or be the case.
Ok, great, you’re thinking, we all know that.
But did you know that one of the synonyms for possibility is hope?
In order to be a true person of possibility, you must first live in a state of hope. A state that believes that what you see right in front of you just might not be all there is to see. Only then can you be open to making the choices that are true for you.
Once you have that mindset, you can start to see the all of the potential alternatives that weren’t readily available before.
The possibilities that lie outside of what we can see in the moment. The possibilities that lie outside of what your friends are doing. The possibilities that lie outside of what your parents did.
In order to be a true person of possibility, you have to be open to the uniqueness of your own set of possibilities.
Again, I'm sure you're thinking... Seriously, Trace, I don't get it.
Ok, fine. I began telling you a story last week and it only makes sense to continue it here to show you exactly what I mean by possibility.
When I found myself completely and utterly lost in 2012, I decided to pull my head out of the sand and try to figure out why.
The minute I started looking around, I was amazed I hadn’t seen it sooner.
One look around at my coworkers, and it was blaringly apparent—everyone else was miserable.
So why did I expect my life to be any different?
My coworkers were overworked and underappreciated.
They were consumed with money—how to keep as much of it as possible and how to get increasingly greater amounts of it. They were tied to work and chained to their desks with golden handcuffs. Their biggest concern was keeping up with each other, and none of them… I’m not kidding… not one of them, enjoyed their work.
This was our readily available opportunity: keep making money and keep being miserable.
We had lost our sense of possibility.
But I had one coworker who was a little different than the rest.
His name was Martin.
Martin was a simple guy from Oklahoma. He still had an accent , a sense of Southern hospitality, and a full head of hair.
That head of hair was so gorgeous in fact, that it earned him a nickname:
The Silver Fox.
Martin had a habit of telling stories about his family—I say that because all of the miserable people used to just get annoyed with Martin and his “habit.”
One day, Martin was telling a story about his son who had just returned from a summer on a “Semester at Sea”. Martin’s son had traveled all over the world on a boat with hundreds of other college students. They had studied and traveled all over the globe and had a self-described “trip of a lifetime.”
Now, there’s no way Martin could have known this, but just before I overheard his story I had this conversation with my mom on the phone:
No, really Mom, it’s horrible.
Yes, it’s really that horrible.
No, it’s not going to get any better.
I don’t know, maybe I’ll just quit my job, sell everything I own, and travel around the world.
The second I got back to my desk, I hopped on the computer and went straight to the Google machine to check out this “Semester at Sea” thing.
The very next voyage, Spring of 2013, was scheduled to set sail on January 9th.
That was a mere 3 months away.
The very next voyage, Spring of 2013, was going to be called A Trip Around the World.
Traveling on that voyage would be professors, students, and entrepreneurs from around the world. And oh, by the way, they accepted post-grad applications. I was sold.
Now, this was definitely not a coincidence.
It was a possibility.
And I, for one, was going to take it.
Three short months later, I found myself on a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean surrounded by friends and fellow students. We were dancing and singing.
No ugly girl-cry sobbing was involved.
I’m pretty sure there was a drum circle, instead.
When the music died down, we continued our conversation about the businesses that we were going to start and how we were going to change the world.
How even just one, good, heartfelt conversation could probably get that change started.
I realized, in that moment, that I had found them—people of possibility.
People who believed that there was magic left in the world. People who believed in living outside the box. People who wanted to explore and travel and experience all that life had to offer. People who were defining their own dreams and chasing their own definitions of success.
When I was on that ship (probably still in that drum circle) I started to wonder… how had we all found one another? How had we all arrived on that glorious voyage together?
How on earth did all of these like-minded people end up having this one, crazy, unique experience?
Tune in next week when we explore the answers to these questions with the letter E in OPEN- expectations.
Now I want to hear from you!
Do you live a life of possibility by hoping for the things you cannot yet see?
What unknowable possibilities have you experienced in your life?
Leave a comment below.