Having a litter-free street is not my only ideal. If the whole world were litter-free, it wouldn't significantly impact my life. Litter-free streets is only part of one of my larger Ideals. See my Ideal world would operate as a community instead of as individuals. Within that community needs to be a core value of Respect for People, Time, Work, and the Environment.
In order to accomplish that Ideal someday, I believe that I need to teach by my example. See Teaching by example is another part of my ideals. I believe that everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. If everyone acted on this principle, then we as a culture would be better informed and more capable as individuals.
See, that's Idealism. In my world everyone gets along and helps each other. Then as we help each other become stronger, more respectful, and more knowledgeable individuals, it strengthen the team of our community. Sounds great, doesn't it? But that doesn't happen in real life, right?
Look back at the previous post, all 3 of those people might consider themselves Environmentalists (The Trash picker, the Recycler, and the Diaper Ouster). Their Ideals might align, but each person has a different standard of living. A different definition of responsibility. Different ideals. That's the hard thing about being Human. People are different. But you know what? That's also the beautiful thing about being Human. If everyone was a born accountant, you'd know what life looks like. But since you're different from your parents and your siblings and your friends, your life could be anything.
However, as a culture we tend to follow the patterns of those we're around. So people follow in their parents' footsteps. This goes along with the Ideal
"Everyone has something to teach and
Everyone has something to learn".
If you surround yourself with your parents' teaching, then it makes sense that you will be similar to them.
The theory goes that you are a conglomerate of the 5 people you spend the most time with. That's because they teach you how to act by how they act. They teach you how to speak by how they speak. They teach you what to value by what they value.
Does that make sense? Look at things like "Guilt by Association", "Mob Mentality", "The Band Wagon Effect", "Propaganda", "Social Media". The peer pressure from all of these things contribute to things like Stock Market Runs or Crashes, Housing Market changeover, Protests, and even developing organizations to promote 'Ideological Ideals". This includes things like Cults, Fraternities and Sororities, Religious Organizations, and Public Schools.
So you're a Human Being, right? You're the same as every other human being on the planet, right?
By the time you're born you already had a predisposition to the kind of music you would like based on the sounds around your mother while you were inside her womb. Now, your musical tastes may have changed over time--in fact, they probably have--based on what you were exposed to throughout your life. New songs are written everyday and you've learned more music that you even know.
When I first started playing guitar older crowds would compare my style to James Taylor, while younger crowds would compare me to Dave Matthews. Then two years later David Gray broke out with his hit, "Babylon" and people compared me to him. Jack Johnson came along in 2001 and I recognized that we played similar chord structures and had a similar style of soloing on the guitar. John Mayer closely followed with his album "Room for Squares" which had an eclectic mix of thoughtful lyric driven songs, catchy guitar riffs, and uncommonly complex chord progressions that blended elements of Folk, Rock, and Jazz. Fans compared me to him before I knew his music. I had only heard his hit single "No Such Thing", which kind of drove me crazy because I didn't like the melody line and I didn't like his breathy singing voice.
5 years later, I picked Mayer's second album "Heavier Things" on sale at a big box store. It had been out for a couple years and it was cheap so I thought I'd give it a shot. I found the album to be a masterpiece--from beginning to end. It was a complex look at John's emotional journey rising to fame and struggling to find identity. I really resonated with this artist. I had so much respect for the songs he wrote, the way he played the guitar, and how he improved his vocal performance dramatically on the second album. The breathiness was gone leaving a much fuller, sincere sound. I continue to compare myself to this artist--even though he went on to become known as one of the best blues guitar players of all time per the song "Gravity" and then changed styles again performing more Americana Folk--even incorporating harmonica into his act on with the album "Born and Raised".
John never stopped growing and changing musically, He didn't stay content at being a "Singer Songwriter". He became a "Guitar Virtuouso" playing with Eric Clapton at the Crossroads Guitar Festival. He started a jazz trio with Steve Jordan and Pino Paladino. Then he grew out his hair, donned a cowboy hat and re-invented himself again. He keeps exploring his unique individuality. That's why I love to compare myself to him. That's who I want to be:
A wholly unique, continually evolving individual who loves to create music.
You've already been influenced greatly by the culture you've grown up in. Your peers, mentors, and mentees (like your little brothers, sisters, and cousins) have shaped much of your values. And your Values have led you to where you are today. Maybe you're saying, "But, I'm not doing the things I value." That is entirely possible. You may be in a career that you chose because your guidance counselor recommended it--or your father, or your best friend, or because you took advice from someone on a blog. But you chose it because you valued that advice--or the relationship with the person who gave you the advice. You may feel an expectation from your spouse or your colleagues, that you need to continue on your current path. It comes down to what you value more.
Do you value keeping people happy in your relationships?
Or do you value how you want to live your life?
These are not Mutually exclusive questions.
In 2005, I had to ask myself, "What do I value more? Going on an adventure with my best friend, Brandon Clutton, to move out to Los Angeles, California to pursue music while he started up BMC Management. Or continuing a relationship with my other best friend, Beth Carter." It really came down to what did I love more, Music or Beth? What did I value more? Making music to promote to people all over the world, or developing intimacy with one very special person. Once I was able to find that question, then I was able to examine it and finally decide the answer. I realized that Beth was more important to me than any other dream I had. I asked her to marry me. By the time I asked the question, I had already decided I would do anything to support her.
Values include everything from environmental Action to TV Time. From Sports and Athleticism to the kind of Food you eat--and how often.
Do you prefer Time Alone?
Or do you like to be where the Action is?
What makes you Angry?
What melts your heart?
What would you do if you never had to work another day in your life to make money?
If you have a hard time thinking about what you value most, then think of the people who are important in your life. What do they value? Who are your heroes? What do they value? Or if you feel cut off from people, maybe you spend all your time reading or watching movies. Which characters are you most drawn to? What do they value?
Somewhere either deep within yourself or found amidst the people and characters you appreciate, you'll find your reasons for living. The dreams you want to accomplish. The stories you want to tell. The relationships you cherish. These are your Values.
Now compare your Values to your Ideals. Do you catch the difference? Your Ideals are the ultimate state of satisfaction for your Values. So you need to ask yourself, do your current values align with your Ideals?
If Ideally, you want to travel the world, then do you take time to explore the city you live in? Do you plan to take day trips or overnights to enjoy your value of traveling?
If Ideally, you want to run a Marathon someday, have you run a 5K? Better yet, will you run today?
If Ideally, you would be a professional musician, are you playing your instrument every day? Have you met other musicians that you would like to play with? Will you play and meet someone new today?
If you want to quit your current job, have you started exploring what you want to do instead? Reading this blog post was a great way to start!
Now, take another step and
start a new resume TODAY
--not even, necessarily, for a future employer.
Just start it for yourself.
What skills do have you and are you developing that will lead you into your next occupation?
Teach yourself what you have to offer.
Next week we'll continue talking about Value and explore what happens when we fall short of our Ideals.