There’s this great old joke I heard* on ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ recently:
“When my grandfather came to America, he was told that the streets were paved with gold.
And when he got to America, he found out three things:
1 – that the streets were not paved with gold
2 – that the streets were not even paved
3 – that he would be the guy paving them”
I love this gag.
It’s funny, a little dark, and truthful.
Because something like that happens to all of us at some point…
The moment we discover the world isn’t what we thought – or had been told – that it was, is a defining moment for many creative people.
Think of all the businesses, movements, charitable organisations and works of art that sprouted out of those moments…
(…maybe even yours too?)
We may not all act on these revelations immediately…
…some of us have to pave a lot of streets before we find our own path…
But it’s when the curtain is pulled back, and we see the world for what it really is rather than what we’re told it is – that we’re able to form our own unique perspective, and start creating our own true value.
That’s when the fun begins…
Maybe you create a course that teaches people how to ‘pave their own streets’ and avoid making the mistakes you made early on…
…or that helps them recover from their mistakes and fulfil their true potential.
Maybe you build a company that helps pave the streets with something much better than gold, so the reality you wanted to believe in actually comes true for some.
Maybe you just figure out a way to do some damn good paving, and create a legacy for your family and thousands of damn good pavers who come after you.
There are many ways to succeed when it seems like you might have taken a wrong turn…
…or been promised something that didn’t come true…
…or chased a dream that turned out to be a mirage.
The really interesting part comes when you share your story with others – to teach, inspire or encourage them.
How you do this – what you choose to share, which lessons you learned, who helped you, what changes you made – is your unique gift to the world.
Every day that you follow your own path in business, whether it’s forwards or backwards (doesn’t matter), you add to your story.
Tell that story…
Tell it well, and often.
Explain why you started… the lies you were sold… how you learned the truth… where that took you… who it’s allowed you to help.
People will respond to that story, and to you for telling it.
They will see YOU and your unique value, where they once simply saw a product with a price.
If you’d like help doing that, head here.
*PS – Curious about the old joke?
It’s told in C3 ep 12, with legendary SNL creator & writer Lorne Michaels (no relation, sadly!) who relates the joke as told by Shelley Berman: Grammy award-winning comedian, actor, teacher, playwright, poet… and Larry’s dad in Curb Your Enthusiasm.