This advice was reportedly engraved on the famed Oracle at Delphi, considered the seat of all wisdom in the ancient world. It was the guiding rule of the ancient Greek philosopher, Socretes. Even the mysterious “Oracle” in Hollywood’s Matrix movie trilogy had this phrase posted above the entrance to her kitchen.
What does it mean?
Before you can go anywhere with your life, before you can do anything meaningful, you must understand yourself.
Who are you? What matters to you? What are your passions? Why are you on this Earth?
Most people never ask these questions.
I hear that a very few people don’t need to ask. These people are so enlightened that they already understand these things about themselves instinctively. But I’ve never met such enlightened ones.
The people that I know go through life in one of two ways. Either passively, or intentionally.
Most people go through their lives passively. They sleepwalk through life. In the end it is as if they never really lived. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I suppose that these folks will need to do this life over a few times until they finally “get it” and wake up.
A small number, the leaders among us, live with intention. It is this group that move and shake the world.
Those leaders who live intentionally are driven either by fear, or by love.
Those who are driven by fear spread more fear and negative energy to whatever they touch. They do not know themselves or their role on this Earth. They see others as threats to their happiness, rather than its source. In fact, these people are the greatest threat to the future of mankind.
Those driven by the love in their life live for the joy of living itself. Life is a celebration. These folks spread positive energy everywhere they go. Their lifestyle may be physically energetic or quite serene. Either way, they are leaders and guides for us all.
Only those who know themselves can be happy. If you do not know yourself, you cannot truly do the good to yourself and to the world that you are meant to do. You cannot begin the journey down your unique life’s path until you first discover and understand who you are.
Logically, people would spend their formative years discovering who they are. In fact, I think that most people instinctively know exactly who they are from the moment they start their lives. It is the world itself that twists our thoughts and interjects doubts into our minds. It is the influence of those driven by fear who spread that fear into young minds.
As a result, most folks who do ultimately discover their true nature go through several predictable stages of self-discovery.
First, they are born knowing exactly who they are.
Second, they learn to doubt and fear who they are.
Third, they rediscover who they are.
Exactly how long this process takes varies widely for each person. For me it took about forty years. Others discover in their twenties. Some scholars say that Jesus was thirty when he found his true path.
Regardless of how long your journey takes, it doesn’t matter. Do not waste energy mourning lost time. It is vapor in the wind. All that is real is here, now.
Begin today to know yourself again. Rediscover the innocent child in you and see the world through those eyes. Then you will again see your true path laid out in front of you.
It takes courage to go down this path. You cannot be sure what you will discover when you look yourself squarely in the mirror. However, if you avoid this threshold step to achieving the good life, all the rest of your efforts will be in vain.
In my next post I will cover the development of your own 21st Century Life Skillset. I hope that you will join me.
Until then, all the best,