If you ask someone who they are, most of the time they’ll begin by telling you what they do for a living. But whatever field they are in, chances are they have so many untapped or unexplored sides, there’s enough of “who they are” for two lifetimes. The question of who one is isn’t something left to philosophers anymore. It’s everyone’s question.
Every day people who never imagined themselves as inventors, business owners, culture shifters, and reinventors have begun exploring all those unexplored sides of who they are, and what they might become.
Are you your career, your personality, your body? Yes, but it’s the undiscovered talents and culture-shifting ideas that will be found through reinvention. And a part of what the reinvention movement has done is made people face the challenges around us with greater clarity and more unique ideas.
The thing is this, we can only have a finite amount of experiences in our lifetimes. We now have tech tools to build, communication, connect, promote, and transform our ideas with ease. But it all comes back to choice and action.
A single person with an idea is the seed for growth, but that’s not enough. The idea must be implemented. If a small group gets together and develops the product or service the original person dreamed up — they’ll help get the idea out to the world. People in small groups have been changing the world since cultures first formed. Startups grown in garages or college dorm rooms have transformed how people interact, listen to music, and think about the future.
If you are what you do, who you are is now being reinvented. And you might as well start doing the reinventing yourself before the cultures puts you in a different box, slot, or corner than the one you prefer.
• As a standup comedian and former host on Air America, Marc Maron wasn’t as widely known or fully appreciated as he is now. Over the past several years, he’s reinvented himself as a fun, irreverent, engaging, and insightful interviewer and is more known by doing a podcast out of his home than he ever was before.
• If there’s a guiding light of corporate reinvention, it’s Steve Jobs. After Jobs figured out he wasn’t going to win against Microsoft in the PC business, he set out to remake Apple as a company known for reinventing music devices with the iPod, and a way to easily download music to the device with iTunes. Even if this was all he’d accomplished it would have been enough, but when he and Apple delivered the first smartphone, he revitalized how people thought about their mobile phone.
• Starbucks began as a small store in Seattle selling coffee beans and over time has reinvented itself as a flexible idea involving coffee, community, and commerce. Starbucks wants you to think of their stores as a comforting and useful destination. The Starbucks brand has been reinvented as a combination living room and meeting space. It’s the space where business meetings take place, you can work on a novel-in-progress on your laptop, or just catch up on the latest gossip. Starbucks isn’t a global chain of coffee shops, it’s a shifting space meant to reflect what your ideal meeting place feels like.
Reinvention is all around in the culture. Claim your own unique take on what it means to you. Whether you consider reinvention as ideas to be implemented, steps to be taken, or a space to be altered, it’s up to you.