There’s a particular scene in the movie Ice Age 2 that I love. It’s the part where the three main characters – Manny (a mammoth), Sid (a sloth) and Diego (a sabre-toothed tiger) stumble across another mammoth, Ellie.
The thing is, though, Ellie doesn’t realise she’s a mammoth. In fact, she thinks mammoths are extinct!
No, Ellie (who weighs in somewhere around three or four tonnes and stands close on three metres tall) thinks she is a possum (which, would have her weighing in at around five or six kilos and measuring less than a metre nose to tail).
And, much to Manny’s irritation, no amount of convincing, or arguing, will persuade her otherwise. Even when Manny shows her that their footprints and shadows are the same, she concludes that he must be part possum.
So, how can a mammoth weighing several tonnes be convinced that she is a small marsupial that needs to “climb trees” and “live under rocks so birds can’t carry [her] away”?
Simple. Other people. Other people (or, in this case, possums) had an agenda for her life. Their agenda.
In the movie, Ellie was adopted into a family of possums, and gradually became convinced by her surroundings and the messages she was given, that she was something far removed from who she really was. Messages motivated not least by an agenda that the possums had for how Ellie could protect them.
In fact, Ellie became so convinced that she was something far removed from who she really was that, even when presented with compelling and irrefutable evidence, she could not easily accept that she was not a possum but, rather, a mammoth.
And so it is for you and me (hopefully without the possum/mammoth dilemma).
You entered the world created for greatness, with passions deep within your soul that longed to emerge. Passions that would, if unleashed, see you blossom and flourish, and become all you are meant to be.
But, from the moment you were born, you became part of an unfolding story where the characters around you – your friends, enemies, teachers, family, peers, colleagues, bosses – had agendas for who you could, and even should, be.
Sometimes those agendas have been intent on doing you harm, oozing venom and cruelty.
And, sometimes, those agendas appeared to want only the best for you, overflowing with aspirations for what your life should be.
But, whether for you or against you, the result of those agendas is always the same: gradually, you find yourself pulled into living under the shadow of someone else’s interpretation of what your life is, and will be.
And, slowly but surely, you embrace that interpretation of your life as being the real thing.
But here’s the thing: an interpretation of you, is not the real you.
You see, when you live as an interpretation of who you really are – the person that you were, in fact, created to be – just like Ellie, you make bad decisions. You believe untruths to be truths, and you end up living a life that just does not fit.
And that is no good at all.
And I know, to my own personal cost, just how much that is no good at all, having spent the first 30 years of my life living an interpretation of who I was, until I finally saw things for what they really were.
So what do you do? How do you avoid living as an interpretation of the real you, and become all of who you are meant to be?
Well, you become all of who you are meant to be through a lot of hard work. Work that enables you to unpack and take hold of, a true understanding of who you really are.
And, through that understanding, you set in place filters, through which you can pass the outside influences that crash against you, and distil from them only that which will nourish you and cause you to grow.
OK, that’s straightforward enough, but how do you develop that understanding and put those filters in place?
You develop that understanding by rediscovering who you were when you first entered the world: helpless, and yet powerful beyond measure; looking for the safety of a mother’s embrace in which to hide, and yet destined to stand to blaze your own trail.
In short: you rediscover who you were before life got involved.
Right, sounds great. But how do you rediscover that person?
Well, it’s actually very simple. Start by imagining that no-one is watching. There is no-one you need to please, no-one casting judgement. And then ask yourself some simple questions.
First, you ask yourself what it is that you truly enjoy. And what about what you don’t enjoy? And no, not the things you have been told you should enjoy, or not enjoy, but the things you actually do, or don’t, enjoy.
Then you ask yourself what strengths you have that lie hidden away, unused. And what strengths have you, perhaps secretly, longed to develop further, but always been convinced were ‘not you’?
Finally, you ask yourself what motivates you. I mean, what really motivates you. What matters to you – really matters to you? What gets you passionate and inspired, sets your heart racing and your enthusiasm soaring?
You see, when you understand what you enjoy, and don’t, where your strengths lie, or could be developed, and what motivates and matters to you, you begin to establish the foundation upon which you can build your life.
Your real life.
And, in those foundations lie the filters through which you can run every word spoken over you – whether to build you up or cut you down – and take on board only that which will draw you further into your real life: the life where you can shine as the person you were meant to be when you first entered the world.
Look, life is short. Sometimes too short. Don’t waste it in an existence that is not your own. Instead, discover who you really are and step into the life you were made for.
Why not start that process by becoming a free member of the Live a Big Life Academy, where you will find courses, tools and other resources to empower and equip you to take hold of your real life. Simply visit www.liveabiglife.com/free-membership and sign up. And, like I said, it’s all free.