Smashing Paradigms – Drink before you are thirsty

Latest in the series on Smashing Paradigms. For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. One way of defining a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”



This week I am feeling more privileged than ever as I am in Baja as a participant at the beta of the Modern Elder Academy.

Chip Conley is beginning a movement to change the way we look at ageing and the value our “Modern Elders” do, can and so will have for humanity at all ages and stages.

Inspired by the environment (see yesterday’s post on “Change your environment, change your outcomes”) today I give you my riff on and exercise on “five things you, as a Modern Elder, would like to share with Millennials that they could do that would make a big difference for their future lives”.

I thought particularly here of of young adults in their early 20s and the paradigms of our society. Get an education, choose a profession, choose an industry, narrow things down, get on the career track.

Consider that societal guidance, and also please consider my advice from my own experience. It is heartfelt. I title my guidance :

Drink before you are thirsty


In cycling in hot climates, cyclists all carry water bottles, but it takes experience to learn to drink before you are thirsty. You can carry on riding at high speed and high effort and be dehydrated and so lose performance long before your body tells your brain you are thirsty.

So, don’t wait until you recognise you need to do these five things, do them now, or at least soon, Trust me, you’ll benefit immensely.

  • 1 : Be on your Ikigai journey

In “Doing from Being” I wrote about the Japanese concept of Ikigai (it is covered several times in different ways in writing on this site, do search on the term). I said in that particular post : “What if..we focussed on our “Being” and then choosing to “Do” what is fully aligned with who we are, so “Doing from Being”. In his book Walden, Henry Thoreau had many great quotes, such as : “All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.”..“What do you love ?”… Going one level up from that is : “Who am I ?”.. Deep questions {and perhaps go to} “What will you do with this one wild and precious life ?

Be patient and consistent on your quest. As is often said : “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Some of the longest lived people in the world are on the Japanese island of Okinawa, and studies have show they are high in their awareness of their Ikigai. To live a long and happy life, be on your Ikigai journey early. The best time to start was years ago, so today is the next best choice.

  • 2 : Cultivate Mentoring

Find a mentor, be a mentor. Give and Receive, to both your mentors and your mentees.

Mentoring is a massively powerful tool to learn skills, for others to help you see yourself in a way you cannot without outside perspective, to give, to receive.

  • 3 : Commit to follow one skill to your own ultimate mastery

As I encourage you to be patient in finding your Ikigai, discovering who you are and your path, I also encourage you to focus, with discipline and resilience, on attaining your own ultimate level of personal mastery at something that you are passionate about.

What might this be ? It might be playing a musical instrument, dance, sports. Let it be something with measurable attainment levels you can acknowledge yourself for and be acknowledged for by others. It matters not the level you take it to, it is the power of knowing you have taken it to the ultimate highest level achievable by you.

At this time I have recently come back from Australia and watching my middle son, aged 20, compete as a swimmer representing the Cayman Islands in the Commonwealth Games in front of 10,000 spectators and among the world’s elite. He may go further, who knows, but already at this stage he has committed over well over the Malcolm Gladwell “10,000 hours for mastery” in his young life to reach this high level.

Consider what 10,000 hours means for a 20 year old to commit, that is over 2 hours per day on average for over a decade. Now consider the sense of accomplishment, self-confidence, knowledge of self (including ability to be resilient, disciplined, committed) and the value this will take into all areas for the rest of his life.

What are you passionate about ? Pursue your ultimate mastery.

  • 4. Get Comfortable being Uncomfortable

You will never know what you can achieve by stepping out of your comfort zone unless you do it, but how far can you stretch beyond what is comfortable.

For years I went to a weekly stretching class with the amazing and dear Kate Dunne of Flow in Cayman. Kate used to talk to us about finding our “comfortable uncomfortable” that point where we were not in pain, but were certainly well beyond what felt comfortable.

As, week after week, we found that “comfortable uncomfortable”, gradually we could stretch more and more as our body adapted and built flexibility.

Whatever areas of life this is a metaphor, the earlier you start to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, the easier you will find it when you need it, and the more you practice the more expansive your comfort zone will become.

  • 5. Drink before you are thirsty

Start all of these tomorrow. Drink before you are thirsty.




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