To be or not to be

Hamlet, deciding whether to be or not to be

At the core of Inner Leadership and becoming antifragile is an idea that runs invisibly through almost every aspect of our culture.

It shapes our advertising and the products and services we buy. It determines the careers we choose, the work we do, and the people who become our friends, lovers, and life-partners.

This is the hidden pattern that gave Shakespeare’s Hamlet his most famous line, “To be, or not to be.” It shaped the defining mantra of the most powerful nation on Earth: “You can become anything you want to.” And it forms the universal structure of the Hero’s Journey: a sequence that runs through almost every spellbinding, bestselling story ever told, from Casablanca to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Breaking Bad. This is the idea that we might one day grow to fulfil our destiny, our identity.

Who we think we are determines the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the way we vote, and the cars we drive (or don’t). It shapes the actions that we take and whether we follow the well-worn path or the road less travelled.

The better we know who we are, the more easily we choose a way forward.

The less well we know ourselves, the harder we find it to choose a way forward.

The classic example of this is given by Hamlet. He struggled to answer a single question: whether or not to avenge his father’s death.

Living through a time of change can sometimes face us with a dozen Hamlet choices at once.

We will find those choices easier, if we get to know ourselves better.

And the better we get to know ourselves, the more enthusiasm and inspiration we will feel to follow the way forward we choose.

In this way, having so much change happening all at once can actually become an opportunity for us. Because it forces us to choose what we care about most and what we let go. In doing so, we get to become more of who we truly are. And if we have the tools to follow where that leads, then we can learn to use change to become anti-fragile.

To succeed in a time of change, we have to decide who we want to be, and not to be.

Inner Leadership is a framework and a set of tools for doing this and putting it into practice.

When faced with significant change, how quickly and easily do you decide what and who you want to be and not to be? Would you like to become faster and clearer on that?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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