Seth Godin wrote a great post this morning about boundaries. It reminded me of the boxes that one of my leadership professors at Darden, Alec Horniman, talked about: the boxes we put other people into, the boxes we put ourselves into, and the boxes we allow others to put us into. We do this with our careers, relationships, friendships, hobbies, interests. We take on roles and keep them, and it's tough to break the behavior patterns we develop in those roles. And we have a real knack for giving people roles in our lives, whether or not those are the roles they want.
To make sense of our lives and keep us from going crazy, boundaries might be necessary. The key is to make them flexible and adaptable. Seth puts it in perspective of a brand, and explains that the brand can be our own personal one or that of a company. He stresses that brand loyalists are much more forgiving than the holders of a brand give them credit for. We have to give ourselves permission to try new things that truly interest us. If we are authentic and sincere in our pursuit of something new, the people who loves us will help us get there.
I've never been one for being put into a category. I've always felt free to explore different careers and interests, and have made a concerted effort to bring a diverse group of people into my life. From the outside it might seem that I just can't make up my mind about where to focus my time and effort. A recruiter once said to me, "seems like you've spent your whole life exploring." This sounded like a positive thing to me -- apparently he didn't mean it to be positive!
In actuality I have made a very specific decision to follow my interests wherever they may lead. I'm not exploring because I'm lost; I'm exploring because I'm interested in making the most of my life. I want to be someone with a broad perspective, someone who loves traveling, and new experiences, and meeting new people. I want to make sure that when my time comes, I've lived as much life as I possibly could.
My close friends, family, and supporters have been very accepting of this choice. They've celebrated my patchwork life with me. With every new experience, they are there, cheering me on and sometimes my life has even inspired them to do something different that they previously didn't think they do. It's a personal passion to extend my boundaries and grow my comfort zone, and I'd like to help others do the same.