I spent much of my life trying to figure out what to do with it.
I majored in astrophysics in college, assuming I’d get a Ph.D. some day.
That wasn’t the right fit.
I then went to law school and became a lawyer.
Once again, the fit wasn’t right. It turns out that I don’t enjoy thinking of my life in six-minute billable increments.
I then quit law and became an academic. I loved teaching, but academic writing—speaking only to a highly specialized audience in a language only they can understand—left something to be desired.
I then stumbled into popular writing and started a blog. I was a good writer as a lawyer, and later as a professor, so I thought to myself, “I haven’t tried this before. Let’s give it a shot.”
Except that I had tried it before.
I spent much of my time in elementary school writing—screenplays, stories, and articles for a magazine I started (my parents were the only readers). I had completely lost sight of that past until my mom, for my birthday a few years ago, gave me bound copies of everything I wrote as a child.
It hit me: What I was seeking had been there all along. I was just too distracted by everything else around me to see clearly.
Originality consists of returning to the origin, as the great Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi is reported to have said. For me, that meant reconnecting with my own origin story—the activities I enjoyed as a child.
In many ways, that 7-year-old me is much wiser than the adult me. The 7-year-old didn’t care about likes, retweets, or page visit counts.
He wrote because he found writing more fun than just about anything else.
He wrote for the sake of writing.
Here’s a photo of him, doing what he loves best:
So, if you’re feeling lost, return to your origin.
What did you like doing as a child—before the world stuffed you with facts and memos, before our outdated education system robbed the joy out of what you truly enjoy, and before the word “should” dictated how you spend your time?
You’ll find far more wisdom in that inner child than anywhere else.
[Thank you to Inner Circle members Christina Guthier, Zenobia Fick, and Kathleen Marie, for their comments on an earlier version of this article].
P.S. If you liked this article, I’m confident you’ll love my forthcoming book, Think Like a Rocket Scientist. Chapter 2 of the book discusses how you can create more original ideas by returning to the origin.
I’ve been ecstatic about the early reviews. The book was named a “must read” by Susan Cain (NYT Bestselling Author of Quiet), “endlessly fascinating” by Daniel Pink (NYT Bestselling Author of Drive and A Whole New Mind), and “bursting with practical insights” by Adam Grant (NYT Bestselling Author of Originals).
After you pre-order the book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound), please send your receipt to [email protected] Within seven days, you’ll get digital access to the book to read on your favorite device. That means you can start reading it NOW, months before the book is published. You’ll also get pre-order bonuses worth at least 10 times the cost of the book. You can head over to this link to learn more about the pre-order bonuses: rocketsciencebook.com.