I have done a lot of thinking lately.

By “lately,” I mean for about the past 38 years.

Anyway, I have been thinking.

About big things like what is important. About what I stand for. About what deserves my precious energy. About what I want my life to look like right now and down the road.

Several different and, for me, significant shifts have occurred for me lately. Realizations that have come from a particular situation or person or even a smack in the face (or two…or three).

So for what it is worth, here is what I have learned. Wait….”learned” isn’t accurate. Learn would imply I didn’t know this stuff before. I knew all of it. Just like you, I already have ALL of the answers I need inside of me. But, I ignored or avoided or pretended.

So that brings me to #1:

1. Seeking outside ultimately brings me back to what’s inside. Looking what other people are doing or thinking or launching or earning or saying or tweeting takes up a lot of time. Sometimes my time. Maybe your time, too.

Sometimes,  it is important and valuable to know and see what else is out there. But other times — most of the time — this seeking, checking, monitoring and emulating is a colossal waste of time. It’s a form of mental you-know-what. It doesn’t serve — at least not me.

2. Break the mold…or at least get out of the mold. Yes, there is nothing new under the sun. Yes, re-inventing the wheel sounds ridiculously tedious. And also yes, following and modeling what works can make sense. But what I am seeing, at least in my world of Internet marketing, social media and all things online, is a total Copycat Mentality.

What might have once worked (and likely still does in certain instances) is not a one-size-fits-all solution. So what has happened is that certain models (e.g., the information product launch and all of the “things” around it) are getting (or have gotten) old, tired, done and as far from fresh or even effective as can be.

The “everyone-else-is-doing-it-so-I-should-too” approach is, in its weird way, comfortable because, well, everyone else is doing it. But if (or when) it doesn’t work, we blame ourselves. And if it does work, well, that’s because that’s what it is supposed to do, right?

Meanwhile, success or not, this Copycat Mentality keeps us out of our own uniqueness and in everyone else’s.

3. See the freakin’ forest for the trees. OK. This one is big for me. It is about perspective.

I tend to get caught up, bogged down and generally mired down in the details. In little things. In the tiniest dot of what is really a massive pointilist masterpiece.

I wrote about my lack of (and subsequent finding of) perspective last week with my decision to cancel my trip to SXSW. And that got me thinking (imagine that) about how much bigger I really want to be thinking in all areas of my life.

This small sh*t isn’t for me. There, I said it.

Here is what I found when I really looked at the Big Picture of my business and my purpose:

  • I am wasting a lot of time in the wrong places.
  • I am not casting a wide-enough net.
  • I use the being a good friend, or being a marketing expert, or always helping someone who asks for it or even fixing what’s broken in everyone else excuses to avoid doing what I have to do for myself, my business, my stuff — right here, right now.
  • I play small (while talking big) to avoid getting hurt, roughed up, criticized, messed up or wronged. (By the way, guess what? I get ALL of those things while playing small too. So that approach? Yea, not so much.)

My forest is freakin’ huge. But I have been playing far too long in a tiny 5′ x 5′ area with nothing but a shrub and a patch of dirt.

And don’t get me wrong: I have done amazing, awesome, great things in that small square space.

But I am cheating myself and lots of others by choosing to stay there or hiding there.

I am cheating myself by following others’ “methods” and “systems” and losing sight of my own (and forgetting, conveniently, the fact that I can be — am — epic without a freakin’ formula!).

I am lying to myself by allowing myself to believe (superficially — because deep down I am all-knowing) that any problems, issues, challenges or stumbling blocks are due to a fault in the “system” not to a block or fault with, yes, ME.

I am playing small by thinking all of my ideas, inspiration, direction and support can and should come from one place, or one person, or one source or one “way.”

So…..I am vowing (to myself) to expand the little patch I’ve been squatting on. Because I am getting a cramp in my leg from being all squinched-up there. And I can’t think or move further with that pesky cramp.

I am vowing to trust in myself. To understand that what works for someone else isn’t always what will work for me. That I can screw up spectacularly and still wake up to drink my tea and eat my eggs and annoy my kids tomorrow morning.

If fire must be involved, I vow to aim for blazing but expect some blowing up. And, finally, I vow to carry on even with the leg cramp and the potential burns and the egg on my face and all of the inner and outer signs that can come only from playing big for real.