We must look deep within and ask whether we are ready to harness the system and drive it. Otherwise, the system drives us, and our potential lies dormant.
I recently asked a high school boy if he’s excited about going back to school and he gave me the answer that would probably sound unsurprising to you, no. However, I know this young man very well and I knew that the reason why he wasn’t excited was not that he didn’t like school, he’s actually very academic, very intelligent, highly intelligent and does very well in school. But it’s because the school is not really challenging him. And so, therefore, he doesn’t ‑‑ he’s not thrilled about it, he’s not thrilled about going back. And that led me to tell him what I’m going to be sharing with you right now.
We, parents, have children. We love them and we will do anything for them, but we don’t do anything for them. We do what most others are doing for them, we put them into a system, just as I have done with my kids and I continue to do year after year. And that is a very good thing. However, it needs to come with a clause in understanding. We need to teach our children that the system was created to serve them, not the other way around. The system was not created to limit them so that now they are beholden to the system. The system was created to provide for them so that they can grow beyond the system.
And this is vitally important. Because, otherwise, we become enslaved or imprisoned within a system instead of realizing that’s just there as a tool. We can go far beyond that so that when the system is not offering something, because no system is perfect, it really is there to give us the best context it can give us but it itself is limited, we have to bring to the table ourselves and then we can take what the system offers and expand on it enormously.
And the only way we teach them, our children, that the system is there to serve them and they are not meant to serve the system is when we have the courage to live in a way that demonstrates that the system is serving us but we are not serving it. When we as adults begin worshipping the system, we end up serving the system. And that’s not what they’re there for. And then we model a generation of kids who just say, well, I’m going to go to school and the school is going to give me, the school is going to make me, my degree is going to get me. And that’s a very unhealthy attitude because it puts a very low lying cap on us and stops us from going further
It’s almost like, you know, the experiments they’ve done with bugs or whatever types of animals that are jumping up and down in a cup to get out and they put some saran wrap on top and once the bug learns that it can’t go higher than the limit and then they have ‑‑ and then even after they’ve taken off the saran wrap the bug won’t even try jumping higher than that point anymore. And that’s what systems can do to us if we don’t understand their place.
When someone goes to law school thinking that this is their ticket to a good living, they can end up deeply disappointed. What gives a person a good living ultimately, of course in addition to the blessings of God, is their dedication, their commitment, their creativity on the foundation of what they learned and on the foundation of the paper, the degree, that gives them the ability to serve as, in this case, a lawyer or a doctor or a Rabbi or an accountant or a nurse or whatever the job is, it really doesn’t make any difference.
Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for whatever it is that we are trying to achieve in life, whether it’s an achievement of making a livelihood, whether it’s an ambition of bringing a change to the world, it is us taking responsibility and going beyond just what is taught. It’s saying, okay, now I bring my creativity to what was taught and now I can create something explosive.
So what does it look like when the system serves us instead of us serving the system? It means us looking deeply within ourselves and asking whether we are ready to drive this or whether we want to remain the backseat driver and be driven by the system. The difference is playing it safe or taking a risk. Mediocrity versus seeking excellence. Creating breakthroughs versus being satisfied with incremental gain. These are the major differences between whether we are going to get stuck in the system or we’re going to have the system serve us, whether we are going to be in the driver seat or we’re going to let the system be the driver and going to be sitting in the back seat.
I’m not advocating anti‑establishment. I’m not advocating breaking the system. I am absolutely advocating going beyond the system. Beyond the establishment. The establishment, due to its inherent limitations, will take you up to a point. But going beyond that point is where great accomplishment happens. No medical breakthrough happened by a doctor simply doing his job. They always happen with a doctor who is frustrated enough by their patients suffering or the limitations, the inadequacy of the current system, that they ‑‑ that what they do is they tirelessly pursue a new way and that’s how great discoveries happen. Large businesses aren’t built by people who have M.B.A. degrees. They’re built by people who are driven with a passion and a purpose to achieve something and they use their degree as one of their assets in accomplishing their goal.
The point again is that what we bring into our efforts and our work is always far more important than where we are in the system or what the system is doing for us. As a Rabbi, I spent my first years looking at what other Rabbis do and copying them. They have more experience, they’ve been doing this for a while, they know. And then I began asking myself, is this truly the best way to do this? Is this truly the smartest way to do this? Is this truly offering the community our best? Is this looking out for their interest or for my interest?
And here is an interesting thing that always happens when we try and go beyond. Because when I started asking these questions, you know what happened, an entirely new set of questions entered my mind. And these questions went something like this: Do you really think you know better than everyone else? Isn’t it arrogant to think you’re smarter than everyone else? You think no one ever tried this before? Of course, they did, and they’re not doing it because it doesn’t work.
This is the inner turmoil, the work, the conflict anyone goes through when we choose to go beyond the system. And very often our first experience is mistakes. And those mistakes are the first steps of the path of anyone who wants to go beyond and bring their full passion and uniqueness into the work they’re doing. These mistakes make us question even more because they seem to prove the fact that we are trying to do things and ‑‑ which is smarter than the current system and clearly they’re not because we’re making mistakes and they’re not working. And you know what, despite that we let our drive continue to drive us and try again. And it’s then that we suddenly discover, we suddenly see what can happen when we don’t let the system define our way, only support our way.
And when we do this in our lives, we are giving our children an enormous blessing, the blessing of knowing that there is no cap. And even though you jumped a few times and you banged your head, you can break through whatever it is that your head is banging against if you jump enough times. Because the construct that you are putting as a student or at any stage of life we’re in is there to serve us not for us to get stuck in it.
Are we doing the best we could in what we are offering in life? How can it be done differently? These are the questions we must ask. Remember, there’s always another way and with enough determination, we will find it. And so we need to make sure that we are not being driven. We need to make sure our lives are not being driven. We need to make sure that we are driving it.
Thank you for joining me for this episode. You can take your free Beginning Within assessment quiz which can be very revealing and helpful for you at BeginningWithin.com. And please remember to rate, review and subscribe to this podcast because that’s how new listeners find us. Until next Monday, be well.