A lot of people showed up at the Holiday Inn in Boise, Idaho for Mitch Anderson’s Discover The Real You! seminar. Spouting such time-worn phrases as “We all have a purpose in life” and “There’s a reason why you’re here,” Mitch had become all the rage on the self-help circuit over the past year, and those in attendance were excited to find out their raison d’etre.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming,” Mitch began. “Let me start by asking you a few questions. How many of you feel dissatisfied with your current life?”
A sea of hands went up.
“Have you ever wondered where the joy and the passion and the excitement you felt in your youth went?”
Just as many people raised their hands.
“Do you ever wish you could wake up in the morning and know exactly what you’re meant to be doing?”
Everyone nodded their heads.
“Now let me ask you the following: How many of you graduated high school with such high grades and a resume so jam-packed with good deeds that you had your choice of Ivy League schools to attend? How many of you have received a call from Bill Gates, begging you to work for him? How many of you have even just the faintest idea of how to eradicate cancer or any other disease? And how many of you are willing to sacrifice everything – I’m talking about those precious moments with your family that only come along once in a lifetime, your financial security, or your own free time in order to put in the hours required to accomplish something truly spectacular?”
No one raised their hand in response to those questions. Instead, everyone just sat there with a confused ‘What is this guy getting at?’ expression on their face.
“Exactly,” Mitch continued after giving everyone a moment to absorb what he had just asked. “The life you’re living now? That’s been your destiny all along. Let me explain. When you were in your senior year of high school and decided to study to become a dental hygienist, a carpenter, a dog groomer or whatever it is that you do – did you honestly think that would somehow lead you down the path to James Bond-level adventure? What financial windfall were you expecting to come from channel surfing night after night? And when’s the last time someone tried to negotiate world peace at a Little League game? Some people are meant for greatness, but most are meant to live average, humdrum lives. Someone has to run the small town bakeries, and work the cash registers at the chain stores, and keep the factories running, and regurgitate the same lesson plans year after year at their local schools. You’re not miserable because you haven’t realized your full potential; you’re miserable because you have realized your full potential and holy shit, what a letdown that has been. Once you accept yourself for who you truly are, the happier you’ll be.”
No one wanted to hear that, so they demanded their money back and went home, vowing to turn their lives around on their own. None of them ever did, though, because Mitch Anderson was right – they were like the billions of people who had come before them and like the billions that would follow: ordinary.