There is a new documentary out about legendary television producer Norman Lear called Just Another Version of You. With a legacy including such innovative television shows as Maude, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time, Sanford and Son, and Good Times, Lear is enjoying some well-earned attention for his work. The 93-year-old has also been on numerous social hit lists, received the National Medal of Honor, made money, lost money, and even found and purchased an original copy of the Declaration of Independence that he took on tour to all 50 states. He clearly has been comfortable changing the game, embracing new concepts and ideas, and sharing his insights through groundbreaking storytelling both in television and in life.
In a recent interview, Lear was asked to share words to live by that might help others achieve the success and longevity that he has enjoyed. He said that it came down to only two words – Over and Next. Know when something is over, let go and focus on opportunities in front of you that you may have yet to see.
I have pondered his advice since hearing him share it. How many of us talk about dreams and goals, but are too afraid of change to embrace the steps necessary to achieve them? How many of us are, in the immortal words of Lyle Lovett, living in “an acceptable level of misery” because the unknown is scarier to us than continuing in the pain we already know?
One of the things that separates those who live the life of their dreams and those who don’t often comes down to a very few differences in perspective. One is that we tell ourselves that dreams should stay dreams, that maybe we don’t deserve to have them anyway. Another is that we don’t want those dreams enough to actually work to get them – much like people who talk about needing to win the lottery before doing the things they say they would love to do such as donating to charity, traveling or spending time on a passion project. Yet another is simply not knowing how to get from here to there.
Changing the game is exactly what it sounds like it is. We cannot do things the way we have always done them and expect to get different results. One story Lear shared was that the network wanted him to change something in the premier episode of All in the Family. It came down to the wire with Lear telling the network that if they did not air the episode as it was, that he would quit. The show aired and history was made.
When we look at our own lives and how we want to live them in the time that we have, there are several lessons about changing the game that we can take from Lear’s example. If we want something, we have to be willing to work for it. We have to be willing to leave when something is over and embrace the unknown of what comes next. If we do those things and believe in our goals (and our plans to get there), chances that we will succeed increase significantly.
Our best lives are waiting for us to embrace the unknown and step into our dreams, not just sit and think about them. Changing the game is the first step to experiencing life at its fullest, having our best year yet every year - and not just in our dreams.
About the Author
Originally from Nashville, Cathey lived a successful dual career as a psychotherapist and a working musician before moving into full-time marketing and communications. She received her BA in Broadcasting, working at the Nashville CBS affiliate before getting her Master’s degree in Social Work. A born networker, she has produced events ranging from national conferences and gallery crawls to spoken word performances, charity fundraisers and multiple-artist music events throughout the Southeast and Midwest.
Cathey is a certified Partner with Best Year Yet®, where she also serves as Chief Connection Officer. You can easily identify her in the mix by her slightly twisted humor, multiple music references in blog posts, and that little bit of Southern twang that will be there until the day she dies.