It was the Golden Globes awards ceremony last night and, if you hadn't heard, one of the bigger winners, as expected, was The Artist.
I haven't seen it yet, Dunoon being blessed with an improved but not yet multiplex cinema, but am keen to. It doen't fit my normal viewing genres but it must be a good film and therefore worth a look.
As I considered it though, a few questions came to mind that apply to us and our lives. The Artist seems to be good because it's different - black and white films are not in abundance at the moment and silent films are even less common. Maybe though its good and its different - I won't know until I've seen it. The question is, did it win the awards because its different and has it been made it different deliberately to win an award. Reading about the director, I suspect he set out to make a different film because that's what he enjoys - the fact that it is successful is probably a nice bonus though.
What about us - do we deliberately do things in order to win awards, the acclaim of the crowds or the commendation of our boss? Alternatively, are we working to produce our best because it brings us satisfaction - if we get a pat on the back then its a nice extra? How often do we focus on the praise that we'll get from someone else? A frequently asked question of mine is, 'How do you know you have been successful?' - we need to be able to determine it for ourselves rather than waiting for an external person or body giving us the big thumbs up.
And what about being different - so much of society now is very monochrome, with everyone looking like everyone else and if they don't, then simply trying harder to. People want to fit in and think that the way forward is to be identical. As I write this I think of the magazines where they show you what the stars wear and then give you the cheap alternatives so you can almost exactly copy them. Great, if I want to follow, but what if I want to stand out, be different, lead the way?
It seems the truly successful people in this life are those with the courage to go their own way, no matter where other people are going and to be content with that path, whether it wins plaudits or not. Doing what you want to do, as well as you can, brings its own rewards.
Ben Nevis tourist path
Following the crowd
I was walking up Ben Nevis at the weekend, using the tourist track for the first bit of the walk in order to access the north side of the mountain. Now, admittedly it was the height of summer, but I was absolutely amazed at the steady stream of people all wandering upwards; a wide variety of people, with a huge differentiation in preparedness amongst them. Some appeared to be ready for anything, others were out for an afternoon stroll; there were families, couples, solos, 3-peakers, tourists - everyone seemed to be on the Ben.
But they were all following the same path. Admittedly it is the easiest way to the top of Britain's tallest hill, but the thought of trudging (and thats a gracious way of describing the gait of some) in someone else's footsteps all the way to 1344m doesn't really appeal to me. I love the quote from Robert Frost about the two roads that diverged in a yellow wood: "I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference".It inspires me to find my own path through life as well as on the hillside.
Taking our own route
Now, taking our own route made things a little trickier, but still achievable - you can see a little section of our day in the video below. Its debatable whether we had a greater feeling of achievement than the folks clambering on top of the cairn but I suspect we enjoyed the route more than the puggled people forcing themselves a step further with each breath. Instead we shared the ridge with only one other couple and had a few hours of very peacefu, pleasant scrambling. All because we chose to take our own route away from the crowds.
Are you still trudging along with the rest of them? Maybe its not on a montain path. What about in your work? Perhaps in the things you believe? Possibly in the opinions you have read and absorbed from a newspaper.
Now I'm not saying that any of these are wrong; what bothers me though is so many people doing the same old same old, simply because 'thats the way its always been done'. Test it, check it, is it still the best way to do something? I talked to a colleague today who said he had recently been asked in interview 'what have you changed recently and what difference has it made?' Maybe we all ought to ask ourselves that.
What things will you question today in order to find your own unique path?