Things Aren’t What They Used To Be

Are we too constricted by boundaries today? Has fear of failure, fear of standing out among social media inspired blandness begun to hold us back..?

Article by Malcolm Levene

The title of this article was inspired by a UK TV comedy about Cockney life & characters in the 1950s. It was titled: Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be. I fully understand why some things are better now, particularly nutrition, social media, advent of the internet, health, food and so forth. However, in my opinion, what hasn’t really caught up is our ability to be super-creative in ways that further our career or social standing. When I was young, foremost in most people’s mind was how to become a successful business person. And to that end, one learned how to navigate, progress and become a success. Perhaps being naive helped, as it enabled us to take risks: use our instincts and forge ahead, almost – come what may. In my experience, with age comes a more measured, perhaps sometimes more realistic, maybe limited approach to life.

What’s missing from those early days is the opportunity for one to express themselves with hardly any boundaries. And moreover, to be acknowledged, supported and championed for doing so. For many, the focus was and continues to be, how can they help to improve this or that? What can be contributed or added that’s likely to make a positive difference. Fortunately, as we mature, for many our original focus remains. It’s like a guiding light that continues to shine as a beacon, it directs & helps us to express ourselves, and enables us to make better decisions. Although, when one was much younger career trajectories probably occupied much of one’s thinking, currently, that which now occupies people like me – is about how can we assist others. And by so doing – as if by osmosis – we’re able to make improvements in our own lives.

Seems that gone are the days when one was encouraged to take as many risks, in many cases quite rightly so. In saying that, I believe that the boundaries nowadays need to be more flexible. For instance, when we are young we have more energy, get-up and go, therefore, we are less hampered by life-experiences that might have affected us negatively. In part, that’s because we were far more resilient – able to bounce back. I recommend taking a route that’s new, different from the norm and perhaps unusual. Being unusual in today’s day and age is a quality that continues to be admired by many. With the proviso that the unusualness has a universal theme. In short, not just about you. For instance, by going the extra mile in a customer service environment both the customer and the business benefit. Not to mention, how the provider benefits.

We tend to be influenced by conditioning, cultural norms and often our emotions play a part in decision making. Thing is, we won’t be original in our behaviour if we allow any of these influences and man made boundaries to dictate how we act. In a way, technology, for some, has dictated our online behaviour. For instance, the what’s in it for me attitude has hugely diminished authentic communication. These days it’s not uncommon to be the recipient of no response, instead of receiving a proper answer. I don’t know about you, but for me appropriate communication is integral to being human. When we allow ourselves to be led by what’s trendy or seen to be the norm, we tend to lose our identity. That’s because the authentic self becomes hidden, in part, because we feel that we dare not show it.

So don’t be fearful of being different, you never know, your difference might make a difference. If in doubt, consider yourself a role model; that way you maybe paving the way to encouraging others to do as you now do and break down boundaries. Although technology has given us the opportunities almost unheard of 20 years ago, absolutely nothing can take the place of human beings to interact with one and other. In part, that’s because we have the ability to be humble. passionate, loving, empathetic, truly grateful and compassionate when face to face.

Whilst things aren’t the way they used to be, let’s ensure we endeavour to replicate those things that’ll further enhance our lives and the lives of others. “My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.” – Steve Maraboli

Some tips:

  • Allow kindness and compassion to be your watchwords
  • Don’t try to fit in if it doesn’t seem right to do so
  • Allow good manners to prevail
  • Make an effort to be your Best Self
  • Remember, it’s not just about you, it’s more about us
  • Always go the extra mile – the quietest part of the road
  • By letting go of the past, the future has more clarity


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Twitter: @MalcolmLevene 

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