birthday cake with candles


I turned 48 this week.

I rung in my birthday watching both my kids perform in a musical performance called, “Team Zombie”.

As I sat there, watching both of my ghouls fully be themselves, I couldn’t help but smile.

Here they are, fully immersed in doing what currently lights them up:

kids performing "Team Zombie" on stage

Birthdays are often a time of reflection.

As a professional observationalist, reminiscing back over my decades, it’s a tint concerning how many of us start out as “us”.

Then — little by little — conformity takes over.

On the topic, JFK once said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”


You can see how it happens.

We’re also told (not sure by who….perhaps… everyone?) to “dress for the job we want” — which is another nudge towards fitting in.

Here, on this night, I treasured how my kids were being themselves and “fitting out”. Two stars were born! Funny how on other “born days” in my life, I’d want to be at the center of the party. A big night out with loved ones. A weekend with my closest people in Vegas or Mexico. A dinner with extended family.

But watching my kids “fit out” fully as themselves? Is there a better gift than that?

As I reflect on what I hope for myself at 48, I have to Time Machine back to a quote I have shared many times before.

Founding Astronaut at Virgin Galactic once said to me, “It takes you 40 years to figure out who you are, and the next 40 to be that person.” At the time, I was around 38 when she shared this gem with me. It hit me so hard, I can remember driving home in silence from Orange County thinking about…not the meaning of life but the meaning of ME.

As I turn 48, I can also share while Loretta’s brilliance is undeniably true, I do believe it also takes you 48 years to figure out who you are and the next 48 (hopefully) to be that person.

Conforming happens when curiosity is lost.

If you’ve made it this far down the post and you’re still reading……then let’s agree that we’re never done learning. And we’re never done fitting out.

When your next birthday arrives, no matter your age, approach it as a rebirthday.

“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.”

– Rollo May

Ryan Berman
Ryan Berman
Ryan is an author, keynote speaker, and the founder of Courageous. His book, Return on Courage, shows how during these courage deficient times, courage is a competitive advantage for those leaders who choose to unlock it.
Twitter @ryanberman | LinkedIn @ryanberman

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