Re-inventing Yourself – a Myth or Reality?

I have recently read a couple of articles that said you could (or couldn’t) re-invent yourself.  Well, that is a good question.  Can you re-invent yourself and if yes, to what extent and how?
Yes, we all can change
Based on research, I believe every person is able to change until their life on this earth ends.  So, my answer would be a qualified yes.  I will tell you a story about myself that illustrates this qualified yes. 
An example from my teenage years
When I was about 14 years old I was a typical shy teen: bookish, reserved, pretty good at school and pretty uninterested in (most) sports.  But I wanted to be more popular, to “have more fun” in a way that I considered fun.  So, for a while I observed those who I considered more popular and fun, and thought about what they did differently than I.  I came to a conclusion:
They put themselves forward and volunteered more, for one thing.  They offered to do things.
So, as of the day of that realization I began to volunteer to do things, starting with easy things and then gradually getting bolder so that, now at this point some five decades later, I volunteer to do the hard things.  This change simply began with raising my hand and beginning to offer my opinion, my time, my voice, my energy, and my creativity.  It actually began at a youth camp with my offering to organize a skit for everyone to watch and playing the “lead speaking” role in it.  Each little success led to another trial of something a little bit harder.
Failure and the “qualified yes”
But not everything was easily successful.  Something of those trials were, of course, failures.  I remember singing a solo in front of a similar (supportive-ish) crowd.  But it was a fail, and so now I sing in groups, not alone, as I do not want to hurt my more musically sensitive friends’ ears. 
Those are simple examples, but I want to come back to the fact I was shy and bookish.  I am still an introvert who prefers books to big parties.  When I tell most people who know me socially that I am an introvert, they are surprised because I have learned to act extroverted to a certain extent, I have learned to put myself forward and the risk involved is not too hard for me to overcome anymore. 
I really do enjoy parties and being with people nowadays, but I love time alone and books more. It took time to learn how to deal with the energy output, to coach myself on how to “do” these kinds of relatively unnatural activities.
The qualification
That is why I say that you can re-invent yourself with a qualified yes.  We all have our general personality traits and we work from a starting point of where we are at at any given point in time.  Yet, we need to challenge ourselves and not use the excuse, “I am introverted and can’t do parties or “I am extroverted and can’t work/be alone.”  We are all able to do a lot of activities we don’t think we can, if we try and learn and try again, and keep trying until we make it.  But those activities may very well be out of our “normal arena of comfort”.  They may drain us more than other more typical to our personality activities do.  That, issue, is another blog topic, however.
Re-inventing your career
Sometimes it is necessary to re-invent a career, instead of working on ones’ personality borders.  Lately this topic has become more important for my friends and colleagues as the business and the economic reality of Switzerland’s landscape has been changing.  Here is an excellent article from Forbes on re-inventing one’s career.
Essentially what the author, Robert DiGiacomo, is saying is that you need a good plan based on the environment, your expectations, and your abilities and boundaries.  He also gives some specific advice regarding networking and using social media, which could even be helpful for those of us who are not so interested in re-inventing anything at the moment.  All-in-all, this short article is well worth the few minutes to read it.
And what about your business?
Finally, sometimes you need to re-invent or re-vamp your business strategies.  This kind of inventory taking for business should be done quarterly—depending on the business results from the last quarter and/or semester.  One of the best TED talks I have recently see is on the balance between exploration and exploitation, which can be seen here:  Two reasons companies fail — and how to avoid them
I would love to have an email (or otherwise, perhaps a Skype or coffee) dialog about this kind of re-invention.  No matter what, though, when at the beginning of this process, remember to ask yourself what works for others, what has worked for you in the past, and what might work in the future.  You will then be on your way to a different situation, future, and maybe even place!
Patricia Jehle and
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