The Act to Follow

“Things don’t become easier. You become more difficult to disrupt.” – Stacie Martin

At least once, if not a few times over, we’ll find ourselves in between acts in the screenplay of our life. One scene or chapter ends, and another begins. Sometimes, we don’t have a firm handle on the plotlines that play out before us. While there’s no promise that the unfolding storylines get easier, being the leading role in your life-film, you do get to decide how you want to meet the situations before you and how you transition from act to act. 

Those transitions and plot twists play a role in our character development. In any life, those twists and turns can be tough scores on our core sense of self, tests of our fortitude, and opportunities for transformation. In this week’s podcast conversation with Jerry, Fritz Brumder, CEO of Zipcan.com, reflects on the big transition he’s moved through with his old company, and how he’s contemplating moving into his second act. Fritz’s transition was wrought with all of the feels of moving out of a company he founded, and moving into that place of “I don’t know quite what is next, yet.” Knowing that there will be no shortage of acts for us in our lifetime, Fritz and Jerry muse: how does one move from a tough act to new act in a way that’s coherent and in integrity with who we really are? 

Sometimes, we don’t know what’s around the corner, and sometimes we can’t believe what’s happening in front of our eyes. The hallmark of character development is finding personal resilience through it all. “Things don’t become easier,” as Stacie Martin notes in the quote above. “You become more difficult to disrupt.”

A handful of years ago I came across a potent and important word from one of my favorite authors: Unf*ckwithable. It means “when you’re so at peace with yourself and so at home in the world that no one can rile you up or knock you off course.” That deep peace is a skill that comes from living through a lot and knowing ourselves well. It’s a way of being in life that comes from a strong connection with the core of who we are.

There’s some gravitas gained after life happenings have happened to us. We learn to make choices from our own inner litmus test, from our applied learnings, and from knowing what’s ok for us and what isn’t. We move in the direction of how we want our life to be versus someone else’s plans for us. We begin to perhaps feel our own weight, too. In doing so, we feel our life differently. From there, situations and choices come with a new litmus to help us take stock of what’s most important for us, for our wellbeing, for our work in the world, and for how we want to live our one wild and precious life. 

In many ways, this is a passage and sign of growth. The homecoming of homecomings in which, as Fritz and Jerry talk about, we become the director of our own life.

With transitions in which an old part of us was shed and a newer us emerges, the successful second acts are a result of us setting out more true to ourselves. Through career changes, divorce, or returning to work after raising kids, we can step into that next act more wholly, more holistically, with all the authenticity we’ve got at this stage in our life. 

We bring all that we’ve learned, all that we know, everything worth keeping close, and a keen attunement for that part of us that knows quietly and resolutely without needing to ask for approval, validation, permission, or recognition. 

How do you want to be, now, as you look at the act you’re in the midst of or the new act you’re moving into? How do you want to relate to work? What life would you like to create for yourself? How are you directing the course of your own life?