In early 2019, a particular phenomenon took social media by storm…the 10-year Challenge! To participate, you had to post a photo of yourself from 2009, and another from 2019, to show how you had changed in 10 years. The photos had to be in a COLLAGE format, with your ‘before and after’ photos juxtaposed, and uploaded to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. At some point…and I don’t know when exactly…it evolved into the 40-year Challenge and I somehow got ‘sucked in.’
Before I knew it, I was searching my photo folders on both my laptop and my mobile device, trying to find a 40-year-old photo that would be acceptable for the challenge. After a while, and again, I don’t know how long, I found one! As good fortune would have it, the photo was a portrait from high school, and a perfect match for some head-shots that I had taken recently. Please feel free to have a good laugh before reading on. 🙂
My wife Andrea was certainly amused, and when I suggested that we BOTH should post photos, she was willing to participate (ah, the power of influence!) I got to work searching our old photo albums…the ones with PHYSICAL photos, stuck to the album pages, under sheets of plastic. Once again, I was fortunate enough to find a suitable old photo, and a recent one that would be sufficient for the challenge.
MAN, I was a skinny kid! (Should this blog title be ‘THIN and NOW’?) And how about Andrea’s AFRO!
At some point, I posted both sets of photos, and enjoyed the comments made by friends and family. Before long, because life moves very quickly, and as is the case with social media, new ideas, experiences, and memes flooded my social media feeds, and the posts were forgotten. However, the photos gave me reasons to REMEMBER.
They took me back to my teen years. Another time and another place, when life was different. No Internet. No mobile phones. No NETFLIX, ROKU, YouTube, PS4, video games…and the list goes on. Upon reflection, I realized that despite the differences in circumstances, my teen experiences held lessons and principles that I embrace and live by today. The importance of time spent with loved ones, the benefits of enjoying physical activity and not being totally driven by ‘material success’, the slower pace, the mistakes and foolish actions born of my naivete and immaturity, and the joy of simplicity, are a few that come to mind immediately. There are more, but I think you get my point.
I know…that was THEN, but this is NOW; I get it. But there’s something valuable there, so here’s my thought. Let’s invest some time to reflect on our youth, even if it wasn’t 40 years ago. Maybe it was 5 years ago. It matters not. Ask a few key questions. What mistakes did you make? What were your successes? What did you learn? What have you forgotten, but now recall because you deliberately took time to go back? What concepts, principles, lessons, and values would your 40-year Challenge photos recall, that you may have filed away? And how can you use those memories to INSPIRE your audiences?
Let’s dust off the old photo albums. Let’s go back and uncover the gems that have been hidden away in the attics and basements of our memory. Let’s accept the challenge to SHARE those memories and lessons to uplift those who are so eager to hear what we have to say. Let’s use our ‘THEN’ to build a better ‘NOW’!
Mark L Brown, CSP, WCPS
DREAM BIG; WORK BIGGER!