Two questions that have been surfacing for many these past few weeks:
How do I keep going?
Why even bother__________ (taking action, writing the play, making the film, giving the talk, singing the song, pioneering the intersection of two things that involve a verb you will invent...)?
Yet you and I both know that these questions aren't unique to the current moment.
You and I both know that this current moment is merely igniting the doubt that's always there.
You may know that doubt to be a not-so-welcome-ever-present-companion in your pursuit of what matters most.
But what if these doubts are guideposts telling you that you are headed in the right direction?
What if the moment you want to give up is the moment you must keep going?
Invisible | in·vis·i·ble | in-ˈvi-zə-bə | (adj) =
hidden, impossible to see, withdrawn, inaccessible to view
Are you choosing to be invisible?
Historically, I've been a pro at invisibility. Growing up as the shyest kid I knew, hiding (literally or metaphorically) from people, situations, and experiences was one of my strongest suits.
Being invisible feels comfortable. It keeps us from getting hurt, it prevents us from being a human being with needs and desires, and it shields us from the terrifying possibility that we could, actually, be great.
But if greatness is our destiny, we must train ourselves to be keenly aware of when we are conspiring in our own diminishment. We do this so we can change the game.
I am walking through a desert with a large and heavy piano strapped to my back.
My progress is slow and the strain is immense, but I attempt to walk forward, effortfully - nearly impossibly.
Suddenly, a voice booms from the atmosphere:
WHY ARE YOU CARRYING THE PIANO?
I stop, confounded - unable to speak an answer because I realize I don’t know what it is.
Then the voice again:
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CARRY THE PIANO.
LET GO OF THE PIANO, AND YOU WILL BE FREE
Paralyzed, I do nothing. Then: I wake up.
Finish this sentence without thinking:
If I had an amazing mentor, I would: ________________________
From my own experience and that of my students and clients, I’ve learned that many of us feel that if we had a great mentor we would:
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future…What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. Seneca, 4 BCE – 65CE
I’ve heard it hypothesized that we might orient our lives differently if we walked around with the number of days we have left to live inscribed on our foreheads–
That perhaps a constant reminder of the preciousness of our lives might spark us into living more deeply and meaningfully, more awake and alive.
When I envision this I am terrified.
I am electrified.
I zoom straight to my center, wondering: am I living a meaningful life?
In the midst of figuring out how to respond to the deep turmoil happening in so many parts of the world right now, I have been thinking a great deal about a different kind of turmoil -the private kind that wages wars between our ears and inside of our rib cages.
The kind that can be as constant a companion in our own daily existence as a TV that stays on in a house all day, every day.
For me, July is a month of resparking.
(Yes! I invented that word!)
Today I’m sharing this process, because I want you to be over the moon about what you accomplish and how you show up for the rest of 2016.
The good news is, a short moment now to check-in will allow you to move forward with more acceleration, flow, and fulfillment for the next six months.
I once saw a cartoon that shows a guy standing at the foot of Mount Everest. He's staring in awe at a secret, hidden stairway that's been built into the backside of the mountain. It leads straight up to the peak. The sign next to it says: LITTLE-KNOWN ENTRANCE.
I believe that bold conversations = a little-known entrance to the things we want.
Furthermore, since we know that confidence is a muscle that is the result (not the catalyst) for taking courageous action, making bold or uncomfortable conversations a habit - regardless of the outcomes - is like cross-fit for your confidence muscle.
A mentor of mine says:
A short zen story:*
Once upon a time there was a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfied, he hoped to teach them a lesson.
His plan was to place a boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observe their reactions.
The king watched as subject after subject came to the boulder and turned away. Or, at best, tried, meekly, before giving up.
Many openly complained or cursed the king or fortune or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.
After several days, a peasant came along on his way into town. He did not turn away from the boulder, but, instead, strained and strained, trying to push it out of the way.
He was unsuccessful, but, then, an idea came: He scrambled to the woods to find something he could use for leverage. Finally, he turned with a large branch he had crafted into a lever and deployed it to dislodged the massive rock from the road.
Beneath the rock were a purse of gold coins and a note from the king, which said:
2016 has been big for me, filled with change, new developments, and challenges. Some highlights include:
and there has ALSO been doubt, struggle, and slog.
(sometimes a lot)
While it's wonderful to celebrate what's going well (we can't build on success we don't acknowledge), I'm also reminded how necessary these less-than-exhilarating feelings are to any creative process worth our time and energy.
Whether you're wanting to plan the next phase of your career, start a business, finish your pilot, book next-level work, create your own show, assemble your dream team - I've compiled 5 big ideas from my learning this year in the hopes that they may create some resonance and forward momentum for you, wherever you are on your creative journey.
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