Like everyone else

Heroes and leaders:

  • Put on their pants just like everyone else.
  • Have to stretch, train, learn, practice, and fail like everyone else.
  • Wear protective gear and take safety precautions like everyone else.
  • Speak and listen to others as they’d want to be spoken and listened to (like everyone else).

There aren’t any secrets. Humility and intelligence are essential.

But what’s missing is you.  You have to work hard.  Just like everyone else.

Coal or Diamonds?

Coal requires three things to be able to change:

  • Heat
  • Pressure
  • Time

The soul is no different.

Similarly, the acorns of some of the greatest and mightiest trees on Earth need the same.  So:

  • Get passionate (heat)
  • Get active and be publicly-accountable (pressure)
  • Be PATIENT (time)

Just because

Just because your hands are trembling doesn’t mean you’re weak.

Often it means that you’ve exerted yourself in pursuit of something greater.

Just because you’ve failed or fallen doesn’t mean you’ll always fail or fall.

Past may be prologue, but it does not determine the epilogue of your journey.

Just because someone doesn’t understand or support you doesn’t mean you’re wrong or bad.

Sometimes it’s just an indicator that you’re on a different path.  Respect the differences and celebrate them.

Sometimes

Sometimes you have to…

  • Make the space in your heart to be able to say “no”.
  • Make yourself understand that the things people do or did to you are wrong.
  • Let yourself get angry at all the pain inflicted.
  • Tell the truth and be brutally-honest.
  • Cry and release the pain.

Sometimes, even the best of us crack under the pressure. It’s not the fall that defines us, it’s what we do afterward. What do we do when we fall?

We pick ourselves back up.

You don’t need…

You don’t need anyone’s permission.

You don’t need anyone’s “final answer”.

You don’t need anyone’s approval.

You don’t need anyone’s negativity.

You don’t need anyone’s doubt.

You don’t need anyone’s fear.

Now that you know what you don’t need, what do you really need to do the work?  I’d bet the list is a lot smaller than you’d think and found more readily than you want to admit.

There’s more how-tos, tutorials, instructional videos, raw materials, and collaboration available to the average person than at any other previous point in human history.

So what are you waiting for?  What do you need?

We don’t begrudge the child who is learning to walk

Because that would make us cruel. We don’t berate them for trying, we encourage and celebrate even the things that “aren’t quite there yet”.

Yet in most modern meritocratic societies, we don’t celebrate failures. We only look at the highlight reels and put people on pedestals as examples. We don’t celebrate progressive failures nearly enough, I think, because it would paint all of us in a very unflattering light. We don’t talk about Michael Jordan’s losses, all the hours he spent training and honing his entire being like that of a lovingly-crafted tool, the failures that cost him games and many nights of sleep. The same could be said of Dave Grohl, Tony Hawk, Andrew W.K., Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, or Siddhartha Gauthama. Kings, warriors, magicians, lovers, poets, dreamers… even down to those who can claim no title.

All of this came up for me again when I tried to provide answers to the question “what is your definition of success”. I felt like a lot of my responses were inadequate. That I was inadequate. It springs from a position of not feeling as if I am enough.

You’re either a “hillbilly” or a “rock star”. As if the world operates in a binary state: one of either total unawareness and rejection (hillbilly) or one of complete celebration, acceptance, and excitement (rock star).

I’m sure even rock stars have moments where they are completely alone and unrecognized. The idea of being the proverbial hillbilly has its roots in rejection and failure. Of being unlikeable, unremarkable, and otherwise unacceptable to others. It stinks of failure and misery. Of not being seen or validated as worthy. The fear of descent into obscurity is a fear of ego death. It’s more about not being seen than it is about the actual “success”.

Being in the “middle of the pile” somehow feels like a kind of failure. If I’m not in the top ten percent, then what the am I doing? In this all-or-nothing meritocratic system, failure and burn-out are far too common. I don’t celebrate my efforts or progressive failures often enough. I don’t appreciate the climb until I’ve hit some kind of milestone. I don’t see the forest for the trees until they’ve all been ripped down and made useful in the forges of industriousness.

It’s not fair to me or anyone else. It suffocates the highest aspirations of the heart under the all-consuming surface of meritocracy. We don’t begrudge the child who is learning to walk, so why is it fair to begrudge myself or others for honest effort?

Top Of Your Game

I am not terribly successful, I am not as strong as I want to be, I am not at the top of my game, nor might I ever be–that’s not the point.

The point is that I give it my all, no matter what “it” happens to be.

My heart is stronger than this circuit workout, my spirit is taller than this sport climb, my body is the temple, and my mind the liturgy.

I don’t “deserve” to be at the top of that climb any more than I “deserve” anything that the universe can offer me.  All I can do is show-up.

And that’s all anyone can as of you.  So do yourself and everyone else a favor: be present.