I imagine there we people in 1823 writing down their thoughts, their fears, and their desires for a better world. They were trying to craft new inventions and believing that they could make a greater impact.
They pushed forward.
They tinkered and failed.
They wanted better for themselves
They wanted a better world for their children.
Why do any of us strive to do anything more than sit around and let life pass by?
It comes down to purpose. It gives the great days momentum and the bad ones hope for a better tomorrow.
Purpose can be anything. It doesn’t have to be grandiose. It doesn’t have to be landing on Mars. It just has to be real to each of us.
What do we feel at our core?
What do we believe the world should look like?
Where can we make an impact?
That’s our purpose.
If you’ve “found it” then you know. If you haven’t then you aren’t that far behind.
You just have to start looking, trying, testing and tasting. You have to be willing to trust your instincts and respect what your thoughts are guiding you toward.
In time, it’ll click. Something inside you that gives you that focus you haven’t witnessed before. That fire to want to do more. The willingness to step out of the warm blanket of comfort and be naked to the world.
It makes us alive, again and again, as we dig deeper and learn more. We may not be understood by others around us but we understand ourselves more than we ever have before.
We can’t forget about the goals we’ve set for ourselves.
We may will stumble.
We may will get passed by others.
We may will have to veer off-course.
But don’t forget about our goal.
When it feels like we are slugging along, we must keep moving.
When we feel like we are the only ones running uphill, we must keep moving.
When we feel like we are questioning our every decision, we must keep moving.
If the journey is worth it then so is enduring some pain to get there.
While we are focused forward there may be others behind us, using our guidance and direction as a beacon of light, maybe one of hope, helping them along when they feel defeated and weak.
We have to believe we can be a light in the darkness.
We will continue to be pressed with tough situations, unsolicited advice, less than favorable reviews, and chatter from the people in the stands.
We must always remember that if we are willing to take the risk of being ourselves and putting it out into the world then this will be part of the process. We have to weather the cloud of negativity and judgment that can often hang over us.
As Teddy Roosevelt said. “…if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Read the full Main in the Arena speech here)
In a way, we need that storm to come. It proves to us the importance of our mission and nothing will stop us. It gives us the chance to believe in a better tomorrow and gives us hope. It lets us know that not everyone is willing to make the sacrifice and our mission is worthy.
Be brave. Be bold. Believe in the good we can put out in the world.
In the end, there will be people looking out the window and cursing the storm and others who are out there splashing in the puddles.
We have to ask ourselves, “Which person do we want to become?”
We might convince ourselves that the next “life hack” or shortcut will get us to the next level quicker or that speeding up and working harder will be the key to our success.
I’m not sure that is entirely true.
Have you ever been driving and seen someone fly by you, weave in and out of cars, and get in what appears to be the fastest lane only to end up right next to you at the next stoplight? Or, even worse, those actions to maneuver cost themselves much more by getting into an accident.
We have to understand ourselves and where our “north star” is pointing us to help set the tone for our daily work and future plans. Just because others appear to be going faster or are more accomplished doesn’t mean we have to be doing the same thing they are.
The quicker that we accept that consistent work over an extended period of time is what ultimately drives us to a happier and more fulfilling life, the sooner we can avoid the pitfalls of cutting corners and trying to make ourselves feel like we are accomplishing things. In reality, it may be holding us back from the generous work we really want to be focusing on and putting out into the world.
I had a serendipitous conversation today that activated something in my brain which reflected on my time in high school woodworking. Yes, I took woodshop in high school and loved it.
I certainly wasn’t the best at measuring and cutting but I created some cool things. A Poker table with a beautiful Formica top. A breakfast chair that I believe my Dad still has in his house. I also made a Chalace with the lathe machine (it’s a machine where you secure a piece of wood and it spins very fast and you can chip away or sand down the object). I still have that Chalace somewhere, too.
And that’s what got me thinking about this call today.
I want to have all the answers to the puzzle from day one. I want to know the direction and the destination. I like having the “knowns” of the situation. It helps me.
But it’s not realistic.
Everyone reading this now is doing something very different today then they were doing 10-years ago. A different city, a different family situation, a different career/title, etc. We don’t have the playbook.
Life is like a game of backyard football, we mostly just improvise on the fly.
So that what got me thinking about my Chalace and the lathe machine back in high school woodshop. I had an idea of what I wanted but as I started to widdle the wood down it started to take a different form. Some spots I had to shave more than expected. Others were a bit harder and laborious. Sanding took way longer than expected.
I focused on the journey and experience of the process and had a “sort of” path to go down but nothing more. I didn’t know what or how to explain it then, but that is what I now call my “North Star”.
The North Star is your mission and vision of where you want to go but it’s just that, a vision. There is no flag in the ground saying “I’m going to be here at X date and be doing X”. Life doesn’t work that way. As long as you start down the path that is leading you toward your mission you’ll find your way. I think we all do, eventually. When you look all the way back later in life it’s really the moments of the journey that are most memorable and rarely the finish line.
Just keep chipping away at you “Chalace” and don’t get so caught up in the finished product but put a lot of focus and attention on the process and experiences you are building through it now.
In the end, whenever that happens to be, the stories and the experiences that shaped them turn out to be your legacy, and reaching the finish line becomes an afterthought.