Toni Morrison taught me two priceless lessons: I can always make time to write and never give up. As a single mom with 2 kids, Morrison wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 15-minute increments each day. That’s all the free time she had. It took her 5 years to write it. She kept writing despite her novel’s low sales. 3 years later, her next novel was nominated for the American Book Award. Her following novels received mixed reviews, but she remained determined. In 1987, 17 years after publishing her first novel, she won the Pulitzer. If you have a dream project, work on it bit by bit. Don’t let critics sap the joy you get from your work. Morrison followed her passion. You can, too.
Inspired: Oprah on the work of finding your calling
“We’re all called. If you’re here breathing, you have a contribution to make to our human community. The real work of your life is to figure out your function—your part in the whole—as soon as possible, and then get about the business of fulfilling it as only you can.” ~ Oprah
Somewhere along the way our society decided it was best to be practical rather than passionate, that we had to be much more concerned with the path of least resistance rather that the path that made us feel alive. It became obsessed with back-up plans rather than making and following the plan that made us excited to get out of bed in the morning.
To hell with those ideas.
If all we ever are is practical, then what kind of world will we have? We’ll become a community of people who blindly follows, who buries their collective heads in the sand and does what they’re told. No thank you. I’d prefer not to. I’ll take the hard knocks and the tough lessons and the massive disappointments that sometimes must be faced in order to go out on the edge and see what I can actually do and make and see. The only work we need to do is find that thing that fills us up—body, mind, and spirit. That’s our calling. We all have one. The fun of life, and its meaning, is to find that calling, to pick it up and carry it forward. That’s why we’re here. That’s what I care most about: that you, me, and everyone else finds what they’re called to do and then makes it happen. That’s what the world needs.
Inspired: The two most important days of your life
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain
Celebrate your birthday and celebrate the day when you find your calling; they are equally important. The first is destiny and dictated by Nature; the second is a choice only you can make.
Inspired: You Create Your Own Possibilities
If you don’t think you can, then you won’t. It’s that simple. A belief in your own abilities to do something extraordinary is what makes all the difference.
Inspired: A Lesson from How I Met Your Mother – What purpose does your time serve?
On a recent episode of How I Met Your Mother, one of the characters feels lost and unsure what to do with her life. She got some powerful advice from a stranger: “What’s the one thing you want to do with your life? Now let everything you do be in service of that.”
This is a question I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately. What’s your one contribution, the one thing you really want to point to and say, “I did that. That’s why I was here.” Don’t make any considerations other than what you want. This isn’t about what you can do, but what you want to do. Got your answer?
Mine is to create content in many forms that inspires people to live exactly the lives they want to live. I want to be known as someone who did that for every person who crosses my path in some way.
Beautiful: On the Ninth Day of Christmas, Let There Be More Passion
“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too.” ~ Kristin Martz
Let’s not temper our sense of passion, our enthusiasm. Let’s lay our hearts and minds on the line and wear them on our sleeves. Let’s share and encourage our deepest dreams. Let’s let the size of our hearts be the guidepost for the size of our efforts. We now have the tools to create a world that is exponentially better than the world we now call home. Technology, knowledge, medicine, and vehicles for communicating, organizing, and getting things done. To get their full utility, we must first commit to our own truest ambitions. We must decide the impact we want to have in the world and then roll up our sleeves to put our passion to work. Let’s do this.
This post is part of the “Let there be…” consecutive series of Christmas wishes.
Beautiful: Remember Why You Started
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. For some of us it might seem like things never go according to plan. Here’s what I’ve learned: a project has a life of its own. It does a dance between bending to our will and flying off the track at its own accord. That’s just the nature of work, of life. What we can do is stay true to ourselves. We can remember why we started the project in the first place and keep our eye on that mission as our guide. It’s our True North.
My friend, Michael, has told me many times that we must begin as we wish to go. In the beginning, we have a focus, a goal, and a reason for putting our energy and time into a dream. In the beginning, our intent is at its purest state. We have to hang onto that. There will be distractions along any path. People’s opinions will sway us. Our experience with the project may cloud our vision over time. We can reset and center ourselves by going back to the beginning, by remembering and honoring the intention that started us on our journey. That is where we must look for continued inspiration, for hope, for strength. It’s all in the seed, always.
So if you find yourself frustrated, tired, disappointed, or confused, don’t despair. Allow the clarity of your beginning dream to be the force that drives your forward.
Beautiful: A Lesson in Persistence from Life is Good
My friend, Moya, sent me this video yesterday. It is a 3-minute video interview with the Founders of Life is Good. Here’s what I love about it:
1.) They are honest about the fact they have made every single business mistake in the book.
2.) By all accounts, they failed for 5 and a half years before they hit upon their “Life is Good” slogan with their mascot, Jake. And here’s the best part – it wasn’t even their idea to put that slogan and character on a t-shirt. They had a ton of t-shirt designs taped to the wall of their apartment and they invited a bunch of friends over to get their feedback on the designs. Their friends are the ones who pushed them to put the slogan and Jake on a shirt and sell it. It was an immediate hit.
3.) They have a very clear, simple, and elegant business proposition: spread optimism. They don’t care what products they make; they care about the message that’s infused into each one of those products. Life isn’t great, and it’s sure as hell not easy, but it is good. And that’s why they want people to know.
Beautiful: For Maximum Happiness, Master Your Passions
“The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
Somewhere along the way we got the crazy idea that work is work and therefore it shouldn’t be equated with happiness, purpose, and passion. We were supposed to leave work at the workplace and not let it seep into other areas of our lives because we had to create a wall in order to have that coveted possession called balance.
I once had an extremely unhappy and bitter friend who was fond of saying, “It’s called work, not play, for a reason.” Not surprisingly, our friendship didn’t last long and never had much depth. I want my work to be my passion, and my passion to be my life.
Put your time and energy into what you love, even if it’s not how you make your income – yet. Master the things that make you happy and recognize that your abilities have no limitations. Stay interested, stay active, and the world of opportunity will reveal itself.
Beautiful: Don’t Underestimate Your Power to Have an Impact on Others
We’ve got big problems in this world. Some of them are so big that they can make us feel small, but we have to fight that impulse. We are more powerful than we realize.
We are living in times when we can broadcast our message and our efforts cheaper and easier than ever before thanks to technology. Our ability to help others is now limitless and free. We can all do something, no matter where we are.
Take advantage of it. Be an advocate for the causes you care about. The world needs you now.