In our work and in our lives, exploring our full slate of possibilities before deciding what to do is a critical step that can’t be minimized or hurried. Before we rush to judgement and decide, let’s take a moment to think about what we’d like to do without determining whether or not that’s the best course of action. Let’s lay every card on the table and give it its due before we decide whether or not to set it aside. Let’s dream a little.
“Live out of your imagination, not your history.” ~Stephen Covey
What if today you decided, just for a day, to live the life you imagine rather than the life that’s dictated by your past? What if you could drop the boxes you’ve put yourself in, the labels you’ve adopted (willingly or unwillingly), and all of the can’ts, don’ts, and shouldn’ts that have been impressed upon you? What would you? How would your life change?
“People who avoid risks are rewarded with their safety. People who take the risks are rewarded with adventures.” ~Andy Crouch, improvisor and Director of Education at the Hideout Theatre
Everyday we have this choice: to stay safe or to have an adventure. My friends often comment to me that my superpower is that I have absolutely no fear of rejection, and therefore have lots of adventures. I think that’s mostly true. Professionally, I have zero fear of rejection. In my personal life, I’ve got a little more trepidation. (I’d do well to start injecting a little more bravery into my personal life. That’s a story for a later post.)
I have been rewarded in my life with many adventures that have had varying degrees of success. I’m grateful for all of them, even for the ones in which I failed magnificently, because they led me to even more adventures. I think that’s really the point of it all: to go out into the world, and I mean as far out there as you can possible get, and see what you find. That’s what I’m doing, and then subsequently what the characters in my books are doing.
Now that my full-time job is squared away and my first book is less than a month from publication, I’m plotting out the adventures that my characters and I will have in this coming year. And it’s going to be one hell of an adventurous year. Stay tuned…
It’s often said that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, light above the clouds, and dawn after the darkness. Here’s what I believe: we are the light. In the new year, if we do nothing else, I hope we stop waiting. Clouds, tunnels, and darkness be what they may. Be the light in this moment for yourself and for others. We owe it to ourselves and to each other to shine as brightly and beautifully as we can. Don’t pray, hope, and wish for better days ahead. Please make the day you have right now your day. Wishing you the happiest, healthiest, and shiniest of new years.
“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” ~Charlie Parker
There are a lot of life lessons to be learned from music and musicians, and this is one of the greatest. In music and life, we practice not to get that practiced material perfect but to develop the muscle to do whatever we need to do when the time comes. Practice teaches us to leap and land on our feet, to think and act in harmony, and to roll with whatever is thrown at us. Practice gives us confidence, experience, and grace. Practice doesn’t make us perfect; it makes us perfectly prepared to handle anything.
“We must learn to say no to some opportunities in order to say yes to our priorities.” ~Jocelyn K. Glei
I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea lately. We have taken the idea of “when opportunity knocks…” to an extreme limit. We worry about what people will think, say, and do if we don’t do X, Y, and Z. It’s a lot to manage. Recently I’ve gone back to an old filter I used to use that served me well for a long time. Here it is: If I can’t say “hell, yes” to an opportunity, then it’s a “no”. I’m going to try it again and see how it goes. How do you separate opportunities from priorities?
For a long time I struggled with the pull between being a specialist and being a generalist. Lately I’ve found I actually didn’t have to choose. If, like me, curiosity itself is your muse and embracing the new is what gets your motor running, then stand by that passion. Follow it down every rabbit hole it takes you. Learn, build, and share with wild abandon. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a Swiss Army knife with an attitude of “whatever the challenge is, I’ll figure it out.” Make it your purpose to defy any definition and every day of your life will be an adventure.
“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” ~Christine Caine
Some of my friends are in a tough spot right now. They’re having a tough time seeing a way forward. They feel knocked down and dragged out into situations that they didn’t see coming and wouldn’t have chosen for themselves. This is a tough place to be. It’s uncomfortable. It feels hopeless. It’s disappointing.
In moments like this, I find that this quote by Christine Caine is most powerful. Take what you can learn from these awful experiences, even if they are lessons you had no interest in learning. Let them strengthen your resolve, refine your talents, and sharpen your skills of observation. Watch for actions and outcomes. Step back and clearly identify what you would do differently, and why, and how that might change things.
This is your time of incubation. This is a time of growth and evolution that can lead you to a personal revolution if you take the opportunity as it comes. Be planted so that when the light returns, you can shine.