Tag Archives: Courage

The Formula for Success

Pessimist vs OptimistDuring childhood we were read fairy tales to show us a world of possibilities; that we could do anything no matter what. We dreamed of the kind of person we would be someday.  Memories of those stories kept us motivated to carry on when the bullies came, the name calling started, the awkwardness of puberty set in. We knew that someday we’d be the hero/ine. We’d come out on top.

Funny how just when you’re old enough to be able to make fairytales come true, you’re told that you’re living in a fantasy world and it is time to grow up. As a result, you spend the next stage of your life coping with the disillusionment, certain you were cheated out of your shot at happiness, and trying to find workarounds.

It seems like the most successful people somehow manage to weave the two together.

Take Steve Jobs, who was quoted saying, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”  I interpret this to mean that it is great to have a dream, but the successful dreamer sticks with the dream until it is brought into reality.  This can be applied to more than our careers.  It is a way of life. A way of thinking.

Ask yourself this question.

When your optimism for achieving a goal runs out, what do you have left to get you there?

A lot of people will change the goal when their tolerance for waiting for “someday” fades out. They will say, oh well I guess it wasn’t meant to be. On to the next thing (which they hope will be easier to achieve). Successful people persevere with the same goal until it is reached. They dream big, take small steps and simply arrive.

For a long time in my life I thought that I was a very scattered person in terms of my goals. I felt like I had many things I wanted to achieve and they weren’t necessarily related. I often thought I was a failure because of this. I realized later that what you see on the surface is not necessarily the actual goal you are chasing. When I looked deeper, I saw the golden thread that weaved it all together.

Let me give you some examples of what I mean by inviting you on a journey though a part of my life – my college career.

I love to sing. I heard there were tryouts for the coveted spot of lead vocalist of the Big Band. I was a freshman and everyone told me not to bother auditioning because a freshman never gets selected. There were plenty of advanced musicians with more experience and know-how to choose from. I auditioned my heart and soul that day and poured years of pain and passion into every note as I sang a jazzy version of “Summertime” from the opera Porgy and Bess. A week later, I learned that I got the spot. I was the first freshman to do so and I led the way for the next ones.

I was proud but then I thought, what in the world did that have to do with being a Biology major?

The years went on and in my Senior year I wanted an independent study in the Biology dept., but my research idea was dropped by the lead researcher at the last minute due to changing priorities. I was now facing the new reality of failing out of school since that was my whole grade that semester. So, what did I do? I nagged the hell out of every department head in the Science building; Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, with the belief that someone had a project they wanted to get off the ground and were waiting for someone like me to come along and bring it to fruition. Finally, a Physical Chemistry professor took a bite and I said yes, even though I knew it would require some serious crash courses in advanced Microbiology and an understanding of laser technology even before I could begin! So, I found more professors willing to take a chance on me and teach me on the side what I needed to know. I asked for an extension and worked through the summer. I completed the project and not only did I successfully answer the research questions, but I also took it a step further and ended up creating a Biochemistry Lab that was used to help students understand more deeply how this enzyme worked for years to come.

So what’s the point of these examples? How do these seemingly unrelated goals relate to the core message of this post?

Here’s how…lying beneath everything I’ve done my whole life is a burning desire for answers and an unrelenting drive to use my potential to help others reach theirs. I believe this is my purpose. This is what motivates every decision I make and every goal I set. And in that way, no matter what I do on the surface, underneath the main goal remains the same.

Persevering each step of the way is from a commitment to arrive at the destination I’m driven towards. When I’m at my best I can feel the creative sparks flying everywhere. I am dreaming big AND I am making it happen even when people say it is impossible. This is sometimes called, Flow. It occurs every time our passion and purpose align in perfect harmony and we stop thinking and simply do.

You don’t have to compromise your dream of being the hero/ine in your own life just because you’re an adult and there are responsibilities. The greatest responsibility you have is to yourself.

Don’t let anyone ever convince you that growing up equals giving up.

— with love from aneternaltraveler 😉

You’re Nobody’s Fool: Realistic Optimism

can or cant you're rightIn a culture whose mantra has become, “what you believe, you conceive”, we could use a cold bucket of reality to wake us up every once in a while. While I tend to look on the bright side of things, I wouldn’t consider myself an optimist.  Quite frankly, I think these definitions are too oversimplified to be helpful.

I think we can all agree that being a “Debby or Dan Downer” with things in life can be just as bad as expecting to shit out rainbows for breakfast everyday. Total realism, on the other hand, is like a dry piece toast; edible but not enjoyable. Extremes in any form are not healthy, no matter which way you slice it.

I like to think of myself as a Realistic Optimist which I define as, someone who goes into a situation filled with the hope of a good outcome, but who is realistic enough to know when enough evidence to the contrary says it is is time to walk away.

So, I find promoting the idea that “what we believe we can make true” without any caveatsOptimist-Pessimist-Realist-Quote is both irresponsible and untrue.  For example, no matter how much we may believe and conjure up all our will power, hope, and commitment towards changing someone, we cannot make an individual do something they don’t want to do.  We cannot make them change.  We cannot make someone care. We cannot force love. None of these things are possible through the power of thought.

You don’t need to put up with someone’s crap just because you want to show how positive you are. Or how kind you are. Or how loving. Here’s another newsflash, they are not going to change for you. They are an asshole despite you. You sticking around will only wear you out. It will not cause them to change.

I promise you that they will not wake up one day and say, WOW!! Because she’s/he’s stuck around all this time while I’ve busted up every boundary she/he has, taken all my shenanigans in stride, and given her/himself up for me, I’m TOTALLY READY TO SUDDENLY BECOME (WO)MAN OF HER/HIS DREAMS NOW.

Bengen_optimist_pessimist_realist
Translation: (L-R) My glass is half full. My glass is half empty. My glass is half past eight 🙂 Good German Humor..

It is fine to give someone chances, but have a time limit in mind.  Showing yourself less love will not make someone change unless you want that someone to be YOU. You have not been put on this earth to martyr yourself.  You don’t have to stay in a place that sucks. You can do better. It may not feel like it at first, but being alone is better than having your soul sucked out by someone else who means you and the relationship no good.

What do you think?

with love from aneternaltraveler 😉

Behind Our Deepest Fear is Our Greatest Asset

There comes a point in nearly everyone’s life where they face a challenge that changes their approach to interacting in the world.  It could be they were affected deeply by a death, a divorce, an accident, a marriage, a baby, loss of friendship, a relocation or any number of other events.  Regardless of the situation, each person would share in a singular common feeling. It is the realization that a part of their personality has been locked away inside as the rest of them tries to compensate for the loss.  In essence, long after the initial loss or challenge has passed, an additional “loss of self” persists.

I came across that wonderful quote by Marianne Williamson,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

I had never quite understood the part where she says, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  I always thought, NO!  I would love to feel like that instead of all wrapped up in insecurity and fear.  Are you kidding?

To better illustrate my point, let me start by giving you some examples of the challenges/losses that I faced and how it changed the way I interacted with the world.  

I had a lot of tangible losses in rapid succession – It all began with my husband deciding to file for divorce (while I was out of the country). Then, I learned he wrecked my car and decided to buy himself a new one instead of fixing it.  Upon landing back in the States, I returned to a house that was half-emptied. I had no job and received no alimony.  On top of that I was living with the constant fear of becoming homeless as I still hadn’t managed to secure an adequate job to allow me to refinance the house into my name. I’d already passed the 1 year deadline and found myself having to bargain for more time to keep a roof over my head with a man that I no longer recognized as someone I was once married to.

All of this occurred within less than 2 years.  Non-stop.

Find your courage
photo credit – stepconference.wordpress.com

Of course, there are the other losses that are not tangible.  The loss of trust in others, particularly men. The loss of hope. Loss of confidence in myself. My whole mindset was fixed on survival and hyper-vigilant for any threats that may be lurking.

It’s not so hard to understand why, really.  That’s a hell of a lot to go through and a very short period of time to cope with it.

Up until this point in my life, I’d always been someone who lived their life according to a few simple principles:

  1. Be honest with yourself
  2. Have no regrets
  3. Love your life

I’d start a business if that’s what I wanted, save up for adventurous travel and go, push for betterment at work, stand up for myself if someone was ignorant, and so on.  I felt confident, had no regrets, and loved the life I was living.

After, all of this became locked away.  I became scared to shine, to speak up, and I sure didn’t love my life and now I have plenty of regrets.

Now coming back to that part in Marianne Williamson’s quote….“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  

I think I get what that means now.  Yes we are afraid of failing.  We are afraid we are inadequate.  Everybody feels this way.  I sure do.  But I think her point is that our GREATEST fear is revealed to us in the moments we get to shine.  

Think about it.  When someone tells you you’re beautiful, that you’re filled with potential, brilliant, a genius, creative…do you believe them?  Or is there a part of you that says, “No! I’m not.”  “It’s no big deal.”  “Anybody could do that.” Or how about when someone tells you they love you?  Do you push them away thinking that they couldn’t possibly know you well enough to love you.  Aren’t you really saying that you don’t consider yourself loveable?  So your greatest fear is believing in your own “wow factor”.  That it could actually be true.  

See what I’m saying?

When you’re face to face with your moment to shine, when you receive a compliment how do you handle it?  Do you reject it?  It’s as if we don’t believe we have the right to even BE these wonderful things. So we hold back.  We shrink.  We don’t speak up. We don’t believe it exists in ourselves.

We are afraid to shine and be successful because we’d have to take responsibility for the fact that we did that. We are that.  You’d have to come to terms with the idea that it has gone beyond people just telling you that you are beautiful, filled with potential, a genius, brilliant, creative, etc.  You’d actually have to take that in instead of blocking it.  

You’d have to stop buying into the bullshit that you tell yourself and rise to the occasion to demonstrate your inherent awesomeness. And that scares most of us more than anything.  

When you are empowered, the sky is really the limit.   

Remember you do have the right to shine and to do so brightly.  You are born with a purpose.  You deserve to be here.  You are meant to fulfill your dreams and share your light with the world.  

Let’s make a pact to stop being afraid to believe in ourselves and just do what we have to do to find the courage to be who we really are.  

And remember,

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”

Or as they say at Motel Six, we’ll leave the light on for ya’…. 🙂

What do you think?

– With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

 

 

Paralyzing Fear

I landed at my destination, proceeded to pick up my checked luggage and make my way to my hotel.  I was happy to have gotten away in pursuit of something I love – the study of language and culture!  While I imagined the possibilites for transforming my life, I was frequently reminded that the torment I held in me back home came along for a free ride too. Only my location had changed.

I was at a point  where I was desperately searching for an anchor in my life. Seeking my purpose.  The point of my own existence.  I felt like I was failing in all parts of my life.  And my pride got in the way of admitting it wasn’t working.

I didn’t know how to make my marriage work, my consulting business was slowing down, and I felt like I was having a hard time holding it all together.

I imagined that if I pursued something I loved while continuing to accept the challenges, everything would magically transform and be all better.

My life became more about accepting and managing my lot as if there were no other choice.  I adjusted myself to make an exception here and then there to my personal comfort zone.  I compromised to make this and that work. Eventually, I was kept busy remembering to perform all the new little rituals I’d adopted.

I believed that if I made enough room for everybody else’s needs, eventually mine would be considered.  Someday, I told myself, we’ll all arrive at some egalitarian utopia of euphoric bliss.  I just have to stay alert and organized and keep things moving.

But I couldn’t keep it up and I was starting to show signs of wear and tear from the stress of it all.

I couldn’t get pregnant for all the trying, but managed to grow a 5 lb. tumor in my uterus that had to be surgically removed.  I had developed chronic migranes.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was gaining weight.  I was crying sporadically for unknown reasons.  I’d have outbursts of anger and resentment.  I stopped wanting to see people, because they always “needed” something from me.

Three weeks into my trip my husband came to visit me for a vacation.  3 days into his stay, he left a “Dear Jane” letter on the bed while I was in class and returned to the USA without so much as seeing my face.

A Paralyzing Fear

And that’s when the earth began to crack and shimmy and shake beneath my feet.  I watched it break apart all around my feet until all that was left was a tiny patch of land at the edge of cliff.   All the muscles of my body tensed up and the last breath I would take, left my chest.  I watched the massive area of land descend in slow motion into the darkness below me.

I looked around and saw there was only sky, birds, sunlight, and the little patch of land beneath my feet.  I could not see what lie below me. I could not walk away in any direction.

So many questions passed through my mind.  What the hell happened? What am I going to do now?  How could I leave this spot? Why is this happening?

Day after day passed while I stood and watched the sun come up and disappear . I stood where I was and waited for a sign. The wind whipped against my body while I worked to keep my balance on my little patch of earth.  

Mother nature went on about her life and walked by me through the four seasons.  And still I waited for the path to return from the abyss so that I could leave.

One day decided to try sitting down.  I had stood for so long that I wasn’t used to sitting anymore and my legs felt uncomfortable trying to get into position.

As I rested on my little spot, I reached my hands below the surface of my seat and noticed that the earth was firm and had ridges in it like little handles.  For a moment I pondered whether I could climb down the stalk.

I quickly dismissed the thought, because I reasoned that I have no idea what lies below.  What if it is much worse than this?

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” ― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

So I stayed and tried to manage all my affairs while fixed in the same position.  It was uncomfortable, but once again, I worked hard at accepting where I was at.  And once again, I convinced myself that I had no other choice but to do so.

The years went on as I watched the birds come and go.  The sun rise and set. The seasons cycle.  Often I’d reach below me and grasp onto one of the handles.  I’d fantasize about the possibilities of what could be out there.

I remembered when I was an explorer of this world.  Not a spectator.  I remembered when I was afraid, but did it anyway.  I remembered when I was courageous.

These memories and fantasies sustained me in position for a long time.  I convinced myself that at least I had traveled in the past like I had always wanted to.  At least I had been fearless at one time.

As time went on I’d learned to manage, though the clarity of my past adventures began to fade and the urge to leave bubbled to the surface more often creating a different kind of discomfort.

I couldn’t sit still.  The dissonance between my current reality and my curiosity to explore undiscovered possibilities, sharpened into a weapon that stabbed at my mind relentlessly.

serenity prayer

I realized that I did have a choice after all.  Only two, but at least a choice.

1) I could either continue to live what I’ve come to know or 2) take a risk and climb down to see what lies below the stalk.

Both choices require courage.  The first would require the courage to live without passion in favor of perceived stability.  The second, the courage to trust myself and embrace the unknown and the uncertain.

I want to find the courage in myself to climb.  But I am still sitting here only playing with the earth’s handles while being poked at to make a decision.

And so the journey continues as a third choice comes to light.  The choice of making no choice. It sure is painful to sit on a fence for too long…

Have you found the courage to get off the fence or are you sitting there with me?

– With love from aneternaltraveler 😉