Everyone has dreams, creativity, under used talent, unfulfilled potential beyond what other (and even they themselves) can see.
You have life busting inside of you to get out. You have things on your heart to do, that you wish you had the time or resources to do. But you’re too busy; or it’s not the right time; or you don’t have the resources; or you sacred!
What happens if you fail?
It’s time to end that fear. It’s time to dream big and act! It’s time to step up, step out and be the best YOU you can be.
We all have a passion and a purpose in life. You know, the work that we do that energises us; the things we can spend hours on and it feels like minutes; work that has us in the zone, in the flow, in our sweet spot. Work that we wish we could do forever. Our calling if you will. A raison d’etre. Something that gets you out of bed with a spring in your step and a smile on your face!
Let’s do that every day! Let’s stopping dreaming and start living the dream!
But there’s a problem!
Unfortunately, from a young age we are conditioned to constrain ourselves; to limit our thinking; to protect ourselves from failure; to confine our dreams to only that which we can see as possible. Our parents do it to protect us. The education system does it to conform us. Our friends do it so they don’t have to compare themselves to us, the world changers!
From every side we are told to dream small, aim low, live the mediocre life.
People are terrified of failure. Programmed to steer clear of the unknown. They would rather stay still, than face uncertainty. But the only way to live the life you want is to face that uncertainty, step up to the plate, step out of your comfort zone and do the hard thing, the scary thing!
So, I’m here to tell you YOU CAN. You should. And you need to. Other people need you to. I’m here to help you say, “NO MORE FEAR!” Or as Richard Bransons puts it, “Screw It. Let’s Do It!”
There may be trouble ahead!
Be warned, it won’t be easy, and there will be tough days ahead, but it will be an adventure. Discovering and living your purpose will be the hardest thing you will do in life. It won’t be without pain, but it will be worth it. There will be failures and fanfares. There will be triumphs and tears. There will be ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ and ’round and rounds’. It will be a journey of excitement, frustration, exhilaration and joy. But it will be your life, on your terms with your rules. And it will be the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Before you set off on this new adventure, stop for a moment. You have a tough choice to make. A real decision.
You’re here reading this, so I suspect you’ve already made your choice, but I can’t let you continue unless I’m sure you know what you’re up against. Unless you can fully appreciate some of the emotions and the pain that you will have to contend with on this journey.
You see, when it comes to fulfilling your potential, achieving all you can and be the best version of you, there are two paths people take and only one will get you to where you want to go and being forewarned is being forearmed.
You can choose arrogance, fear and paralysis. Or you can choose acceptance, focus and action.
Arrogance, fear and paralysis
When I was a teenager I was fast. Very fast. At the age of 15 I was undefeated at under 20s in the 800 metres. At sixteen years old I was racing nineteen year olds and beating them. Easily. By quite a margin. I ran a personal best 1 m 55s and I was the county champion. I was destined for great things. I could have been a contender!
But this is not a boast. This is a cautionary tale.
You’ve never seen on your television at a major sporting event. You’ve never seen me in a GB vest on the start line. You’ve never heard my name in connection with athletics. I’ve never even attended the Olympics as a spectator, let alone a competitor. As sad as it is, my sicteen year old self was the pinnacle of my achievements in sport. I never lived up to my potential. I never realised my dream. I never got off my backside and stepped into what could have been! It was all downhill after sixteen.
I’m sure my story is not unique. I’m not the only one who was almost great! What happened to me happens to millions of people. Huge talent, massive potential, no execution. Arrogance and distraction kicks in and takes over and stops the success train in its tracks.
You see, I got a small measure of success and I enjoyed it. A bit too much. I got some praise and plaudits and started to believe I was gifted, a natural talent, the next Steve Prefontaine. I listened to applause and got dizzy and got lazy. I decided my talent was ingrained. I was chosen but the Gods. It was fate and I was so good that I didn’t need to work hard to be brilliant. I just was brilliant. (Which is strange because I had worked immensely hard, unswervingly for two years, running three to four miles a day every single day, to deliver what I had already achieved!)
Then fear kicked in and I started to panic! What if I don’t continue to win? What if I start to loose races? What if someone comes along that’s better than me, faster than me? What does that say about my talent? I think I’m the best, but if I get beaten then…well then I can’t be! To get beaten is to prove that I’m not brilliant. I’m not the natural talent I thought I was. The gods had chosen someone else and not me! If I get beaten what does that make me?
I was paralysed with fear and stopped trying. I stopped training. I stopped putting in the effort, then I could hold onto the mistaken belief that I was the greatest, but I just didn’t want to! I could have been the best in the world, but I didn’t need to prove it to anyone.
In truth, I could never have been a champion, because so much of winning is in the mind and I didn’t have the right mindset. I was arrogant and fearful and stuck!
I had what Dr. Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset is the belief that talent is inherent. It just is. You’re either talented or your not. Wins, successes, achievements all demonstrate the fact that you are gifted, brilliant, a prodigy. The trouble is once you’ve had some measure of success, it becomes harder and harder to continue. It becomes more stressful to operate at higher levels, because if you fail, if you lose, it demonstrates that you are not talented, you are not gifted and your whole identity is threatened.
And so people freeze. They fear the next step and they implode, never to reach the promised potential. Arrogance followed by fear followed by paralysis.
That’s not where you want to be, and it’s not where you’re going! You’re going to choose option ‘B’, door number 2, the path less travelled.
Acceptance, focus and action
The alternative to my experience is far more rewarding. The alternative involves you making it! “Top of the world, Ma!” It results in you setting your face like a flint and pressing on. It involves hard work and commitment, but it involves you living out your purpose.
To truly live out your purpose you need to accept two things: 1) you have a big dream that you must be determined to reach and 2) you are not there yet and will have to grow and improve – ALWAYS!
It is all about what Dr Dweck calls the growth mindset – the opposite of a fixed mindset. The growth mindset is the belief that neither success nor failure is the end, merely part of the journey. Growth mindset people believe that you win or you learn and when you learn you grow and get better and next time you win (or you learn) and round you go until you do win and you win big! You win huge! You win on the world stage.
If you can accept that you CAN make it, but you haven’t yet; if you can believe you’ll get there eventually, but you need to train and work hard, if you can not worry about losing, but only about whether you’re better today than you were yesterday, “if you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs” then you will reach the promised land. You will do more than you thought possible.
Now get off your backside and get going!