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Going for the Gold

Going for the Gold

Ever wonder what that really means? I have, and I’ve thought about it a lot. It sounds so easy. Sounds like you should be able to just go out there and grab yourself some BIG success. Sounds like something off a cereal box; but it isn’t. Going for the Gold is labour intensive, down in the mud, hard work. It means sacrifice, and determination. It means believing in you when others may not. It also means continuing to move forward even when you don’t believe in yourself.

 

Recently I read an article by Steven Pressfield about aiming high with your goals. As I read it I thought, yeah, I get that! You see, for most of my life I just went along with the flow of whatever came along. I had some really good times, and some really bad ones. I didn’t strive for anything too hard, but I didn’t stop completely either. I had no real goals, other than limited, day to day things. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s vitally important to have both short and long term goals. Sometimes just getting through the day is a worthy goal.

 

But what about when you REALLY want something? Well, this writing gig is like that for me, and it’s showing me what I’m made of. I haven’t reached my gold medal goal yet by a long shot, and am still waaaay back from it, but I have my sights set high and my vision is pretty clear. I don’t know how or when I’m going to reach it, or even if I’ll reach it, but I’m going for it anyway.

 

Resistance

Resistance

Pressfield talks about overcoming resistance in his book, The War of Art, and when I first heard about this thing he calls “resistance”, during his interview with Oprah, I was blown away. You see, we all come up against it, and it seems that the closer we get to our goal, the stronger resistance becomes. We find all kinds of reasons to sabotage ourselves. We allow others to blow up our dreams and goals. We stumble, then refuse to get up. According to Pressfield, those are all resistance hard at work, doing it’s best to stop us from achieving our goals.

 

But somewhere along the way it’s also occurred to me that it takes more than dogged determination to succeed. There has to be determination, talent, and grace. I believe it’s like a trinity; you need all three at the same time to really succeed. That’s what makes Going for the Gold so hard.

 

I said I also believe there has to be some element of grace at work in your life and belief system. I mean think about it! You can’t ever get where you want to go alone. Other people, opportunities, God, the Universe, doors that open and close, all that stuff is at play throughout our lives. Grace, to me, means accepting those bits of good that come our way and being thankful for it. It doesn’t mean trying to use or manipulate them. It means valuing and recognizing the people and opportunities that come our way, whatever the source.

 

I’ve seen too many people try to get ahead by stepping on the backs of others. They think they’re on the stairway to heaven, but they aren’t really. One day one of those backs will break, or move away, and the climber will be left dangling in mid-air. I propose accepting any and all help you can, giving thanks for it, valuing what you are given or taught, and then paying it forward when and where you can. That builds strong stairways. It means that others will continue to help you, rather than try to find ways to tear you down. Now, it doesn’t mean that as you rise, others won’t feel jealous or try to hurt you, it just means that you personally will know that you deserve to be where you are and can keep climbing.

 

We're in it to Win it!

We’re in it to Win it!

One of the reasons we cheer for the athlete who gets the medal is because we see ourselves striving for something more. We want them to win because we want to win. We want to know that it’s possible to win, even when we’re not actually in the game. But make no mistake, those of us in the game, or arena, are working our asses off! If we’re smart, and thoughtful, we’re also trying to help our comrades succeed and win the medals too. That’s because success is a joint effort, and there’s enough to go around for everyone. Besides, it’s so much more fun when we work with, not against, others.

 

I’ve been told I’m not a competitive personality, but I am. I was even told by one boss in the past that I didn’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, but of course I do, just not in the business I was in at the time. You see, I’m competitive against myself, not other people. I push myself to do better, to learn more, and to be better. Right now I’m out actively seeking an agent to represent me and my next novel, and I know from experience that I need this person to help push, pull, and teach me what I don’t know. I recognize that others have experience and clout in areas where I don’t. I could try to go it alone, but I would rather be part of a team that reaches for the same gold medal. For now, that’s my choice. But even within a team, I’m well aware that I’m responsible for myself. I know I’m responsible for putting forth my best effort and not relying on the team to do the work for me. To me, that’s team work!

 

So, the next time you think about Going for the Gold, think hard about what you want, why you want it, and make a plan for how to get it, Dare Greatly, and be prepared to work your ass off!

 

Theodore Roosevelt once said:

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, 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.”

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Waiting

Waiting

I’m in the middle of the waiting game once again. Having submitted my latest novel out for query, I’m now waiting for someone to see that kernel of value, that spark of something in the story, and in me, that’s worth taking a chance on and working with.

 

This is such a difficult time. I’m not a patient person by nature, but I know and recognize the importance of waiting patiently; of allowing things to unfold as they must.

 

But waiting is hard. It can lead to self-doubt. It can bring up every fear you’ve ever known, and make you face it down again and again, on what can seem like a daily basis. I’ve also noticed that people spend a great deal of time waiting. We wait till Friday to celebrate the weekend. We wait till we’re married, till we have children, till we’re retired…till we’re dead. After that last one, we’re kinda done waiting. But what if instead of just waiting around, we DID something? What if we allowed ourselves to let go of the waiting game and got on with living? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of waiting to get on with my life.

 

So, during the waiting period between projects, I allow myself the time it takes to craft the query letter, have it edited for mistakes, and then begin the process of sending out the letters. When an agent (or publisher) expresses interest in your project, they’ll ask for a partial or a full copy of the completed manuscript. Talk about facing fears! I realized that only when we are facing our fears are we moving forward. I realized that all the “waiting” involved in writing actually allows me to take stock of where I’m going, where I want to be, who I want to move forward with. Rather than saying I’m waiting, maybe I should call it what it is; pausing. I’m pausing to make sure I’m on track, that I know where I’m going. I’m pausing to take a few steadying breaths before the roller coaster of life picks up speed again. See, I don’t care for roller coasters either; too scary! So, I’m pausing, not waiting.

 

Patience

Patience

But while I go through each of these necessary steps, I caution myself to be patient. I meditate to help keep myself grounded in my vision and in myself; my purpose. I take this small break and read books by writers whose work I really enjoy. I begin thinking about the next project. I begin researching for the next project. But I’m always cautious.

 

I recently watched an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday (yes, I’m a seeker) and heard author, Brene Brown, talk about the fact that people are so cautious, so careful not to go to extremes, that they don’t give themselves permission to cry when they’re really sad or struggling. Conversely, people often feel reluctant to give in to pure joy when something goes really right for them, or when their hearts are absolutely touched by something, or someone. I had my own ah ha moment right there (I’ve been having a lot lately). I realized I do a lot of that. I caution myself not to get too excited when something really good happens, and not to get too despondent when something goes awry.

 

I realized I’m cheating myself of some of my life’s most important lessons and feelings. What am I waiting for? When I’m really down and sad, I should be able to cry. When I’m joyous, I should be able to just shout out, jump around, do my “whoop whoops”, or even cry tears of joy. I don’t need anyone’s permission. In fact, I need to give myself permission to feel, really feel, whatever it is I’m feeling. I need to honour that expression of myself. Then, if I’m sad and struggling, I can pick myself back up and move on. Slowly maybe, but move on nevertheless. When I’m overcome with joy and I express it aloud, I feel GREAT! Then I can calm down and return to my regularly scheduled program. Allowing myself to express what I’m truly feeling in those basic terms frees me.

 

Now, I’m not talking about saying whatever the heck I feel to anyone and everyone. I still believe in treating others with kindness and respect. I don’t mean I should just tell everyone what I think, because sometimes I need time to consider what I really do think. That’s a whole different animal.

 

I’m talking about expressing feelings. I’m talking about giving myself permission to feel what I feel, then move on. It means learning the lessons that come with life, as much as possible. I’m getting there. One tear and whoop at a time. Oh, and I’m grateful every day. When I’m sad, it can help if I can find even one thing to be grateful for. When I’m full of joy, I start with shouting, or whispering, “Thank You.”

 

This journey of writing is teaching me a great deal about myself, about life, and about the value of waiting, or pausing. Whoop, whoop!

Joy!

Joy!

 

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