24 hours after my latest (and fastest) marathon, I scribbled down some candid thoughts on how I was feeling:
WE ALL NEED A MARATHON. Deciding to run 26.2 miles takes a bold leap. But that arduous and overwhelming first step is what separates people who think, from people who try, people who act, people who believe, people who do.
That’s the thing about marathons (literally or metaphorically). They smack you in the face, kick you in the ass, make you feel like shit, but keep you coming back for more.
I often get asked why I put my body through this. Why I continue to put foot to pavement and spends hours upon hours training. I do it because of the butterflies I get on race day. That nervous excitement that exists within us all but only truly shows itself when we’re really doing something right. When we’re on the right track. When we’re honest with ourselves and are doing something that matters.
We all need a marathon. It doesn’t mean we should all lace up for 26.2 miles. But we all need to feel this feeling. It’s exactly how I felt yesterday morning at the starting line. And it’s the feeling that will undoubtedly keep me coming back for more.
“Bourbon. Neat. With a side of ice.”
A few months ago a client of mine ordered this as we pulled ourselves up to the bar. More importantly, the conversation that followed gave me perspective in how I think about my business – and how I think about life.
When I lost my “normal nine-to-five” job almost 4 years ago, I quickly became an entrepreneur. Less because I wanted to actually run my own business and more because I didn’t want to continue to do work I hated. Work that didn’t get me excited. Work that I couldn’t pour absolutely everything into. Work that didn’t feel like work.
Then things picked up. And they picked up fast. I made a lot of money and and I’m still doing well, but it wasn’t until I sat down, sipped bourbon, and had a conversation about the ebb and flow of being a business owner that I stopped being motivated by fear and started being motivated by confidence and passion.
During a recent client meeting I was asked, “Do good brands evolve or stay the same?”
Last week Seth Godin talked about the concept of treating projects like buildings or gardens. His point, that while projects may start out feeling rigid and structured (buildings), they are, in fact, much more synonymous with living, breathing, dynamic garden environments.
“Gardens are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant, and grow again. Perfection and polish aren’t nearly as important as good light, good drainage, and a passionate gardener.”
The biggest obstacle standing in our way is ourselves. You’re the one that will motivate yourself to start – and you’re the one who will convince yourself that you shouldn’t because it isn’t perfect. That something’s missing. That your idea stinks.
At the heart of every strong brand – of every important project – is a compelling idea and a defined purpose. [tweet this] And while that idea, that purpose, should never be forgotten, our ideas are designed to act like a beautiful, thriving garden.
Our ideas – our brands – dreams – evolve – and as they evolve, they must be maintained, refined, and maybe most importantly, they must be given room to grow.
I’ve been fighting with myself quite a bit lately. In one corner is the present. The idea of “living in the moment”. In the other is my ambition. My pursuit of big ideas. My wondering “what’s next?” My battle with complacency and fear of getting too comfortable.
It applies to literally everything. When I pick up a new client, I barely celebrate before wondering what the next opportunity to be. I come back for a run feeling great, only to be dis-satisfied a few minutes later, convincing myself that I could have run harder and faster.
Ambition is a blessing and a curse.
And while I’ve been telling myself that I need to let go of those ambitions to be more present and focus on the “now”, I’ve realized that not only is it silly, but that without my ambitions – without my hunger to do more AND my awareness of what’s right in front of me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
So what I’m saying is that it’s okay to be selfish. It’s okay to relish in the now and hustle for something more.
Enjoy the moment, but allow yourself to wander and wonder what can be.
It’s only through exploring possibility that we actually make things possible.
Last week my friend and fellow writer Sarah Peck posted on Facebook an encounter she had at her local DMV. At the counter, she was asked what her occupation was, in as she describes it, “that dry, sterile, get-me-out-of-here voice that anyone who works a job they detest” uses.
For the first time, Sarah replied, “Writer”. With confidence, she owned her reply as not something to fear, but rather, something to be damn proud of. Something she earned. In her own words, Sarah said, “my soul felt alive”.
When someone asks, “What do you do?” – do you find yourself stumbling to answer? Not because you don’t know, but because you’re afraid to own it?
We’re afraid of owning the role(s) we’ve created for ourselves. The titles that have not been printed on a business card by an HR department, but rather, one’s we proclaim for ourself.