Sometimes it seems the advice we’re given for successful living is to wake every day on fire, with the intention of grabbing life by the throat and shaking it until its head rattles.
We’re to be hard-charging, forward-leaning and suck the marrow from the bones of our day. We finally get to declare victory when the sun sets over the crumpled, inferior bodies of our vanquished opponents. We stand then – like mighty Hercules – with a stiff drink in our hands, the world at our feet and big money to burn.
We are all to be Wolves of Wall Street, I gather.
But, you know something? I’m not a wolf, I’m a human. And I work on a road, not a street. And usually all I vanquish in any given day is trouble of my own making.
Yes, as unfashionable as it may be, I will admit that there are some days when I wake with no fire in my belly to conquer any damn thing out there in the world.
OK, many days.
The truth is that at the end of any given day, I’m happy to have simply conquered myself.
Don’t let me mislead you – I like winning. I am actually quite experienced with winning. Winning is a very good thing, I like it very much and it happens for me quite frequently.
Yet, surprisingly, I have found that I win more when I try less. Which is probably the opposite of everything I ever was told about How To Do It.
What I’ve learned is that when I bear down and push, success stays stuck. When I let up and release, success is born.
Sure, sometimes success surprises with an instant, unexpected appearance. Isn’t it fun when that happens? But, day in and day out, I’ve found that success is mostly a waiting game.
Waiting, as you know, is not the sexiest thing ever. Nor does it provoke wolf-like envy.
“Whatcha up to, Michele?”
“Oh, I’m just sitting here doing my thing and figuring it will work someday or I’ll change it and most likely that’ll work. I’m cool with it either way.”
[Honey, even Jennifer Lawrence couldn’t make those lines compelling.]
Here’s the thing: Success sneaks up when I simply show up every day, and do what needs doing. And find some fun in the process.
It’s the practice of planting seeds daily with the hopeful optimism that someday, some of them will thrive and grow. And the intention that the someday-harvest will be sweet.
It’s knowing I don’t have to eat what I kill to be the kind of person I want to be.
It’s the awareness that I can just wake up, bring my best self to the day and let the rest take care of itself. More than likely, quite successfully.
When you think about it, you probably know this is true for you, too. When you look at times in your life when great things have happened, I’ll bet you were loose, engaged and happy.
Which may not be the way you are right now. You might be stressed, and rather wolfish. But that’s not who you are when you do your best work, is it?
This week, why not change it up a little? Why not wake up, show up, plant some seeds and then…see what happens?
[photo: Paramount Pictures]