I am fond of the exhortation that Robin Williams shared with his students in the classic movie, Dead Poet’s Society: “Make your lives extraordinary.”
I believe that we are the co-creators of these great gifts that are our lives; that we have the opportunity – nay – the obligation to make them masterpieces.
I believe that excellence is a choice. And that the choices we make on a daily basis will take us down the road toward excellence. Or not.
But extraordinary happens by virtue of very ordinary means.
Becoming extraordinary means showing up every day: at the office, in the studio, at the gym, on the mat, at the canvas, on the page. It means getting up early; and going to bed late. It means pushing through the resistance. Overcoming the obstacles. Solving the problems.
It means being consistent in all of the small practices and disciplines of your life.
It means never giving up however frustrated or down or depressed or despondent or angry you become.
It means staying steady in the face of doubt and ridicule.
It means believing, even in the face of failure.
It means rising up after you fall.
Rising up every single time.
None of this is sexy.
In fact, a lot of it kind of sucks.
But if you believe in your work, in your mission; if you believe that there are certain people you are meant to serve in the world and that your job is to go out and find them; if you want to make a difference in the world; if you want to make a dent; if you want to make an impact; if you want to leave a legacy; then there is only one thing to do.
Show up every single day and do the work.
We idolize our heroes. We see them as fully formed. We forget that many had arduous journeys too.
Abraham Lincoln, the bankrupt loser. Nelson Mandela, the jailed rabble-rouser. Thomas Edison, the fool in the lab. Michael Jordan, the guy who didn’t make the team.
Few dwell on Tony Robbins in his Volkswagen; or on Wayne Dyer selling his books out of the back of his station wagon; or on J.K. Rowling waiting tables.
Seven time Everest climber Ed Viesturs says, “Life’s high peaks aren’t conquered by the naturally nimble but, rather by those willing to endure, wait out the storm, and try again.”
“No one can see in the work of the artist how it has become,” Nietzsche said. “That is its advantage, for wherever one can see the act of becoming, one grows somewhat cool.”
Because becoming is hard.
And grit ain’t sexy.
When you’re feeling thin on Grit, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk.