Not Sexy

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.”

Extraordinary is less about talent. And more about tenacity.

Grit, as Angela Duckworth calls it.

“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.

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When you’re feeling thin on Grit, email me: walt@walthampton.com. Let’s talk.

 

 

 

You Are Never Done

Success is not a destination. It’s not a place.

Success is a state of mind; it is a way of being in the world.

So many entrepreneurs and business professionals get frustrated because they feel as if they’re never “done.” There’s some product that needs to be developed, some program that’s running behind, some project that needs to be planned, some staff person that needs to be hired (or fired).

I have some bad news for you: You’re never done. There will always more to do. There will always be problems to solve. There will always be challenges to face. There will always be obstacles to overcome. There will always be a crisis, a glitch in a system, a crack in the infrastructure, a client or customer who needs special care.

But, I have some really good news to share with you: You’re never done! Every day is a new day, a new opportunity to create, a new opportunity to serve, and new opportunity to share your unique gifts and talents with the world. Every day you get to iterate anew, to re-imagine how these things that are your business and your life can shine brighter still.

In the movie, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny says: “Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.”

To that, I respond with gratitude: “Thank you. I get the gift of a new day, a new week; I get the gift of being able to continue this great work.”

I rejoice that it’s not done.

Did you know that they paint the Golden Gate Bridge every day? Every day. Because when they come to the end, it’s time to start over. From the beginning. Never “done.”

The job of an entrepreneur and business professional is to show up every single day to solve problems and be in service. To do the work. Every. Single. Day.

It’s always a work in process.

The powerful poem, Ithaca, by Constantine Cavafy begins: “When you start on your journey to Ithaca, hope that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge.”

I pray that your journey is long. That you are never done.

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If you’re feeling challenged by the road, let’s connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lie You Tell

I want to talk with you about that lie that you tell.

That one you tell all the time. ThatLieYouTell

To yourself; to anyone who will listen.

That soothing lie.

That seductive pernicious one.

The one that goes like this: There’s time.

That there will be time to go on that trip you want to take, that second honeymoon, that book you want to write, the degree you want to get, the art you want to make, that new job, the new career… .

That there will be time to heal the rift, sooth the hurt, fulfill the dream.

That there will be time to connect with your precious boy, your sweet girl, that beautiful grand child.

That there will be time to walk hand in hand on the beach; slow dance in the city square on a summer night; sip the coffee; savor the wine; and watch the sunset.

That there will be time after you get through this quarter, this year; after you’ve made partner; gotten the promotion; after you’ve lost the weight; after the kids are out of high school, or college; or their students loans are paid off; after you’ve finished with the mortgage; after your husband retires; or you retire… .

I want to talk with you about it because 2016 is a distant memory; because you said maybe you’d get to it after the holidays, and it’s the middle of January…. because this year will disappear in the rear view mirror as fast as the last.

I want to talk with you about it because tomorrow is promised to no one; because now is all there is; and now is all you have.

I want to talk with you about that lie you tell… because I tell it too.

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When the time is right, when you’re ready to switch up the game, let’s talk. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

Starting Out Matters Most

Starting out, even when things aren’t perfect, even when conditions aren’t quite right, is one of the most important of all success strategies. Because, the truth is, that for most endeavors, conditions are never really quite right.

I thought about this success principle as I stood high above the trees looking out on one of the most magnificent vistas imaginable.

The day hadn’t started out suggesting that such a moment might be possible.

Indeed, long before the alarm would go off, I could hear the rain beating against the roof of the motel: a cold, heavy February rain in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire.

I pulled the blankets up and rolled over in the darkness, sure that it was way too snotty to even consider venturing out.

Two hours later, we sat at the Dunkin Donuts. Our climbing packs were packed; the gear was ready. And the rain continued to pour… just freezing as it hit the surface. Nothing suggested even remotely that it was a good idea to strap on snowshoes or crampons and disappear for a day into a range that routinely and indiscriminately likes to kill its visitors. Screenshot 2014-02-25 17.57.31

A half mile from the trailhead, the rain tapered to a light mist. The temperatures were mild. The wind light. And, before the day was out, the sun poked through the clouds. It was a glorious fun-filled satisfying day on one of my very favorite mountains in the world.

It would have been easy to stay in bed.

Now I am not suggesting that you should be reckless; or act without thinking; or start out unprepared; or not consider contingencies.

But that’s not the challenge that most people face.

Most folks when they’re thinking about starting out on a project – a new career or business, a book, a fitness program, a product launch, a new relationship – want to wait until everything is in place, until conditions are perfect, the set-up ideal. Life is not like that (in case you haven’t noticed). Conditions are never ideal; all of the pieces are never in place.

You’ve gotta start out… and see what happens.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Imperfect action is still action; imperfect progress is still progress. And sometimes when you start out – in fact more often than not – conditions turn in your favor. It’s as if the Universe recognizes your boldness and says, “Ah ha, she’s serious;” “Hmm, I guess he means it this time.”

You are rewarded for your audacity, for your courage; and for your faith: Faith in the abundance of a benevolent Universe; faith in the knowing that you will always find the path; faith in the power of your own inner strength.

Brené Brown writes, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” “Be brave with your life,” she says, “so that others can be brave with theirs.”

You have gifts that the world needs desperately. Conditions will never feel ‘right’ to venture out with them.

You need to start anyway.