As I grow ever older, staying fit requires ever greater intention. I sometimes wish to myself that it might be a little easier, but then quickly realise that this is my inner saboteur distracting me.
If you are going uphill then you are going towards success. I so often want writing to become easier. I live with the hope that if I really work at my fitness, at my writing: I will find that they become easier. It does not work this way. Eka told me that the better I get at something, the better my inner saboteur becomes. I am wise enough to see through the excuses of 10 years ago, but now I have new, more sophisticated, more subtle, more dangerous excuses.
John Maxwell shares a story of a tree in a garden. He says “if I take up my axe and swing at the tree, will I chop it down?” Not in one blow, unless it is a very small tree. In 5 blows? maybe? If I go out every day and swing the axe at the tree, will the tree fall? Yes. When? eventually. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow… but if I keep on chopping, the tree will fall. It could be a Californian Sequoia, it could be a towering British Oak: if I keep on chopping, the tree will fall. It doesn’t matter the quality of the blows, it doesn’t matter the strength in my arms: if I keep on chopping, the tree will fall.
If you want to be successful: do what you have to do to be successful. Not what you want to do, not what you wish you could do, not what you feel like doing… what you have to do.
What are the 5 things you have to do to be successful? You don’t need a PhD to figure these out.
“If you are not growing, you are dying” Jim Rohn
If I don’t have a plan for growth, the natural is not to stay in good fit shape. If you are not moving forward, it is likely that you are being left behind.
I do have a plan for growth. I have a plan for health, a plan for writing, a plan for teaching. However, in the last few weeks I have grown comfortable. I have stopped doing what is hard and only done what is easy. I have allowed my inner saboteur to move me off the uphill path. I was hoping for some automation, some easing of the uphill journey. My friend Florian says “only dead fish swim with the flow”. To be alive, is to swim against the natural flow.
“The only thing automatic in life is death” John Maxwell
Life is simple. We live for a short moment, and then we die. It is easy to be hopeless in the face of this simple equation. It is easy for me to tell myself that anything I do is meaningless. It is easy for me to excuse myself from the hard work. In the face of the equation of life, there is only one heroic response.
The heroic response to challenge: Defiance.
Defiance in the Face of Difficulty
I cannot control the external forces of my life. I cannot control whether people read my writing or like my writing or learn from my writing. I cannot control when I get ill. I cannot control when those that I love suffer, get ill.
I can always control my reaction. To react is to give up the heroic response. To respond in a way that resonates with the best version of myself, to be defiant in the face of difficulty: this is the heroic response.
If you want to grow, you have to be intentional. What’s your plan for growth? What do you do every day to ensure that you are growing?
Most people live their entire life and never plan to intentionally grow.
There are no secrets to success: You don’t have to do it all day. You do have to do it every day. The 20 mile march, daily progress. I don’t get to brush my teeth 7 times on a Sunday to make up for not brushing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday…
(PS You may have already guessed: the read audience for this post is myself, to make myself go for a run today)