It’s better than you think

Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There’s plenty of reasons not to make art or share your gift. 

Others may judge you. Or they may laugh. You could get criticized. Or it may not meet the (unrealistic) expectation you’ve set for yourself. It may fall flat on its face. It could be misunderstood. Nine out of ten people may not see its value.

But (and this is a big but), one person is all you need.

This is the person that needs your gift. This is the person that needs your generosity.

And if there’s one, there’s bound to be more. 

And even if there isn’t, isn’t changing one life for the better still a success?

We all have the power to make an impact. It just requires we replace our fear with generosity.  

Give what you have as best as you can. I promise, it’s enough.

Take the Lead

There is no doubt.

And yet, the tension of fear isn’t shy to remind you of its presence.

This is your journey. Your path forward is clear.

And yet, the next step can be one of a million options.

But the path requires unwavering faith in yourself.

An immutable belief in the end of the story.

Yet, we live in the here and now. Always grounded firmly.

With our eyes on the horizon.

Ready to face whatever is before us no matter if we’re unsure how to face it.

Certainty in the How is a fools errand.

Certainty that we can and will, however, is required.

We must persist, never straying from the pull of the path.

Ever forward. No matter what.

There’s no guarantee it’ll work (yet). 

But it might. 

We try again.

Yet slightly different, a little bit better.

It’s the only way we’ll know if it works.

When it does, we persist.

When it doesn’t, we reflect and learn.

Failure is a data point not an adjective to wear or a feeling to embody.

This is how we lead the dance with fear, rather than let it lead us.

We must learn to lead if we ever hope to share our contribution.

If you can’t, you must

I attended a Tony Robbins seminar in Summer of 2015.

The first night involved a fire walking ceremony.

I literally walked across fire.

Bare foot.

It required an intense amount of focus to cross. To channel the mind elsewhere, away from the embers my sweet and delicate feet were about to traverse.

My turn to cross came. I kept my eyes looking ahead, my mind focused to drown out the voice of fear, to resist the resistance.

I leapt. 

I crossed the threshold of safety and walked on fire.

I was so dialed in at that moment, had such singular focus on focusing my mind and energy elsewhere, that it happened quickly and ended just as quickly.

I reached the other end and was surprised at how easy it had been. How what I feared most never happened. 

And in that moment, I was overcome by an immense sense of pride for facing this fear. I remember feeling like I could do anything after that. 

That was precisely the point of it.

It served as a larger metaphor to break past fear and do something amazing.

But, you don’t have to walk across fire to experience the same feeling.

The fire is a metaphor

It’s the thing we’re uniquely meant to do but are too scared to do. 

It’s the art we’re meant to be create but aren’t. 

It’s the risk we should take on ourselves but don’t. 

It’s the uncomfortable conversation we should have but never do.

It’s the relationship we should nurture, but fail to because it’s uncomfortable.

It’s the voice that says you can’t. That’s precisely when you must.

Because it is the fire that needs to be crossed. That needs to be overcome. That stands between you and the realization that you are capable of doing extraordinary things.

And the fire rarely burns us to the debilitating extent we think it will.

What’s your big question?

We all have a big question we’re trying to answer with our life.

It may evolve over time, but it’s always there, hanging over us, waiting for you to notice.

It comes in waves.

Some days it’s in your head firing louder than a cannon. It’s a neon light shining on the darkest night. You can’t escape it. It’s all you think about, all you can focus on. 

You believe it’s not a matter of if, but when you’ll have the answer – a level of arrogance not felt since your teenage years.

Other times, it fades into the background. Life happens and the focus dissipates.

You grow older. Responsibility piles up and buries the question. You convince yourself it’s no longer there.

Could it be the hunger is gone…

But it’s always there, always looming. 

It sits quietly, waiting for the right time to remind you of its existence.

And then it comes calling again.

Some days you can’t wait to answer the challenge. You’re energized and ready to tackle it. It fuels your day. Gives your life meaning. You get lost in its pursuit.

Other days you want to silence it. 

You want escape from its pursuit because you’ll never live up to it. It becomes a constant reminder of how you’ve failed – an incessant punch to the ego. The doubt convinces you you’ll never figure it out, so why try. 

You go to your low place. 

You convince yourself that it means nothing to you. 

Your ego needs that time to recover. You lose the energy and passion to chase after it. It’s exhausting – you no longer have the stamina to see it through.

But, then the urge comes back.

Because the answer to this question is your purpose. Without it you’d be floating through life aimlessly. You’d be squandering your unique talents and gifts.

So, you lace up your shoes, steel your resolve, and continue down the path. 

Because, what else is there? 

What other option do you have?

The Bridge

I was out for a walk recently with my daughters. 

We went to one of my favorite trail systems in Des Moines. This trail follows a winding stream and is nestled in the woods. It’s a tranquil place surrounded by nature.

Isla, my oldest, has recently developed a fear of crossing bridges, especially pedestrian ones that go over bodies of water. 

She literally gets hysterical when she comes upon a bridge and becomes an immovable object (quite impressive for her tiny stature). So, I have to carry her over them.

That day on the walk was no different. 

We came upon our first treacherous bridge. 

I had Isla hop on my back as I picked up her scooter in one hand. I pushed the stroller with Maya, my youngest, in the other hand. And I hung tight to the dog leash, hoping our dog would cooperate.

We traverse the bridge as if it’s a rickety rope bridge suspended hundreds of feet in the air over a jungle gorge with raging rapids and a cadre of alligator’s patiently waiting for a misstep. 

I like to imagine I looked like an absolute strong bad-ass doing this, but in reality probably looked more like drunk performing circus bear on a unicycle.

We make it to the end of the first bridge, without much fanfare, and carry on. 

Isla is back zipping on her scooter down the trail.

We make it to a second bridge and I am preparing to resume the position. 

But, Isla stops. 

She looks at me and says “I think I want to cross this myself, Papi.

And she does.

And she does it with all the other bridges that came after it that morning.

Just like that, her fear was gone.

And it hit me. 

Sometimes, the bridge you don’t cross (because of fear or doubt), becomes the LAST bridge you don’t cross. 

The quickest way to overcome the fear is to face it.

We all have bridges we’re too afraid to cross.

For me it was writing and sharing it with the world. This blog is my way of overcoming that.

It’s still scary, but the fear hasn’t materialized the way I imagined it would. It’s never as bad as our mind thinks it will be.

WHAT’S YOUR BRIDGE?

What are the bridges in your life? What would it mean if you could cross that bridge today? Right now? 

Why don’t you? What’s holding you back?