"Every moment I shape my destiny with a chisel -- I am the carpenter of my own soul." -- Rumi
We repeatedly find ourselves in stormy waters, strong tides, and facing fierce winds. But that elemental energy can be harnessed and converted into productive, sustainable, and positive relationships and outcomes. Navigating our journey requires the constant adaption of our path. And adaption in the face of adversity often requires unorthodox, vivid imagination. We often refer to these unique paths as our authentic paths.
Imagine to Manifest
William James, the father of American psychology, said, "The power to move the world is in your subconscious mind." And the Da Vincis of the world have manifested their futures with their ability to repeatedly imagine and then design innovative successes.
Author Charles de Lint in The Onion Girl writes:
People who've never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don't have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkey skins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I'm not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kinds that seep up from your subconscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teaches you how to prevail, and trust.
I couldn't agree more. Ever since I was a child, I have always been drawn to fairy tales and epic stories. They help me create impossible realities in my mind and envision possible outcomes.
Shakespeare said, "Assume a virtue if you have it not." Meaning act the part and you will realize who you want to be. When we imagine ourselves in the final stage (of our goals, our products, our companies, our personal life, etc.), it is much easier to lead ourselves through our journey.
Our Devotion Matters
A couple of years ago, as I was walking on the boardwalk in Valencia, Spain, my eyes became fixated on an old man who was intensely building a sand castle. I don't think I have ever seen such an elaborate effort to create a spectacular sand castle on the beach, only for it to be washed way before you know it. The expression of devotion to one's virtue comes in many forms, I suppose.
This particular old man was no less than Hemingway's old man Santiago, and his quest to repeatedly struggle to achieve something impossible, regardless of the outcome. It gives a whole new meaning to "life's journey." His devotion to that endeavor was for its own sake and was his only focus.
I have always been of the opinion that there is great honor in one's struggle for "his devotion" regardless of how vain it seems to others. On that quiet afternoon on the shores of Valencia, that old man only reaffirmed my innate belief in "sticking to one's devotion."
The Last 10 Percent Is the Hardest
Most authors will tell you that writing a book often forces you to reflect upon your own life's journey (personal and/or professional) -- your successes and failures, your trials and tribulations, and your regrets and celebrations.
With my friend Drake Baer, I just finished penning the manuscript of our upcoming book Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability (McGraw-Hill, February 2014). As we entered the last section of the book, we wrote:
There's an old Chinese saying that when you've made it 90 percent down the path, you're halfway to your destination. The frustration you feel from the statement's oddly true logic reflects the frustration inherent in completing any major project: The last little bit is always the most difficult. The last few steps are where our faith may falter and we may lose what we set out to do in the first place -- like Orpheus of Greek legend losing his love for lack of trust.
Each one of us is on a unique journey. I don't know about you, but throughout most of my life, for whatever little successes I have had, it has been about putting most of my energies toward that last 10 percent. Over the years, I have learned to accept just how damn long it takes to do anything worthwhile.
Author Paulo Coelho in his most famous book The Alchemist writes:
"Every search begins with beginner's luck. And every search ends with the victor being severely tested. The boy remembered an old proverb from his country. It said that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn."
Not every lesson in life can be learned -- some have to be lived. Like many others before me, only now am I beginning to internalize what it means to truly accept that life is a series of journeys.
And that takes courage. As Theodore Roosevelt said:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
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