Do you have the courage to take one simple, life-changing action every day?
I am weak. I promised myself three years ago I would do this, every day. It’s so simple and incredibly valuable to living a fulfilling, evolving and exciting life. But I have failed (so far). I have not had the guts to do it. Can you do any better? Here it is.
Peter Cullinane, founder and CEO of STW New Zealand-based business, Assignment, and one of our industry’s genuine leaders, suggested I read “Fun While It Lasted” by Barnaby Conrad – an incredible, true story of how an American in the 1940s trained and became a matador in Spain. One of Barnaby’s hobbies was collecting great ‘last words’… notable death bed utterings. He ends his book with such a line, from a woman whose last words were: “Well, it’s all been very interesting.”
On reading this, I realised I was cruising. That a part of my life was an opportunity missed. To be able to say last words of: “Well, it’s all been very interesting”, I simply had to do one thing every day. And this is it.
“Do something every day that scares you,” wrote Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Yes I will. I’ll do it!” I promised myself when I read this three years ago. I thought about what I had done in recent years that had ‘scared me’. I am ashamed to say the list was short. Going horse riding for the first (and only) time. My speech at my brother’s 50th birthday party. Launching my blog. Taking 18 months off work 15 years ago. Asking a certain girl out on a date. The list is short. I live a large part of my life in a (to some extent) predictable, risk-adverse, routine-filled manner.
How To Get Started? And Will You Join Me?
I have to get started on this. Will you join me? Will you make your list, and then get cracking? This is not about swimming with sharks or bungee jumping. It’s about small steps and personal risk taking to add flavor and diversity, and to push through our fears and inhibitions. Here’s my kick-off list for the next few months. What’s yours?
1. Every third time at a restaurant, ordering something I’ve never had before and normally would not order (this is a genuinely frightening prospect for me)
2. Commit to five half hour meditation sessions in one week (anxiety building already about this one), and then twice a week thereafter
3. Turn off my technology for 2 hours a day, every day
4. Tell three people a day that I appreciate them and am grateful for what they do for me
5. Go sit in a church or mosque or synagogue for an hour and just be present – be prepared to contemplate and reflect
6. Throw out the ill-fitting clothes I love wearing but my family hates (most of my wardrobe sadly)
7. Having done that, then go shopping for new clothes (my greatest fear because nothing fits me)
8. Go see a nutritionist
9. Take one lesson in how to dance the tango
Ok – not the most exciting list in the world, but every item scares me. Really. Doing this would be BIG progress. Your list? Top 3?
And A Story About Picasso
Francoise Gillot was Picasso’s mistress from 1942 to 1953. She recently said in New York:
“I knew of Picasso’s reputation with women and knew that moving in with him would be a catastrophe – but I decided it was a catastrophe I didn’t want to miss.”
What a wonderful concept. Sometimes we need to make sure we don’t miss the catastrophe. Take risk. Push yourself (sensibly and safely) beyond your comfort levels. Keep learning. Keep growing. Resist the usual. One step at a time.
At the Cannes Creativity Festival in June 2011, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt talked about: “Try to say ‘yes’”. Black Eyed Peas front man Will.I.Am talked about :“Take personal risk. Take a step forward. Be bold.”
If we heed their advice… even with very small first steps…then maybe… maybe… we’ll have the opportunity of last words one day along the lines of: ”Well, it’s all been very interesting.”Back