Where Failure or Success Becomes Irrelevant
#Success #Purpose #Dedication
In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert proposes that it is not the classic question, ‘what would you do if you knew you could not fail?’ that is the most illuminating or encouraging. She posits that the truly fierce question is, ‘what would you do even if you knew you might very well fail?’. That raises the bar, doesn’t it.
In order to truly take on that challenge we need something stronger than any of the usual incentives. We need to hold the potential result as a high personal value. We need to value that result so much that we are willing to risk failing. This is starting to feel like an expression of that illogical, inconvenient, emotional thing called love. To act fiercely to achieve a difficult goal is to fuel the venture with love. This ‘crazy little thing called love’ sustains a power like none other, dispels objections, overcomes hurdles, finds energy and brings results, often in oblique ways. Elon Musk seems to live in this passion fueled state. Look at what he has been up to, so far.
Some interesting things about using such a lens to navigate our world includes that it opens a wellspring of confidence, even if unfounded. A TED talk presenter tells the story of a little girl drawing a picture, tongue sticking out as she immerses herself in the task. When asked what the picture is about she simply states that it is a picture of God. The adult who asked gently points out their own belief that no one really knows what God looks like. Without missing a pencil stroke the girl answers ‘they will in a minute, I’m almost done’. There is absolutely no doubt in the girl’s mind that she will succeed. Actually, it does not matter at all to her what others think about the picture, she ‘knows’ it is a picture of God.
This kind of knowing what is truly one’s call is so strong, that it can defeat the wailing and goings on of the ego (which is terrified of everything). This kind of knowing is life purpose, calling, the meaning of life, the whole suite of over the top (too scary to talk about), stuff
A black ex-con becomes the President of South Africa. One man, unarmed, defeats the British army to gain independence for India. Musk, the little girl, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, they all had their unflinching fierce love of that which only they could bring to the world. In such cases there is no relevance to success or failure it is simply to be done and this person ‘knows’ that they are the one to do it. Wow. Want that?
Seeking what my own invitation to apply fierce love is offering me, well, some people may not even get that far. Those of us who do, can toy with this or that but most, the vast majority, veer off before taking on something that Gilbert describes as that something that you/I might very well fail at. For today let the seed of the idea simply be planted because you have read this article. I am certain that we all have a reason for our existence, that something that we are uniquely suited to manifest into the world. So be comforted by the assurance that you are a significant part of the unfolding of the Universe. You are. And also certain that when we first encounter it, it will scare the daylights out of you/me. OK, let’s go see what God looks like. She has finished her drawing.
Joseph Seiler MCC
Might this be a bit too over the top? Might some say that ‘oh gawd, he’s really lost it’? Valid possibilities, for sure. And maybe this is my unflinching purpose, to scratch others into thinking about Purpose, Meaning… all of that. Maybe?