Sarah LaFleur, the lovely creator of MM LaFleur, was speaking at a Change-makers chat last year and she describes what it takes to succeed (and I would say that it’s what is required to do your Great Work) this way:
Imagine that you are stranded on a deserted island and you want to swim to an island that docks cruise ships that you are pretty sure is “over there-ish”. Too far to see it exactly but you have a good feeling. You joyfully throw off your shoes, get down to your bathing suit and wade out into the warm water close to shore. “This isn’t too bad!” You say, with the naïvetée of the uninitiated. “It’s a good thing I took those swim lessons in 4th grade.”
And you start to swim.
“Am I still swimming? I’m getting kind of tired.” You stop, and doggie paddle for a while to look around and see how far you’ve come.
You can very clearly see the island you just left. There’s your palm tree with the delicious coconuts. And the hammock you made out of palm leaves. And your little rain catcher made out of an animal skin (that was gross, but needed) propped up on sticks. Looking in the other direction you see… nothing. No island, no cruise ship, no dolphins ready to carry you to safety on their backs. You look back at your little island.
“Some fresh water would be pretty good right now,” you think. “Maybe I should go back?”
What do you do?
It’s entirely rational to go back. Back to the coconut tree and the rainwater and guaranteed (loneliness but) survival. And you can always hope someone will come and save you, right? And that’s what almost everyone does. Who can blame them?
But what do YOU do?
You keep swimming.
Because the waves and chill and the muscle spasms and jellyfish are the opportunities you needed to practice believing in yourself.
To get deep into the mental game of being in action without guarantees, to practice not giving up on your creations, to claw your way one exhausted stroke at a time, into the belief that you are good enough, right now.
You’ve got what it takes, no matter where you are, no matter how you got here, and no matter whether you land on the island with the cruise ships.
And so, here’s to you, fellow swimmers!