Thursday, September 15, 2016

The heights toward which my ambition was driving me

Emerson famously said that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. 

Very true

However, we have to be careful not to become a victim of our own elation. Because everybody wants to come out of the gate with guns blazing. And the easiest thing to do is to enthusiastically plunge into a new project, only to realize that our ambition and intensity and ability aren’t sustainable over the long haul. 

I’m reminded of my hot yoga instructor. She tells new students:

Don’t go for broke in the first ten seconds of the posture. You will literally burn out. One minute is longer than you think. 

That’s the smart approach for executing almost anything. Relaxing into it. Pacing ourselves. Keeping our breathing consistent. And trusting the process to treat us well. 

Without that mentality, we make ourselves vulnerable to exhaustion, frustration, even injury. Especially if we’re not honest with ourselves. 

That’s a problem I used to have with my creative projects. I would become hyper enthusiastic about launching something, to the point that I would bite off more than I could chew. And the momentum would last for a few weeks. 

But it wouldn’t sustain. After a while, I would just stop caring. And the fact that I wasn’t feeling love for the project would become a burden that I carried in silence. 

No wonder I had stomach cramps all the time. 

Look, there’s a time and place to get carried away by our own enthusiasm. We should always reserve that right. 

But life is a long arc game. And if we’re haphazard with our energy in the beginning, our aspirations will soon outpace our abilities.

How effective can you be in inspiring others if you’re lying on your back in your hospital bed with a stress related illness?


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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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