You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
- Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!
Let’s make things really easy for you. After all, you’re only human. Be happy with what you can do and don’t expect too much of yourself. You want to write? Well, don’t hold yourself to a writing a bestseller. That’s too hard. Settle for just finishing a book. Or, you know what, why not just write a blog? That’s doable. Then you don’t have to worry about failing. World-shattering success is too chancy, and if you’re just not destined for it, why waste your time and go through all that anguish?
I hope the sarcasm in that last paragraph was overwhelmingly, sickeningly obvious.
The world’s greatest athletes have just gathered in London at the Olympics to showcase the very best of what humanity has to offer in terms of physical prowess. We love watching them perform, but rarely do any of us entertain the notion that we could aspire to gold medal success in any aspect of life. We’re happy, even encouraged, to aim for something modest, lest we disappoint ourselves.
After all, to reach far is to risk all, and the fall from the top is a lot farther.
Dare to be Quoted
One of the bloggers I admire, Carla Birnberg of MizFitOnline, recently wrote an article about how she hated it when people would send her quotations. She didn’t want to borrow the words of other people to inspire her. She wanted to create those words herself.
Even more than that, she wanted to be the one others were quoting.
It seems almost arrogant, to say you want others to quote you.
How dare you aspire to being great! How dare you be so presumptuous to suggest you could be worthy of such attention?
Well, after building a massive online following, she has achieved that goal.
But would she ever have achieved it if she hadn’t set her sights high?
Speak Your Dreams Out Loud
There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish… it was so fragile. -Marcus Aurelius, Gladiator
Have you ever had a dream but been afraid to say it out loud? Have you ever worried others would laugh at you for wanting to be amazing? Or perhaps you are afraid of getting attached to something to great to accomplish, and letting yourself down.
We are inspired by the stories of celebrities who, as children, told all their friends and their parents that someday, they would be famous or rich. We think, how confident they must have been. How precocious. Looking back from where we see them today, we wonder if they must have known they had it in them all along.
Knowing they could make it, seeing the path laid out before them, it must have been easy for them to say, “I am going to be the greatest thing since chocolate chips!”
Certainly that’s not for us, mired in uncertainty. How embarrassing it would be to claim glory for ourselves, only to fail halfway there. Better to keep our mouths shut. Better to aspire to mediocrity.
Sometimes, you Just Have to Jump
Sometimes, we read calls to action that are small. Zen Habits makes a big deal out of imperceptible change: pick a goal that is so small, it is impossible to fail. String a bunch of these together, and you’ve got something.
This is a great strategy for personal growth since it actually works. I’ve used it to change my diet and get in shape.
Along with that, Leo Babauta, the author, espouses a belief in minimalism, to be happy with less. In our uncertain world, it can be empowering to know that you can be happy with very little. Following his own advice, he has achieved something very grand and inspired a lot of people with one of the most successful blogs on the internet.
But at a certain point in great quests, you have to make a leap of faith.
In rock climbing, some obstacles can only be overcome by a dyno, a leap off the rock face. There is no way to ease yourself through those situations. There is no possibility of halfway progress. The safe, accepted good form of ‘three points on the rock at all times’ just won’t get you past that point. You either make the jump or you fall. You either take that risk or you stick to the easy rock faces that anybody can climb.
In life, there are similar situations. Sometimes, you cannot just bite off small pieces. If you’re going to do it, you have to commit. Either that, or don’t aspire to anything truly grand.
You are Awesome
KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS! - Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!
I believe life is a bit more forgiving than a dyno with no safety rope. You can make a leap, fall, and try again after picking yourself up. But it is still scary, especially if you don’t believe you are capable of making the leap. And why should you believe you, of all people, are in fact capable of making it?
There are 7 billion people on this planet. What makes you think you are special? What makes you think you can make a difference and stand out from the crowd?
What makes you think that you could make the jump where countless others have shied away in fear?
How about my belief?
I believe you are awesome.
I’m talking to you now, the reader. This isn’t the ‘you’ I sometimes use to refer to the collective y’all. I’m talking to You, the person sitting there reading these words on your computer or smart phone.
I believe you are awesome. I think you have what it takes to make a difference, to be great. I believe that, if you commit yourself to it, you can achieve your wildest dream, that thing you don’t tell anyone, that you don’t even admit to yourself, because it sounds absurd and you’re afraid to let it matter to you. I also believe you have what it takes to commit yourself.
This world is in need of change. This world is in need of more compassionate parents, more understanding friends, more charitable investment bankers, more inspiring teachers, and more innovative artists that will break the mold and inspire us all.
I firmly believe that the people who will make those changes are reading my blog. Those are the people I write to.
That would be You.
I invite you to share your secret dream in the comments. Nothing is too over-the-top or absurd. I’ll go first: I dream of achieving enlightenment and bringing the possibility of that being real to our modern, cynical world in order to really convince people to treat all living things like people, to cherish our natural environment, and to place community and compassion above financial concerns.
How’s that for ridiculous life goals? (OK, I’ll admit that was pretty scary to put down in print, in front of so many people)
If you’re inspired, please share this post using the snazzy new share buttons I set up below or that cool floaty share bar on the left.
(Photo credit: Hamed Saber on Flickr)