Photo naughtily stolen from @MissAdventuresNZ
I thought I was already fascinated enough by what others write. But as I’ve come to know the discipline of writing myself, I have found new comfort with others who do the same thing – especially blogging. I know a little of the frustration behind the form of ideas, the anguish over how to say what you really mean, the desire to share what so desperately matters to you and make it relevant for someone else – possibly someone you’ve never met.
One of my favourite bloggers is Felicity Thomas, who blogs over here at MissAdventuresNZ (full points for a brilliant name). I got to know Felicity through JCB, as they went through Undergraduate and most of their Postgraduate study together. Having got her doctorate, she’s now travelling the world without much of a plan, simply doing what she loves: spending a lot of time outdooors and sharing her experiences.
What I love most about Felicity’s writing is that she doesn’t mince words, she’s clever and she’s funny. She has a brilliant way of crafting her exeriences and bringing out the hilarity for her readers.
Case in point: Felicity profiled Matt Girvan in June, whom both JCB and I know. When Felicity pressed Matt about if he really wanted to return to engineering, “he replied that he thought he ‘missed being intellectually stimulated in that way’ which I think is engineer speak for ‘I miss making money from being intellectually stimulated.‘” Touché.
Felicity has written eloquently about her love/hate relationship with sport, exercise and outdoor adventuring, particularly from the perspective of a female in a very male-dominated area . She pulled this one out of the bag a few weeks ago and stopped me in my tracks:
I often reminded of a quote from Nathan Faa’ve, one of NZ’s top adventure racers, “When you’re safe at home all you want is to be on an adventure but when you’re on an adventure all you want is to be safe at home”.
This quote really hit home – I thought I was the only one who thought this. I’ve written before about my complicated relationship with running, and how it seemed like everyone else was a hot, Instagram-worthy mess that had simply flown out of the door, beaming from ear to ear with the ease and joy of getting to run.
But even an award-winning, incredibly successful sportsman who makes his living out of getting outside his comfort zone has admitted that he wants to be back at home when he’s thrashing the trails.
I don’t do anywhere near the kind of adventuring that either Nathan or Felicity do, but it was heartening to know that the feeling of wanting to be comfortable is universal, whether you’re stranded up a run-out tower in Meteora or simply catching your breath on the far side of Hagley Park.
Maybe it does get easier for some people to put on the shoes, pick up the paintbrush, start typing, start drawing, start crafting, start composing … but listening to the professionals, there’s every chance that it won’t.
So what needs to change isn’t the Resistance we feel when there’s work to do or a goal to accomplish. The source of this dread, the limbic system is thousands of years of biology, programmed to keep us alive and safe. The limbic system wants only to eat and be safe. We are hard-pressed to shout that down.
So if you can’t change the Resistance and desire for comfort, how will we achieve what we want to?
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”– Theodore Roosevelt
Our power lies with our attitude to the fear.
This has reminded me of a quote I heard many years ago from Chuck Swindoll. It’s blue-tacked to the inside cover of my diary, so I can move it over each year:
The longer I live, the more I realise the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home… We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
In the altMBA, we talk about ‘posture’ – how are we oriented towards this situation? Are we coming from a place of generosity?
Are we giving the benefit of the doubt?
Are we seeking first to understand?
The posture we each assume can make or break a conversation.
Attitude is the rudder that steers the relationship.
With others, and with ourselves.