So lately I’ve been bingeing on “Fit for Fashion” on Netflix. It’s a reality show about a bunch of average people, who get physical training to lose weight and get gorgeous, and then they have to perform physical tasks AND fashion shoots to win immunity or get kicked out each week.
Of course, it probably sounds totally shallow, and on one level it is, but here’s the thing: the contestants who stay on longer experience real, honest to God transformation, and NOT just physically. It changes their lives. You can see it. You can hear it. Who they really are emerges the longer they are on the show.
So that’s one thing.
Then, one of my big missions at the moment is a complete, meticulous, no-holds-barred de-clutter and tidy of my house. So I read the Marie Kondo book naturally, which she calls: “The life-changing magic of tidying up.” Really? Life-changing? Magic? And I can attest that for sure, it absolutely is. I’ve finished half the house so far, and it’s had an effect on my relationship, my kids, and the whole of my life in a way that truly IS life-changing.
As I let go of my past literally by jettisoning stuff I don’t need anymore, crazy stuff keeps happening. People from my past have contacted me out of the blue to clear old wounds. I’m feeling more myself and happier to be myself than ever before. I’m able to actually receive the beautiful house we have lived in for almost 3 years because it’s no longer hidden under clutter. Yes, and the sex is good too.
So this got me thinking. Here’s two relatively mundane activities – getting fit and tidying up which under normal circumstances won’t cause world-colliding transformation, and yet in this instance, they are and they do. Why?
I think its because these mundane activities are being pursued in a special way. They are being pursued with focus and discipline. With full commitment. With dogged determination to get to the end point – either a tidy house that brings joy, or a fit body that looks sexy.
What if, ANYTHING you do with focus and discipline is life-changing?
This is an exciting notion, to my mind. Because it means you can do whatever you want and as long as you pursue it passionately, with focus and discipline and commitment, you’re going to transform yourself and others around you.
Here’s the thing though – humans tend to be half-assed. I don’t mean you’re half-assed about everything you do – just some key areas. And trust me, those key areas are holding you back big time.
I don’t mean it as an indictment, to say humans are half-assed. I kind of mean it as exciting – because it means there is so much room to make things different, if we want to.
The key is awareness. Because whilst we are half-assed, we don’t know that we are.
Imagine you’re a personal trainer. You have a client who professes to be super keen to lose weight and get fit. You want to help them do it. But they come in to the gym once or twice a week and they work out for a bit, and it hurts them, so they back off a bit. They still keep coming, but they wait til the pain goes away, so they come at intervals of about 4 days, and they FEEL like they are working really hard, because it is hurting them every time they come.
From your perspective, you know they are never going to get the end result they’re going for because they’re not working hard enough. And you also know that it will always hurt them more this way than if they came every day and went through the pain to a point where it becomes easier. But to them it seems like they are working really hard, and so they are beginning to wonder why this “method” doesn’t work for them. They’re starting to think they just can’t work out.
Okay. So now imagine the client is you. In some aspect of your life, you’re going at it half-assed. But because it hurts you, you THINK you are working a lot harder than what you actually are. An expert can look at you and tell you you’re not pushing it hard enough to get where you want to go, because they know what it really takes. But you, the amateur, can’t tell that the work you’re doing is worse than useless. Why worse than useless? Because you’re proving to yourself you can’t have the thing you’re going for. You’re proving you don’t have what it takes in that area of life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against compassion. Not at all.
But I’m seriously anti this thing that masquerades as compassion – this thing where you let yourself and others off the hook because you’re momentarily feeling bad and so you think you should stop. Rest. Recuperate.
We have to call bullshit on that.
Because you CAN pursue stuff with focus and discipline and AT THE SAME TIME have compassion for the pain you are feeling. Compassion is not the same as stopping. You don’t have to stop to feel what you are feeling and relate to it.
The moment of greatest opportunity is the moment when you feel like you’re hitting your limit. You’ve seen it in reality shows – when the trainer pushes someone past where they think they can go and they think they will break, but they don’t break, instead they realize they are powerful, capable, limitless.
There’s a point when a woman is in labor called transition, which shows up typically as the woman screaming for release, insisting the baby be pulled out of her, crying that she can’t do it, and generally going crazy. She thinks she has to stop now. She thinks she can’t go any further. But the expert, the midwife in this case, knows what it really is, because she’s seen it hundreds of times before. She knows the baby is coming now. She knows this woman who is in her extremity, will very soon be holding the fruits of her labors in her arms.
EVERY creative process (meaning any time you go for something) will include at least one moment of transition. At the moment of transition, especially if what you are going for is new to you, you will feel like you need to stop.
IF you do stop, you will cost yourself all the work you have done up until this moment. Many people work really hard to reach transition, then baulk, and rest, then work really hard to reach transition, then baulk, then rest, over and over again until they exhaust themselves, never guessing that this is not how creating stuff has to feel.
This is why reaching your limit is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to push through to everything you want. It’s an opportunity to see your project to conclusion and hold your “baby” in your arms. It’s an opportunity to find out what you can REALLY do.
When you pursue stuff with focus and discipline and full commitment you get the work and the pain but you also get the benefit of getting to the thing you want, which makes all the pain worthwhile, and teaches you an important lesson – you CAN do it.
You’re better off doing nothing than pursuing things half-assed. In fact, if you pursue doing nothing with passion and focus and discipline it’s a LOT BETTER than pursuing something half assed, because it will probably lead to world-colliding transformation.
So let’s have real compassion for others and ourselves and pursue stuff that matters passionately, FEELING the pain as it comes up, as is needed, but not using it as an excuse to back off. Next time you’re going for something, try it. If you hit that point where it hurts and you want to back off, try something different. Say:
“What if instead, I just lean towards this pain?”
“What if I don’t need to back off?”
Try it. See what happens.
Are you with me?
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