Finding Fuel For The Journey

May 2, 2008

This morning I came across this quote in the Early To Rise e-mail newsletter:

“Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts”
~ Jean Vanier

Scroll down to “The Most Stupid of Vices” by Alexander Green and read his take on envy.

I have printed the quote and taped it to the side of my printer right next to my computer. I am not drawn to it so much for its focus on the folly of envy, but the emphasis on each person’s ability to have the life we think is restricted to only a select few, when we rely on ourselves.

The road to creative solo entrepreneurship is about finding our unique gifts, talents, passions, and values and designing work that aligns with them. But more than that it is about finding the strength and ability to do things we never thought we could, or would have to.

Earlier this week my younger son was saying he wished that we would find a pirate ship filled with sunken treasure, or win a jackpot, so we could be rich. I asked what he would do with the money. He said he would build a huge house with a video game room and a movie room. I tried to point out the extra work and extra expense of a huge house, but he wasn’t really paying attention. The best I could come up with was to give him a blessing.

I told him that, rather than have a lot of money to buy things that would bore him quickly, my wish and hope for him is that he learn how to find work that he loves and start his own business so he can take charge of his future. That way he will have the power in himself to generate money when he wants something. He won’t have to sit around waiting for an unlikely act of fate. Instead, it will be up to him, and that will be much more enjoyable and rewarding.

He got a little down, saying he had no idea what kind of business a nine-year-old could start. As we talked about it he thought maybe he could design things out of LEGOs and sell them. The idea was laid aside and he hasn’t brought it back up, but I’m glad he’s beginning to think about this at nine.

The conversation with my son happened earlier this week. The quote from Vanier showed up in my world today. They point to the same place. When we don’t see our own gifts and our own power, we resent and envy others and blame them for holding us back. When we look at what we want and think, How am I going to do that? we feel abundant, capable, and generous.

There is a next level to this thought, but it’s a little more vague. Some people who want to change their lives, especially related to work, say they want to be self-employed but seem to be waiting for someone else to design them a j-o-b and hand it to them. I think part of that comes from the mentality of not seeing our own gifts and our own power. Some, however, won’t take the steps for other reasons.

I think a lot of people see the effort and work involved in starting even a part-time small business and get overwhelmed. They see it as a drain on resources. The best analogies I can come up with are driving a gas-guzzling car with high gas prices, or camping for a few days away from civilization. You wind up thinking and planning from the point of limitation and scarcity. You think, If I do that, will I have the gas to go do this? or maybe, If I use up all my water on this hike, I’ll just barely have enough to get by until the day I leave.

If you do something that is aligned with your gifts, talents, and passions, energy will flow into you. It will be emotional and spiritual energy. Sure, you’ll still get physically tired if there are physical things to do, but you won’t wind up drained. If you spend a lot of time and effort on something that doesn’t connect with your soul, your emotional and spiritual energy can get tapped out pretty quickly.

I think this is the point of view that keeps a lot of people from trying something out. They think it has to be the exact right thing before they put in the time and energy because they’ve only got this one shot. They don’t realize that working towards an authentic life will restore them and recharge them.

I also think, based on this powerful quote, that they don’t realize how much they can actually do. They don’t see that, if something is important in a way that touches their core, they will find the way to make it happen. They don’t realize they have enormous reserves when it comes to resources for deciding, acting, and making things happen.

Obviously, part of “they” is “me.” I feel a lot of resistance with some ideas, thinking I might wind up putting in too much time and effort only to see it flop, or only to find out I don’t really want to be doing that kind of work long-term. I come from the mindset that I have to get it right, or pretty close to right, because I will run out of gas if I go too long without quick results. I forget that trying out new things is pretty fun a lot of the time, and I forget that I won’t really know if some things are a good choice for me until I try them. To quote my nine-year-old son (in his optimistic version of the saying), “You can’t like it ‘til you try it.”

I’m still learning I don’t have to be sure I’ll be hugely successful at something in order to try it out. I’m re-learning that I’m going to struggle with things and be pretty crummy at a few while I’m learning them. But that’s the joy of mastery. If it’s easy at first, there’s no elation when you conquer it. If it’s a quick and open road, there’s no challenge.

I’ll leave the idea of the quick and open road to the “Make 6 Figures In 7 Days!” crowd. I prefer the reality of the struggle, because it’s the way of the journey, and the journey is the only reason to go anywhere.

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey

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