They are one and the same. What holds many people back from becoming who they want to become and producing what they want to produce? There are many possible answers: lack of effort, poor time management, little or no vision, etc. Even top performers fall short of goals and find themselves looking for more than what they have available in the tank.
Another element preventing us from attaining what we seek is looking through a lens that doesn’t provide a clear focus on the outcome. I could go on and on. My guess is that so far, some of this has resonated with a portion of my audience and there was probably a portion of my audience that wondered why they hadn’t come close to achieving their objectives no matter what perspective they used. And for those of us who have failed on more than one occasion, feeling stuck in an apparent maelstrom of defeat is less than comfortable. Knowing there are alternatives but being or feeling unable to access them can be debilitating as well.
I am not a psychologist, therapist, or traditional motivational coach here to sell you on some type of program. I’m not here to blow smoke in places where the sun doesn’t shine and I am certainly not a man who has a rags to riches story to unfold. I am, however, convinced, there is always a ray of sunlight on the darkest days.
Because of the personal work I have done and the incredible work I have seen other men complete, I believe there are three elements to being, doing and having fulfillment in this life. They are:
- Developing a Vision
In my view, having a vision is more than being able to see something with my eyes or my mind. It’s about dreaming a dream that sometimes makes no sense at first, but eventually becomes so vivid that it stays with me long enough for the pieces of the fantasy to materialize, especially when I’m holding onto the last thread of its existence.
A vision for me comes as a part of wistful, childlike nature manifesting through a peak experience(s). It is the idea that I can see every frame of an award winning film, for example, before I even know what film making is. It’s as if the vision exists on its own plane, waiting for my presence or skill to mature in order that I might grasp it and accept that it belongs to me and I belong to it. The gift of life and the synergistic vision of living it is awe inspiring — and even more so when I know I am participating in it in every moment.
2. Asking the question — Who Am I?
What I learned about the work I have done personally is that I am not unlike many other men. From a very young age, as a mechanism to protect myself in the scary world I grew up in, I found I could often hide from my fears by pretending not to be seen or protect myself physically and emotionally by pretending to be someone other than I was. This was not intentional, yet I realized that being authentic wasn’t always acceptable or safe in the patriarchal society of my youth.
Terms like “don’t be a cry baby”, or “be a man”, or “big boys don’t cry” or even “children should be seen and not heard,” were all terms used to influence my conditioning. Sometime later I realized my tribe of teachers simply had the intention of helping me develop in the way of the societal norm at the time. But in reality, those conditioning's reinforced to me, rightly or wrongly, that I was not okay the way I was and if I wanted to be valued I would have to conform and act differently than I was feeling inside. That might have been all right with the mask on but underneath I felt smaller and smaller with each admonition.
It wasn’t until I had succumbed to losing everything…twice, in my adult life that I realized that those masks which I hid behind for eons no longer served me, and it has taken me nearly four years of sometimes very intensive internal examination to conclude that I can and must live, act and behave differently than I did back then. The sadness connected with my personal history and the damage done to so many people is more than regrettable.
That being said, the very same set of experiences and the resulting sadness is a springboard to a personal motivation and philosophy for a new life. It has led me on a journey where the truths hidden deep within me have been slowly revealed; truths that I am worthy of being an authentic individual without having to don any mask at all and the value I place on myself is enough. I am worthy just as I am. Herein lies the second truth.
We’re Not Born in a Vacuum
3. We need…Loving Support
It might be easy to misunderstand the loving support that I’m referring to here . The words loving and support by themselves don’t capture the true essence of what I want to convey so allow me to go a little deeper.
It is known that love, especially in our western culture, can have so many meanings depending on its use, intention and even the intonation of its delivery can change the context and definition. The love I am referring to is broad, deep and at times inexplicably tied to something far greater than ourselves. It stems from and also touches a core of our being and when recognized in the moment it happens, it lingers long after. It is not romantic, motherly or brotherly. In its foundation this love has the capacity to heal, inspire and connect in a way no other emotion can and its origin is outside of us.
The only example I can offer is when my Dad was teaching me how to ride a bike. He gently had his hand on the back end of my seat until he knew I had enough confidence to balance the bike on my own. I can only imagine his thoughts being something like, “I know he can do this and I want him to know that I will be there; not to catch him should he fall, but to guide him in knowing I am letting him go into greater hands and into a greater world. I’m letting go when he thinks I’m still holding on, but I know he trusts himself.”
I also knew he would be there if I fell (which I did) and he was there to hold me while I cried, explaining that I would improve if I persisted. He encouraged me to see that falling wasn’t about failure, but learning. That kind of simple demonstration is the kind of love I am referring to and as difficult and tenuous and brief as my relationship with my father was…I have remembered the power of that moment for more than 60 years!
The element of “support” I refer to can be seen in the example above but there is something far more important to me that would, unfortunately, take many more years to discover. My journey has taken me to some incredibly challenging places both externally and internally. In my judgment all of us are offered support of one kind or another all our lives, whether its advice, a moment of sincere listening or physical, financial or therapeutic backing.
The type of support I am referring to is the kind that comes from somewhere outside of our being that says in the faintest of voices, “its time to surrender to the help you are being offered. You have come this far on your own, but you will travel no further without assistance and NOW is the time to open up and accept it.”
I have heard that voice and I know many of you have too! My point here is that Loving Support is a two way street and life on this planet was not meant to be a solitary experience. In my view, reaching out to give is often easier than humbly accepting what is being offered by others and the light of the world is brighter and more powerful when one candle makes space for and is joined by thousands of others. When I lovingly support the unknown space, new light brightens the collective and evolutionary consciousness of man.
When the collaboration of the Gift and the Giver illuminates the spaces in between what we see and what is unseen, creation begins to manifest not just what we want, but even greater possibilities than we alone could envision!