Thursday, October 6, 2011

Grab “It” By The Balls

In light of the death of Steve Jobs, let’s get down to business.

Mr. Jobs was a wise man, a genius of a man. Beyond his technological fame, he gave us inspiration. He told us to follow our hearts. To stay hungry and foolish.

He meant for us to get busy doing what we love because time is limited. He meant for us to do it with reckless abandon and without fear of failure or looking silly. He meant for us to do it with passion.

Do you ever wonder what the hell you are doing with your life? Like, what you are REALLY doing? Do you ever stop dead in your tracks and realize you have been alive for “x” number of years (in my case 44 – eat your heart out EMZ) and you catch your breath in your throat, terrified that it might be all amounting to nothing?

44 years. A lifetime for some. Half a lifetime for others. I’ve always thought it our personal duty to figure out what our gifts are and to give them back to the world. It can be the gift of writing about poop or the gift of saving children’s lives. Better to and easier to strengthen our strengths than start from scratch and try to minimize and improve our weaknesses.

We are all good at things. All of us. And, we all suck at things. All of us. My greatest hope for myself is that I use my strengths to my advantage and to the benefit of those around me. This will be my legacy when I’m in heaven or hell or when I am reincarnated as a porta potty or pro-athlete. This will be what I contributed that made a slight difference. For me it will never be curing cancer, but it might be inspiring someone, making someone laugh or letting someone know I was around when they most needed me.

I chose social work for obvious reasons. To make a difference. Lately my path has taken to me to work in international adoptions and this is an exciting new venture, and very important work. Yet, I find myself trying to bridge the gap between my social work/therapist/clinical self and my running/coaching/writing self.  Right now I live in two distinct worlds with very different focuses. I have to believe that over time and with diligence and openness to life the answers will unfold. Because, yes, I do believe I am here to do things great and small and that my life, like yours, has meaning and depth.

Today I was reading “My Year with Eleanor,” a woman’s quest to do one thing every day that scared her. I got caught up in how she spoke of being a perfectionist, mostly because it applied to me (and maybe to you):

Perfectionism is the fear of making mistakes. There are two sides to perfectionism. At its best, it’s motivating and inspires you to set high goals for yourself. But it can also get out of control. Perfectionists can turn into workaholics because their efforts never feel good enough. They engage in all-or-nothing thinking about their performance – if it isn’t perfect, it’s horrible. They give up easily. They procrastinate on goals, waiting for inspiration to strike or the timing to feel right. They organize their lives around avoiding mistakes and end up missing wonderful opportunities.

In a sense, have perfectionistic qualities can paralyze you. Waiting for just the right thing or just the right time might mean you wake up one day and realize life has passed you by.

I know not what the hell I’m saying or my point. Only that life is short so go out and f$cking get it by the balls.

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do – Become a parent? Run a race? Start a different career path? Get out of a stale relationship? – but haven’t done it because you are waiting for the right “time” or “opportunity”?

SUAR

35 comments:

  1. What an interesting book, I think I will check that one out. I am a firm believer in pushing our limits day in and day out and not wasting the time we have here on petty, meaningless things that don't add value to our lives!

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  2. I spent a good while early on in life being paralyzed by my perfectionism. I was forced to let it go when I had kids! Thank GOD!!!! Life is so much more fun and exhilarating and fulfilling when one is free of paralysis... go figure, right? Steve Jobs gave so much. What a life and what a way of living we can all learn from :)

    I do follow a slightly different plan. Instead of strengthen my strengths, I often focus on turning my weaknesses into strengths... embrace them and guide them to greatness. But maybe that's because I always had a hard time seeing my strengths :P

    Great post, SUAR.

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  3. My mother died at 55. Steve Jobs' death is just another reminder, another kick in the butt to reinforce what I live with every day. Because it's one thing to see a public figure die young, but it's quite another to be shunted into the high risk group for everything because of family history. What if I only have 17 more years? What have I done that really matters? Because if I were to die tomorrow, I'm pretty sure that nobody will remember me for that white paper or slide deck or web content overhaul. I want to be remembered for the kind of person that I am, and for giving something back to the world. And maybe for tackling some big, crazy goals for my own benefit. We've got one shot. Let's do this thing.

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  4. My daughter's orphanage in China is sponsored by a Christian non-profit in Hong Kong. Every year staff and supporters run a marathon to pay for the care of a child with chronic health needs. And left over funds are used to pay for surgery for another kid in the orphanage. When my daughter was 8 months old, she was selected to receive the funds so that she could have surgery in Hong Kong. 8 years later, she is flourishing in Iowa. Perfect melding of social work and marathoning in my life!

    Jackie in Iowa with no Google account, OpenID or URL

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  5. Love this post. I've been having so many of these thoughts. I need to pull it together and accomplish all those things I've been wanting to do for years. Go big or go home.

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  6. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've always been an all-or-nothing perfectionist, but lately I've turned into a, well, nothing perfectionist. I feel stuck and I need to grab *something* by the balls, I just don't know what yet. Ponder ponder.

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  7. Ironically, I want to move to Colorado. Run the trails. Ski the peaks. Find my bliss...and maybe jump start my career...it needs help. :-/

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  8. Great post! I think I should read that book. I've been wanting to run a marathon...and I'm gonna do it Sunday. I recently took a new job that was a bit of a risk and I'm loving it! Now I have to work on that perfectionist thing! And FYI...writing about poop is a gift. Embrace it!

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  9. Great post Beth! I can definitely be a victim of my own perfectionism - still working on it...not only for myself but because I don't want to pass that baggage on to my kids!

    Sounds like an interesting book that I need to pick up.

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  10. I'll have to take a look at that book (obsessed with Eleanor Roosevelt). I agree with XLMIC, spent most of my teens/twenties not trying for fear of not being perfect. Then I had a baby who wouldn't nurse, wouldn't sleep, and cried all the time. I spent the first 3 months in a horrible depression, wondering what was wrong with me, with him and why we weren't like everyone else (I thought) who could do it all and make it look easy. Then I finally let all of that go - for good. Amazing what a difference it has made to NOT CARE.

    For me - I decided to run a marathon next year in my hometown. Running has not been easy for me, and even last year I would have never thought I could do it. People are constantly telling me I can't. It doesn't matter.

    I think tackling this goal will be a process that will help me figure out some of the other things that I need to "grab".

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  11. Reading this, I think you do a little bit of social work for us readers every single day. (Who said poop humor can't brighten a dull day?) ;)

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  12. I posted yesterday that I am TIRED of wasting my time with crap that isn't my priority and doesn't make me happy. I ordered the books to study for my personal trainer certification last night. I'm also looking into freelance writing opps because I want my life to be about fitness, not contracts and finances.

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  13. A few years back I decided I was going to stop doing the Waiting Game and start to live with more passion and honesty. I've done a lot in the last years that scared me but were the best decisions I ever made, looking back.

    As they say, you tend to regret the things you didn't do far more than the things you did.

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  14. I am waiting for the right $ so I can yes, do something different. But you know how that goes. 4 years is totally ridiculous!!!!

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  15. Great post!! I'm contemplating a career shift and this is a timely reminder. Waiting for a "sign" is wasting precious time.

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  16. It will be exciting (to me) to see how you connect SW and Adoption with running/coaching/writing. On the opposite side of a similar area, we are just finishing our foster licensing. I also want to bridge the gap between running/writing and foster care, but the hugeness of the gap has left me only visualizing emptiness, and therefore I haven't been writing. To my credit, I have been writing - on mountains of pre-licensing paperwork, just not on the blog or for the public. Anyways... just to encourage you, I would love to read a bit about SW stuff, in addition to the poop and all, of course.

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  17. I didn't know you worked w/ internation adoptions! Bless you! I have 3 adopted cousins (S. Korea and Guatamala) and I can't imagine life without them.

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  18. Ugh, Thank you. Perfectionist describes me. I need to read this! I am fearful I will never love something enough to do it completely. I don't want to be blah about anything but have never been so inspired that I maintained a spark. Something must be wrong with me. and wit that, this post meant a lot.

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  19. I never would have guessed you worked in social work/ international adoption. Our youngest was adopted from Taiwan and I love your blog and it inspires me to Suar.

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  20. I never really followed Steve Jobs' life but I guess that comes from always being 5 years behind all technology innovations. Still, I've been reading his quotes all over the place lately and can definitely appreciate his ambition and tenacity. I want that for myself. I think an important thing to remember is that to have the same impact as someone like Jobs doesn't require name-recognition and fame. It requires heart. And we all can touch people in the same way. That's why I wanted to become more active in the blogging community of running moms - I am inspired every day by what you ladies have to write and hope to inspire others just as much someday.

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  21. Not so sure there is anything that I'm holding myself back from doing but this is a great post to get me thinking! I don't think I reflect enough. ha! Um, just noticing your almost 2000 followers. Funny..that is almost 1000 followers in a year for you...because i seem to remember that when I started blogging a year ago, you were at 1000 or something. Not that that really matters or has anything at all to do with this post! :)

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  22. Awesome post!! adding that book to my list of books that never actually comes in at the library:)

    I have actually set a couple goals for myself this year, both which scare the crap outta me!! One: try lots of new food. cook them. make new recipes. branch out. i have always been boring and have eaten the same things. i like lots of crap now!! veggies even! (wow). so that's been cool!!!

    2nd: run my 1st half marathon!! registered for one on Nov 27th (yes the sund after T'giving, am i CRAZY?!) and am in week 6 of training. i have wanted to give up about 3x a week since i started but i am DOING THIS and i am psyched and scared beyond belief!!!

    loving your blog!

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  23. I usually come here for the laughs and moivation, but today you managed to catch me of guard and throw a little inspiration in. I've been struggling with justifying some decisions I've made lately that will inevitably take me down a less lucrative but more fulfilling path, and have kind of started feeling selfish that I wanted to make those changes...it feels greedy to know that I'm doing it because I know I'll get warm fuzzies from it. But the fact is, so will everyone I see on that new path, and it's my duty, as you put it, to use my gifts as effectively as possible in the time I'm given. I feel like your post somehow just gave me the permission to do good and not feel guilty for feeling good about it. Thank you for that. You have no idea how much weight that lifts.

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  24. Wow, I need that book yesterday. Not having children (and at 45, probably not happening - although it might be fun to be pregnant at 55 with triplets), my fear of leaving this world feeling like I haven't left something (or someone) better is unnerving.

    Steve Jobs' passing is sad, but boy has it made a lot of us think...

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  25. Moving back to CO at the end of the month. Yea!

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  26. Inspiring post....Lifes short, go for it!
    Good luck at the R&R this weekend

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  27. I will have to put that book on my list of books to read. Steve Jobs legacy will touch a lot of lives.

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  28. If I walk this planet alone my path would be utterly unrecongnizable to the one I currently travel. I only common thread would be running. Because I have a family, who will likely be my biggest accomplishment, I limit my dreams. I put off my goals because I would rather get to "where I'm going" and be able to say that I gave up so that others could have. My dreams are just too big to fit into the little box of my ackwardly shaped family. For now I take giant fist-fulls from the things I'd like to do; I ran 50 miles but my goal is to through run/fast pack all the AP trail. Adjustments. I guess we all make them.

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  29. I gave up my accounting career and went back to school to become a dentist, because it was more terrifying to me to face 30 more years as an accountant than go back to school with a 2 year old and 7 month old along for the ride. But I'm just about there now! 7 more months of school. I think that's about all I can handle right now. :)

    And I do something that scares me most days. Every time I start a filling, pull a tooth, start a root canal, I'm scared I'm going to f*ck up someone's mouth. And just to clarify, I'm not bad at what I do, but things can just go wrong...

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  30. I needed that quote about perfectionism today! Headed out to play an alumni softball game and contemplated not going because I was afraid that after 10 years I just suck! It scares me and in light of Eleanor I am going out there and doing it!!!

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  31. Thank you for this post! I can totally relate. First we discover that perfectionism has it's dark moments, then comes the process of loosening up, trying to shake the perfectionism a bit so that we can use it to our advantage. How do we lose it when we want to chill out... Like an (on/off) switch, then use it when we're trying to get shit done? Understanding why we obsess with achievement, and letting go of that can be a little tricky and quite painful.. but in the end it's so worth it, so freeing. Plus, once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist.. if we chill out it's not like we lose our skills, efficiency, quality.. it's who we are.. We Rule, we Rock, we Rule the Rock! Lol

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