Shaun had lost his mojo; his oomph, drive and direction. He wasn't exactly sure where he'd put it down to lose it, despite mentally retracing his steps, but he wanted it back.
Shaun is a small business entrepreneur, who has been repeatedly clobbered by the Covid ramifications and restrictions of 2020 and beyond, but has always endeavoured to jump up and dust himself down. Now however, inertia had set in behind a galloping sense of "... oh, what's the point?" Everything he'd tried and tested had fallen flat on its face, and he was now treading turbulent and despondent waters. Sound familiar? Have you noticed your head nodding in recognition up until this point? Well, this is why I was moved into sharing Shaun's story, to help you too.
DEFEAT IS OPTIONAL
Our keystone philosophy moving forwards is, it's not what happens to you, but how you respond that matters. And when I say 'respond', I'm referring to all of your thought processes, mindset, behaviours, beliefs and actions: what you say, what you do and all of the the hard choices you will often have to make. I don't mean 'respond' to simply be limited to the volley of words you choose to counter what's served to you.
So, from this standpoint defeat is optional, agreed? No? Okay, let's address this difference of opinion for a moment. I fully accept there are times - similar to the situation Shaun had to navigate - where a business, a project or even a relationship has become so badly damaged, that an outright end is inevitable. But the end of it, doesn't mean the end of you. Well, of course it can, but only if you accept the defeat like the toxic turd it is. You are equally within your rights to reject all notion of defeat and otherwise prevail... if you attune your mindset towards victory instead.
It's ALL in your mind. It's ALL in your hands. You get to decide what you will or will not accept, and then what to do about it afterwards. You are a self-contained power unit, and you get to decide where that power (e.g.: your attention, energy, resources) is deployed, how and when. For sure, falling flat on your face might be horrible, uncomfortable, humiliating and blah, blah, but you're still falling forward, it's all still progress! Oh, and we don't say "failing forward" in my company either, because there's no such thing as failing. We will call it what it is, learning.
YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS IS LISTENING
Never say anything about yourself you don't want to be true, because your subconscious mind is listening, and is then programmed to make it true, or happen. For example, if you tell yourself "I'm a failure", that's what your subconscious will activate and you've just birthed a whole new limiting belief that you're now shackled to until we can shift it. So, instead we reframe what's happened into something healthy, positive, and productive, e.g.: "Well, that didn't work, but I've learned something valuable as a result, and now I will pivot and do this".
And falling isn't failing, for what it's worth. Throughout nature things rise and fall: tones and tides, temperatures, pitches and beats, and in falling we learn because we exit the captivation of comfort. You see, the very discomfort we so strenuously seek to avoid is exactly where the growth is, and so it should be more embraced than evaded. We grow into who we're meant to become through struggle. We develop the strength and gather the vast seams of experience during the very act of fighting our way through adversity, so it's not bad, it's just challenging. Without the discomfort of a chrysalis there'd be no butterfly, so what contains and thwarts you now is there to build you and make you better. Like I said, it's all about how you frame things in your mind, the mindset you choose to adopt and, as such, defeat is optional. You may need to pivot, but nowhere is it written that you must quit or let it beat you; and I write about this more fully in Sometimes A Pivot Is Necessary.
THE EVER RECEDING HORIZON
Start with where you are now, because you can't time hop back and you can't quantum leap forwards. Then let's do a quick little SWOT Analysis: what are your Strengths, and how best can you deploy them to optimise your desired outcome? Do you know what your desired outcome is? What are your Weaknesses, and how can you strengthen or neutralise them? Are there other people, or new strategies, you can bring in to balance these weaknesses out? Where do your Opportunities lie? Are these opportunities congruent with who you truly are and what you truly want? If they're not, you're likely to sabotage your own chances of success, so be self-aware and honest in your answers to these questions. And finally, what are the Threats to this endeavour, and what can be done to negate their influences and effects?
Where you are now is here, looking out towards the far away horizon, the place you actually want to be. As this will be different for everyone, we're going to call it Place X, but feel free to personalise it if you wish. Your goal, or the place you want to get to, is so far away that it can be demoralising - such as it was for Shaun - especially when you work and work and work and feel like you're getting nowhere. But this expectation is precisely the bit we need to reframe, because at the root of all disappointment is expectation, e.g.: I worked really hard, reached the point on the horizon I was aiming for but it's not what I thought it would be, or enough for what I need now. This is the ever receding horizon. You can't ever reach or catch the horizon, in the same way as your work is never done, there's always more to do. The pain comes from the expectation that we're somehow entitled to a sublime existence, free from all trials and adversity, and are guaranteed that our ultimate horizon will one day be reached - which it won't be if we're inert.
A SERIES OF INITIAL COMPLETIONS
So we must flip the script and accept that life is simply a series of initial completions. What I mean by that is, we complete a goal and feel pleased, often tempted to rest on those laurels thinking our work here is done, but then become despondent when there's still more to do because the goalposts have somehow shifted. We haven't looked upon the completion of this goal as an initial completion, and therein lies the upset. Let me ask you this, if you were to achieve it all, or have it all figured out today, what would be the point of tomorrow? This thing called Life is a classroom, not a playground. We're here to evolve.
So instead, you might like to reframe those thoughts by working as hard as you can to get as far as you can. Once you've reached that horizon, the horizon will recede and move back, at which point you will be able to see further and go further, so go; collecting knowledge, experience and new strengths along the way. By always going as far as you can, you'll always be able to see and do more when you get there. This is the definition of personal growth and self-improvement, it's a continuous work in progress, but all too often I meet people who get to Place X and are at a loss for what to do next; their oomph, drive and direction evaporate. They stop.
Momentum here is the key though, because Newton's first law of motion teaches us that an object remains in the same state of motion unless a resultant force acts on it, and if the resultant force on an object is zero, the stationary object will remain stationary. This is why you must not stop, because it's so difficult to start again. Rest if you must, but don't stop. When your get up and go has got up and gone, ask yourself what can be done to keep you moving forwards, even if it is just a little bit? Think about this for a second: have you ever pushed a child on a roundabout in a playground? The effort you have to exert to get the roundabout moving in the first place is so much more than the effort you have to exert to keep it moving. Well, the same is true for you too, so keep things moving towards your next horizon, and if you can't see where that next horizon is, just keep doing the next right thing until it appears. There has never been just one horizon to reach for you, there are as many replenished as the goals you accomplish, please remember this.
Looking at his brand new horizon whilst nursing a mortally wounded business, Shaun took the time available during the Covid lockdowns to think of new and creative ways to diversify, to pivot. He optimised the time not ordinarily available to reflect deeply on the direction of his life, health, relationships and finances, before making significant changes that might not otherwise have been recognised, or implemented. Even in the early stages of these adjustments, Shaun has already recognised the blessings in disguise he's been presented with, so where are your blessings in disguise whilst you're lacking in oomph? Sometimes you're meant to lean against the wall you hit to consider and reconfigure, and sometimes you're meant to kick that wall down. Which of these options feels right for you, or do you have a third option to suggest?
CONTROL BUT NO CONTROL
One of Life's great contradictions is that we have both control and no control over our lives, which sounds like madness but there is a method in there. Events and circumstances, beyond our control or influence, conspire around us every day. Fine, we can chalk this one up in the No Control column. But where we do have control is in how we choose to respond, because defeat is optional. Do we quit, or do we pivot? Do we stay sulking on this shoreline, harrumphing about yet another horizon to reach, or do we just get on with it, accepting that it's an ever receding horizon, serving as a carrot on a stick, to entice us towards who we're ultimately meant to become, and towards where we ultimately need to be?
We drew up a list of the things Shaun could be doing to get and keep moving again. It was a challenge for him initially because his inertia was so heavy, but once he'd exerted the primary effort, his energy stimulated more energy and creativity and he was restored to his former, entrepreneurial glory. But he had to start to begin again, because wishing for something never made it so. This is where we have control; over ourselves and how we choose to respond to what happens to or around us.
So to summarise, keep moving towards the horizon, knowing full well that whatever you've achieved is just an initial completion, and that there is always more to do. If you stop you will likely become inert, which is defined as still, static, dormant, lifeless, inanimate, lethargic and torpid. Is this how you would want your life to be defined? Is this who you want to be?
Hmm. I thought not, so onwards towards your ever receding horizon, and Godspeed!
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