A client of mine is a writer. Actually… no, he is an economist who happens to be writing a book. No. More like – he is the foremost thought leader on American Tax Policy and is compiling his life’s work just in time for the 2016 Presidential Elections.
So, no pressure.
For years my client has wrestled with this book. At times in love with it and writing with ease and vigor. At times frozen – staring blankly at a screen with no idea where to go.
He calls it his “amorphous blob” and what that is, actually, is his brilliant mind in overdrive. Decades of thoughts, research, conversations, ideas and insight jumbled in webs and silos and boxes and files and scattered across the seemingly endless expanse of his awe inspiring brain.
Over the course of our coaching conversation this week, I had an impulse. I blurted out “What if this is as good as it gets?” …silence… Bewildered and genuinely confused, my client asked what I meant. “The amorphous blob. You’ve spent your life trying to make sense of it – to wrap your arms around it – to make it into something it’s not. What if the amorphousness of it IS as good as it will get – then what?”
Let’s pause this story for just a moment and really take a look at that question: What if this is as good as it gets?
For me, this thought drives up A LOT of emotions – despair, resignation, hopelessness, my brain screaming out “Well then what’s the fucking point?!!?” It makes me want to throw my hands up in defeat. To give up. Who cares? If this is as good as it gets then screw it, I’m done, pass the french fries.
Well, that sucks. There has to be more to it.
Let me tell you a different story. In 2012 I was in a luxurious black SUV with a mentor of mine driving to JFK airport in New York City. I was stuck… and sobbing. I was unhappy in the project I was working on with him and wishing it were different. It was the first time anyone had ever had the audacity to ask me that bold question: What if this is as good as it gets? I looked at him, face moist with tears and snot, puffy and red, “What?!?!” I begged. He responded with some coach-y bull shit and left me with an irritatingly vague – “What do you say?”
WHAT THE FUCK!
Ok. Come back to present day. 3 years later. Remember that project I was working on with my mentor? I burned the damn house down. NOT LITERALLY. Jesus. I just up and left. Quit like a boss… or a teenager with rage issues… or both. But here’s the catch – I am now, more than ever, doing work that I love, work that feeds me, and work that I am fucking great at. I finally quit suffering in my expectation that things could somehow be different.
You see, quitting suffering and giving up are two VERY different things. Quitting suffering is an act of love. Yes, sometimes it means leaving – but sometimes it means going back in, with renewed passion and a fire in your belly. Giving up means throwing the baby out with the bath water, missing the gold in the murky stream and allowing your circumstances to beat you.
So for my client, it was time to quit. Time to quit chasing the mirage that things about his process were supposed to be different. Time to quit thinking that you could take one of the most brilliant minds in America and put it in nice, neat chapters and paragraphs.
What he – AND YOU – are up to is incredible, difficult and TOTALLY FUCKING WORTH IT. If your boss is riding your ass and all you can do is come home and complain – knock it off. Either leave for greener pastures or find the gold. But she (or he) is never going to change, so stop wishing they would! If your relationship is leaving you feeling less than fulfilled – take a look!!! Are you wishing she or he were different? Do you long for something that, quite frankly, they’re not? HONEY! Let them go! Find freedom in your ability to release and reinvent.
Let me be clear: This is NOT a manifesto for quitting your job or ditching your start-up dream. This is a wake up call for you to stop chasing an expectation and start channeling your self-expression. Anything that is worthy of your talent and gifts is going to be challenging. Duh. Suffering is optional.
BUT THERE IS ONE RULE: What ever you do – if you quit or stay, if you reinvent or relocate – NEVER, under any circumstances, give up on your desire to be happy and make a difference in the world. That, my friends, might be our most powerful beacon of all. Follow that shining light forever and I promise, your story will have a very happy ending.
Go be great,