‘We become original through practice.’*
‘It has become clear to me that if I had spent my life avoiding any and all potential risks, I would have missed doing most of the things that have comprised the best years of my life.’**
Seth Godin is considering two styles of practice: by rote and by failure – the latter being the art of ‘creating original work that doesn’t succeed until it does.’*
Inspiration doesn’t appear fully formed. Some of those I work with may hope that identifying their talents and passions is the solution to their problems or confusion. If a solution means simplifying things then it certainly isn’t. Because of the possibilities that knowing our talents and passion opens to us, life becomes more complex – even perplexing – and the only way forward is through practise.
What we discover along the way of forming the paths we must walk is that we’re not only identifying our work or contribution (that may also be our job but not necessarily) but we’re also finding our Self – the person who can become, as Richard Rohr helps us to see:
‘I must know that I am, at least in part, the very thing I am seeking.’^
Erwin McManus tells of how he and his wife Kim were asked to complete a “Proof of Life” form on a visit to the border of Lebanon, in case they were captured by ISIS. This confidential information was to include things that only they would know about themselves , therefore verifying they were still alive, Erwin provides this question for us to ponder:
“What would you say are the most powerful proofs of my life?”^^
What would be my proofs? Yours?
Are we moving in the direction of these?
All of this will require our attention. Everyone who lives in this direction will need some way to reflect upon their lives ensuring tomorrow opens up with more. Everyone’s way or means will be different. Some will spend more time than others? Some will reflect through an ever-changing flow of questions, others may pose themselves with a few critical inquiries. Some walk, others sit. Some read, others watch.
Because of our ability to keep growing and developing – no one has ever reached the limits of their growth potential – there’s nothing to fear, nothing to destroy. This doesn’t mean there’s no cost. The most critical thresholds we’ll find ourselves crossing will require us to pay the price of openness, compassion and courage.
This reflection is being conscious of our consciousness, of which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says:
‘The mark of a person who is in control of consciousness is the ability to focus attention at will, to be oblivious to distractions, to concentrate for as long as it takes to achieve a goal, and not longer.’*^
This paying of attention so that we notice the small things, the details and nuances of what are our talents and passions and creations is what makes our continuing practise possible ways that will move us through the failures so we might finally succeed at something no one else has ever attempted – which is one reason for not simply copying others:
‘attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience’.*^
(*From Seth Godin’s blog Two kinds of practice.)
(**From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(^From Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love.)
(^^FromErwin McManus’ The Last Arrow.)
(*^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)