on life, ambitions, and dreams

Post-it Question

The Panorama of Patagonia, Stuck in Customs Trey Radcliff

This post is part of the #Trust30 Challenge, a 30-day writing initiate inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. To find out more about this challenge, read why I am participating or details about the pledge.

Prompt: Post-it Question by Jenny Blake

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

Bonus: tweet or blog a photo of your post-it.

(Author: Jenny Blake)

I am interviewing interns right now and one of the questions that I like to ask them is, “How would you describe your standards for yourself?”

Interviewing interns is always an interesting process. In most cases, you are not really interviewing them for their skills and what they bring to the table, but what potential you have in bringing out their potential. Training interns is a lot like raising kids; their success is a direct reflection of who you are—as a manager or as a parent.

This is how I would describe my own standards for myself: way too [explicative] high.

I’m never satisfied with where I am. Whenever someone is impressed by the work I do or the output I have and how “much” I’ve done, it shocks me to the point of mass disbelief. Seriously. Every time I hear people get lost somewhere between an “awe” and a “whoa, you’re fucking insane” about how I wrangled over 200 authors, twice, I shrug because it was just something that I did. It was my job to do, so that’s what I did. I didn’t stop and wonder if what I was doing was too much, too little, or not enough, I just did it.

That’s how I describe my own performance standards: I either do it or I feel like I don’t do enough.

I have no idea if that sounds as positive as it should. What I mean is that my own standards are much, much higher for myself than others have of me. And therefore what makes me feel amazing is working hard towards something and then being able to see the fruits of my labor finished. Done. Complete. I like to see the results of my action.

And lately I haven’t been finishing things. I’ve felt trapped in the endless hamster wheel of—something. I’ve been at a crossroads or at the turning point of—something. But what that is I’m unsure of. Because every other moment, every other day, every other week I feel like I’m closer to finding it and then I feel like I’m not.

My biggest challenge

My biggest challenge is: I don’t feel like I’m being successful in my work (personal and professional).

My question is: How do I move mountains?

And this, of course, can be answered in the most basic and the most extravagant ways you could ever imagine.

The mountains are metaphors. The represent any decision, task, or action you want to make. They can be as small as deciding to go to the gym or as large as deciding to make a gamble with that new job. And they can change with each and every step that you take.

Moving mountains means the same thing as taming wild buffalo and slaying (or taming) dragons. It’s a turn of phrase to describe kicking ass and it’s a tune I try to sing every day.

And yet, I’m not moving mountains right now. I’m making my way towards the mountain but my wheels are stuck in the grass. The throttle is to the floor and only my wheels are spinning.

And I’m not satisfied.

My secret weapon

I move them. I remind myself of my goals and work towards them with laser-focus and no excuses. I stop talking and start do-ing. I am strong and listen to my voice. There’s a 12-step-plan somewhere and here but it starts with me taking the first breath and the first step.

This is my problem and I am the only one who has the solution.

What’s your question? And who can help you get to the answer?

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs

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3 Responses

  1. Fascinating to see others’ post-it questions as always!

    I loved yours, and it brought me back in time, when I was probably your age! when I was looking at mountains and wondering how I would move them. It turned out that I ended up climbing them, you know, and one step at a time, one after the other one, and sometimes, I did have to sit down, breathe and even go back some steps because I had dropped something!!

    The mountains today are still here, where they used to be, and I conquered them, just to want to climb new ones. In the process I gained strength and wisdom.. and wrinkles, and sunburns too, but hey!! that was so worth it.

    Felt like sharing with you my favorite question that can echo yours: how do you eat an elephant?

    And the answer of course: you eat it by small chunks at a time. 

  2. Love this Laura!! Thank you so much for sharing — I absolutely love that you are moving mountains in your life, even through the times that feel challenging or uncertain. 

    On a random side note — my dad was pen-pals with Norman Mailer for a long time before he died — so cool that you met him in person!

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Jenny. It’s interesting to feel this way and I’m actually a little uneasy that I actually admitted it. But, the first step to moving mountains is to set your feet, then push.

      And that’s awesome about your dad and Norman Mailer. It was awesome to meet him, though I don’t think I realized how important it was until he passed away.

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