Diligence is described as the "constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken, persistent exertion of body or mind". It suggests an ever turning wheel of fortune that one must negotiate and combat in order to keep coming out a victor. For isn't that we all strive to achieve? Small wins and minor victories that add up to be the big wins and accomplishments that we look back on?
The projection game of imagining yourself standing in your space aged 70-80, where are you, what are you doing, who are you surrounded by and what are your achievements, can sometimes help to clarify what is important to you and where you want those directions to go. It helps to harness the diligence to set things in motion so you can achieve the goals you desire. Sometimes in the effort to look forward to what we want, it helps to reflect on what we might have achieved in the past and more importantly, what gave us joy. This may shape what is vitally important to us.
It's also a matter of being relative. As I was speaking to a long term client this week the matter of age reared its little head in regards to recovery and training. Learning from where you have been can definitely inform how you are going to continue to move forward. Its great to have new vigour and energy but one always has to approach the 'current state of affairs' and that sometimes means admitting that the knees and the ankles aren't as 'springy' as they used to be.
However, rather than using this as an excuse to curtail activities, sometimes you need to use this as a platform to move forward. Your best defense is a good offense and so, target your weaknesses and utilise them. If like me, you've been around the traps a little longer than some, you should really know what works for you and what doesn't. If running hurts your ankles - don't do it. If heavy workouts in the morning don't agree with you - don't force yourself to workout in the early hours. If taking a day off in the middle of the week gives you a day to take yourself to Gold Class at the movies and share a bottle of wine so that you don't binge out on the weekends, then do it!
I'm having a rather wonderful interaction with a young advanced volleyballer at the moment who springs and bounces like an Olympian. He also hits like one, drawing gasps of wonder from the team whenever he gets a really good set! His passion for volleyball is evident and it's amazing how it has reinvigorated my entire team. All of a sudden everyone wants to turn up to training! They want to work harder and run as a pack, seems a little new blood can be good for everyone. But in the midst of all this, his remark betrays his youth in that passion is the most important element in the want for change.
Passion is the lever that is going to make YOU want to improve. One has to have a drive to want to succeed. Passion exerts a want and a need to achieve that is going to make habit forming behaviour a joy as opposed to a drudge. Working with a client recently, we had to find a solution to her desk bound behaviour and her need to find regular exercise. The idea of going to a gym fills her with dread and loathing so this isn't going to work. We sat there brainstorming ideas and concepts around rowing, dragon boating, skipping and Body Balance classes. When I mentioned dance classes she blinked her eyes in wonder and stared at me. Rather than burst out laughing she said in realisation - "i do love moving to latin american music". So sometimes tapping into the passion that you feel for something that may seem completely unrelated is going to get you to go and attend something on a regular basis and make you get that little hit of internal reward and endorphins that we know are good for us.
So how do we tap into our passion? There are numerous self help books out there that have your high fiving like Oprah and tapping into that energy and effervescent outpouring of energy. My god how exhausting. And how 'American'. That doesn't work for everyone. Ok for a certain genre of people it does. But for those of us who find that 'ride along with the crowd' inspiration doesn't propel us forward, we need to search a little further. And there is the important word - 'inspiration'. Passion and inspiration cannot exist in the absence of each other.
Finding the link between your inspiration and passion and your 'role' in what you achieve is sometimes cloaked in disguise. But if you stay true to your real passion and inspiration, then sometimes you can remind yourself of why you do what you do. Steve Jobs is quoted as saying
We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better
His claim that his company made great products wasn't what drove him - it was what people with passion DID with his products which is what he was really passionate about. Encouraging the thinkers and the crazy ideas people of the world to find ways to tap into their passion and keep exploring and pushing the boundaries of creativity and concept - moving the human race forward. When purchasing an apple product over a PC I remember being told, if you're creative go Apple - it will work in the way your head does! Jobs also talked in 2005 to Stanford graduates citing "Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Your time is limited, don't waste it living someone else's life". I think what he was getting at here is that your passion is yours alone and you can only follow it to the next step because it matters to you. In whatever linear or lateral pattern that your head works, it will work for you if you stay true to it.
And perhaps even looking at the negative traits and experiences of the past are also worth focussing on - when they propel us forward. Being embarrassed about answering a very basic anatomy question in class once made me never ever forget that fact because I was SO embarrassed at getting it wrong in front of the entire class, the memory of it made sure that I answered it correctly every time it was asked of me. To know failure is to know what isn't going to work in the future. It's a lesson learned and knowing what wasn't right means you don't make that same mistake again. A rather wonderful quote from someone who knew real failure and desperation before she became a world wide success...
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me
It's very much about finding that which is a lever which 'drives' you forward and harnesses your passion and your commitment to that 'want to succeed'. So even negative experiences are worth revisiting to make you move onto the next successful step.
A dear friend told me something which has stuck with me for a while in terms of convincing yourself of you own ability -
"Even if you don't believe it - fake it and you'll make it"
It's a great quote because it reminds me to sometimes 'pretend'. When everything is apparently going to the dogs, you sometimes have to pretend to be what you so aren't feeling you are. When you are floundering in a presentation or negotiation, you have to tap into that inner core value of belief, because if you can't convince yourself that have the skill and talent to keep performing, the person opposite you certainly isn't going to believe it.
For many years I couldn't bear the thought of having anything to do with dance around me. I turned my back on the world and the artform that I loved so much and committed so much of my energy towards. I felt cheated by it. It had chewed me up and spat me out at the other end so that I had to stand on a beach at 6am in the morning in an Australian winter, having been ejected from the country where I was living, wondering what on earth was it all for? What did I have to show for it? What did it give me? What did it achieve? I couldn't stand remembering any of the performances I gave, the moments of sheer elation when I pulled of a sequence that I could never possibly re-capture again or the sheer thrill of being so engrossed in the moment of physical activity, knowing that my body was going to do whatever I demanded of it. It wasn't until I pulled out pictures of the career for my 40th birthday shindig that I thought, to myself - wow, that was pretty cool. Look at me there, I look good. Not just that, I was bloody FABULOUS!
These pictures are now up in my home studio and I do look at them sometimes - and despite seeing the incorrect line and the slightly bent knee in that leg - I see a kid who had passion. He had no talent (and I've got the video to prove that). It was pure passion and inspiration that fuelled a fire and a drive to succeed. So now those pictures do stay up there and remind me that if nothing else, I should recapture that passion and let that fuel me up to move onward and forward, despite any setbacks that come. Yes, it's a little bit of blind faith, but when it gets to a point of throwing your hands in the air and walking away, think back to those moments where you may have been full of passion and energy and smile at the youthful invigoration of it all. And then remember to sometimes entertain that youthful passion and let it lift you up and propel you forward. Even if you have to turn a few corners and roundabouts to do it.