A gifted and persuasive arts advocate I know once told me of advice he received from his mentor. It had to do with focus.
This arts advocate was doing so much – a musician, a fundraiser, a public speaker. He worked with and for numerous organizations. His mentor gave him this advice:
“You can either be a grenade or a rocket. Imagining that the grenade could explode with the same force that the rocket ignites with, the scattering effect of the grenade will reduce the force of the explosion. You want to be the rocket, taking all the force in the direction you want it to go.”
Same energy, but one goes in all directions, and the other is a straight shot. One singular course. A focused ignition.
I think about this in relation to various decisions we have to make; crossroads that arise in life. Sometimes, when we think we’re on a singular course, we remain tethered to the crossroad, able to go back should failure occur.
But we can’t utilize the momentum if we’re tied down to where we started. It’s only when the tether is released that we can use the force of the rocket.
Sometimes, the untethering can look to observers like irrational behavior.
Steven Pressfield, in Do The Work!, states, “The three dumbest guys I can think of: Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill. Why? Because any smart person who understood how impossibly arduous were the tasks they had set themselves would have pulled the plug before he even began.”
Pressfield advocates staying stupid. Don’t let rationality get in the way of your creativity. I don’t necessarily agree with his word choice, but the sentiment resonates with me. Stupidity could be described as irrationality. I can think of several times that I’ve acted irrationally, and I know it was when I moved beyond any safety net I had in place. That’s when failures can happen. Often, they do happen.
But it’s also when the most staggering achievements can be reached. That’s why the following questions are so important:
- What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?
- What would you do if time wasn’t an issue?
You want to learn to play the piano? Or code a computer? Or write your novel? Get back into shape? Eat better, or learn to cook?
“Do you know how old I’ll be when I get done,” you may ask?
Julia Cameron responds to that question in The Artist’s Way: “The same age you’ll be if you don’t.”
When we lose sight of the crossroads, we turn our gaze to the road ahead, and move unwaveringly towards our destination.