There is no one who has achieved anything worth talking about who didn’t have to confront some unforeseen challenge to accomplish it.
In fact, what makes stories of achievement so powerful is that the protagonist is forced to creatively navigate obstacles he or she did not predict and could not see.
Joseph Campbell called it the “Hero’s Journey.” And while that language may feel a bit lofty as a description of your New Year’s resolution, it speaks to the truth that anytime we set out in pursuit of a new possibility, however small, we are inviting the shaping hand of reality to come along for the ride.
There is no linear path, no straight line between point “A” and point “B.” Instead there is a bumpy, sometimes disconcerting ride from where we are to where we want to be. The biggest question for us to wrestle with, then, is not if we will make it. It is whether or not we will stick with it long enough to find out what the experience is trying to teach us.
I hope you take full advantage of your new gym membership (Reality: the car won’t start), or meditate for 10 minutes every day (Reality: so many barking dogs), or stop eating chocolate (Reality: Valentine’s Day!), or read 25 pages before bedtime (Reality: someone’s REALLY tired), or refuse to check email until after 9:00 AM (Reality: wait, what???) or any of the other resolutions you have chosen to accomplish. I really do.
But what I hope for more than that – whatever the outcome – is that you learn all you can from the realities that will emerge along the way. They are not an evil scheme of the universe specially designed just to knock you off track. They are there to help you discover just how much it matters to you to pursue this possibility right now.
It’s easy to forget that there’s more than one kind of hero.
DAVID BERRY is the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well. If you enjoyed this post someone else might, too. Please pass it along.