I’ve got a commitment problem. I have ideas coming out my ears. Including ideas for this blog. But something is holding me back. It’s these wild skittish horses in my head. Powerful creatures, yes. And they frighten easily. They’re asking, “Who are you? Who do you think you are to write a blog about passion? About renewing enthusiasm? Look at all the other blogs out there. Passion. Ideas. Innovation. It’s all out there. What do you have to add?” And then the whole herd starts running straight for the barn.
I’ve learned not to take these characters too seriously. I’m used to them by now, and have been practicing reframing their negativity. Alright, I tell them. I call your bluff. What’s my imperative?
It’s this: Mental toll of extended unemployment looms large in the Washington Post, where they inform us:
“Foreclosures, substance abuse, family battles and – worst of all – widespread depression that some experts say has reached startling proportions since the recession. The nation faces “a silent mental health epidemic,” according to Carl Van Horn, a professor of public policy and economics at Rutgers and head of the Heldrich Center.”
My imperative is Umar Haque asking in Harvard Business Review blog, Is America Giving up on the Future?
Given the extent of the economic crisis and the dysfunction of the political stalemate, Haque asks us “on what scale would you say transformation should happen? What’s the breadth of your vision for change?” He provides a wonderfully powerful, ranting list of the 21st realities we need to accept, and insists that “Not giving up on the future requires the furious pursuit of living more meaningfully well in the present.”
He knows, as we all do, that change is hard. Getting rid of old ways of thinking about things is hard. Haque writes that “It takes time, effort, perseverance, courage, and wisdom.” We know this. But when you feel the friction of it being hard and try to renew your enthusiasm in the face of it…? Whew.
That’s what this journey is all about. It sure as hell won’t happen if you run back into the barn, I tell the nervous nellies in my head. Besides, without being all Pollyanna, there are some really amazing things about our time. Barriers to entry into the marketplace for entrepreneurs are very small and we can create value with very little capital. (See The High Intensity Entrepreneur.)
You can find inspiration anywhere. Search for that quote you saw on Facebook – what’s his name? Ira Glass? What’s the quote? Something about “beginnings?” Spell it wrong. I dare you. You’ll still find it. And if you’re persistent, you’ll find the YouTube Video of the interview where he actually says it.
You can also stumble upon one of the more lovely bits of social media I’ve seen in a while. Emotional Bag Check (secretly a music site) is the perfect site for someone like me who organizes her music by theme and emotion rather than genre or alphabetical order. The site gives you two options:
- I’ve got baggage. I’ve been feeling really crappy lately. Say, could you hold this for a minute?
- Take that for you? I’m really loving life right now. Things are finally clicking into place. I’ve got happiness to spare. Let me lighten your load.
Then you can receive or give a song. I gave at least 3 today. Worthwhile procrastination if ever there was. Especially when I asked for a song. “I feel humbled and slightly overwhelmed at starting a new project. I could use some courage,” I wrote when invited to take a load off. Then hit “check it.” What came back was the song “Now We Are Free” from the Gladiator soundtrack with the message “Don’t worry too much. Give it all you got!”
So, America, are you ready? We’ve got some transformation to do, and I’ve got some horsepower to burn.
Our outlook and enthusiasm is the source from which all of our efforts to improve ourselves and our society will spring, so your blog deals with an issue of vital importance. I like the way you open up the conversation by looking at some of the problems (depression due to unemployment) and possible solutions (entrepreneurship). I am always in search of ways to renew my enthusiasm, both from within and from outside sources, so I look foward to futher entries in your blog!
Thanks, Steve! What ways have you found to renew your enthusiasm? What’s something that restores and renews you?
I see a huge climbing parallel here as well! If you don’t commit to the start, you’ll never make it to the top. Those first few moves are tricky, but often they lead to a rythm. A steady sequence that keeps you going. After a while, you may get really tired, and even fall, but in the end it’s you vs… well, you vs. those little voices in your head. Keep training, keep thinking, stay engaged, and enjoy the process!
Robin – climbing has taught me so many things, but that feeling of actually committing to something – you described it perfectly! Thanks!
In response to your question, Kerry: Two main things that have helped me to restore my enthusiasm over the years have been: 1) time spent visiting with friends & family and, 2) physical exercise. These two things just make me feel good and, naturally, when one feels good it is easier to be enthusiastic. Another way that I’ve been able to restore my enthusiasm is to think back to how good it felt to finish a challenging academic project or work assignment, or to overcome a frustrating situation in life. The anticipation of that feeling then helps me to be more enthusiastic about working on whatever my current project or situation is.