As part of our Creating the Impossible programs, I share something I call “the ultimate strategy for success”. The name is as grandiose as the strategy is simple:
Show up and aim yourself in a direction, then respond to what shows up along the way
Before you dismiss the strategy out of hand in search of something more complicated that requires more from you, let’s see if I can complicate it enough for you to give it a try. In this week’s blog, I’ll share a story about “success through showing up” and do my best to illuminate the principle behind it; next week, I’ll share what it means to respond to what shows up along the way and how to separate out the signal from the noise…
Show up and aim yourself in a direction
What is it to really show up to a goal, challenge, or project?
In the late 1990’s, our cat Mason was hit by a car outside our house in London the day after we moved in. While we missed him terribly, it woke us up to the fact that the corner we lived on was a busy one and the park across the street meant that children were continually risking life and limb to run across the intersection.
While I had no idea how to even begin the process of getting a pedestrian crossing (known as a “zebra crossing” in the UK) put in, I knew that if I showed up to the problem and took the first step, at some point the next step would appear. An internet search told me that our local MP (Member of Parliament) would be the first port of call; a phone call revealed that she held a weekly “surgery” not far from our house where members of her constituency could stand in line to request her assistance with their community-based concerns.
During our meeting, I found out that we needed 1000 signatures to get a feasibility study for the crosswalk commissioned. I didn’t know how to go about doing that but I figured if I showed up, something would happen, so I went and stood by the park with a stack of lined paper and a clipboard. After about an hour, someone showed up who had already begun a similar petition; we agreed to share resources over a coffee in the park. The woman who owned the café we were in overheard our conversation and offered to “host” the petition by her cash register, and less than a month after showing up to the project I presented our MP with the completed petition.
The entire process took just over two years and we had left the country by the time the crosswalk was complete, but I was delighted to visit it on a subsequent visit back to London and surreptitiously christen it the inadvertently cross-species “Mason the Cat Zebra Crossing”.
At no point did I know how or even if the project would be successful; what I knew was a simple truth perhaps best said by the Scottish mountaineer W. H. Murray:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
Here’s how I would say it in my own words:
Whenever you show up and aim yourself in a direction, the impersonal intelligence behind life shows up with you.
The same force that grows oak trees out of acorns and brings forth babies out of women’s tummies puts ideas in your head, words in your mouth, and opportunities into your world if you let it. It’s not magic – it’s just how it works.
To experiment with “the ultimate strategy” this week, choose something you would like to see come into being in the world. Don’t worry about actually getting anywhere with it – this is just an opportunity to see the impersonal intelligence of the deeper mind in action.
Whatever it is, show up to it each day. That might look like daydreaming about it; it might look like jotting down some ideas or taking a next step or exploratory action. What you’re really looking for is that moment when something new occurs to you – a fresh idea on the inside and/or a new action or opportunity on the outside. Whatever it is, step into it and see where it takes you. Repeat each day, share your experiences in the Inside-Out Community on Facebook, and we’ll pick up with “step two” next week!
Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!
With all my love,