In sports like football and basketball, there are the “star” players. The guys who get the media attention, the girls, the praise, the points.
When I was younger I had coach who did an unforgettable job of boosting our moral for being big ol’ linemen. He made us realize one thing: the running back and quarterback is shining because of our blocking. We may not get the newspaper story, but deep down on a pro mindset, we became aware of the real benefits of our position and how it contributed to something much larger than us.
If you ever see a center in the NBA shoot a 3-pointer, you know he’s not playing his position. He’s doing a disservice to his team, his coach, and the fans.
In life, you are in a (current) position.
If you’re in your 20′s like me, your role is to relentlessly learn, ask questions, take risks, work hard, seek a mentor, gain experience, etc. Your role is not to seek praise or immediate gratification in the field that you’re in.
Needless to say, our position will change. At one point the apprentice becomes adept. We will learn, fail, and grow. We become aware of more dots, and sooner or later, we connect all of them.
When I launched Reignite, I felt this postpartum depression. It was weird. I had never felt anything like that before. I was trying to put a finger on why I was feeling that way, but ended up having my mind run in circles.
So I did what I had to do: I reached out for help. I asked my friends, other writers, etc. The reason was simple: I was feeling this way because I was seeking gratification. I had just worked on a project for 8 months and shipped it, and for some sick reason I was expecting so much more. I was expecting tons of emails (which I got later), tweets, comments, the works.
And it makes sense. Every writer or anyone who creates an artistic project wants to be noticed for their hard work. When I didn’t receive the praise that I was expecting, even though I was unable to identify it at first, I was feeling self-doubt and postpartum depression.
Seth Godin said 3 words to me that changed my whole attitude and the way I approach my work:
“Journey, not destination.”
What he meant was that I shipped. I did it. I did what most people and businesses and startups fail to do.
Now I have to do it again. And again. And again.
Did you know that Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, didn’t have many sales when the book shipped? The publishers told him he had “a better chance of making money in the stock exchange.” That is the story of one destination.
But the story of the long haul? To date, his book has sold over 65 million copies, translated into 67 different languages, making him the most translated (living) author of our time.
Reading about his journey, I think he felt postpartum depression, too. After his setback, he needed time to heal. Him and his wife left Rio de Janeiro to spend 40 days in the Mojave desert. When he came back, he decided to keep on struggling.
That’s a pro mindset. That’s thinking, “Journey, not destination.”
We often get so stuck in a destination that we fail to see the long haul, the journey. We forget to remind ourselves that this road to mastery is like a labyrinth, and with every turn lies a Sphinx or a malignant creature attempting to stop us from realizing our true powers. Many stormy destinations can help you discover what you’re made out of. Instead of viewing it as a misfortune, we should be thanking these parts of our lives; they make up who we are.
Understand your position and wake up everyday with the determination to give it your all and leave everything out on the court, the field, the blank document, the canvas, the confused customer, whatever.
The current position you play now and how well you play it, will help determine the position that you must later embrace.