So often, vision, goal setting, and planning are related to climbing a large mountain, and for good reason. Climbing a mountain is a difficult task indeed. The result of which is generally most gratifying. The higher and harder the mountain to climb, the more rewarding and pleasing the victory.
But there is a disconnect in the comparison….
When climbing a mountain, all one needs to do is choose a mountain on a map and one can usually even find a predetermined path to the top. The metaphor suggests that when we are looking for success, all we need to do is find the paths that have already been proven. I know many people who have, by their ambition, been led to find some cookie cutter recipe to success. I call these people sheep-people. And no matter how ambitious, a lamb is still a lamb.
But what about those of us that want to find our own way? For some, only a creative life will satisfy. Some like Og Mandino, who claims, “I am here for a purpose, and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.” While living another’s life is an option, I submit that it is the essence of the human spirit to create our own path—to “grow” our own mountain, to not be sheep.
The process is a rewarding, albeit difficult, process to pursue. It takes a great deal of discipline and mental power. By undertaking such a task, you will be fighting against yourself, and the current culture. Both are exceptionally intimidating rivals. It will seem like an immovable wall at first, but momentum will grow and your perseverance will lead to the most sustaining state of self-control ever to be had. The good thing about process' is they have steps. How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time!
Understanding your Reality
If you were dropped in the middle of a random desert, blind-folded, with a map and a destination, what is the first thing you have to do to reach that destination? You could start wandering and looking, or you could open the map and find the destination. One of these answers is definitely better than the other, but still not the best. What we have to remember in creating our life, and in orienteering, is that direction is relative. It doesn’t matter one bit that you can find the destination on a map if you have no idea where you are in relation. With this understanding, it is fair to say that an accurate knowledge of your reality is essential if you want to end up in a specific place.
People dismiss their reality for countless reasons and in a wide variety of ways. Generally we tend to be either overly positive or overly negative. Understanding personal reality is about finding the balance of these two extremes. Why? A person that is overly positive is only able to retain such positivity by disregarding and ignoring any hint of problem, and thus removing any necessity for change or growth. This is a direct result of fear. Humans fear change because it hurts their chances for comfort. On the other hand, we get overly negative when we lose sight of any remaining hope. This hurts our chances of growth because we feel like there is no chance of growth. So why try for progressing in either case? See the problem? Again, the solution is in the balance. In the balance, our knowledge of our problems is coupled with the energizing power of hope.
So, we know we need balance, but how do we find it? An idea is given from the words of the ancient Greek poet, Hesoid.
He is best of all who of himself conceivith all things;
Good again is he to who can adopt a good suggestion;
But whoso neither of himself conceiveth, nor hearing from another
Layeth it to heart;—he is a useless man.
Not only does Hesiod validate the necessity for reality, he gives the sources from which such knowledge should be acquired. We determine our reality from both looking at ourselves and hearing it from others.
Reality acquired by Self-conception: When we speak of looking at our self to find our reality, we mean our inner self. This is our emotional state, our mental state. Deep inside is where we find our purpose and our desires. The battles of our emotions are fought here. In a world where our identity tends to get mixed up in what we see around us, such a peek into our internal self-hood can be revealing. There are countless opportunities for such encounters with The Self. I find my mind wandering there when I am by myself, on my bicycle in the middle of nowhere. There’s something about the hum of the tires on the pavement harmonizing with the rotation of the cranks that puts me in such a self-reflective state. The only thing missing then is a pen and paper to write it all down. Your mind is freer with this personal information when writing it. There is much to be learned from keeping a journal. The process may be different for you, but it can yield the same result. Find your favorable time to meditate and record what you learn.
Reality acquired by external help: It would be foolish not to accept the wisdom of others close to us when trying to determine our own realistic state. We all have people we trust that can help us a great deal. The nice thing is (nice, if you think about it positively) you usually don’t even have to ask for such criticism. In my experience, people will give it freely. What we need to be prepared for is how we will accept it. Whether you are a leader of a large organization, or a father heading a small family, feedback can be your best friend. (It certainly was when writing this blog post. I’m sure this post would be an ugly sight if it weren’t for all the people that have helped me. Maybe you think it is still an ugly sight. In which case you may comment and I will most certainly listen.)
To recap, reality is essential to changing your life because you must know where you are in order to get where you want to go. This reality is found where hope and knowledge of your current state (good or bad) meet and can be found through meditation and feedback from trusted sources.
So we begin to see the elephant. Let’s dig in! Stay tuned for more steps in the process of creating your own life!