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Do or Die - The Middleground is No Place For Winners

  My daughter’s been in art school going on nine months now. Our goal is to try and get her into Etobicoke School of the Arts, one of the top art schools in all of Canada and definitely the hardest to get into in Toronto. We have this thing when every once in a while I say to her “what school are you going to,” and she’ll say “Etobicoke School of the Arts.” Then I ask her “what’s your next option,” and she’ll say “there is no other option.”

See, people have all these “secrets” to success; business leaders or life coaches write hundreds of pages and sell millions of books to tell you a very simple remedy to achieving your ULTIMATE dreams. The secret is there is no secret, you just need to create a situation, real or perceived, where you don’t give yourself any other option but success. You either do it or don't.

Urgency

I watched an interview the other day with Birdman who is the CEO of Cash Money Records. Angie Martinez, who was conducting the interview, asked him how he was able to build what is the most successful independent (hip hop) label ever. Birdman replied by saying he didn’t want to end up like everyone else around him, which meant dead or in jail. He said he had a vision and used the urgency of wanting to escape his environment and carried that energy all the way through to where he is now.

Nowhere in his response did he say he read every self help book out there, or he followed the “7 habits of all successful people,” or any other so called secret. Birdman simply wanted to succeed more than he wanted to fail, and here’s the key: this ambition would not allow him to settle for the in between, the middleground many of us find ourselves trapped.

But settling is where most of us end up. We educate ourselves somehow, push ourselves through school or some kind of training, feel good that we’ve been able to rise up just enough to feel comfortable, then we stop. It’s like there’s a huge gate so many of us get to that convinces us to say “that’s enough for me,” and we settle.

I’m going to make an assumption here based on how I view things, but for people like Birdman and the other mega successful women and men out there, stopping at that gate just isn’t going to cut it. In their mind, they’ve created enough urgency in themselves to where finding a way to the other side of that gate is the only option possible. Settling for a position that isn’t part of their vision was just never going to happen, and in their mind’s the thought of not getting to the other side is so scary that they literally create a reality similar to my daughter saying “there is no other option.”

No Escape

Creating a reality where there’s no option means you don’t give yourself any excuse for an escape. Popular (ex) blogger Necole Bitchie said she was sleeping on her aunt’s couch and working on her website when everyone around her begged her to get a “real” job. Soon her aunt’s couch turned into her own couch and she became one of the more popular celebrity bloggers out there.

Even getting shot in the head by the Taliban couldn't stop Malala Yousafzai from her quest to make a difference. Not only did she have the entire deck stacked against her being a female in a country that oppressed the gender, but she could have literally lost her life, a possibility that still exists, and that still wasn't enough from stopping her from entering that gate. Now she's a Nobel Peace prize winner and one of the most influential people in the world, male or female.

But it’s hard to create that urgency on your own. It’s hard to make yourself believe that ultimate success is dire and if you don’t achieve the level of success you’re seeking, then everything inside you will die. And for those who live in situations that are truly urgent and they really do need a way out, sometimes it’s difficult to actually escape.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, for me it’s a pretty simple formula. If you want to succeed more than anything, then you have to prove it. With urgency comes actions, so logically the more urgency you feel the more actions you should take to alleviate those feelings and replace them with feelings of fulfillment and appreciation.

I can’t tell you how great it feels to be witnessing all of my dreams happen everyday. My vision is clear, my work ethic is sound, and I take steps everyday to keep creating the reality I’ve dreamed of for so long.

#PassionAndPaper

 

Why Is Simple So Appealing?

Sometimes I get these feelings telling me that all I truly want is a simple life. I was walking down the Lakeshore today in Toronto, barely anyone else was out there except for who I assumed was a grandmother and grandfather on either side side of their young granddaughter, holding her hands strolling to a bench near the water. The breeze coming from the lake forced my hands inside my pockets and my hood over my head, but really it was the peacefulness of the scene that made me shiver. What is it about simplicity that's so appealing? I sat on raised stones close enough to feel speckles of water hit my face and thought about how much I had simplified my own life just over the past few months. I was one of those take on ten projects at a time just because I can type of people, always trying to prove something to someone, or some group, or some girl, never thinking how much I put my own purpose to the side.

But then I stopped.

I stopped caring about other people's projects, stopped caring about other people's problems, and took the completely selfish but gratifying step of putting my own priorities first. I didn't focus on anything outside of my own personal goals, which I realized were really quite simple and based on what I was great at or what I felt some emotional connection to.

20150520_141131This wasn't exactly easy because it meant letting go of things in which I had invested a lot of time, stepping away from people I cared about, and changing paths a little bit which is always at least a little bit scary. But ask me now if it's worth it and I have to say YES without hesitation. The success I've had just over the last few months proves it. The calm I've felt during that same time period is more proof. And I'm still working harder than ever, but the Millennial in me keeps giving subtle reminders that this is my life, I only live it once, and I should live it the way I choose.

So I am, and I'm loving every moment of it, thankful for all of my accomplishments and the ones yet to come, and not apologizing for having left behind a world of complication for a life of simplicity.

Till next time...

Why I Won’t Succumb to Average

I already see it happening all around me. I’m at that age where people I know are settling down in their lives becoming comfortable with their careers. It’s that age where all those ambitions they had – those grandiose plans of starting their own company or creating a new product, or pushing for that new promotion, or boldly changing careers to something more meaningful or more fulfilling – gets pushed aside for the sake of comfort, or convenience, or having to exert too much effort, or for the need of money. I see it happening but I won’t succumb; I can’t. And you can call me a dreamer, illogical, delusional, all phrases the greats have had to endure before breaking through. Truth is, if I hadn’t seen enough progress in my own writing, haven’t continued to receive emails from readers with intimate accounts of how my writing has moved them, haven’t seen the faces of the audiences I read to nodding their heads in approval, haven’t seen those audiences grow with each reading. If I hadn’t seen this progress, I may have succumb too. I may have been right there with everyone else waving the white flag of consolation.

But it’s too late for me; I belong in the field. It’s too late for me to turn back now and say “I gave it my best shot.” I see how the power of my words have inspired some and impressed others, I see how much further I have to go and I’m more than up to the challenge. Giving in is not an option, breaking is not an option, being satisfied is not even a consideration. I’m just getting started, touching new people, gathering new readers, making more money which is opening more opportunities. My duty to this world has not been fulfilled just yet.

So I tip my hat to those of you who have gracefully bowed out of this journey toward greatness. I congratulate you for making it this far. My path is the road less traveled and my footprints will be seen.

Till next time….