If you’re are lost, what do you do?
We tell kids to stay where they are if they get lost...but if you stay put too long...and you happen to be a living thing...you die.
Ok, a bit morbid, but it’s true. You have to move, you have to go, you can’t stay in one place too long or you start to decompose, you start to self-destruct, you get bored.
In order to stay alive you have to move...but it’s easier to get somewhere worthwhile if you have a map...or to run towards.
When I lived in England I experienced a season of my life where I liked to jog. I ended up jogging 2 or 3 miles every other day.
One day when I went out for my jog, I felt like I needed a new challenge.
I lived on top of a large hill, in an old British village called Thurstonland, and on the top of that hill you can see a large tower miles in the distance.
I decided I was going to run to that tower.
I thought that if I could see that tower from any point I would just take roads towards it, and eventually get there...and I would take the same way back home.
Full proof? Yup, just as you guessed it: not exactly.
I ran for about 11 miles I think... all the way trying to note the path I’d taken...and actually it was really easy to navigate with that tower as a bullseye.
On the way home. I wasn’t so lucky.
Without that tower, and with the winding British roads, I couldn’t find my way back.
I was lost in the rain, at night, with blisters on my feet, without my cell phone...I didn’t even know my home phone number.
This is one of the reasons I believe in trying to figure out what my path is, and what it is I'm shooting for.
You see, when I could see the tower, my journey was perfect, but when I didn’t have something out ahead of me to shoot for, I got lost.
Sometimes in my creative journey I feel lost.
I feel like I’m not living into my potential.
These are some of the things that I believe have helped me in those moments, and I hope they help you too:
1. Say Yes to the Call
It’s easy to get off track when you refuse to get on the track at all. In order to realize your full potential you have say yes to life, to conflict, to the call, to that challenge.
Procrastinating, refusing to chart new territory, closing your mind to learning new things...these things will always stand in the way of doing your best work.
For me I have to have quiet time to myself every morning to consistently say yes to the call. During this time I do things that remind me what it is that I'm trying to do with my life.
The days I do this are the days that usually count.
2. Follow Your Bliss or Whatever You Want to Call it
A lot of these ideas were given form to me by a guy called Joseph Campbell. He was pretty famous. His book “A Hero of a Thousand Faces” inspired Star Wars for crying out loud.
For better or worse he coined the phrase “Follow Your Bliss”. He’s taken some flack for it...like it doesn’t mean just do what feels good...like it doesn’t mean go do heroin.
I think it means find that thing that lights you up in ways that nothing else can. For me, nothing makes me feel more alive than when I am encouraging someone else. So the stories I write, the conversations I have, the opportunities I say yes to, all hopefully point back in someway to that.
3. Find Mentor(s)
Some people hate on this. I completely hate on their hating of this.
This is one thing I’ll die defending.
Nothing clarifies my head and heart like meeting with a mentor. My dad is probably my number 1 mentor, and I can be a ball of confusion and emotions, but after a lunch with him, it all can feel clear again.
Mentors can see what you can’t.
They can give you the thoughts you can’t come up with on your own. More than anything else, I believe mentors hold the keys to aha moments in your life.
Some of my mentors I know deeply and personally, some I only know through a few emails over the years.
Who ever they are for you, seek them out and make getting input from them a priority.
4. Be True to Yo’ Self / Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper
This sounds as cliché as it gets, but often clichés come from some nugget of truth.
One of the most detrimental things to living your calling is trying to live someone elses.
Indulging in too much social media, too much obsession with someone else’s work, too much advice can end up causing you to attempt to live someone else’s journey.
Once this gets into your head, you will be confused, jealous and unmotivated. Engaging in social media, looking at other people’s work and taking advice can all be really positive things, but creating boundaries for yourself will help you from going to this negative place.
Being most successful at what you are supposed to do, looks different than what it looks like for others being successful at what they're supposed to do.
Perfect success in your calling may not equal 80 thousand twitter followers...but it does mean fulfillment in your own heart and mind.
5. Loosely Define The Essence of What You Do
This is the most important one to me.
Having the self awareness it takes to understand what it is you do best can be the most effective way to keep yourself on the right path.
I’m not convinced that you have a specific destiny.
I do believe though that each person is called to a specific strength that can determine their best version of life.
For me I know it has something to do with encouraging others in their purpose. The best illustrations, stories, writing and talks I do are oriented around this purpose. When I stay true to this, my job is successful much more often.
So I hope this encourages you.
On the way home from that run I got so lost that I ended up on country roads, in the middle of the night, without a street light or a home in sight.
I should've swallowed my pride and gave up hours before. I should have knocked on a door and asked for help, even though it would have been humiliating.
Eventually, after wandering in the dark for hours in the rain, I finally gave up. Luckily a car finally came by, I flagged down it down and took a chance at a phone number. Luckily, I reached my dad, and I was given directions to a local pub where he picked me up.
It wasn't humiliating at all actually. I expected my dad to give me a hard time, but really he was just deeply worried about me. I never realized how deeply he actually cared for me.
That moment my dad found me turned out to be one of my favorite and most meaningful memories of my life.
Sometimes the the first step to getting back on the path is admitting you’re going the wrong way, and although it may seem scary, it may actually just be fantastic.
If that’s you, give up today and find a new tower to run to.
I try to write really personally in these types of posts. It’s not always easy being so vulnerable, but I’m willing to risk it, just in case it might help someone. If you think this might help someone you know, I encourage you to share it with them. I know reading this sort of sappy encouragement stuff can seem a little embarrassing, but I hope you won’t let that stop you from passing it on to someone who might benefit a little from it...thanks for reading!