Let's pretend and jump forward six months. It's now June of 2015 and someone asks you this question,
"How would you describe 2014?"
I already know my answer, I would say,
I'll look back on 2014 with fond memories because it's a year in some small ways I got over myself. Is that something you can relate to? I was in a rut for several years serving myself first and legitimizing it as necessary self care. "I deserve it." Those are ugly words but I used them to justify self serving actions. But in all things we think we deserve, eventually these things become idols in our life and let us down.
I was dealing with an unknown and un-diagnosed cancerous spirit reeking havoc and at the center of it was the single thought, "I deserve it."
I know, it's pretty arrogant right?
But let's be honest, we all say it in our own unknown and un-diagnosed way.
"I'm going to buy it..I deserve it."
"I'm going to show up there...I deserve it."
"I'll text that person back...I deserve it."
"I'm going to say this to that person...I deserve it."
"I'm going to drink or eat that...I deserve it."
"I'm not going to show up to that...I deserve it."
Where are you saying, "I deserve it."?
I wish I could say I found the internal fortitude or wisdom to cut the process off but it would be a lie. However, what did lead to a change is reading. Although I greatly enjoy reading, I have seasons where I simply don't do it enough. Instead of sitting with a good book I can easily get distracted trying to catch up on New Girl, an NBA game, or Monday Night Football. When 2014 started I was in a reading slump but I have a rule with myself in regards to travel: If I travel I always bring a book.
So back in March, the family jumped in the faithful mini-van and we took off for Spring Break in Orlando, Florida. I brought a book. Then, in June the family went with me to work in California for a month. I brought a book. Two weeks ago, Melissa and I went to British Columbia, Canada. I brought a book. These three books have made 2014 a landmark year and I want to tell you about them and why they've made 2014 so great.
1. Who Moved My Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change In Your Work and In Your Life - This book showed up right when I needed it most. WMMC is one of the quickest books you'll ever read. Dr. Spencer Johnson uses a fictional story to relay critical messages about how each of us handles change. In the right moment I needed to see I was resisting change. I had a death grip on some change occurring in my life and it was making me a miserable person. Johnson uses two characters, Hem and Haw, to illustrate the negative attitudes and actions we can have towards change. This quote hit me the hardest:
Haw realized again, as he had once before, that what you are afraid of is never as bad as what you imagine. The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.
Back in March these were words I needed to hear.
2. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Changes the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead - This book. I had watched Brene' Brown's TED talk on The Power of vulnerability several times. I had heard the murmurs on social media about how good her book Daring Greatly was, so as I packed up to head to California for a month I asked Mel to grab a copy at the library. There are only a couple of books I've read from the Library and then felt the need to purchase - this is one of those books! I wasn't aware of how much shame grips us and how much it can keep us from moving forward on the life God intends for us. This book helped me identify a quality in people I greatly admire - Brene' refers to these people as whole hearted people. These folks do something different with their shame, they don't allow it to define them. Instead, they see it for what it is and they move forward as brave and vulnerable people. For me, this was a line in the sand. These were the type of people I wanted to hold close and give special access into my life. Not only that, but these were the people I wanted to build a company to serve. (You can read more about how this book made me feel in my first post after my time in California here.) My favorite quote from Daring Greatly is this:
From calling a friend who's experienced a terrible tragedy to starting your own business, from feeling terrified to experiencing liberation, vulnerability is life's great dare. It's life asking, "Are you all in? Can you value your own vulnerability as much as you value it in others?" Answering yes to these questions is not weakness: It's courage beyond measure. It's daring greatly. And often the result of daring greatly isn't a victory march as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue.
I want to be all in life and probably you do to. I suggest you read this book if you haven't. I'm still learning what it means to dare greatly but I know who I want to dare greatly with.
3. The War of Art - Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles - I just finished this book last night and I loved it. I've heard people I admire, like Seth Godin, make references to the book several times. I think the title is a little misleading because some people will immediately dismiss the book saying, "I'm not an artist." But you are. We all are. We all have gifts and talents that point us towards some sort of outlet, these things have to make their way out of us. Too many of us push back on these feelings and Steven Pressfield gives this push back a name in The War of Art: The Resistance. I do it. I find ways to give resistance a place in my life to keep me from letting my creative bents have a daily home. I've certainly given resistance a home in regards to my own work dreams and life goals. But now I recognize the resistance and I am pressing back with techniques Pressfield offers. In this time of starting a business and re-identifying my calling in the next season, I'm so grateful I read this book! My favorite quote from this book was:
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
Of course your scared to risk putting your personal art out there for the world to see, this is what makes you a real artist. I needed to know fear was okay in the creation of art and that fear is a sign post I'm taking my art in the right direction.
These three books spoke to me in 2014. Maybe you need them to speak to you in 2015, or maybe you need them to speak to your prior to the end of 2014! Each had a unique voice and a critical message to me: I needed change, being vulnerable and doing life with vulnerable people is both brave and daring greatly, and lastly, fear is the positive litmus test to investing my energy in creating art and pushing my work life forward.
Here's to your 2015, may it be your best year yet.
I'd love to hear what your planning on reading to make it a landmark year. So if you have a book picked out, please leave a comment below!