The Climb – Are you enjoying your career?
This weekend I was listening to one of my new favorite podcasts, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (www.armchairexpertpod.com). I started listening to him because I may or may not be obsessed with his wife, Kristen Bell, who was one of the first guests on his show. Regardless, I was quickly sucked in to the frank conversations had in the show and listened to a handful of episodes back to back.
In one episode, Dax’s guest was Ashton Kutcher. Ashton and Dax worked together on MTV’s Punk’d, a celebrity prank show that aired a few years back. Their conversation led to a discussion about how it’s amusing that we work so hard to get to where we want to be, and then do not appreciate our accomplishments when we move on to bigger and better things.
This was brought up by Dax admitting that even though Punk’d allowed him to live his dream of being a paid working actor, he became quickly embarrassed about being on a reality prank show. Even though being a paid actor on TV was what he always dreamed of. He made it, and now it wasn’t enough.
Dax started realizing how misguided that was when he was having a conversation with director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy). Dax was complaining about a movie he put together that did not do well in the box office and Smith said (I am paraphrasing here): If you were able to talk to your 12 year old self and let him know that in the future he will write, direct and star in a major motion picture that will be released nationwide, what do you think he will say? Will he ask how well it did in the box office? OF COURSE NOT! He is going to be crapping his pants that he got to make a movie like he always dreamed of.
The point of the story is that we are always changing our goals. Once we get to where we need to be, we lose sight not only as to how cool it is that we got there, but all the work that was involved in the pursuit of our dreams. We are always looking forward to what is next, when learning the lessons of the journey is just as important, if not more.
I know this because I have anxiety which is constantly taking me to the future. I sometimes miss the boat on all the great things that have happened to me because I am worried about what is next. Although that keeps me hungry, that is also not fair to the guy that worked his butt off to be where he is today.
I am not saying that you should just appreciate what you have and to shut up about wanting more. That is not the point. Of course wanting more is a positive thing. It is what keeps us growing and makes us better and better. What I am saying is that instead of just barreling through to the next thing, take some time to note of how far you have come and how much you have grown along the way. Go back to your 12 year old selves and tell them all the stuff you have been up to. Ask them if they ever thought in their wildest dreams that they would get to do the things that you are currently doing.
A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to watch a keynote presentation by Alison Levine, the team captain of the first American Woman’s Everest Expedition (www.alisonlevine.com). The first time she attempted to reach the summit at Everest she did not make it. Due to a storm she had to turn back just short of reaching the peak. Years of conditioning, training and preparation with the result being just short of her goal. Now my question to you is, did she fail? Did not reaching the summit make all her efforts meaningless? Of course not. The experience she gained from her journey, the trust she built with her team, and the obstacles she overcame made a world of difference in her life, regardless if she got to the summit or not.
A few years later, Alison tried again and reached the summit as she intended. Her reaction was that the summit was not that big of deal. They stayed there for a couple of minutes, took some pictures, and then started preparing for the descent back. Ultimately, making it to the summit didn’t really matter. Her point was: “The summit isn’t important. It is the journey and the lessons you learn along the way that make a difference.”
Enjoy the journey. Be thankful that you get to do the things you do every day. Know that through your struggle you are growing regardless of where it takes you. I will leave you with the words of modern philosopher Miley Cyrus:
“There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna want make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb”
Andre Mello is a business coach and is constantly talking to his 12 year old self about all the cool things he has gotten to do. He has been in marketing and leadership for over 17 years. If you would like to connect with Andre, please visit www.wysecoaching.com