I've been following Hugh MacLeod for a while now. A long time, actually. So long that I don't remember how I was introduced to him. I subscribe to his daily "newsletter," which isn't so much a newsletter in my opinion. And that's why I like it. He simply sends out one of his cartoons and some thoughts as to what is behind it--usually stemming from some interaction he's had with a company/client or an observation of the marketplace. Generally short and sweet with a powerful punch. I highly recommend it and you can sign up for it here. Full disclosure: I don't know the man, have never met him, and am not being paid for this. The cartoon above arrived in my inbox last week with this from Hugh:
What determines who we are? Is it that we settle? What is good enough? Do we find happiness? How do all of these things shape who we are?
Our "potential" is infinite. As endless as the cosmos. We are endowed with the power, ability, and opportunity.
What gets in the way of our potential? Lack of drive? Lack of interest? Distractions? More likely: not knowing what [we] really want.
More than ever, we live in a world where on a personal level, nearly anything is possible. We ARE the sum total of our choices, and these choices should lead us to happiness.
I've always thought that a key to happiness is aligning what you want with what you are willing to do to get it.
We're not talking morality, we are talking your appetite for 16-hour work days, travel, ass-kissing, office politics, screaming kids, etc.
If you can live in that sweet spot of doing and getting what you want, you are living your potential.
And, your potential is all about being happy.
When I read what Hugh wrote, two things stood out for me: 1) we are the sum of our choices and 2) happiness is aligning what you want with what you are willing to do to get it.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I am a preacher of taking responsibility for one's actions. When I quit my Corporate America job six years ago to pursue a new life path, I can't tell you how many people said to me, "Man, I wish I could do that." And when I told them they could--all it takes is a strict budget and clear priorities--they looked at me like I was nuts. Nothing flummoxes Americans more than suggesting they account for their money and their lives.
What I wanted was to be a writer and artist with a stable financial foundation. So that is what I worked toward. I worked my butt off in a corporate job for 13 years and saved every penny I could. I didn't have cable TV (still don't). I didn't have an iPhone or anything else that started with an i (still don't). I didn't have a fancy car (still don't) or expensive clothes (still don't). I rarely ate out (still don't) and hardly ever took in a movie (still don't). I never once felt like these were sacrifices and I don't wish for them now. Along the way I picked up one hella fella who has provided unconditional support and has been my biggest cheerleader. We've both heavily invested in each other emotionally and financially which has allowed us to take chances and pursue dreams EVERY SINGLE DAY while living in that "sweet spot" Hugh talks about. So am I my potential?
Well, let me answer it this way: I am the happiest I've ever been in my life...and every day I seem to be happier than the previous.
I think Hugh would be proud of me.