Matters Column

Capturing the wind means keeping control of the sails

May 24, 2013
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We often receive an unexpected boost from motivational quotes. Many originate within the world of sports but life is about more than playing games: It is about dreaming what could be. It is about reaching beyond our wildest expectations to grasp a slice of reality from a pie not yet created. It is about setting goals beyond what is achievable so that we force ourselves outside of the box in which we are comfortable and move toward things yet to be considered.

We all stumble and fall while travelling through life. The difference between success and failure is whether we stay down or get back up.

People react to challenges differently. Some seek comfort from every storm, preferring to remain within the safe harbors of life, never venturing outside the protected coastal waters as they accept the remnants and wreckage that wash up to shore. Instead, they allow others to seek new adventures, to conquer unknown territories. To them, a gentle breeze may become a raging storm, the tranquility of their calm disrupted by even the smallest pebble tossed into the sea.

Others seek adventure, preferring to face the storms of life head on rather than finding comfort within anyone’s harbor. They hear the howling in the wind and seek to identify its source; they wish to find where it came from before watching it go away. They recognize the wind cannot be contained or captured but dream of riding upon it, soaring above the earth as they seek new horizons. They prefer to identify opportunities as they move boldly forward in life rather than seek comfort in what they have accomplished.

As we move through life, leaving one season behind as we anticipate all that the next might bring, we might do well to fill our emotional pantries with thoughts of grandeur, with hopes and promises, rather than doing as we have always done while expecting something different to happen to us. Several “thought generators” come to mind whenever I begin to feel that “where I am” is better, safer or more secure than “where I could be.”

As you begin (or refresh) your journey through life, take time for the little things to become big. Do not move so fast that you fail to enjoy the journey. Find time to help others along the way because when the going gets tough, others may be the only lifeline available to keep us going. Live life to its fullest, focusing as much on the joy in the journey as the gold at the end of the rainbow. More than anything, find peace and joy in all that you say and do, seeking comfort from your discoveries rather than being satisfied to discover comfort within the status quo. 

Some thoughts that keep me going include:

“Dreams take time, patience, sustained effort, and a willingness to fail if they are ever to become anything more than dreams.” — Brian Linkoski

“It may be that those who do the most, dream the most.” — Stephen Leacock

“We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it.” — William Osler

“The greater danger for most is not that our aim is too high and we miss, but that it is too low and we reach it.” — Michelangelo

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” — William Shakespeare

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls while others build windmills.” — Chinese proverb

There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we seek results and conclusions rather than recognition and credit. We can find ongoing satisfaction when we claim success during the journey, acknowledging each step taken as we run the race rather than waiting until our quest has ended to find satisfaction in the efforts we exhibited. We accomplish many things not yet imagined and bring to fruition countless things not previously realized when we allow our dreams to materialize. We gain much from life when each step is celebrated as an accomplishment rather than looking only to the goal at the end of our journey.

While there is no “one size fits all” motivational solution, we cannot allow our eyes to wander from the prize if we seek to move from what would be considered “good” to those things commonly acknowledged as being “great.”

Though it may not “take a village” to raise our self-awareness, it does take commitment, determination and intentional action to move beyond the storms that often darken our lives to the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

David J. Smith is president and CEO of The Employers’ Association in Grand Rapids.

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