Wise Words for Weary Warriors
“Any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you…Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question…Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”
— Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan
I was sitting in a reception area, waiting for my financial planners — two men — to call me into their office to discuss my finances. But it was a woman (I think she was their assistant), who finally came out of the office. She sat down beside me.
“Well?” I asked.
The woman shook her head. “I think you’d be wise to call it quits.”
She was referring to my company.
“It’s simply costing you too much to run,” she said.
I sighed. “I know.”
“I came across a yellow sticky in your notes with your handwriting on it,” she continued. “And it said, ‘I think it’s time to throw in the towel.’”
I nodded, trying not to cry. “I guess I was hoping you guys would tell me otherwise.”
She took my hand. “It’s for the best, dear.”
“You’re right,” I said. And the tears came.
Then my alarm clock went off and I sat up in bed. And in that first moment of recall, an unmistakeable sense of relief washed over me. How easy it would be to just give up. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. The nice lady in my dream was probably right.
I got out of bed and went into the kitchen to start coffee. Then I sat on the couch and wrote the dream down in my journal. And I got to thinking…maybe the lady wasn’t right. Perhaps she was playing Devil’s Advocate and knew that telling me what I thought I wanted to hear would make me realize how much I really didn’t.
Although throwing in the towel on my business would be the easiest path to take, it wouldn’t be the right one because my company has a heart…my heart. And that alone makes it worth fighting for.
So I got up from the couch, showered and got on with my day — which, interestingly, entailed attending a seminar by international speaker and trainer, Brian Willis. Brian’s presentation was entitled Harnessing the Winning Mind and Warrior Spirit.
And wouldn’t you know it but what Brian had to say was precisely what I needed to hear.
The seminar was geared towards police officers and military personnel but the wisdom shared was applicable to anyone. For I am realizing we are all warriors in one form or another…I mean, if we’re at least trying to achieve some sort of good in a world that desperately needs us to.
“The warrior fights because he believes that he is fighting for something good, something positive, something that will improve the quality of the world around him. The warrior never forgets that he is an example and so will always act accordingly. He is a leader, and when there is no one else to lead, the warrior must lead himself forward to a different, higher standard.”
— Richard J. Machowicz, Unleashing the Warrior Within
The more I listened to Brian’s presentation — some of which I’d heard before in his seminars over the years but obviously needed a reminder — the more I realized that for my business, failure wasn’t an option.
“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”
— Sir Winston Churchill
In fact, despite what the nice lady in my dream said, failure wasn’t even on the table because the success of my business is not just about me. For I can do the work I love most — writing — with or without my own company.
Rather, my business is about collaborating with others to create works that inspire, encourage and challenge people to effect positive change in themselves and the world around them. As such, my company can be a catalyst for achieving far greater things than we could achieve on our own as individuals. And my company gives people opportunities, just as I have been given so many.
If I gave up on my business, I would not physically die, no. But I made the decision a long time ago to do far more than merely survive this life.
I left Brian’s presentation with eighteen pages of notes to refer to, as I continue to revise my business strategy and hone my daily habits.
Here are the three key tips I took away:
1) Ask yourself this question: What’s Important Now?
Otherwise known as W.I.N., this question is powerful.
Every day, we make dozens of choices. By asking myself this question multiple times throughout the day, I find it easier to keep on track with achieving what is really most important.
Whether my answer is to get out into nature and walk my dog, sit at my laptop and work for an hour on a challenging essay, or send out an e-mail to a potential advertiser, asking this question throughout the day helps prioritize tasks. The trick, of course, is to answer honestly!
2) Face the Facts; Keep the Faith
“Retain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and that at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”
— The Stockdale Paradox
Having faith that, despite the odds and obstacles, all will be well is not an easy thing to do…especially since “well” is a highly subjective term that depends a great deal on one’s attitude. And yet, without faith, it’s an awfully hard slog. So faith I shall have.
3) What is one thing you can start doing differently today?
For me, it is learning to implement into my day a healthier sense of rhythm – versus forcing myself to stick to a set routine.
I tend to become a bit obsessed with ticking tasks off my to-do list, preferably in the order in which they appear, rather than on focusing on doing the tasks themselves well…and enjoying the process.
So I turned to one of my favourite authors for this bit of advice:
“It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than the idea of will. Too often people try to change their lives by using the will as a kind of hammer to beat their life into proper shape.”
– John O’Donohue, Anam Cara; A Book of Celtic Wisdom
If our path has a heart, then it is good. But it is up to us to ensure each step we take on that path is worthy of the warriors we are. As Albert Einstein said, “To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life.”
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the playwright of Saviour. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and and the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. Brian Willis is the CEO of Winning Mind Training.