Sometimes there are these moments you can nearly see yourself from a third person point of view.
I have a memory from freshman year of college when I was organizing my first campus-wide event. It was a huge concert with a big band; 10,000 people came and I was a 19-year-old kid entrusted with running the show. It was the hardest thing I had done up to that point in my life. There’s a picture someone took of me from that night as I was in the midst of executing on our plan. I don't even remember the moment the photo was snapped, but my dad saw it later and commented: "I know that look. You knew what you had to do and you weren't going to let anything get in your way. Get that look as often as you can and don't let anyone take it away from you."
We rarely remember all the moments we get that look. Time spent in the trenches happens like a montage in a movie; several scenes stitched together as the character displays intense focus or does something difficult. Nothing is going to distract them from what they have to do. Their breath is tempered and their eye is on the horizon.
If you pay attention, you can see yourself in moments like this -
- Like when you're rounding a bend on a jog and the wind shifts, picks up behind your back and your favorite song is next on shufffle. You could run forever.
- Like when you're up early and driving somewhere far away to do something risky and you’re the only car on the road.
- Like when you're sitting at a coffee shop and you've got a list of things you're knocking out one by one. And you have the caffeine shakes.
It’s those small moments that get us through. The reason they're often found in montages is because they can sometimes be boring or kind of regular unless there’s a sweet song playing. It takes consistent hard work to be an extraordinary person. It means you have to trust the process.
If movies represented life as it actually is, stories about people who do powerful things would show lots of quiet, hard work. The whole film would be about someone practicing something with no recognition. It wouldn’t be a highlight reel.
There's no way around the hard work. Whether it be recovery, training, creating, preparing – if you commit to doing the work you're called to do it’s going to be difficult. You have to show up when you don't want to. You have to believe when you can't believe anymore. You have to trust in love and beauty and truth even though sometimes the best intentions are repaid with less than you expected.
Do yourself a favor and every once in a while imagine what you look like from the outside: a person with fire in your belly and a long-vision for a better future you're willing to go out and create.
And wake up and do it again tomorrow.