Millions have fought and died in the name of a flag, religion or monarchy.
Thankfully, there are also countless examples of bravery, kindness or endurance that were the outpouring of an intensely held hope, quest or goal.
Whether the outcome is positive or negative, there is little doubt that strong emotional forces can be unleashed. Something deep within the human psyche is motivated and invigorated by an ideal, a concept or a belief.
Kennedy challenged a generation to “ask what they could do for their country”. He launched a race to the Moon and the entire nation rallied to that call. Churchill’s determination to ‘fight on the beaches’ and Dr King’s ‘dream’ helped shape history.
These lofty ideals have broad power, but I believe there are also more personal images that can empower us? They may not rally the masses or change the course of nations, but our own ideals may bolster our flagging spirits and inspire an extra effort.
What Inspires Me
One image that has inspired me countless times, harks back to my surfing days.
A surfer can paddle into position to catch a wave, but the surfer can’t make the wave happen. That depends on something far beyond our own effort or control.
There are things that we can do though. We have to enter the water and expend the effort to paddle into place.
Then, it is a matter of having the patience to wait until a good wave rises.
Of course, the crucial moment is when a good wave does come along. That’s when it is time to paddle like mad so you can catch the wave and ride it as far as you can.
Living the Idea
Life presents many wave-like moments: a chance meeting; an introduction; or the proverbial ‘being in the right place at the right time’.
A business idea can grow into a business opportunity that blossoms into a career-changing event. How many times have you heard of a casual vacancy where the role morphs and the person stays on for years?
I’ve found great inspiration in the idea of seizing the moment, paddling like mad and riding the wave as far as I can. That is when you launch out and make the most of the opportunity. Seize the chance!
There is another aspect of this image that also has great power. During that long lull between waves, it is not a time for pointless paddling. Instead, it is a great time to sit back on your board and take in the beauty of your surroundings – the sun, sky and sea.
Relax because you can’t make a wave happen. That power is absolutely beyond your capability.
It is a time to relax and wait. A wave will eventually come and all you can do is position yourself and to be determined to catch the wave when it does.
Fretting and worrying are as pointless as aimless paddling. They achieve nothing and simply drain energy and enthusiasm. A quiet period in a business, career or life is a time to relax, regroup and refocus on the possibilities ahead.
The idea of surrendering to a fate beyond my control has helped me endure. There is peace in ‘accepting the things we cannot change’.
This simplistic “wave theory” may mean little to anyone else, but it really works for me. What concepts have inspired you?