Tomorrow we head to my nine-year old’s play-in game. If you are anything like me this play-in concept requires explanation. It refers to a duel played by the two last place baseball teams who are fighting for a spot in the playoffs. This season’s games were engaging and high scoring, like a recent 15-18 heart breaker that was given up in the last inning. The season tally? 3-12. Despite this lopsided record and the unruly behavior of the other teams these players never traded away their optimism nor their enthusiasm. Resilient seemed a perfect description for the team.
This week I’ve had to reach deeply to conjure that same resilience. My inner critic was on a roll campaigning against my most exciting project…my book. I’m frustrated over the little progress that I’ve made thus far. Who knew? Finally all the real hurdles, like publishers and proposals, are behind me. Now the only one that remains? Me. Only me.
Last spring I blogged about The University of Michigan’s 2013 commencement address by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter. Costolo spoke of resilience in a way that was provocative and meaningful – not only to graduates but also to those who humbly proceed through transition.
Twitter had just gone public. Costolo and his company were darlings. It’s only 17 minutes long…worth a quick listen while you are on the commuter rail, standing on the edge of the soccer field or folding laundry.
- The Folly of Defining Paths: Costolo told students, “you cannot draw any of your paths looking forward.” He continued, “you have to figure out what you love to do. What you have conviction about. And go do that.” His reasoned out loud that this simple formula translated into a sequence of adventures over twenty years that ultimately led to Twitter. (approx. at 12:30 minutes into the speech) BTW, Steve Jobs said the exact thing at Stanford’s Commencement in 2005. Coincidence?
- Recognize the Need to Pivot: Costolo made an interesting observation about defining your own milestones and pivoting away from achieving external ones. “From here on out,” he told graduates, “you have to switch gears. You are no longer meeting and exceeding expectations. There are no expectations. There is no script. When you do what you love to do you become resilient because that’s the habit you create for yourself. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself and making bold choices in service to what you love.” (approx 12:50 minutes into the speech)
Costolo wasn’t Pollyanna-ish about his path. It was characterized with financial uncertainty, real mistakes and learning. But he reasoned that those who invest in the direction of their passions get the gifts of resilience and courage and grace.
Next week I’m hoping for a little grace as I re-engage with a project that seems bigger than me. I’m also hoping for the courage to finally commit to paper that which has engaged my spirit for so long.
Tomorrow I’m hoping that a group of young men can summon again the courage to play from the heart.
I refuse to believe that their resilience is only available to young boys who dream of home runs and careers in the major leagues. I believe it is there for all of us who ask of it….we simply need the grace and courage to know how.
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