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If not the cockroach... Be the centipede!

Posted 9/28/2018

Back in June I wrote a blog called, ‘Of all creatures, choose to be the cockroach.’ I spoke about their resilience, their versatility and their adaptability. I know being a cockroach is not something many people aspire to. I’m not sure if being a centipede is something many people would aim for either, even though they are a little less objectionable. I will say this, however, centipedes have a character trait you need if you want to be successful in life

In a land far-far-away a great sporting rivalry had developed, over many years, between two great teams, the large animals and the small creatures. Each year these two teams battle-it-out on the football field to determine which is the best team in the land. In one particular year, the two teams took to the field, with fluffy testosterone flowing, and the game commenced.

In the first half the large animals dominated the game. They were bigger, faster and tougher and at the half-time break the small creatures limped off the ground, staring down the barrel of a massive deficit and what seemed to be a devastating one-sided defeat. Then in the second half things changed, the small creatures introduced a new recruit into the team who started to make a difference. He was unstoppable, like he had one hundred legs, he was Colin the centipede.

Colin dominated the game, excited the crowd and injected confidence back into the small creature’s team. Consequently, during the course of the second half, the small creatures clawed their way back into the game (pardon the pun!). A final effort, by Colin and the team, resulted in the goal which took them to a dramatic and miraculous victory.

Celebrations wildly began and the whole small creature population started a party that lasted for many days. A reporter for the local TV station interviewed Colin after the game and asked the obvious question, ’you had such a powerful impact on the game, why did you wait until the second half to come onto the ground?’ Colin looked into the television camera and said, ‘I was putting my shoes on!’

Yes, just in case you were wondering, that is a true story! Whether a true story, or clearly not, you may be asking what it has to do with anything. The answer is, not much, I just love the story. However, I was training the other morning and whilst I was in a large amount of pain, I got the revelation for this week’s blog. I was training hard, doing it tough and almost ready to throw in the towel and justify to myself I’d done enough when, believe it or not, I was inspired to keep going by a centipede.

Keep going just one little step at a time

For my weekly exercise regime, I often go up the hill and across the road to a large open space at the nearby council head offices. It’s Called MC Square and there is a flight of stairs and lots of flat open space to do a variety of exercises and inflict adequate pain to myself. So, I was doing a circuit which included me doing a number of handstand push ups against the wall of the building, then lunge-walking and running across the open space to run up and down the stairs, and then finishing the circuit with wonderful burpees. Yes, it was uncomfortable.

I had done quite a few circuits already. Not as many as I had planned to do, but, as I said, I was in the process of justifying to myself why I had done enough. As I was finishing off the painful burpees on what I had bargained to myself would be my last circuit, I saw a little centipede making its way across the large open walkway. As I was recovering and getting my breath back, I just stopped and watched this little creature as it inched towards its destination. It was moving slower than a snail’s pace. It just kept moving, regardless of how slow it was going or how far it still had to go. I have no idea how long it finally took, but I do know that it would have kept going until it finally arrived at its destination.

With that I was re-inspired. I thought, if this tiny little creature can overcome the odds, persist and keep going to achieve its goal, what’s my problem? So, I picked myself up, took myself back to the starting point and did another three or four circuits, and, completed what I had initially set for myself. Afterwards, and as always, I was so glad I did it and I was very grateful for my new friend, the centipede.

If I could give you one message this week that I believe will have the greatest impact on what you achieve and the life you will live, it is; focus on and finish what you start. It’s just second nature to animals and insects alike. They have very simple brains and they can only really focus on one thing at a time, and so they do until they have achieved it. We humans, who think we are so smart because we can multi-task and juggle many balls in the air at one time, are actually not as smart as we think we are. I think I’m great because I can write a blog, write a book, send an email and talk on the phone concurrently. I think I am getting more done, when actually it’s taking me much longer to get anything competed and there’s a greater chance I won’t finish everything. My past is littered with incomplete projects and unfulfilled goals because I wasn’t single minded, like the centipede. What about you?

Only when you can identify why it’s important for you to focus on that one thing will you block out the noise and distractions that are everywhere. The centipede didn’t care that I was nearby. It didn’t care that it was raining. It didn’t care that it was tired, hungry or bored. It was solely and wholly focused on its destination. My mother was an amazing example of this after the diagnosis of secondary cancer in her liver when her life and relationship with her family were threatened. Her focussed narrowed, her world shrank and she was easily able to block out and ignore anything that wasn’t crucial to her health and wellbeing. Up until that time she was easily pulled in many different directions. This centipede like focus on what was important was the reason she was able to turn a 2-3 years death sentence into a 16-year journey of joy and abundance.

Can I encourage you to take the time to really think about what is most important in your life? What are you really aspiring to? Could you write it out, find some pictures, create a vision for yourself and get powerfully and emotionally attached to it? Then, could you determine the few priority things you need to focus on to help you most efficiently move towards that dream life? The last thing is, could you be like the centipede and just take one small step at a time, and just keep going, until you reach your desired destination? I know you can!