You can either prepare the path for yourself or prepare yourself for the path. In other words, you can either try to control things that are out of your control and hope for the best or take charge of the one thing you are in control of, that is you! I think, intellectually, we know which is the best choice, but let’s explore which is currently your preferred strategy, and whether it may be worthwhile considering a change of tactic.
As you read this blog, in August 2020, the path we are on, or the path we may want to be on is not necessarily solid ground. We are living on a rapidly moving landscape, at the moment, and therefore any plans to try to prepare a path may be dashed from under our feet. If you had planned to travel, then your path has eroded. If you planned to open a hospitality business, then your path has crumbled. If your plan included other people getting together, then that path may have disintegrated. Can you see why trying to prepare something that is out of your control may also leave you out of control.
In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl narrates his experience as a prisoner in German concentration camps for four years during World War Two. At that time, every pleasure and comfort were taken from the prisoners and replaced with starvation, frostbite, abuse and intense pain. In his book, he explains how the only people who survived, were those who had identified a strong meaning to survive and purpose to live, and those who prepared themselves for the horrendous path.
He spoke about one man, who had convinced himself that the end of the war and his liberty would happen on a certain date. He had not prepared himself for any other eventuality. When that date came and went, and he was still a prisoner, he was dead within twenty-four hours. He was not prepared, his will to live was gone and paid the ultimate price. Now, this is an extreme example, but I want to make a point, and, that point is that right now my advice to me, and you if you’re interested, is to identify your meaning and then start preparing yourself for whatever path may open itself up to you.
In this week’s podcast, Tap into your inner gold, I talk to incredible three time para-Olympic gold medal winner, Carol Cooke. She is the epitome of someone who prepared herself for the path. If she was more focused on the path, she would have given up at 9 years old, but in actuality, she finally realised her dream to win an Olympic gold medal 41 years later. Her dream was Olympic gold, but the path changed for her on a regular basis, so it was lucky she focused every day on preparing herself. Her final achievement, at the age of fifty-one came after, forty-one years, four sports, diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, two countries and many setbacks. It was the strength and determination, she developed in herself, which allowed her to stay on track, to find the path that finally led to Olympic gold.
Right now, we are being told we are living in uncertain times. I disagree. We are only living in uncertain times, if we try to prepare the path for ourselves. If we get clear on what’s most important, what we want and who we want to impact, then, start to prepare ourselves for the many paths that may open to us, we will be feeling very certain about our present and future. At the start of COVID, my path, like many people’s, started crumbling beneath my feet. Within just a few days, I lost multiple speaking gigs, in schools, companies and conferences. After some dummy-spitting, thumb-sucking and tantrum-throwing, I started to prepare myself for whatever path would allow me to do what I wanted to do to get my message out to the world. What has happened, as a result, is that many opportunities have now opened up for me. I am excited about what I am doing and the impact I am able to have on many people all around the world. It happened because I prepared myself for the path, not the path for myself.
As you read this, I want to encourage you that you are good enough to handle whatever life throws at you. In fact, it’s in time of challenge and adversity that, with the right perspective and focus, we learn what we need to learn and become the person we need to become to get to our desired life, whatever path may lead you there. So, get clear on what you want, work to prepare yourself, have faith and watch as the path opens up before you.