Today’s guest post is by Maria Cowell. She blogs at HipMamaMedia.
I am a writer, so naturally, I love words. And to paraphrase Hannibal Smith of the A Team, “I love it when a (quote) comes together.” Words effectively strung together have the power to change perspective. One of my favorites is the ancient Chinese proverb, “Those who say it cannot be done should not disturb those who are doing it.”
Wow. That is simultaneously convicting and encouraging.
Convicting because I have often been naysayer and a dream killer.
Encouraging because, in spite of myself, accomplishment is possible.
I was reminded of the power of these words recently when one of my colleagues, a quiet unassuming high school English teacher, published his book. He didn’t quit his day job; he didn’t ditch his family to live like a mountain hermit undisturbed by the ho-hum routine of life. He just simply determined he was going to do it regardless of the odds seemingly stacked against him: he has a full time job; he has responsibilities as a husband and father. He didn’t let any of that disturb him while he went about the business of getting things done.
For a long time, I was shooting down dreams: my own and others. I was a naysayer who bothered the people who were actually accomplishing something: a pesky fly in the ointment of life. But when my colleague shared what he was doing, I began asking myself why I was a doubter and not a doer like him?
There are lots of reasons why the naysayers naysay. But some of the common ones are:
It’s easier to poison others’ dreams than to attempt our own.
We all long to do something meaningful with our life, but the fear of failing keeps us from even trying. Sometimes. it keeps us from trying even small things, a change in our daily habits (maybe I won’t stick with this new exercise regime. so why even start?), a new hairstyle (what if it’s awful?). We sabotage ourselves before we have even finished formulating the plan in our head.
I won’t lie: It hurts to fail. It is embarrassing to fall flat on your face with a front-row crowd. After many failures, it’s easier to save our pride and not even attempt anymore. It’s bad enough that fear can crush our own aspirations, but it also can poison another person’s dreams. Their success stands in sharp contrast to our failure. So we say it can’t be done, and we subtly put doubt in their minds. We unconsciously place roadblocks in their path. We become hecklers, arm-chair quarterbacks, and mockers. If we can’t be successful, then nobody else can.
Inertia clamps its death grip on us.
Every organism likes to stay in the state in which it finds itself. It is comfortable and familiar. To actually get up and do something and affect change requires effort. So although we say it cannot be done, sometimes the plain truth is it can be don But we just don’t want to put in the hard work. People who are working hard and accomplishing their goals shine a painful light on our own laziness. There is very little effort required in being a naysayer.
We see ourselves and others as mundane and ordinary.
Let’s face it: “A prophet hath no honor in his hometown.”
We live in a star-struck, celebrity-oriented culture. There are the beautiful people who have the money, the talent and the connections. And then there are the rest of us: the huddled masses yearning to be free. We never think the masses can amount to much, as if only the beautiful people are lucky enough to have goals and dreams. When one of our own steps out to accomplish something, we are immediately dismissive. “Who are you to think you can do that? What makes you think that’s going to work?”
We assign roles to people and confine them to one-dimensional characters, as if they were only a teacher, or only an auto-mechanic, or only a stay-at-home mom. When they burst out with a dream or a big plan, we are shocked and suspicious. “But you are just plain old Joe Blow. How did you come up with that?”
Fly free baby, fly.
There is something freeing about being, “ahem, a woman of a certain age.” You realize that the scales of life have balanced at the fulcrum and from now on will begin dipping dangerously downward. Although potentially terror-inducing, this thought is also a springboard to action. Why waste any more time telling myself or others what can or can’t be done? How about just trying and encouraging others along the journey? Maybe we will fail (okay, we will) and feel the sting of rejection. So what? Get up again and keep flying. Get moving and break the inertia cycle. Realize that, while the beautiful people are off doing what beautiful people do, it’s the ordinary people with extraordinary dreams and tenacity that are getting things done. (By the way: if you a beautiful person, please let me know what you do all day. The curiosity is killing me!)
Now it’s time for true confessions. With a title like, “Do Not Disturb,” I know you were hoping for a bit more of a salacious post. Admit it.
For more great writing from Marie, check out her blog!