Note from Niall: Below is a guest post from Vlad Dolezal of Alive With Passion. To celebrate, I concocted and conducted the above video interview with said Vlad.
Have you heard of John the rock-climbing instructor?
In many ways, John was an ordinary rock-climber. Except he had a very unusual way of testing applicants for his advanced climbing course.
He would ask the applicants to climb a certain mountain side that involved an overhang. From below, the spot looked like you were about to reach the top of the mountain. But once you scaled the last few centimetres, you realized it was just a small plateau where you could take a break, and you still had quite a way to go.
John then hid himself behind a boulder at the overhang, and simply watched the climbers’ expression as they scaled the overhang and realized they weren’t done with the climb yet.
Some of them showed disappointment when they realized they weren’t at the top yet. They were politely, but firmly refused entry to the advanced course.
But the others… their faces lit up with excitement as they realized they weren’t done yet and had more climbing ahead of them! John welcomed these with open arms.
I’m telling you this, because John had a brilliant insight into what it takes to make a good rock-climber.
And it works as a surprisingly good metaphor for life.
Many people pin their attention on a distant goal, and then strive and struggle to achieve it. Like a rock-climber who only wants to get to the top of the mountain, but hates the process. But as soon as these people reach that goal, they look around, and realize they haven’t become magically happy or satisfied. So they look for another goal, and set off again, always struggling in the moment for a distant goal.
Then there’s a second group of people. These people also set their big, mighty goals just like the first group. Except they thoroughly enjoy the process of striving for those goals! They understand that living a passionate life is about striving for worthy goals, not achieving them.
When they reach a goal, they take a few moments to bask in the sunshine, like a rock-climber who just finished a satisfying climb. But after a few moments to catch their breath, they’re off to climb the next, exciting, even bigger mountain!
Unfortunately, a lot of well-meaning people will give you advice that goes directly contrary to this. They tell you to stop always wanting more, and be finally happy with what you have. Or even better, they give you a static list of things you should achieve (a marriage, a house, a car, a high paying job. Tick, tick, tick…), and then be perfectly happy and content and have no more wants and desires.
Take a few moments to imagine that. Imagine that you had no more wants and desires, and you didn’t want to change anything in your life, or in the world.
Do you have a word for such a state?
I do. It’s called being dead.
Being alive, on the other hand, is about growth and change. That’s the very definition of life – deliberately changing the environment around you.
Now, people who tell you to go against this aren’t evil or malicious. They usually have your best interest at heart. Hey, your parents will probably tell you this in one form or another, and they certainly want the best for you!
But realize that these people are only giving you what they think is the best idea. And, unfortunately, most people have a pretty limited understanding of what truly makes you come alive.
I’m not saying you should be always dissatisfied with what you’ve got. Quite the opposite. Passionately alive people are usually very happy with what they’ve got. But they also understand that being human is not about being in any one static state, but about striving for huge goals and coming alive in the process.
That’s why I love guys like Niall, who set themselves huge, hairy, audacious goals, and encourage others to do the same. Because these folks understand what it means to be human, to be deeply, passionately alive.
So I’d like you to think about this yourself. What goals are you currently working on? Do they challenge and inspire you?
If so – brilliant! Carry on.
If not – stop reading right here and thin about it. What big, inspiring goal could you set yourself? What would make you come truly alive?
Or if that doesn’t work for you too well, you can tackle it from the other side. What goal would make you feel really good about yourself, if you archived it in the next 7 days? Come up with an answer, and then go do that!
And the next time you meet a person telling you to stop wanting big things, and settle for a comfortable, mediocre existence, you can thank them for their advice (they do have your best interest at heart), and then ignore them and do the things you know will make you come deeply passionately alive – striving for an inspiring goal!
Vlad Dolezal recently relaunched his blog as Alive With Passion, and he now writes about living your life in a way that makes you feel deeply, passionately alive. Check it out to understand what makes you come truly alive!