The Thursday Thesis - 07/06/2018
He looked at me - unblinking, glaring and fierce.
I began to speak, or – more accurately – I tried to assemble a few succinct words into what I hoped would be a devastating rebuttal to his awkward question. In the end I settled for
“Well” he said, “how dare you?”
I had no answer, and he knew it.
So he continued, determined to nail-down my fault. “Are you telling me that nearly twenty years on, you still haven’t written the book to help other people with the same problem?”
“Well, I’ve written most of it up, already, but it isn’t perfect...”
“No buts” he cut in, growling. “Finish it and get it out there”.
“How many people could you have helped if you’d got out of your own way and just got your system out there?”
I said nowt.
“And how many more people could you have reached, if you’d only had the balls to finish?”
I was shtum.
Clearly on a roll, he pointed at me, calmly and flatly and asked again “How dare you deprive The World of your insights, deny it your ability to explain what you’ve discovered? It’s outrageous – how dare you?”
Sessions with my mentor, Mark, were often full-on, but today he was more steamed than I’d seen him before, so I asked why he was so het-up.
“Which book was it that changed your life – the one you read that made the penny drop and changed everything for you?” he asked.
“Think and Grow Rich”, I answered immediately, “by Napoleon Hill. My old boss, Norman told me to read it; that would be nearly thirty years ago.”
“A classic – that was the book that changed it all for me, too.” Mark said. “Now imagine that Hill had never published it... Imagine never beginning to understand that you could change yourself and your life: what would life be like for you, now, without that one book?”
“Jeez... I can’t imagine it... bleak, I suppose. I’d probably still be drinking far too much, stuck in a shit job I don’t enjoy and just feeling hopeless and miserable. Bleak – bleak and hopeless.”
Just thinking about that trajectory was horrible: I could feel my shoulders sagging and my head sinking.
“Can you imagine Hill keeping it to himself, never getting it out there for fear of being judged or making a mistake? Think of the millions of people over the last eighty-odd years who’ve read that book and it’s changed their lives. Now stop whining and get your life-changing shit out there!”
I looked up, and Mark was close to tears; anger, frustration, and passion lit up his face.
He shook his head, and leaned a little further across the table.
“It’s your personal moral duty to get your work out there. Just get it done and get it out there. Accept that it’s never going to be perfect and that some people will hate you. Man-up: grow a set of balls and stop fannying around. It’s wrong for you to hold something back if another person could benefit from what you know: it’s wrong, selfish and cowardly.”
I figured that he’d got it out of his system at this point, but there was more to come.
“It’s bloody immoral to deprive someone of what they need, it’s like watching someone starve instead of sharing your food and shelter with them. And you’d only not save them because you were worried about the opinion of someone you’re never going to meet, over a smudge of ink on a page? That’s pathetic - I thought you were better than that, I really did. Enough said - next item?”
And that was that. We simply moved to the next thing on my list of burning issues that I wanted Mark’s input on, but I knew something had shifted, something in me – something that needed to be tamed and dealt with.
I published, finally. Nobody died and the police didn’t come looking for me. Some people even read my little book and loved it, and some of those people actually wrote reviews and said it had helped them.
Why do we resist doing the very thing that matters most to us?
Because it matters to us, of course! If it were trivial and immaterial we’d just do it.
Over the years I’ve come to understand that the thing which I’m most attracted to and which acquires greatest meaning for me is inevitably what frightens me most to do. We all know that to be true: in every aspect of life, the significant things are hardest to do. But they are hard only because they matter to us.
The thing, in itself, is often simple – but still we resist.
I don’t know what it is, but I know there will be something in your life that you’ve always wanted to do, but somehow have never quite got around to either starting or finishing. The half-written book, the love affair that withered for lack of commitment, the business you dreamed of starting.
I don’t know what it is, but there is something there, isn’t there?
That’s the thing to pay attention to - navigate by it. That persistent thought, constant as Polaris, will guide you. Set your course by it and steer your boat by it. It will never leave you, and you have a choice: do the thing you fear, or regret not doing it - every single day of your life.
As for me, I have another book to write. I’m ashamed to say that I wrote the first draft twelve years ago, and it’s still here, waiting.
So, today I’ll start over on it, much like I’ve done countless times before, but this time feels terrifyingly different – it feels like a moral duty.
© Neil Cowmeadow 2018
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