you have something to offer

if you’re like me, you do this thing all the time.

you know, this thing where once you’ve achieved a new goal or climbed a new mountain, you immediately look ahead to the next one, and from where you are standing, the next goal or mountain always looks a whole lot huger than the one you just conquered.

there’s nothing wrong with being forward-looking. this endless, passionate pursuit to improve, expand, grow, and multiply is what drives fresh ideas and new inventions. but let’s stop doing that thing – that thing where we start belittling our past accomplishments and making them seem really tiny in comparison to all we have yet to achieve.

why do we do this? because acknowledging how far we’ve come means acknowledging that we have something to offer – something to teach, somebody to mentor, some capacity to contribute. and sometimes we genuinely doubt we are capable of teaching, mentoring, or contributing.

yet that’s the best way to get even better at what we’re already good at. it’s easy enough to just be great at stuff, but having to pass our knowledge, experience, and skills on to someone else requires more competency than it would take to just do something on your own.

sometimes i feel like i have nothing to offer. i still feel like a novice runner when i compare myself to others who have been running for years. i still feel like an amateur writer when i read Jeff Goins and Danielle LaPorte.

but then i tell myself: “hey, one year ago, before you believed you could run even 10k, you were intimidated by anyone who’d finished a half marathon. a couple years ago, you were still deciding whether to major in communications and media.”

to my 21-year old self, a marathon veteran wouldn’t be very much more intimidating than who i am today. to my teenage self, someone who was actually getting paid to write would be almost an idol.

so although i might be far from my ideal half marathon time, i’m still further than i was a year ago. although i might be even further from publishing a book, i’m still further than i was a year ago.

which means i can wholeheartedly, genuinely, convincingly say, to someone who shudders at the thought of 5k: “i used to be the same, one year ago, and guess what? it IS possible to get better. and this is how you do it…”

just this morning a friend wrote to me, asking for help on a writing assignment, which he felt needed a stronger angle. he was worrying that there wouldn’t be enough time to write the piece if he decided to change his topic to a stronger one. i said: “don’t sweat the writing. the writing is not the hard work. get your topic right, then the rest will come easily. people never see how much effort is put into strategy – but that’s the most important thing. here are my suggestions…”

and it hit me – i actually have valuable insights to share. the excuse that “because i’m not Jeff Goins, i have nothing to give” was just that – an excuse.

wherever you are, you’re further than you were yesterday. whatever your skill level, there’s someone who could use your knowledge and experience.

don’t fall for the excuse that you have nothing to offer. you may not have everything, but you have SOMETHING. give it, and you will get even better.

life is short. fail and fail fast.

life is short.

too short to wait for that one perfect relationship that will bring you eternal happiness.
to craft that one perfect campaign that will win you international fame and awards.
to hold out for that one perfect job that will rocket-launch you into the career of your dreams.
to produce that one perfect video that will go viral.
to compose that one perfect song that will land you a record deal.

life is too short to wait for one. perfect. shot. at something. at anything.

life is short, and the ones who win at it
are those who don’t wait for perfect.

those who admit they don’t know it all.
who are willing to explore.
who try as many things as they can.

who are forever adapting, modifying, tweaking, building, revising, adding, subtracting,
working with whatever they’ve got.

because they know the fastest way to succeed is to fail, and fail fast.

the faster you fail, the faster you discover what doesn’t work
and the faster you get one step closer to discovering what will.

these are the ones who discover, as they push themselves out of their comfort zones, that there is no one right answer to life. there is no one fixed path to success.

that sometimes, you end up wanting something you never thought you wanted. and the things you thought you wanted are not really what you want at all.

these are the ones who live each moment and season to the fullest. who drink in the depths of every small victory, but also every defeat, every question, every crossroads, every dry spell.

these are the ones who realise that the real success is not in what you achieve,
but in how much you enjoy the ride along the way.

so even though they dream big, it doesn’t matter so much if they achieve their dreams they way they hope to. they find new dreams in every new dawn, every turn of the page, every bend in the road.

and sometimes, sometimes, along the way, without trying too hard for that one perfect shot, they achieve it.

What your spending says about you

This weekend, I paid RM80 to do something I could do on my own – something I used to make a daily practice, in fact – and spent two hours drawing + doodling with a group of urban sketchers. For me, the value was not in the activity itself, but in the people I met and the inspiration to start drawing again.

Ever since I started work, “I have no time!” has been a constant excuse for not nurturing my creative, expressive, artistic spirit. I knew that by parting with my hard-earned cash I was committing myself to doing what I’ve always been wanting to do: say “heck it”, and just start drawing. I desperately needed fresh inspiration, and if I couldn’t discipline myself to sit down and draw on my own, I would commit my time and money to others to make it happen.

We invest in the things we believe in. How we spend our time and money shows where our priorities lie. If something is important enough to you, you will do whatever it takes to make it work.

Often, we have a list of ‘ideal’ priorities in our head. Exercise, family, spiritual practices, personal growth, and so on. But if those things aren’t what our money and our time are being spent on, then they’re not real priorities.

The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Or, the desire / passion to do anything grows with doing it.

The kinds of people that impress me

The kinds of people that impress me are the ones who pick up the piece of toilet paper they dropped on the floor even when a toilet attendant is right beside them…

because they believe that if they mess something up, it is their responsibility to clean it up.

The kinds of people that impress me are the ones who stay behind after everyone has left the office, library, or meeting room to go over everything “one last time” in case they might have overlooked something….

because they believe not just in delivering to deadlines but delivering excellence.

The kinds of people who impress me are the ones who make their own beds and clean their own room even when someone else will do it for them…

because they believe in taking ownership of and responsibility for their own things.

The kinds of people who impress me are the customers who point out tactfully to a barista that the coffee is not up to par, and the baristas who key in a wrong beverage as their own employee drink to replace an order that did not meet the standard…

because they believe that businesses (and the people who run them) should deliver what they promise.

The kinds of people who impress me are the ones who say “I’ll fork out the money for this first if it will take too long to get budget clearance so we can finish this project on time”…

because they are willing to make small sacrifices to accomplish a bigger goal.

The kind of people who impress me are the ones who go outside their scope of work or responsibility just to make someone else’s a little easier or more meaningful…

because they believe that when they benefit those around them, they benefit themselves.

The kinds of people who impress me are the ones who just get on with what needs to be done even if they don’t get the credit for it…

because their satisfaction comes from personal and internal, rather than external recognition.

The kinds of people who impress me are the ones whom I look up to for inspiration, respect tremendously, and aspire to emulate.

What sort of people impress you?

One dumb thing I used to believe in

I used to believe that when adults said, “You can do anything,” they didn’t really mean it. I used to believe you had a certain person to achieve things, to go places, to be someone.

I thought the sweet spots of life – those lush, sunny places where your personality, gifting, experience, and vision intersect – were for those born into the right family, social class, moment in time, race… or a combination of predetermined factors that some almighty hand of fate picked to succeed by random chance.

I used to look at the less fortunate and tell myself they would never amount to anything because they were never given the opportunity to. I used to tell myself I would never make it beyond a certain limit because of all these factors.

Making history and going where others have not gone before? That’s for the future generation or those blessed with access to all the latest technology and facilities. Or so I believed.

What I now know to be true, more than ever:

Life is what you make it. Success is what you make it. I can be anything… but why would I want to? Success only feels good if it is success to me – not as the world sees it. I have the power to take responsibility for my life. Culture, race, income, or status quo are only limiting if I let them be. I have the power to define my own limits.

This post is inspired by Danielle LaPorte’s The Burning Question series.

I choose Joy

Instead of despairing at a dead end,

I will choose to forge a new trail.

Instead of saying “Things will never change”,

I will choose to change them.

Instead of avoiding,

I will choose to confront.

Instead of running away,

I will choose to fight.

Instead of giving up,

I will choose to give more.

Instead of waiting for courage, a sign, someone else –

I will choose to do it afraid, uncertain, and alone.

Instead of blaming others,

I will choose to take responsibility.

Instead of letting it rain on my parade,

I will choose to dance in the rain.

I will own my choices,

my day,

my abilities,

my satisfaction,

my happiness.

And I will choose joy.

No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. -C.S. Lewis

I might fail, but…

In trying to write something sexy,

I might sound clichéd.

But I’ll do it anyway.

In trying to say something smart,

I might put my foot in my mouth.

But I’ll do it anyway.

In trying to help,

I might make things worse.

But I’ll do it anyway.

In trying to explain,

I might confuse.

But I’ll do it anyway.

In trying to care,

I might be overbearing.

But I’ll do it anyway.

In trying to love,

I might get hurt.

But I’ll do it anyway.

In trying,

I might come across as trying too hard.

But I’ll do it anyway.

I might fail.

But I might learn something.

I might make some people upset.

But I might impress others.

Critics, failures, and curveballs are inevitable.

You can’t control them.

What you do control is the choice to do something anyway.