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Many moons ago the BBCNews dropped a bombshell.

It concerned the reflections of Konnie Huq, 10-year veteran presenter of the children’s TV programme, Blue Peter.

Konnie spoke of a recurring theme she’d noticed in her years of working with children.

“So many times I’d ask kids what they wanted to do, and they’d say “I want to be famous”, but they weren’t really sure what for,” she said, recalling how different the attitudes were to her own.

They wanted to be famous but they didn’t know what they wanted to be famous for.

In his bestselling book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck,” Mark Manson took a different approach when he wrote:

“If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like”, your response is so common and expected that it doesn’t mean anything.”

“Everybody enjoys what feels good. Everybody wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular, well-respected and admired to the point that people part like the Red Sea when they walk in the room.”

“Everybody wants that. It’s easy to want that.”

“A more interesting question, a question that most people never consider, is “What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.”

Now, let’s take a moment to be really honest with ourselves. Grab a pen and paper, an iPad, or just use your phone and list everything that makes you squirm and suffer. 

Yes, suffer. You’ll find it easier to grapple with the sources of agony in your life than the vague notion of “What do you want out of life?”

Skipping this step won’t benefit you. Only you need to see what you write down.

In the game of life, you have to pick a direction to go in.

You’ll prove to yourself how much easier it is to get to grips with what causes pain in your life than the vague concept of “What do you want out of life?”

We all want the results without the gristle and bone of the journey to get there.  Maybe that’s one reason so many people play the lottery, even through the chances of winning anything substantial are 1 in 4,000,000.

But then of course there’s hope.

In many aspects of people’s lives they hope.  They hope their choices will be the right ones.  They hope they’ll succeed in what they do.   They hope they’ll be healthy.

Hope. It’s powerful; hope can change things.  But they’ve got to put themselves in the way of it, let themselves feel it.  Let the power of hope lift them up. 

Do that and anything can happen.  

There’s a memorable quote that’s attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson…(I write ‘attributed’ because no-one’s really sure).

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant”.

Deep down we all know what that means, yet we avoid it. 

Buying lottery tickets is not planting seeds.

To be rewarding, our journeys should be strewn with fierce conversations, awkward silences, poor results, damaged feelings, tested relationships and all manner of the emotional psychodrama we have to go through to get us where we want to be – where we believe we should be.

In golf there’s an often-quoted phrase: “Drive for show and putt for dough”. 

These words underscore how important it is to putt well. If we look at the putting statistics of the professionals….. 

A few years ago US golfer Jordan Speith enjoyed a putting average of 1.67 putts per hole putting him in first place. In the same league tables South African golfer Retief Goosen was in 123rd place with a putting average of 1.77 putts per hole. 

Hardly any difference you’d think, but can you hazard a guess how much this seemingly slim margin of 0.10 putts extra per hole makes to their respective prize winnings?  

Millions of dollars per year!  

It really doesn’t matter whose names are there, the fact is that the player with the lowest putting average is always amongst the top money winners.

Did Tiger Woods pick up a golf club and magically win the 1997 US Open by a margin of 12 strokes?  

No – there was a long and hard-working journey involved.

It’s the same with Arnold Schwarzenegger who won the Mr. Universe title several times.  

Another arduous journey to reach his chosen pinnacle. 

Getting to whatever makes you happy requires some form of struggle. Beating the odds even.

Success doesn’t come any other way.  

There are no fairies or unicorns delivering what should be earned.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s hours on the putting green, lifting weights in the gym or repeated practice over the keyboards of a piano, overcoming the many obstacles that crop up is an essential part of each journey.

So if you give up on what you want too soon, thinking it’s all too much, that’s where your journey ends, abruptly. 

And that’s where the “What if’s” begin.  

“What if I’d just practiced harder?” or “What if I’d worked at it a little more?”

Or probably more apt these days “What if I’d buckled down to that course I downloaded instead of binge-watching the latest TV distraction?”

Don’t lower your standards for anyone. EVER. Especially for yourself in a moment of weakness or doubt.

Real growth comes when people stop focussing on the result (“What do you want out of life?”) and concentrate on the journey (“What pain do you want in your life?”).

It’s a hard question to wrestle with but answering it is the best chance you’ll have to get anywhere.

If you have a struggling business or project that you want help to raise from the ‘dead zone’, this short video (2:44) will remind you that your time on this rock is not only precious, but finite. 

This should light a fire under you to do things differently.

If you didn’t get out that piece of paper and list everything in your life that makes you suffer, do it now.

If you want to learn something meaningful in your life, you’re not likely to learn it from someone with similar likes and dislikes. They’re just your friends. It’s the person who you don’t see eye-to-eye with or causes your hackles to rise when they walk into a room.

Here is your teacher.

You have to choose something, so choose wisely.

Graeme Dinnen

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