“Showing up, every morning, doing the work. Not waiting on the inspiration but working for it.Jeff Henderson
In my office at work, I have the above mentioned quote taped to the bottom side of my computer monitor and I read it every time I take a seat behind my desk in the morning. I discovered the quote only a few months ago but, for years now, even without my contextualizing it this way, it has been my life mantra. To live from moment to moment with the goal of being better today than I was yesterday – being my own inspiration, staying motivated to follow my heart, and fighting the good fight.
With this mantra in my mind, I feel that I have been able to use it to my benefit and progress towards accomplishing the goals that I have set out for myself. I made a list of goals several years ago that I wanted to achieve by the time I was 30 and I feel that I have accomplished all of them to some degree or another. That is, to have kids, to have a house, to make a certain amount of income, to write a book, to run a marathon, and to be able to travel wherever and whenever I wanted to. With these accomplishments, I go back to the drawing board. Where am I at? How am I doing? Where does my mantra tell me to go next? What are the new goals? Are their new goals?
Just because I accomplished those goals that I wrote several years ago, does it mean anything, should it mean anything? Can I rest on my laurels, tend to my garden, relax by the wayside? SURELY NOT. I am only at this point now, this crossroads, this precipice, this peak, this pinnacle because I genuinely want to be better and because of this desire, have strived to push myself beyond what I ever thought my life could be.
Delving into the mantra, “Showing up, every morning”. By showing up every morning I submit to myself that I am ready to pursue the task at hand, am committed to that task, and have come full circle from the previous day. In elementary school, during roll call, the teacher would rattle off the list of my classmate’s names in alphabetical order and wait for our reply to ensure that we were all there for class that day. My last name, Potts, was usually called close to the end of the repetitious ceremony and I would frequently listen to my classmates absentmindedly respond with the word “HERE”. On and on through the list the teacher went, until she finally called my name, to which I would respond… “PRESENT”. I did this, back then, mainly because I wanted to be different and see if I could get a laugh out of my classmates. But now, I think about that memory and see the word “PRESENT” as opposed to “HERE”, as a strikingly better alternative. HERE implies, “Yes, I’m here. I made it, I showed up. What more do you want?” while PRESENT dictates “All of me is right here, in the moment. Present and accounted for. Ready to take on whatever ever the day holds.” That’s my goal, that’s where and I how want to be mentally, physically, and spiritually when I get out of bed each morning. To be presently enjoying and occupying the space of now.
Doing the Work
What is the WORK? The work is everything. It is my duty as a Christian, a husband, a father, an employee and as compatriot to my fellow humans. WORK is more than just what I do to make an income to provide for my family. WORK is life, life is WORK. WORK is defined as an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. In my life, my end result, the thing that I want to achieve, is to be part of God’s family in the Kingdom of God. That only happens if, in this life, I am able to use the gifts that I have been given to the fullest extent of my ability, to use them well, for good, and for the benefit of others. My interests, hobbies, passions, and desires revolve around this concept, that what I do, I do to fuel this ultimate work in myself, to be better, achieve more, love more, feel more, and progress further. This idea is the ethos for what became my book, “The Pursuit of an Ultra Life”.
“Not waiting on the INSPIRATION but working for it”. The novelist Stephen King embodies this phrase. In his book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, he reports that his daily goal is to write about 2,000 words. In practice, there were often days when he wasn’t inspired to write, either the words didn’t flow easily, or he didn’t feel like writing at all. However, by making himself write, he became his own inspiration and allowed the story to continue to unfold. That is my goal also. With regard to things I can control, I don’t want to sit around and wait for something to happen, I want to make it happen. Even when I don’t feel like giving 100% or if I don’t feel even remotely up to doing something. If I know that something is good for me, then I should at least give it a try, start that thing, begin the work. Because, if that thing is worthwhile, meaningful, contains some semblance of truth, nobility, or justness I will be inspired by that thing.
In this pursuit to do the work and to be inspired by it, there are often times when I fail, when I don’t show up, when the light of inspiration fades, when I make a wrong turn and lose some time. But there are also times when I hit the mark, when I discover that steady rhythm, settle into a balanced pace and find my flow. Here, the work is inspiring, showing up is a joy and I feel that I am progressing. When I uncover these moments, I latch firmly onto those feelings, processes, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions that I am experiencing at the time and remember them, use them, and let them continue to propel me forward in life to more moments of FLOW – moments where I move along steadily and continuously in a positive way. When this happens, when I find that flow. I show up, am present, execute my tasks from start to finish, and vigilantly take on the work – inspired to accomplish it to the fullest extent of my being.
Love, Listen, & Run