Moving to Moderation

HBR article “In Praise of Extreme Moderation” spoke to me this morning. This is an article that will resonate with every one of us regardless of where we fall; moderate or extreme. It calls out the new norm of practicing extremism in all that we do. It calls out the “new” need to do everything to a level of excess. Earning badges of courage and worthiness is where we find our value in today’s society. A society that reveres everyone as “something” whatever the label or title. A new world where competitiveness is a label that has become the norm and when lacking it speaks to ones drive, or lack thereof.

We are swept up in extremism so easily as companies push their products and services as only best consumed in excess. The tell us to:

  • Only write if you have an audience and are working on a bestseller.
  • Only run if you can get a PR every time and not only win a medal but rank.
  • Only eat what you are prescribed via a specific diet and track to prove you are doing it.
  • Post everything you do publicly as proof that you are doing what you say you are and therefore validating.

It is so easy to sucked into this way of living, or at least attempted living. It is maddening when we are in it and it is reckless when we are not.

The article brings us back to what is “enough”. When is enough enough. That is as personal a decision as it is public. It is when one-by-one we start removing the value assigned to extremes. It stops when we applaud those living in the middle and calm the accolades around those that are pushing the bar so far that reaching for it threatens everything you are if you don’t land on top.

The best way to conclude is to quote the author who sums it up perfectly.

But I have spent a lifetime honing my daily practice, worshipping at the altar of “good enough.” Today, I am neither superrich nor superfit nor supersuccessful. But I have just enough of each to qualify in my own personal marathon, the race for a balanced life. In the end, maybe this only really matters to me and my dog, who does get a lot of good walks out of it. To me, that’s enough. – Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

Live as I live it – L.

What It’s Like…

The song by Everlast always serves as a reminder of why I have learned to embrace my journey instead of hide it. I have been through more than the average bear in 48 years and some of those tales are not ones you put on BLAST! But it has made me WHO I am forget about what…it’s irrelevant…I am absolutely someone that know “what it’s like” to live in many environments. I have seen the worst of the worst and I have wined and dined among the best of the best and ultimately I love where I am, I love WHO I am because I do know “what it’s like”…

  • to be in love with an addict and lose
  • to work for it and win
  • to have to decide and to have to choose
  • to be fat and thin, healthy and sick
  • to be poor and to have enough.

I have been a single Mom, I have stood in a food stamp line, I have sat in a clinic to get care for myself and then my child, I have worked for every single thing I have achieved and this is why I can understand. I have the privilege of having the depth of an understanding that while attaining it I could never have known I would look back with gratitude for the experience.

Walking in the many shoes I have worn has helped me in my roles as mother, wife, daughter, friend, leader, neighbor and any number of other hats I wear. I understand things that others are quick to judge. I get it. My empathy is real. My mess has always been my message because they were momentary; every setback always had a comeback.

I conclude with my favorite line in the song, which no surprise is; ” You know where it ends, yo, it usually depends on where you start”.

Life as I live it – L.

Tie a Knot Not a Noose –

How do you know you are pushing yourself to your full potential? How much are you leaving on the table?  How do you know how much you can take?

I ask you these questions because in life there are times you are encouraged to show your potential and then there are those times that you have no choice but to push as hard and as far as you can go and find that potential, that capacity and the resilience to push on or start over. What I know is that knowing this in the optimistic or devastating circumstances is vital to success and saving your own life! Let’s explore this theory.

Here are the proper definitions that can help us in answering those first three questions:

  • Potential is defined as “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future”. We frequently use this to talk positively about how much someone can grow; optimism.
  • Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”. Interesting that this definition includes “capacity” in its definition as well.
  • As defined by Collins Dictionary, “your capacity for something is your ability to do it, or the amount of it that you are able to do”.

Okay, one more moment of “geeking out” on words and then I will get to the point…it will be worth it…I promise!

Thomas Van notes in a 2013 article “Human beings can never reach their full potential but they can die trying. Potential can be defined as capable of being but not yet in existence or having possibility, capability, or power. Also, the inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being. Simply put, you can always do more than you currently are”.

Now to the point…yes I am getting there…one word at a time…ha!

We all have potential beyond what we will ever truly know however some of us push harder to find the capacity within us to explore that potential. In that journey you will fail, you will start over and in the “art of never giving up” you will show resilience! It is through this journey that you explore your capacity to take on any number of things in this life. I will share my most recent examples…(finally…stay with me!)

Running a Half Marathon –

I set out to run a half marathon years before it ever happened. My first “attempt” (aka paid for it and never ran it) was back in 2000 and my first actual Half was in 2012. TWELVE years! In that 12 years there were 100 starts and stops; training plans, months without running and days of running back-to-back. I knew I had the potential but was not fully sure of my capacity to run three miles let alone 13.1!! While I finally accomplished the task I still was not able to “own it” as I never truly came to know my full potential to be a runner, or capacity to run long distances until i pushed harder than I knew I could and started running one Half Marathon a month from September to April every year. It was through those runs and that training that I was able to test the theory of whether I had left anything on the table. My mind would tell me to stop and walk and I would literally take myself through an inventory while I continued to run. I would start by checking;

  • Are my feet hurting? No, keep running
  • Do my legs hurt? No, keep running
  • Are my hips hurting? No, keep running
  • Is my breathing labored? No, keep running

This is what it would take for me to understand my capacity versus my brain telling me to stop, walk, stop, walk…NO, KEEP RUNNING!

Medical Complications –

My opposing story is one that I am hoping I am on the tail end of as I am sure I have hit my capacity to be resilient in this situation. The Cliff Notes version goes like this:

  • Stomach flu, go to hospital, abdominal tumor found
  • It’s just fluid, we will do a needle biopsy and drain it…it’s not fluid
  • Surgery scheduled to remove tumor…wake-up with tumor still inside…too complicated
  • Surgery scheduled to remove tumor AGAIN…wake up without tumor, appendix, gallbladder, 4 ft of small intestine and reconstructed stomach pouch…go home and heal…nope
  • Complication; fluid accumulation found…go home and heal…nope
  • Hernia has formed at top of incision, another procedure…go home and heal…nope
  • Complication; you are full of shit…no seriously I was full of shit…go home and heal…ummm…so far so good…

Let me tell you that even the strongest the most mentally tough would be challenged in this situation. It is the true tale of get kicked down, get back up, get kicked down, get back up…so many times. My resilience was not perfect, my capacity was tested but I know a thing or two about potential. I have the ability to take on more than the average bear…why…because I have tested this capacity, this potential, this resilience so many times before that when I needed to call on it, I had it in me to call on. I knew how hard I could push before i would crack and then would mend the crack and keep pushing.

So I ask you the same questions I started this blog with; How do you know you are pushing yourself to your full potential? How much are you leaving on the table?  How do you know how much you can take?

Next time you think you want to quit, DON’T, push harder, push longer…and when you think you are at the end of your rope…tie a KNOT not a NOOSE! You got this and so do I. This is life as I am living it. L.