Updated: Jan 30, 2021
My mother in law grew up in WWII in Nurnberg, Germany. The painful story of her early life is woven with a creative, courageous and imaginative fiber. When listening to the always positive tales she told of her childhood and early adulthood I had the sense that she had a innate, survivalist instinct as her driving force. She never talked about that in spite of the dark unspoken reality of war and lack and fear that hung as the backdrop behind each story. It was just a part of who she was. Intuitively she knew how to make a way for herself. She could spot an opportunity in any scenario that would get her somewhere good and she would take those opportunities and make the best of them from the earliest of ages. In any other setting that may make her sound like an opportunist. But in the war torn and post war environment she was living in, it was just surviving that led to thriving. Her adventures took her to amazing places and she accomplished some pretty noteworthy things. I recall the story of her getting a job pouring beers in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany. She needed money. She quickly learned the art of the perfect pour and then took that skill and leveled up in a new job at a better establishment. She had a way of taking every experience and building upon it and moving forward and up. By the end of her working life she racked up a resumé that included working for Ambassador Firestone and his family, often cooking for guest including Bob Hope and President Ford. She managed large estates in Beverly Hills and Palm Desert, got a position with Barry Manilow and made and delivered fresh soups to order for Anthony Robbins in Del Mar. I’m still amazed when I think of the stories.
Later in life, after retirement she would often talk about “when” she was going to get her real estate license. This became an ongoing theme for years. Whether it was from some fear… fear of failure, or fear about trying to learn a new trick at an old age... or due to the fact that she had scrapped and worked hard her whole life and really wanted to rest, regardless, she never took any action steps to get her license. At one point we had a conversation and we talked about whether she really wanted to get that license or not. I think I told her that maybe she should make another goal... that if she had really wanted it she would have already done it.
All that reminds me of a time in my life when I faced a road block where I either needed to piss or get off the pot.
In college I hung out with a great group of really fun guys and we often would surf together. All of these guys, as far as I know had a clear picture of where they wanted to go in their lives and eventually have achieved what they set out for. One day we were surfing down in Mexico at Baja Malibu. The surf was particularly big and truth be told I was more than a little nervous about being out there. Over and again I would watch an approaching wave, swing my board around and start paddling to catch it and it would eventually pass under me leaving me behind. My friend, who never failed to catch the wave he paddled for said to me “Sherry, you gotta paddle like you want it”. I don’t remember if that obvious yet wise statement affected my wave count for the rest of that day or not, but in later years I found myself thinking of it a lot in other scenarios. There were many times when I would see myself half hearted and not fully committed to some idea or goal I had made. I would have to ask if it was something I really wanted or if there was some fear I might have that kept me from working an actual plan to achieve it. Maybe I didn’t even really believe it was possible.
When you stop wasting time posing in front of a goal that isn’t something you really want, you have so much more time and energy to put toward what you do want... you’re free to say yes to opportunities... free to envision a new course and to go all in.
Last October I put an outline together to help myself and some friends understand what goes into setting a vision and what makes a vision achievable or not. One factor that makes the difference is setting a vision which is in alignment with your core values. Core values are what you will actually act on, not just talk about. Like me and the big waves… was my core value found in successfully surfing those big waves or did I value self-preservation more? The answer is clear by what I was willing to act on.
It’s good to spend some time asking yourself what you want your life to look like…how you want to live and who you want to be. Examine your fears. Ask yourself if those fears are legitimate or if they are covering up some other issue. Set some visions that are in line with what you value and are willing to act on. Then do those things.
Live like you want it.