Mulling Howard Thurman quote “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Great quote. I remember reading this a couple of years ago and thinking yes, this is how I want to live my life. And I believe I have been pretty much ever since.
But I’d like to add a caveat. Here’s what they don’t tell you. Some people won’t like it when you come alive. If you insist on fully being alive in any particular role, environment or sphere, you had better be prepared for a backlash.
For my part, whilst being engaged in the things that make me fully alive I have found that my energy, enthusiasm and passion has come naturally to me, and have had a positive effect on those around me. I think it’s because people know life when they see it, and they know it’s something they want too. I know this was the case with me, and it’s what made me want to stop merely doing things I was good at for the kudos and the rewards, and start doing things I had no idea how to do because that’s what made me ‘alive’ – scared, totally out of my depth and utterly intimidated, but so close to realising what I was made to do I couldn’t resist doing it. But not everyone is inspired being in the presence of someone passionate, someone who is prepared to take risks, someone who is not afraid to begin again as a novice even though they have experience somewhere else for the sake of being where they are meant to be doing what they are meant to be doing. Some don’t like it one little bit.
That’s essentially what your critics are. They are the people who have found a place of safety and security, and who hate your ability to stretch beyond your own. They despise their own fear, but more than that, they resent your ability to transcend yours. A critic is not someone to be feared. They are to be smiled at. They help you understand you’re doing something that scares most people half to death.
But there is one step beyond critics; the walking dead. These are the ones who have managed to get up out of being ineffective, self-absorbed and insecure, and have found a way to succeed but without shining or taking any risks whatsoever. They like to fashion themselves into leaders of the lying down dead. As long as everyone is in various stages of dead, the zombies are okay. But when you turn up, breathing and jumping around and acting like not being a walking dead person is a viable option, they get mad.
Zombies know that criticism is for amateurs. Faced with someone who threatens to show them up for the walking dead they really are, zombies pull out the big guns.
I can’t tell you exactly what those big guns are. It will depend largely on what sphere you’ve decided on. Suffice to say, the walking dead will do whatever it takes to stop you from reminding them what life is supposed to look like. They will try and tell you that’s not how we do things here. They will have you convinced that mediocrity is an option and you are ‘too much”. But don’t listen. It’s not impossible to survive the wiles of the walking dead. But it will take all the wisdom, all the faith, and all the patience you can muster.