Be Firm about Showing up - and Gentle about the Outcome
Are you firm with yourself? Or are you gentle with yourself?
Well, for personal growth and things like productivity - you really need both. But you need to know when is the right time to apply one over the other.
I believe that we must be firm about showing up - but be gentle about the outcome.
Many of us have goals or other aspirations we want to achieve or manifest in our lives. Oftentimes these don't have external deadlines. Meaning, deadlines that are imposed upon us by other people.
Maybe you want to start a side hustle or you want to start creating content on YouTube or you want to learn how to play a musical instrument. None of these have their own intrinsic deadlines. Whether you start a side hustle today or a year from today - there's nobody forcing you. It's up to you to set your own deadlines.
When we're gentle about showing up, we often have unrealistic expectations of how we want things to turn out. For example, while we may want to get healthier by improving our diet - it's never going to happen unless we show up, consistently, by eating better on a daily basis. What happens here is that we become firm about an outcome that we want, but are being gentle about how we show up.
In reality, this has to be reversed. We must be firm about showing up - and gentle with the outcome.
Why? Because we can't just focus on the outcome. We have to look at achieving what we want as a process - as a journey. You've all probably heard of the saying that "success is a journey." As long as we show up consistently and work on the things that we've planned and committed to - we will inevitably grow our skills. And as we grow our skills over time, this will inevitably give us better outcomes.
If we're gentle with ourselves about showing up - only on occasion or when we feel like it, we often try to force ourselves to produce a great (or even perfect) outcome. And if and when we don't meet that expectation, we will experience things like self-doubt, judgment, frustration - or even anger. In fact, many of us will then choose to avoid these uncomfortable experiences by procrastinating, distracting ourselves or even numbing ourselves.
Strictness with the outcome is ultimately not a sustainable and productive strategy. So we must be firm about showing up. Showing up for ourselves, when we say we will. Showing up for others, when we tell them we will. Showing up, on time, signals to the Universe that: "I'm here. I'm present. I'm ready, able and willing to do the best I can in this moment." This is so so important for the things we want to achieve or create that don't have an external deadline.
And so, ask yourself, what is something you know that - if you did consistently, would improve the quality of your life? Or would get you closer to fulfilling a vision you have for yourself? Something that you know you have to do yourself because it doesn't have an external deadline.
Really, this is personal power. This is the gateway to empowerment. To freedom. This is us, exercising our free will, to work on the things that are truly meaningful to us. There's no parent or boss, telling us what to do or when to do it. We have to consciously choose to show up for ourselves by setting aside our time, energy and attention.
And so the question is - will we? Will we work through the discomfort, the fear, the anxiety, the uncertainty? Or will we succumb to procrastination, distraction and numbing ourselves? Will we try to escape the plans and commitments we've made to ourselves? Or will we hold firm and show up, as we told ourselves we would?
When we are firm about showing up but gentle about the outcomes, we are able to access a kind of openness. Meaning, we are open to whatever unfolds in the moment. This surrender, or release of expectation - is what allows us to show up with greater curiosity and adventure. Anything is possible because we are not attached to a particular outcome or having to have things unfold in a certain way. When we put in our time, and we put in our time over and over again, it's inevitable that we will become successful at whatever it is that we are working towards.
One caveat is that if you're showing up over and over again, but you notice that you're NOT growing or that you keep taking one step forward and two steps back, you have to really be honest with yourself and ask yourself whether you are truly showing up. Showing up is not just about physically showing up. There are plenty of people that go to jobs every day where they're just "getting by." Truly showing up includes going beyond the physical - and showing up mentally and emotionally as well.
And it's okay if you find yourself procrastinating, distracting or numbing yourself. We all do it at times. But the key is to start beginning to notice when you're doing it - so that you can be firm about bringing your focus back, while being gentle about having escaped for a bit.
It's like in meditation. If we find our mind wanders during meditation and we begin following our thoughts, the point isn't to blame or shame ourselves for letting our mind wander. We just want to notice that our mind has wandered - and gently bring our attention back to the present moment.
So long as we keep showing up, we WILL get better over time. Just keep doing it. Whatever "it" is for you. Keep doing it even if you don't necessarily feel like doing it or things aren't perfectly lined up in your life for you to follow through with doing it.
Just show up. Bring forward the best you are capable of in the moment. And usually, as long as we show up, even if we don't start off feeling inspired or motivated in the beginning, we quickly get into flow. And even if we don't, we're training ourselves to show up and be present with what is - rather than trying to escape the discomfort. This is how breakthroughs occur - when we stretch ourselves outside our comfort zones by just showing up.
So, be firm about showing up and gentle about the outcomes. As long as you keep showing up over time, you WILL get better. And you WILL improve. This is the path of mastery.