I’ve always thought owls looked angry. That perception inspired this painting, as I decided to give him something to be angry about.
But now I wonder if maybe they’re just focused.
After all, perpetually being on the lookout for your next meal kind of requires your undivided attention.
Likewise, in order to achieve a dream or accomplish anything worthwhile, you have to be incredibly focused. You can’t let distractions knock you off your game. One of the biggest reasons people are not as successful as they’d like to be – regardless of their definition of success – is due to a lack of focus. They keep chasing shiny objects and fail to follow through on any one initiative.
As Steven Pressfield writes brilliantly in his book The War of Art, “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
Understanding this truth – and expecting it – is a great advantage for you, because then you won’t be surprised by how hard it becomes to find the time to write even one page of your next book. Or how easy it gets to find other people who are way more successful than you. Or how tantalizing that entire sleeve of Thin Mints suddenly appears on the first day of your new diet.
During the first nine years of our business and marriage, Kim and I lived in an apartment. It was a two-bedroom place that seemed big when we started. We expected to live there two or three years, not nine. As time went on, the apartment felt like it was shrinking. We grew weary of the loud music at all hours of the night. The neighbors who smoked right outside our open windows. The occasional gun shots we heard from the gas station a block away. The time someone broke into our storage area in the basement and stole our Christmas decor, including a Santa pillow that was crocheted by my Grandma. The fact that our peers were financially further along than us, building homes and starting families. The debt we accumulated throwing spaghetti at the wall, trying to find a business model that was fueled by our talents AND paid the bills.
It added up to a whole lot of suckage.
And yet, it was all part of a test to see how badly we wanted it.
Giving up is easy. Staying focused is hard.
You have to stay the course even when things aren’t going according to plan, when the haters are shooting their slings and arrows, or when an ice cream cone falls on your head. Most so-called “overnight successes” are anything but. There are miles and miles of unpaved, rocky roads behind them that we often don’t see.
Achieving a dream is not quick and easy, like wining the lottery. It’s messy, difficult, and exhausting.
Understand it. Accept it. Own it.
If your dream is worth it, just keep going.
Take it from the owl: Staying focused is wise – keep your eye on the prize!