NIBBLED TO DEATH BY DUCKS
It struck me as I read renowned American author Joan Didion’s exquisitely written and poignant memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, in which she remembers her husbands warning (prior to her acceptance of a job as staff writer for Life Magazine) - “Working for Life will be like being nibbled to death by ducks” - that most people find themselves in this position of slow torture during their working life, but often allow fear to prevent them from doing anything about it. Joan Didion discovered the veracity of his advice when she found herself constantly overlooked when it came to interesting assignments, which were always given to “the guys”, and she was left to cover lightweight assignments as her confidence in herself eroded. While things have improved gender-wise in the workplace, this is advice so many of us need to heed from our inner voice when we resign ourselves to working in jobs to which we are wholly unsuited - when we cause ourselves to die slowly by succumbing to the tyranny of Should. “I should take this job because…..” “I should stay in this job because….” The metaphor John Dunne offered lovingly and knowingly to his wife, succintly expresses the agony of life sacrificed to the everyday torture of feeling less than and diminished by the work we do, or the politics of the workplace in which we feel trapped. Sometimes, it’s the work itself which bores us to a paralysing deadness, or the feeling of talent dampened, othertimes it can be working in an institution surrounded by sharks in the guise of ducks who seek to undermine us while taking credit for our creativity and talent. Whichever it is, we owe it to ourselves to get out and strikeoff on our own path; to find that which will nurture, uplift, inspire and allow us to shine and share our unique gifts with a world which waits to receive the authentic expression of our Self.
Once we recognise the need to breakout and thrive, and allow ourselves to engage with the delightful prospect of fulfilling our soul purpose, we initially feel joyful enthusiasm and inspiration but almost immediately meet more ducks. This time, they appear in the guise of harmless little plastic ducks bobbing up and down in the seas of our psyche, glowing in friendly yellow, and cautioning words of warning through smiling red beaks:
· “Ah, I should stay where I am, it’s not so bad, I’ve got great holiday leave and a pension plan, I don’t know how lucky I am.”
· “Sure what can I do? How can I make my mark in a world already full of (insert your own word here)? I’ll be better off staying where I am.”
· “I’m too busy to work my job, look after the kids and set up a new business. Who do I think I am?”
· “Nobody will support me, they’ll all think I’m mad.”
· “How will I pay the bills?”
· “The banks won’t help the likes of me.”
· “I’ll scare the children if I leave my job, they’re used to the way we live, I can’t ask them to make sacrifices.”
· “(Insert name of husband/wife) loves the status that comes with my job, I can’t become a…..”
· “Am I crazy to think of leaving my job in the current economic climate – people would give their eye teeth to be in my position?”
Nibble, nibble, nibble.
The GREAT news is, once we discover and align with, our authentic self, our soul purpose, we cannot fail. The universe conspires with us to help us succeed. Success may not come in a conventional shape. We may have to sacrifice something (our fancy house or car, the status we thought important) but it won’t be our Self. It may take time, we may lose money, it may hurt sometimes, but the reward will be one hundred times worth the effort we put in, and every effort counts.
Every single person who has recognised and decided to engage in pursuing their passion has met with fear based resistance and has had to overcome a raft of excuses thrown up by emotions based on their egos intervention. The ones who succeed in forging the life they want to live are those who listen to, then minimise their fears, while simultaneously enlarging and enhancing their desires. Luckily, there are a multitude of effective techniques one can learn to enable each one of us to do this, and step by step, we enjoy the adventure of living our destiny.
It’s important to understand that we don’t have to see the complete picture before we embark on the journey, we just need to see the first few steps. As we climb the stairs towards our individual idea of success, the next few steps will reveal themselves. Each little step undertaken will bolster our confidence in ourselves and bring us closer to our desired outcome. We may feel we don’t have the energy to pursue our chosen lifestyle, that it will be too difficult, take too much time and effort. While this may be true at the start, like a rocket which guzzles fuel on takeoff but which uses less once it’s airborn, the initial stages of changing our lives demand a lot of time and energy, but, as we get our wings, it takes a lot less effort to keep things moving. Remember, from our present viewpoint we can’t possibly envisage the opportunities that will come our way, therefore while it’s important at the outset to have an idea or vision of the outcome we desire, it’ s also important to remember that any adventure allows for spontaneity and the outcome we desire will alter as we learn more about ourselves, receive support from unexpected quarters and shape our work and our world to suit.
Best get started, you only need to take one small step at a time…