So lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I’ve used it in business when discussing the need to diversify the nonprofits/community organizations with whom corporations partner. Typically corporations will think that adding another community partner into their mix will harm the nonprofits with whom they’ve already been working. When in fact, statistically, the more opportunities employees have to “do good” the better all community organizations involved will fare. Lifting all boats…get it?
While obviously, all of that is RIVETING information (I know you’re asking yourselves how I can POSSIBLY tear myself away from work at the end of each day), I’ve been thinking about it in terms of relationships and people. How do WE as people fare when our partners, our close friends, or our family members experience success? Do rising tides in our personal lives really lift all of our boats? Or, more to the point, CAN we lift each other up simply by succeeding ourselves?
I’ve shared with you that I used to be fat. Yeah, yeah, it sounds harsh but it’s true. And I’m talking about myself so no need to get offended. Anyway during that time people around me would lose weight and that, my friends, did NOT inspire me to do the same. It PISSED. ME. OFF. At the time I was unhappy, depressed, and ashamed of where I was personally, emotionally, and physically. Not until I figured some things out, graduated from college (TEN YEARS after starting), and saw some light at the end of the tunnel did I start to lose that weight.
Some funny things happened when I stared losing that weight. Well, let’s be real, a million CRAZY things happened. Those are different stories for a different blog (maybe after December 31st of the year of what if?). But when I was losing weight I started to be much more receptive to the successes of those around me. Why? Because I was getting happier and happier and I was suddenly down with the idea of HOPE. Because I was feeling hopeful, even if just a little, I could RELATE to other people’s’ success for the first time in awhile.
In addition to being more open to success based on the successes of those around me, I found myself eager to inspire others. Once you start to feel better and happier you kind of want others to as well. If anyone asked how I was doing it I would talk about it excitedly and encourage them to join me. I was making things happen, I wanted to make MORE things happen, and I wanted others to do the same so that they could experience it for themselves.
My point is that happiness can be contagious.
So my husband is one of those enormously lucky people who…is married to a fantastic and amazing woman. No, kidding, that’s not where I was going with this…even though it’s totally TRUE. My husband is one of those enormously lucky people who LOVES his job. He does what he is passionate about every day at work. It excites him, challenges him, and it feeds that part of your soul that is only fulfilled when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. I, on the other hand, have a great job that is…just. A. Job. I won’t lie, I can get excited, and I am enthusiastic, and I work really hard. But at the end of the day…it isn’t what I want to do when I grow up. You hear of people who say that even if they won the lottery they wouldn’t quit their job (my husband). And then there are the rest of us who would not only quit our jobs, but might even forego the two weeks and just leave a voicemail for our bosses saying we wouldn’t be coming back.
For those of us who are not lucky enough to be doing what we’re passionate about at work…well it’s kind of a bummer. Throw in a couple kids, a dog, a house to keep cleaned, family to see, the gym, and any hope of seeing our friends, there just isn’t a whole lot of time to follow your passion. When we do figure out what we’re passionate about there’s usually only enough time to barely scratch the surface. And then self-doubt creeps in and many of us quit and leave it alone.
One of my favorite things is trying to convince my friends to follow their passions and DO something with them. I am certainly not very good about heeding this advice but I sure like to dish it out. Here’s the thing…people aren’t so inclined to take said advice if you’ve got nothing to show for it in your own life.
I have ridiculously talented friends, family members, and friends of friends. Recently a couple have come out of the woodwork with just amazing talents I had no ideas about. I have a girlfriend Pea who is a crazy talented artist. I have known this woman for 12 years and I had no idea. She makes things that I would drop serious cash on if I saw it in a store. When I found this out recently I told her she HAD to start a business, HAD to sell it online, HAD to do something. I don’t know about you but I tend to shrug off that kind of feedback. I mean REALLY. It’s not THAT great. There are people who do it BETTER. And of course there is no time.
My girlfriend Kay’s sister decorates cakes. It’s not her job…it’s something she did in high school and just now got back into. She loves it and her cakes are totally gorgeous. Who knew?!
So here’s the thing. I’ve been writing this blog now for 19 days. In the beginning my friends were telling me they loved it and that I should continue…well come on…what else are they going to say? It’s not like they are going to tell me it’s the worst thing EVER. Even though I begged them to be honest. Then some strangers started “liking” my posts…which I assumed was just a fluke. I mean MAYBE they are friends of my friends and they were strong-armed.
When I figured out that maybe a couple of them were telling the truth and might ACTUALLY be strangers I was shocked, then totally humbled, and now…it is like the craziest joyful feeling EVER. But also…I feel like it is my duty to really encourage those in my life that are so undeniably talented to really DO SOMETHING about it. I shouldn’t be the only one having this kind of fun and feeling this kind of joy.
They say it takes a village to raise kids. Well maybe it takes a village to keep each other moving in the right direction. If we’re having enormous success doing something we love we should be encouraging others to follow their dreams as well. Right? Even if just one of my friends were to start putting time and energy into what they’re passionate about, that would be such a success. Because then, in return, maybe they will inspire someone else. And so on. And so on.
The reason I brought up my fat years and my being wicked pissed when people around me were having success with weight loss is that I don’t thing rising tides do always lift all boats. I think if someone is suffering from depression or in a really bad place it’s hard to see how anyone’s success relates to them at all. At least that’s how it was for me. But when people are in a pretty good place I think we CAN lift each other up by simply succeeding ourselves. And talking about it.
No, NOT like that. I don’t mean that we should all run around waving our hands in the air saying “I RULE!!! I AM SO SO SUCCESSFUL AND GOOD LOOKING!!!! LOOK AT ME AND ALL OF MY WICKED AWESOME SUCCESS!!! YEE-HAW!!!” Well, unless you’re in the confines of your own home and you’re alone. Hmmm…which I am…hold on a sec…
Seriously though…I feel like there has been this period of time where everything we hear about is so “wah-WAH.” We could use a little good news about how those around us are beating the odds and doing some really cool things. Even if following the things that we’re passionate about has to happen AFTER work, AFTER making dinner, AFTER doing homework with our kids, AFTER running them around to their activities, AFTER getting them to bed, AFTER going to workout, and AFTER everything else…deciding to do it anyway is exhilarating and liberating (and to be honest…also a little bit exhausting…but happy exhaustion is way better than bummed out exhaustion).
I know this is a long post (sorry…yawn…) but I’m contending that a rising tide really does lift all boats. And I think it’s up to me to make this true within my circle of influence (believe me you…my circle of influence is pretty teensy…but it’s a circle of influence nonetheless). I’m going to tell Pea until I’m blue in the face that she needs to pursue her art. I’m going to drill Kay until she starts taking her photography more seriously. I’m going to make Kay go after her sister to keep decorating her cakes every chance she gets. I’m going to follow the blog my brother just started to pursue his passion for writing. I’m going to ride all of my friends’ a-ses until they realize how talented they are and they start to really pursue the things that bring them joy. You’ve been warned.
TODAY: What if I can parlay the joy I’m experiencing with my writing into joy and success for those around me? What if we really do have the ability to lift people up simply by pursuing our passions and enjoying success? Well how f-cking awesome would that be?!!!
PS – I have to applaud KT and NK who, after telling me they’d also wanted to blog, have both posted really great pieces on their own blogs. It’s your turn to run around waving your hands in the air.