Question for you: How often do you look back at the resolutions made by your younger self, and realize how much more expansive you've become since then?
When we set off from San Francisco 8 months ago on our 27-speed bikes bound for Argentina, I thought the trip could be done inside a year.
50 miles a day; 2 days off each week to rest and use the wifi, I thought. Easy peasy.
Looking back now, I realize how much of that figuring was motivated by fear, and the desire to control the uncontrollable.
Fear of embarking on something vast and uncertain.
Fear of leaving so many good things behind.
Fear that my beliefs would be proven wrong, and my business would "deflate" (as one mentor put it) without my constant attention and nurturing.
I thought that, by doing the research that showed the possibility of completing a 14,000 mile cycling trip in 365 days while working, I was somehow infusing a "crazy" idea with the bones of reason, commitment, and discipline.
And perhaps, on a level, I was.
Putting the vast and unknowable future into a tidy year-long container made it feel safe; like a calculated risk, rather than a huge (and possibly misguided) one.
Now (as is the way of life), I know more than I did when I set off.
By disrupting our own momentum and taking 3 months to "be still" in Medellin,
That tidy year-long container has been summarily dismissed.
Among other things, in those three months of "stillness":
Bruce enrolled in Spanish classes (and immediately befriended all 12 Colombian profas); I designed and launched a new digital product; Bruce landed his first South American film contract; I gave my first workshop in Spanish to a group of entrepreneurs; we made new friends and hosted old ones, had our faces painted like Caterina dolls for Halloween, took mid-week trips to tiny coffee towns, and enrolled in private salsa lessons.
And we both developed a love for a place, that our previous pace didn't really allow.
Now, we're getting back on the bikes.
And, at the rest of this adventure -- I'm looking through a whole new lens.
So without further ado, here are 3 lessons I'm taking forward into 2019.
(Interestingly, I've already learned them before -- but I guess I needed to re-learn them in a new context. Isn't it funny about the human condition, that we never stop needing reminders of the things we already know?)
Here we go:
1. To hell with the rules; instead, choose your operating principles.
Whether or not you make them yourself, rules are meant to be followed -- while principles are meant to be aspired to.
Rules are for high school, bureaucrats, and people with no imagination.
Having principles to guide your goals and actions equates to having an inner compass you can consult no matter which ocean you have to navigate. When you're facing uncharted territory, when you can't see the horizon, your principles shed light on the best course of action.
Which means that they leave room for multiple courses of action, not just those dictated by "the rules."
A few of my principles for 2019: (1) Pay attention. (2) Be of service. (3) Make magic.
2. The humiliation of beginning is the only way to experience new satisfactions.
Great rewards await anyone willing to (temporarily) look like a fool.
I've written before about the rather humiliating start to this cycling trip, without which I wouldn't have arrived here, 9,000 kilometers later.
Recently, we decided to revisit said humiliation by enrolling in private salsa lessons -- and let me tell you, Bruce and I are NOT what you might call "naturals."
Our instructor Elis, being a salsa expert and a natural genius at everything rhythmic, took to making funny impressions of us to underscore his points about body posture.
This, of course, was rather humbling.
But on the other side of that humiliation, we're now able to execute some fairly impressive double-spin sequences -- of the kind I wish to high heaven we'd been able to do BEFORE finding ourselves sitting at a table watching locals casually tearing up the dance floor sometime past midnight on a Thursday at Son Havana.
3. When you persist in dreaming big, the whole universe conspires to make it reality.
A mentor said to me back in July:
"If you're not growing, you're dying. I may be wrong, but I can't see ANY way that you could possibly grow your business from the back of a bicycle. If you COULD do that," he says with a good-natured chuckle, "you'd be my hero."
I mull this over for a moment, wondering if I should feel offended, and finally ask: "If I do grow my revenue this year over last, will you make me a plaque that says I'm your hero?"
When he agrees, laughing, I make him sign a contract.
In the following months, people come out of the woodwork to request coaching, consulting, webinars, remote workshops, and participation in new (and international) collaborations.
People just like you, reading this -- deciding to find a partner who can help them change "the rules." And one happy result -- besides the inherent satisfaction of feeling like a genuine creative contributor -- is that I'm getting that plaque.
I've learned this lesson time and again:
When you truly commit to a decision -- no matter how unlikely it seems -- it triggers shifts that we can't even begin to comprehend.
What principles will guide you, through this next stretch of unknowable future?
Which growth edge will you pursue, through temporary discomfort and all?
What crazy dream is calling out for your commitment -- in this year leading up to the turn of the decade?