You know how the tide retreating digs out a space under your feet if you’re standing still? When we’re determined to be stationary -- determined not to entertain any change or take any risks-- the tides of life, of employment, of commerce, of health, of relationships keep right on shifting underneath us. The “solid” ground of what is keeps being sucked out from under our feet.
I had a conversation today I’ve had hundreds of times over the last twenty plus years. Someone saying something like this: “We can’t seem to stay focused on much but getting through the work week, monitoring what the kids are up to, trying to stay ahead of the bills... If we’re not doing what it takes and the attempts we’ve made so far haven’t panned out, why invest any more time or money?”
Good question. Why not stand your ground, and just stay put? There are no guarantees for entrepreneurs and adventurers.
If we contract -- make ourselves and our lives as small as possible when things aren’t coming together the way we wish they would -- we believe we’ll be safer. The truth is that change is inevitable, and if we expand and take a chance on something better -- if we keep moving in the direction we truly want to go -- we’re actually less at risk than those who stand and wait for the tides to topple them.
I believe that we can’t reach too high, dream too big, risk too much if what we’re reaching for is a life fully lived, a life with purpose and joy. We all have a choice-- to contract into the status quo, or to take a chance and expand into a meaningful, memorable future. I believe if there’s even a tiny spark of pioneering spirit flickering, why not take every chance to fan it into a flaming beacon? Fan that spark enough times and basic physics says -- eventually -- the spark will catch.
There are risks in life -- whether you choose to stand still or lean into it. Either way.
Why not stretch your potential and reach a little higher? Why not burn a little brighter and give hope to some other people who haven’t quite been extinguished yet?
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." ----Helen Keller
Soon, Mom will be 94 years old. We’ve talked about getting her stories down in print; we’ve even kept a recording device near her favorite chair. Last week, we both admitted it: it’s not going to happen. Writing an autobiography is too big a mountain to climb when your energy doesn’t even get you to the foothills.
We’ve changed our plan. Each week on Tuesday when Mom and I trek out to the ocean, drive to the top of Mt. Tamalpias or ferry out to Angel Island, in the course of our day we will uncover two or three principles that define who she is and what she believes. So far, it’s made for the most satisfying, revealing, in-depth conversations we’ve ever had. I
highly recommend it.
Here are the first five.
MOM'S LEGACY LIST
1. Respect is 90 percent of love. There is no lasting love without respect. (from her father, Walter Roberts)
2. Having something to look forward to makes all the less pleasant parts of life just bumps in the road. With nothing to look forward to, life is just about the obstacles.
3. During the first decades of life, dissatisfaction is what pushes you forward. Later, gratitude -- finding evidence everyday that life is good -- is what keeps you moving forward.
4. When you have a disagreement with someone you love, ask yourself “What is more important? Being right -- or the relationship?” Then, just let go of being right.
5. Cleanliness and order contribute to a calm, clear mind.
So, you want a walk-away income? Money coming in while you’re walking away into the Redwoods, while you’re putting in the tulip bulbs, while you’re spending time with your five-year old, while you’re sleeping?
A walk-away income is an income that doesn’t need constant supervision, but is all grown up and self-sustaining. As it grows, it begins to provide more and more time to breathe, create and maybe even help someone else through a tough spot.
Yesterday, Lee and I stopped for lunch on the way home from camping, and, as so often happens, we got our waitress’ entire life story over the lunch counter. She’s working two jobs, going to school and raising a child. All worthy pursuits, but not one of them -- except her son -- is going to outgrow her apron strings. Until she starts dedicating at least small slivers of time to growing an asset, she’ll never be able to walk away from constant labor, stress and financial instability. She’s not alone. We talk to people all the time who have chosen income sources that will always be dependent on their ‘round- the-clock labor.
How do we begin to buy back a little time and peace of mind? The answer is that we have to find a way to duplicate ourselves. No, I’m not talking about cloning yourself, so you can work 4 or 5 or 6 jobs and still sleep and raise a family.
J. Paul Getty said it this way: “I’d rather have one percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts.”
All business is about duplication, about growing a community that pulls together and sustains many. A good business is one in which everyone pulling has an equal chance to grow a big, strong, freedom-producing asset -- as big and strong an asset as you choose. One that will take care of you now AND when you decide it’s time to slow down and cruise.
I spent 2 years, many years ago, finding 15 minutes here, an hour there in my maxed-out weeks, to begin to duplicate myself and grow a grown-up income source. Those consistent efforts bought me over 20 years of designing my own calendar and the chance to make a real difference in the quality of life of many people.
Lee and I enjoy life fully and live to pass it forward. There are great rewards in seeing hope replace resignation in someone’s eyes.
REMEMBER: THERE IS NO WALK-AWAY INCOME WITHOUT DUPLICATION.
Susan is a published writer and motivational speaker with 30 years of experience, dedicated to guiding people to a life of financial invincibility and peace of mind.