Many of my post-employment blog posts have revolved around my Chinese studies and how they have challenged one of my weakest capabilities (language). Today was one my worst days. And the second toughest was on Friday of last week, when I walked out of class an hour early. The last week has not gone well for me. It briefly passed my mind to consider quitting class today and instead spend my time on another project. But I remembered previous advice I shared here. I think I am now back on track.
I recognized in early June that I would have good and bad days. Our mind tends to project the future based on our most recent experiences. From one catastrophic day we are blinded from seeing two months of success. In trying to see the big picture, I am reminded of a humbling, true and somewhat funny witticism: no matter how amazing or embarrassing you were today approximately one billion Chinese people could not give a damn. That really puts things in perspective.
My bad day started as others have: I had misunderstood previous instructions and arrived unprepared. While everyone else reviewed their mock final test I sat there on my own. That was today’s first hour. It was not fun to see everyone else getting prepared for Wednesday’s final while I sat on the sidelines. My mind was in a bad place, for sure. One thing that helped me get back on track today was an exercise in positivity I developed with guidance from Mush Panjwani. Specifically Amy Cuddy’s posture advice had a dramatic effect on my mental state when I followed it in our ten minute break. That stuff works.
But today I made another discovery with respect to my Chinese studies. I need to change tactics. And this is fairly easily done.
I recently read Jon Acuff’s Start. His book is a manifesto on movement. An accelerator for action. With a simple premise he calls to action the legions of us that spend years sleepwalking. That idea is this: “don’t wait. Start now.” The book was fine. But one day one particular quote stood out as I read it.
The … secret about purpose is that it usually finds you. Purpose is attracted to motion. Purpose is attracted to momentum. Purpose loves to surprise you mid-stride. Very rarely will it greet you on your front doorstep. More often than not, you’ll encounter purpose in the middle of the road when you least expect it.
Acuff was talking about the purpose that drives many to succeed at what they do. And the lack of purpose that leaves many of us muddling through the work at hand. Acuff is saying that publicly riding your dreams into glory will be seen, recognized, and appreciated by those in your network. I came to a similar conclusion as Acuff. Not just that your networks would recognize your efforts and respond with opportunity. But that networks are often the reason for success. Indeed, I have noticed a common trait in highly successful people: they are highly networked.