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One of the most iconic images from nature is the sight of a grizzly bear in the middle of a river catching salmon with nothing but its paws and teeth.
Grizzlies need to put on weight quickly for their hibernation and fortunately, this period of weight gain comes during the migration season for salmon, who travel upstream to spawn before dying.
I love watching the big guys go about their business and think that there are a couple of simple principles to be learned from the fishing habits of grizzly bears:
There are lots of reasons not to follow your calling:
- It’s not the right time.
- It’s too risky.
- How can I be sure that what I’m doing really is my life’s purpose?
- Everyone will think that I’m crazy.
- No-one I know is doing it, so why should I?
- I’m too comfortable and too well-paid compromising my calling in my current job.
- It’s too late, I’ve missed my chance.
- I’ll be too embarrassed if I fail and have to go back to my old life.
- It all seems a bit too hard.
- I’m not the sort of person who follows my calling, that’s for more deserving people.
Too many people use these and other reasons to excuse them from living a purposeful life that’s true to their life’s calling.
In Westminster Abbey, the following words are found inscribed on the tomb of an 11th century Anglican Bishop:
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me.
But alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realise as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family.
A man was walking through his neighbourhood when he heard the voice of God clearly say, “Sit and pray.”
He looked around, spied a park bench and sat down to pray.
As he prayed, he saw a man struggling with a heavy burden and again heard the voice of God say, “Help that man.”
He got up, went to the man and assisted him in carrying his load for a couple of blocks until he again heard the voice of God say, “Sit and pray.”
I met a young man a few days ago who had an excuse for everything. Life was hard, he had health problems, he felt under pressure and the future was grim.
He was a genuine, card-carrying pessimist.
There are others I know for whom the sun is always shining, the world is full of boundless opportunity and nothing can wipe the smiles from their faces.
They are bone fide optimists.
I spoke to another man recently who started our conversation feeling trapped, but through the course of the interaction started to see opportunities to take action that had the potential to create a better future for him and his family.
He started pessimistically and after an hour, was a lot more optimistic.
But which one is right.
Is the world really that diabolical?
Is it really that great?
Can it really be bad and then after an hour be better?
We live in a world that presents us with a myriad of choices.
When you go to buy a new pair of pants, you have dozens of options from which to choose.
When you look for a restaurant to eat from, search for a new career or have to make a decision regarding which school your kids will attend, you have dozens of options from which to choose.
Which choice do you make?
And what if you make the wrong choice?
We’ve all had buyer’s remorse.
One hamburger won’t kill you… but a thousand might.
One cigarette won’t kill you… but a thousand might.
One day of physical inactivity won’t kill you… but a thousand might.
These principles apply to other areas of our lives as well.
One argument with your spouse won’t end your marriage… but a thousand might.
Career coach and author Dan Miller uses the phrase “opportunityisnowhere” in his book “No More Mondays.”
Where you put the spaces in this phrase is important.
You could see the world as a place where “opportunity is nowhere.”
The economy is tough.
You’re trapped in a dead-end job.
Finances are tight.
Your industry is slowly dying and jobs are going with it.
You don’t know what the future holds, but it doesn’t look promising.
“I am certainly a more noble and perfect animal than you,” the goose hissed, “For the whole range and extent of your faculties is confined to one element. However, I can walk upon the ground, just as you do, as well as take to the air with my wings and when it pleases me, I can land on a pond or lake, refreshing myself in the cool waters. I enjoy the different powers of a bird, a fish and a quadruped.”
When we put our heart and soul into a project, we like to be noticed.
When we work on our craft and can see the improvement in our work, it’s nice if it makes a difference in someone’s life.
But what if it goes unnoticed and unappreciated?
What if you’re toiling away in anonymity?
What if no-one ever says thanks for all of your hard work?