One of the things that inspired me find the courage to write my book ‘Self-Fidelity’ and establish The Centre for Self Fidelity was the book Die Empty by Todd Henry.
The core message of Todd’s book is this: Don’t die with your best work still inside of you.
Here is a little snippet from Die Empty:
“The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard. In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thought, ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow.’ One day, however, their tomorrows ran out. (…) Emptying yourself of your best work isn’t just about checking off tasks on your to-do list; it’s about making steady, critical progress each day on the projects that matter, in all areas of life.”
When I started writing my book four years ago, I would get myself to bed early, set my alarm for 5:30 am, exercise for 45mins (while thinking about a specific element of the book) and then write for 30 minutes in the empty lobby of a hotel near my gym. I was finished by 7 am, ready to drive back home and get the kids off to school and get myself off to my full-time executive job.
Perhaps that sounds exhausting to you, but for me it was one of the most exhilarating periods of my life.
The days I committed to this pre-dawn routine were the days I was at my very best as an executive. I felt alive and activated knowing that I was making tangible progress on the work that mattered most to me.
Making the commitment to progress your best work does not mean you have to quit your job or make other radical changes in your life. It does mean you will need to figure out how to make a start – right where you are, with what you have.
It may mean getting to bed a little earlier, so you can get up a little earlier everyday. It may require cutting back on time spent on other things – like Netflix and Social Media.
Perhaps it requires a courageous conversation with your boss (if you have one). Remember, whether your ‘best work’ takes the form of volunteering, activities with loved ones, a hobby, a secondment to another department, a passion project or a side hustle – good leaders will support you. Great leaders will encourage you.
It will definitely require a firm decision to believe in yourself and to make a start.
When we find the courage to give the very best of ourselves to our most important work, truly extraordinary things happen.
And, as I often tease my coaching clients – it would be just plain selfish of you not to bring your brilliant ideas out of your head and into the world, because you would be depriving the rest of us of your gifts!
Self-Fidelity Practice To Play With This Week
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (specifically the Snapchat ageing filter) we can all look our 80-year-old self in the eye and ask our ‘future self’ this question: “Am I on track to dying with my very best work out in the world?”. What we are aiming for is an enthusiastic YES!
I strongly encourage you to do this exercise – it is an expectedly moving and catalytic experience.
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” Martha Graham
I create Hello Monday Morning to give generously and give often to a growing global community of self-fidelity pioneers. My weekly posts share small yet mighty self-fidelity practices to uplift working life. Subscribe here and get the first two chapters of my book Self-Fidelity for free.