Stamina, otherwise known as the ability to keep going, runs through the blood of every successful creative and business person. We build our stamina bit by bit, training ourselves to do the work to reach our goals.
But why do we take the time to develop that stamina? Is it our passion? Our mission? Our meaning? Ambition?
Frankly, I believe that we each discover our own unique thing which keeps us moving toward our chosen goals. That thing— whether it is love for your craft, a mission that will change the world, a meaning which resonates through your soul—propels us forward, sometimes tripping over our own feet like a toddler being pushed onto a new playground by a well-meaning but overenthusiastic parent.
And stamina is that ability to keep moving. To walk out onto the playground day after day, looking for the other kids who will be our friends. Waiting for the moment we can slip into the line to go down the slide. Finding the person to give us a push so we can swing so high weightlessness sits in our belly for a moment.
I know I have stamina. I see it in the clean dishes in the drainer waiting for me to put them away each morning. I see it in my fat belly, knowing I made dinner each evening. I see it in the words that pour out onto the page each day, the emails sent, the blog posts written, the phone calls made.
We build our stamina through small actions. We add five minutes to our writing time each month. We wash our dishes each night before we go to bed. We send out submissions once a week. We make a phone call to someone who might be interested in our work.
In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert asked “What would you do if you knew you would fail?”
When I read that line, I felt the truth of it hit me right smack in the middle of my chest..
Because in any endeavor, whether in creativity or business, there is a shit-ton of failure. Soooooo much disappointment. Acres of discouragement.
And here’s the deal: We may not succeed in our chosen professions. No one made a promise to us that, if we follow our hearts, wild professional success would tumble into our laps.
But if we don’t try, we certainly will never succeed.
And our sheer stubborn stamina keeps our feet moving toward our goal despite that disappointment, that failure, that discouragement. The stamina to practice, to submit your work, to ask for the sale— that’s what gets our dreams and our art into the world. Taking the action. Acting on what we love, what we know the world needs from us, what we need to create.
We work at it, failing a little and succeeding a little each day. Sometimes failing a lot and succeeding a little. On the best days succeeding a lot and failing a little less than normal.
But we return each day and try again. We make changes and find a more effective path. We work toward the dream and the desire. We hone our skills and open our hearts. We look for inspiration. We hold tight to goals. We allow our goals to change.
What would you do even if you knew you would fail?
Your answer equals your reason to develop your stamina.
Get out on that playground, kiddo! Your new friends are waiting for you.