"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."
There is a saying out there that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Research and evidence suggests that it may take a little longer to actually form a habit. However, the idea is when you do something over and over, eventually it should stick.
I learn a lot from the clients that I see. Sometimes I learn awesome lessons, and sometimes I get to feel disappointment, fear, stuck, sadness, anger and a whole gauntlet of other emotions that are brought in to sessions. I am slowly but surely learning to be comfortable in some of the most uncomfortable moments. The past couple weeks were a huge learning moment in not only my professional development, but personal development as well.
A client* of mine is participating in Inktober. If you haven't heard of this challenge, it is basically an entire month of drawing. Each day you are given a prompt and have to draw your interpretation of the prompt. The idea behind it is to draw every day and establish a positive habit by doing something routinely. SO COOL. Seeing my client's first few drawings, the excitement they had, and the idea of doing something to get out of my own personal negative funk - I jumped on the bandwagon.
1. I can't draw.
2. I don't have an artistic bone in my body.
3. I opened my big mouth and told my client I would draw alongside them and do the challenge.
4. When I agreed to do this, it was already 3 days into the challenge, meaning I was already starting behind.
5. Did I mention I can't draw?
Each day I neatly put on my to-do list Inktober (more on my to-do lists in a later post). And at the end of each day, I had to migrate this task to the following day. Finally, on what was supposed to be Day 10, I decide to tackle my first drawing. Despite all my best intentions, and excitement - guess what?
I still can't draw.
There was no way that I was going to share this thing with anyone, let alone my client. The strong feeling of failure started to creep up my body, settling oh so nicely in my heart, (it is important to note how much "failure" and not being "perfect" is a trigger for me - more on that later as well...). I had two choices - tell my client I failed and was unable to do what I said I was going to or continue trying to draw -- 31 different disasters. (I am really not exaggerating, I wish I was, and I also wish I had the bravery to post my first drawing...).
I decided to go with choice 1, and I quit. Despite my disappointment in myself, I promise there is good in this post...
First of all, my professional development - - my client's come in because I am HUMAN, Part of being human is unfortunately failure. Sharing my own shortcomings can sometimes be learning opportunities and ah-ha moments for those that I see. How can I relate to real, raw vulnerability of others, if I can't go there myself? Being perfect does not make me a good therapist, being human does.
It is important to note my client is killing this challenge and has made it every day so far without missing a drawing. Even more important is what this client is learning and applying to their life from doing this.
Secondly, personal development - - this is where it gets tricky. When I decided to not share my stick figure drawings with the world and those participating in Inktober, I had to ask myself, "why did I want to do this challenge in the first place?" My initial response is to support my client, to do something different - - and while yes those are true, it wasn't the real reason. The real reason is painful to admit...
I've lost my motivation.
I've lost a piece that has defined me since a very young age. The ability to do, do, do and never get tired. To take on all the tasks and then agree to take on more. If I did Inktober, maybe I could find that piece of me, maybe I could pull it out and spark it through this drawing challenge.
I completely missed the point of the challenge.
From the Inktober website: "I created Inktober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. That's it! Now go make something beautiful." (Jake Parker, www.inktober.com)
Positive. Habits. Create. Beauty. That is the point.
Since I can't draw, I decided to do something that brings me inner peace. That makes me feel free, motivated, and when doing it daily, it is one of my most positive habits. It isn't for anyone but me. The only person I am truly accountable to, is myself. The daily path to get to the end result is magical and beautiful. I know this because I have done this thing, 4 times prior in my life.
I am challenging myself to run my 5th marathon. 26.2 miles.
So, thank you to Inktober and my client for reminding me that while I may not be an artist, I am a runner, I am human, and I have the ability to develop a positive habit,that is truly beautiful to ME.
I have the ability to create my own excellence.
*All information about client has been changed or left out to protect confidentiality.