For the longest time I’ve thought to do what I do as a writer, I had to have it all together. Or at the very least, give the impression of having it all together. ‘The only way people will respect me and follow my writing is if I at least appear to have my life sorted’, goes the argument.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Many of us are told from a young age that the people who ‘make it’, the people we should aspire to be, are the ones who have it all together.
You know who I mean. The ones who manage their life well, earn lots of money, can (and occasionally do) boast about their achievements, who manage their time, energy and money perfectly. The people who have so many strategies for every single area of life they have them coming out of their earholes.
We all know this type of person.
And we’ve all be seduced by this story – whatever path we choose to follow. I was for a long time. I looked at other writers and thought ‘If only I had my life together like them’ or ‘If only I had their character or integrity’.
But it’s a lie.
I assumed the reason my life had been such a mess and I’d not had the success I wanted, was because I was a useless screw up who couldn’t close and had so many issues you could have built a library for them.
However, I’ve slowly begun to realise the complete fallacy of this concept.
Truth is, it’s only when we are honest about our screw ups, that we begin to grow. And when we’re growing, we can have a much bigger impact on the world – in the midst of our screwed-upness.
There’s not much difference between me and the ‘successes’. And it’s most likely one of two things. Either they are better at hiding their faults from the world, better at sounding they have it all together. Or they are so arrogantly blinded by success they don’t see their own brokenness.
And let’s be brutally honest, is it really that impressive boasting about your stats?
Don’t you find it a bit desperate?
I’m not saying it’s wrong to talk about your achievements. Of course it’s not. In writing, using stats about subscribers or book sales to promote your work or your website – it can be useful, in moderation. But I’m not talking simple promotion, or statement of achievement. I’m talking, for example, people who make sure they tell you all the time (like, nearly every page of their site, a large percentage of their blog posts (or post titles), most promotional videos, or every third sentence of their talks) how much money they made, how many books they sold, how many followers or subscribers they have…..everywhere. All the time.
Not just in one little box on their website, but literally everywhere. Not occasionally, but all the time.
For me, there’s a simple reason any person, in whatever field of life, constantly boasts about their success.
They are putting their security and identity in their achievements, in their status, in their victories.
It’s not isolated to writers of course. It happens all over the place.
And it’s pathetic.
I’ll be honest, I might use stats to promote my blog in future, in some way, shape or form. I may use stats from book sales to promote another book. But I’m not going to put it on every single work I create, every sentence of all my writing, and brag about it all the time in a way which makes others feel like failures. I’m not going to do it boastfully. I’m not going to mention it every ten seconds. And I will try to avoid ever making public how much money I’ve made.
Do Something Great
The people I admire most, they don’t ever, ever boast about their achievements or publicly discuss how much money they’ve made.
Because their goal was never stats, or money. It was to follow their passion. To do something great in the world.
These type of people are motivated by impacting people’s lives for good. By doing what God put in their heart to do. For them, the outcome is less important than being obedient to the call.
These people don’t define success by status or achievement – in the case of writers, the number of books sold or money made. They don’t let their insecurities control their desires. And their identity or security isn’t in their accomplishments, status, or wealth. These writers create great work because it’s in them and they want to share it, and they are happy to surrender the outcome.
And that’s the kind of person I want to be.
Many leaders and writers – including many successful ones – mistakenly assume they need to have it all together. So they act this way. And it comes across in their work.
But it always feels fake. Because it is. Because they’re as messed up as we are and are simply hiding it.
And it’s lethal. It’s toxic. It’s hugely damaging.
If I, as a writer, as a leader, act like I have to have it all together all the time, I’m only perpetuating this myth even further. Which is the last thing I’d ever want to do.
The best leaders, and the best human beings I know, aren’t the ones who hide their screw ups. They are the ones who are honest about their imperfections. For example, the best people to counsel, to support, to give guidance, are often the ones who’ve walked the path before. Maybe that’s you.
My desire for this blog, and my writing, is to build a community where we’re honest about our weaknesses, about how we all struggle – myself included. A space I share the lessons I’ve learned from my own moments of weakness and joy, failure and success, stumbling and soaring, to try to help you all on your own journeys.
My biggest passion is to help you discover your true, divine identity. My desire for you today and in the future is you’d know the following truths (and we’ll expand on these in future posts):
1) You’re Enough…Now
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. You don’t ever have to prove yourself. You have value right now, as you are. With all your imperfections. Yes, even that one you try to hide. And if you do nothing with your life, you’re still enough.
2) You Can Change The World & Be Screwed Up (provided you’re growing)
Yep, that’s true. You can make a difference in the world and be a screw up at the same time. It’s totally possible.
Harland J. Saunders had his special recipe chicken rejected nearly 1000 times. Now we all know it as the global brand chicken, KFC. Albert Einstein didn’t read till he was seven years old and was rejected from several schools. Yet he won the Nobel Prize for physics. And Abraham Lincoln was demoted in military service and lost several times running for political office…but he didn’t do too bad in the end.
You see, you can be a screw up and change the world. There’s simply no doubt about it. I’d say it was a prerequisite for success, but then I’d be simply selling another ‘success formula’. And I have no interest in that.
What’s important is for your life to have forward momentum. To be always growing, moving forward, even if you trip up along the way.
We’re all on a journey, and it’s when we fall over, we learn the important lessons. (you can tweet that).
3) You’re Free to Be You
My hope on this blog is that we can learn to be free from the need to earn our value and worth. The myth which comes through the expectations of a consumer (or even religious) culture, that our worth comes through what we achieve, what we earn, or how many followers we have.
And instead, be free to be you. The unique way you were created to live, living the unique story you were born for.
4) If You’ve Changed One Person’s Life, You’ve Changed The World
Yep, that’s true too. You don’t need to be a million selling author or internationally renowned figure to be a world-changer. By impacting one life for good, you’ve already made a positive impact on the world, and the ripples will go on for years to come. Isn’t that awesome?
I can promise you, on this blog I won’t be selling you a false idea that if you ‘get it together like me’ your life will suddenly be perfect and you’ll feel complete and worth something. (if I ever do that, e-mail me and tell me, and I’ll apologise). I’ve no interest in persuading anyone I have it all together, when I don’t, and no one really does.
I’m a screw up. I’m still on the journey. I’m learning, growing, tripping up and getting up again. Just like all of us. How about then, all of us together, in the midst of our screwed-upness, get together and change the world, one small piece at a time?
Questions For Reflection:
1) Have you believed the myth you had to have it all together to make a difference?
2) How has this myth worked itself out in your life?
3) What would it look like for you to make a difference in the midst of your screwed-upness?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Picture Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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