"Blind Seer: You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains. You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first... first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril. Mm-hmm. You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell. You shall see a... a cow... on the roof of a cotton house, ha. And, oh, so many startlements. I cannot tell you how long this road shall be, but fear not the obstacles in your path, for fate has vouchsafed your reward. Though the road may wind, yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation." (From O Brother Where Art Thou)
The movie, O Brother! Where Art Thou is a favorite in my household. My eldest son can quote just about every line. In rough clothes and colloquial speech we witness the Odysseun search in the heart of a man who told his crew they were after a treasure of gold. Yet, the treasure Ulysses Everett McGill sought, was the love of his wife.
There's something about the Blind Seer's quote that gets me. Especially the part that says, "you will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek."
Would you agree that most of us spend our lives in pursuit of one thing, when what we really want and need is something else? Thankfully, another part of the quote says, "fate has vouchsafed your reward."
The pursuit of our destiny is fraught with attacks from both the cyclops and the sirens. We are either so singly focused we miss the true destination, or we are seduced by shiny objects to draw us off the path.
I believe that for most women, Self Belief, is the issue that causes us the most struggle when it comes to believing that we will reach the goal, the treasure, we seek. We bow to the notion that what we want is either inappropriate or unattainable. We yield to the pressure of our family and peers, but more often to our own secret fears of failure and embarrassment.
The siren's song is fed by our lack of self belief. It is easier to step out of the path, when we don't really believe we can make it anyway. Without self belief, and confidence in our destination, these distractions and delays can become a stopping point. For many, the return to the road of attaining the promise never occurs. Years later, we lament the days when we should have gotten back on the road. "Too late, too late, too late." becomes the song of the desolate heart late at night when we are left to our dreams of what might have been.
Without self-belief, if and when we get to the destination, we convince ourselves that we don't deserve the reward, the accolade, the income, the approval. We decide it was simply luck, and as such will probably slip right out of our hands. And, it usually does.
Ulysses Everett McGill did not have a problem with self belief. Instead, he was filled with a single, unrelenting obsession. He would get what he wanted, no matter the cost.
Sometimes, the companions we choose for the journey have little to do with our desire; they are simply convenient for the journey. Though they believe in us, we often leave them in the wake of our pursuit. Rather than saving them from capture, we sacrifice them for our beating heart's desire. Self belief becomes something unruly and dangerous. It becomes obsession. It overrules the beauty of our hungry pursuit. It devours and destroys.
If we are driven by obsession, when we arrive at our hoped-for destination, we find ourselves alone. The friends we forced to follow, tossed to the way side. The stories we might have shared of the adventure, forgotten. The one's we hoped to find at the journey's end, tired of our unceasing manipulation of time, resources and emotions.
Scylla and Charybdis - or - Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Which shall we choose? The siren's call to leave the road; fed by our lack of self belief? Or cyclopian obsession; ignoring the people and adventures which make the journey worth taking?
There is a place where self-belief and obsession meet. In that area of calm sea, we can be true to ourselves, true to our vision, and true to the one's we love. In that place, we own our passion and vision and we cherish the ups and downs of the process, as the place where growth happens.
Did you see the cow?
Our journey is filled with wonderful things - too wonderful to tell. Things that are out of place and ridiculous like a cow on the cotton house roof. Rather than waiting to hear the story, we run past, ever onward.
Throughout my career, there have been times of incredible success. I think of them today and am amazed that I threw them to the side as not enough, or insufficient. In the wake of the pursuit, I have left friends and associates behind. I called out for them to follow me, but their journey was in a different direction.
I am unashamedly ambitious. I am driven to succeed. God made me this way, and I am content. But now, I hope at least, my ambition isn't all about me. My driving passion is now the hope that I can assist others to arrive whole at their destiny.
Not just whole, but surrounded by the people who matter the most.
I'm fortunate that I discovered that my own obstacle was me. I'm more fortunate that I've learned how to get out of the way.
Let's talk about it. What do you think the greatest obstacles are to a woman's success?