Sunday, June 16, 2013

I Get Up Again, Over And Over

It has been almost thirty years since Madonna's Like A Virgin album was released. Most people are probably only familiar with her hit singles from the album--which includes the title track, "Material Girl," "Angel," and "Dress You Up." I follow a different beat, and find the album to be memorable for another song.

"Over And Over" wasn't even a single from the album, but the song is my favorite Madonna song ever. Yes, my favorite ever. The dancey, upbeat pop song has amazing lyrics about instilling determination, overcoming setbacks, and daring greatly. Recently I started listening to this song before and after epic challenges, accomplishments, near-successes, and setbacks. In the spirit of lyrics interpretations, these are the reasons why I am enamored with the song--and live my life with the spirit of the song every day.

Hurry up, I just can't wait
I gotta do it now, I can't be late
I know I'm not afraid, I gotta get out the door
If I don't do it now, won't get anymore

Being motivated by a bias towards action is how I want to ideally spend my time. Creating sustainable habits, surrounding them with complementary rituals, and shipping regularly are things that I believe in. Even if I'm doing something that I've never tried before, or lack skills or expertise in, I would rather try and learn from my experience than be stricken by fear of failure or my "lack of qualifications." A quote from Jen Sincero's book, You Are A Badass, sums up my sentiments: "Because so often when we say we're unqualified for something, what we're really saying is that we're too scared to try it, not that we can't do it."

You try to criticize my drive
If I lose, I don't feel paralyzed
It's not the game, it's how you play
And if I fall, I get up again now

If I try something and the result isn't what I had hoped for, I move on. To quote Jay-Z, "I'm on to the next one." Even when I see rhinoceros and dark skies instead of unicorn and rainbow, I'm not going to be stopped. I've had couple of events during the year that didn't turn out as I had hoped, including prospective employment and internship opportunities. They turned out to be great experiences though: I learned about my strengths, personal brand, passion, and career capital. I also gained insight into what strategies I want to follow to step up my game. Life is too short for feeling perpetually victimized, blaming others for outcomes, and playing scared. But I will make time for "Dude, Let's Try This!" experiments.

Got past my first mistake
I'll only give as much as I can take
You're never gonna see me standing still
I'm never gonna stop 'til I get my fill

I don't claim to be perfect--I make mistakes often. I see them as learning opportunities, and I apply them to my next attempts. If I want to accomplish something that is meaningful to me, I will make it happen despite mistakes, setbacks, and detours. Thomas Edison made over ten thousand iterations of the light bulb before finally succeeding. He didn't view his efforts as failures, but rather as ten thousand ways which didn't work.

It doesn't matter who you are
It's what you do that takes you far
And if at first you don't succeed
Here's some advice that you should heed

The process of making awesome happen isn't constrained by limitations that other people or society wants to label you with. Being in my mid-forties doesn't stop me from engaging in lifelong learning, indulging in recreational sports, making new connections with amazing people from different circles, or pursuing new activities. I may be obscured at the base of a corporate org chart, but I've gained the notice of senior executives through shipping quality work and promoting my value proposition. I have succeeded because I believe in myself, and  put the responsibility for my success in my own hands: there's nothing more destructive than entrusting your career and life successes to other people (who often have their own agendas).

I'm not afraid to say I hear a different beat
And I'll go out in the street, yeah
And I will shout it again
From the highest mountain

There is no shame in daring greatly and living a dynamic and enriching life. It's amazing how many other people I have encountered in the streets or on that highest mountain who share similar zest for leading a fulfilling life. And it's great to hear these people shout (or talk or blog) about how they had dared greatly, chose meaningful action-filled lives, elevated themselves after following the "Dude, Let's Try This!" attitude, and found their roads to awesome. These are the people of my tribes, and we all hear that beat of dreams and possibilities.

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