Find a Way to Enjoy the Journey and Make the Impossible Happen


Upon seeing the story of a perfectly symmetrical photo of a Kingfisher diving for prey in the, I used it as an example when talking to someone who was giving up in frustration, after a very short period of time, while attempting to get through a problem. I said here you have a guy who took an estimated 720,000 photos, spending 4,200 hours, over the last 6 years, to get to something that existed in his imagination but had thus far eluded him…and you are giving up after trying for 20 minutes? The composition of the photo is amazing given the mirror reflection on a surface of water that is as smooth as glass — then add on top of that the fact of the incredible timing where the massive speed of action has yet to produce a single ripple in the water. It is a final result where I cannot even begin to understand the journey to get there, yet it is efforts like this that make the world a more enjoyable place to live in for all of us. (The photo of the Kingfisher was used by permission from Alan McFadyen. To see more of his work visit his Flickr account, rent a hide from him in Southwest Scotland to capture your own photos at Scottish Photography Hides, or find him on Facebook)

As I have come to say to others:

It takes a good ten years to become an overnight success.

Though Alan was able to find that one photo in a little less than that I think the concept still applies. Instant gratification is a growing problem in a world where so many things have become either easy to obtain or have somehow shown the illusion of easy obtainment. Free apps, free news, free mail (yes, there was a time not that long ago when you needed to pay to send something to someone pre-internet), free music, and so on. Some of us might remember the “You Will” AT&T marketing campaign. In the end the part that said, “And the company that will bring it to you: AT&T,” did not end up to be very accurate but many of the predictions of the future actually did come true! Waze, E-ZPass, BeamPro, the Apple Watch, Kindle, Netflix (though the idea of being able to binge watch a new season of a series was not an obvious prediction!), and more.

More than easy access to everything, the bigger danger in the quest for instant gratification has become having easy access to the illusion of overnight success. Twitter feeds, mainstream media, online news, etc, tend to almost always bring our focus to the end result. Sure, it is great to have the inspiration of wanting to achieve a similar end result but the real news, and inspiration, needs to come from the journeys taken to get to those end results. For the rest of us to achieve our own personal greatness, if desired, we need to understand how to enjoy spending 4,200 hours, taking 720,000 photos, over six years, and be happy if the itch for the perfect photo in our mind is still not fulfilled.

Oddly, achieving financial success, or fame, can complicate things as well. Think of all the stories of people that have burned out lives way to young as they struggled with finally “making it.”

As Alain De Botton states in How Proust Can Change Your Life:

…Which emphasizes the extent to which physical possession is only one component of appreciation. If the rich are fortunate in being able to travel to Dresden as soon as the desire to do so arises, or to buy a dress just after they have seen it in a catalog, they are cursed because of the speed with which their wealth fulfills their desires. No sooner have they thought of Dresden than they can be on a train there; no sooner have they seen a dress than it can be in their wardrobe. They therefore have no opportunity to suffer the interval between desire and gratification which the less privileged endure, and which, for all its apparent unpleasantness, has the incalculable benefit of allowing people to know and fall deeply in love with paintings in Dresden, hats, dressing gowns, and someone who isn’t free this evening.

I wish I had a well oiled generic strategy to enable others to find there own ways to enjoy the journey. Without that at hand here are five points that might help along the way:

  1. In one of my Medium stories I mentioned the line from the Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) song that goes “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Using the same concept I find myself sometimes purposely delaying things that I really want. I cannot say it comes close to happening everyday, as in fact it is quite infrequent, but I do it when it makes sense to do it. Train your brain to realize the satisfaction will still be there and, in fact, it might be better when you can make that moment a bit more special when it is not interrupting you at random times…or you might find something else happens… Ever since being a fan of Magnum, P.I. I always thought that the Ferrari 308 GTS was my dream car. Over the years the model changed and even after I reached a point where I could afford one I still kept dreaming. Then, one day, I realized I did not want to buy one anymore. I actually received tremendous joy from wanting one, and over the years that have passed I began to realize my desire was more enjoyable than reality could ever be. Now on to the Tesla Model X…
  2. Face it, sometimes the journey can be boring. Be it to better health, when working out, or when, in the middle of travel, you need to find a way to make that time in between something you look forward to as well. In another Medium story I mentioned the concept of NET — No Extra Time — activities. I remember talking to someone a couple years ago how I don’t mind the traffic when I visit the LA area. When I travel for business I usually stack my schedule pretty high thus traffic time in LA is my down time which is the opposite for when I am closer to home. I would not go as far to call it meditation but it does come close.
  3. Get rid of the rush. Make being on time getting there 15 minutes early. It also means getting rid of some of the more unimportant things taking up your time. Yell at yourself if it helps for not getting distracted. Take some joy in throwing out the trash that is eating into one thing none of us can make more of — the time we have allocated for us here on Earth.
  4. Get some pleasure out of how long the road has been and what you have seen along the way. It is unfortunately hard to put a life in perspective. In yet another Medium story I mention how I use journaling to do just that. Besides being a great tool to be grateful in recording how far you indeed have come it is also a great tool for understanding when you are going no where. As mentioned in the commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios: When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Let your journaling be that mirror.
  5. Finally, ever since first going to UPW in 1998 Tony Robbins’ Emotional Flood Exercise is something I am grateful to have access to in my life. If you are successful at #4 this exercise becomes much more powerful. Not all of us will be able to capture the impossible photo, but all of us have something just a special inside waiting for that journey that leads from imagination to reality.

It took the ten years between 1994 and 2004 to fully turn around a family owned rigid plastic packaging business. This does not include the six years before that of just figuring out that the opportunity to do so was actually there to begin with. From 2004 to 2008 we had the real run of success after which I moved onto startup investing. Going into 2016 I am only eight years into this new effort and I am just starting to see the signs in the road indicating this new life could be even more successful than my career in manufacturing. Somewhere in between I took a deep dive into the feature film industry with a startup that is now just five years old. It is where I spend the most operational time just because I love it so much. Hoping to see the impossible happen on several fronts — and in the meantime having a lot of fun trying to get there.

(Originally Posted on Medium)