Every Monday, we post a manifesto from someone who has completed The Dig. During The Dig, each participant discovers the one word that best describes their purpose, and they write a manifesto about it. This week’s Manifesto was written by Chris Waddell – founder of One Revolution and a recipient of 13 Paralympic Medals – Chris is a champion of all measures. He has given a TED Talk and spoke at Evoso Live encouraging audiences to be bolder in life. In the search for his word, Chris began with commitment and slowly realized that being bold was the driving force behind all his endeavors.
BOLD, by Chris Waddell
I believe that my ultimate goal is commitment. I want to be fully committed to believing in what I’m doing and that what I’m doing is meaningful. Yes, I need to make a living and yes there is a part of me that attaches meaning to how much I make, much as sometimes that disappoints me, but I really need to believe that there is something bigger.
I love being committed. I love the discipline—the little things that go into being successful. My conflict in some ways is that I also want to be efficient—to have a life that’s not dictated by my job and by shooting for something that I will never reach and needing to be completely committed to reaching just short.
The problem with commitment is that it can make my life smaller. There’s a focus and that focus is what’s important in the moment, but my worry is that it’s also easy to pick my head up twenty years later and feel like I’ve missed life. Sometimes I feel that way now.
I remember thinking, at someone’s wedding and I don’t remember who, that it was unfortunate that that day was the best day of his/her life because I had so many other things in store. And there’s a part that I missed in not acknowledging how important that simple connection can be and that just because everyone does it doesn’t diminish it.
The simple can be the most profound.
There are times that I’m disappointed that I never had children. I see friends with children going off to college—the excitement of learning who they are and who they will become—sharing my knowledge and experiences in a personal way that might well help someone else. But yet I do that with so many children. I’ve spoken to 250,000-300,000 kids and finding that connection, while not as personal as my own children, but potentially more impactful in terms of the groundswell.
I want nothing more than to be committed. To me, building my craft is important. Speaking and storytelling are my crafts. Perfecting, growing, learning and shaping those crafts are important to me because they represent my journey. I’m learning about myself as I’m perfecting my crafts and I’m gaining a sense of worth. My crafts are worth more if I have to work for them.
I value them more if they take discipline—the little things—the reasons to wake up earlier in the morning. Setting the tone for the day. Seizing that day—knowing that each day matters for getting closer and closer to the ultimate goal and maybe that’s my problem is that I’m not sure of the ultimate goal. I can affect change. As my wife says, each time I speak I’m creating ambassadors of change, but to what end? What do these ambassadors do? How does the world look differently when they do what they do?
The conflict is that I want desperately to be committed, but I’m not sure why. When I’ve known why it’s been because there was no choice. It was an either/or proposition like with my accident. It was either I lived or I didn’t and while I might have continued to take in breath—not living meant that I lost the ability to dream. Sometimes I think that I need to set a goal to be the best speaker ever.
Sometimes I think that my goal is to achieve a level of honesty that allows me to be comfortable with myself. Maybe that’s part of the pursuit—stripping off the layers with happiness as an ultimate goal. It might be a little less tangible than say making a $1million, but maybe that’s the pursuit—that it’s a personal pursuit in a world that has too little happiness and maybe that’s the balance of being committed but not blocking out the rest of the world.
It’s still a why. Commitment is the goal, but why, what’s in there for me? It seems like that is the stumbling block. Why? There are lots of great causes, but they don’t grab me by the throat and I’m disappointed in that. I want to be grabbed by the throat and I need to answer why.
Why work at everyday? Why put who I am into it?
I’ve heard many writers say that if you can do anything else do it. It’s all they had and there was an urge that they satisfied. Funny, I’m searching for an urge that I need to satisfy and I feel unsatisfied that I don’t have an urge and need to pour myself into something, so in some ways it feels cheap because I’m drifting. I’m not committed.
And some of it I wonder if I’m scared. When I competed I showed up to practice everyday—okay fine there were days that I was just too tired or just lacked some motivation—but for the most part I showed up everyday. With writing, with storytelling there are so many times that I feel like I’ll be smarter later—that there are other things to do—work—foundation work—obligations—responsibilities.
This is the permission part. Getting and giving myself the permission is the big question, because I’m wallowing in no man’s land. I’m dallying. Sampling. Staying on the periphery. Doing what’s easy, but not committed to what needs to happen to get somewhere and maybe the question is somewhere. I want the process, but why and where? Why do I want to do this when in the past my commitment has often taken me away from other people than bringing me together with them?
The conflict between commitment and comfort is part of the issue. I can get complacent. I know that about myself. I stop. I rest. I think I’m done. And then I’m disappointed in myself. The constant striving, the commitment to striving and struggling—that’s a lifetime pursuit. I often speak about the journey as the only thing that’s guaranteed, but I love to stop and in there is a conflict—enjoying appreciating the daily grind and at the same time wanting it to stop. In some ways there is no such thing as comfort—it’s existing in a fluid world—the emotional tie to comfort is a recipe for disappointment because comfort is in the moment and really more of a process than it is a destination.
Responsible connects to comfort. With these opportunities it’s a chance to achieve comfort, but responsible and comfort can be on the opposite side of inspiration and creativity, but then there’s that rabbit hole of if that’s your pursuit do you ever see the light of day again and if you make your own choices then you are ultimately responsible for the outcome—not being a victim means taking responsibility, but making that choice then is embracing uncertainty and the stakes can be higher in that I might not ever reach an acceptable level—transcendence, meaning, purpose, worth—dilettante. And that’s a worry. If you’re going to do something—start a business—create something—it’s because you have a better way of doing something or a new idea.
It’s new. It’s different. It’s meaningful. Contribution. Not just following the crowd. Can you revolutionize? That’s important.
When I started to ski it wasn’t just to be the best in the world. I didn’t just have the target of whom I wanted to beat, I wanted to blow people’s minds. Escape the gravitational pull. Ryder P. Moses. Not sure what the escape means—maybe that is escaping to the comfort—maybe it’s escaping to meaning—purpose—significance—the bounds that I put on myself—the bounds that society puts on me—clarity—understanding—literally transcendence—authenticity.
Living the life that you’re talking about. Balance, purpose, happiness, fitness, learning, growth, winning. Winning is doing what you want to do—not saying, sometime later…when I get this done…prioritizing, doing the important now and having time and physical ability to play and to leave something behind—some mark that you’ve actually been here.
Interested in doing a Dig and finding your word? Click here for more info.