I had reached a stalemate and it made absolutely no sense to me at the time. Here I was, a guy knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life and having absolutely no forward momentum to do it! Frustrated, I asked God for some kind of a sign to let me know that what I was doing with my life was what I was supposed to do. And then Rocky Balboa showed me the way.
Toward the end of Rocky III there’s a scene on the beach when Rocky and Adrian get into a passionate discussion about Rocky’s belief that he doesn’t have what it takes to fight Clubber Lang. Adrian does her best to encourage him until, frustrated, Rocky screams, “Nothing is real if you don’t believe in who you are!”
I moved to the edge of my couch and reached for the remote to pause the movie. Could it be that I had lost the belief in myself and my calling? How was that even possible since my whole life had been a testament to the power of taking risks and achieving goals? In that moment I felt extremely vulnerable. And then Rocky admitted something to Adrian that took my vulnerability to a whole new level:
I asked myself, “Am I afraid to pursue my calling? How could that even be possible?” Over the years I had been a prison guard, worked my way out of a kidnapping attempt overseas, become a licensed commercial pilot and jumped from an airplane. Frustrated, I tossed the remote across the couch and said out loud “I am a competitive bodybuilder for God’s sake! How could I possibly be afraid to pursue my calling?”
For the rest of the day I ruminated over the possibility that I was suffering from unbelief and fear, both feelings that were completely foreign to my conscious mind. And then the next morning I decided to do something about it. I spent an hour quietly retracing my life to see if there was a possible explanation for my newly unearthed emotions.
I recalled a situation in college when my English professor gave me an “F” on an important term paper. She accused me of plagiarism without citing any specific sources as proof. Her rationale was that, at my age and level of life experience, it was not possible for me to have created a work of that quality. When I got the paper back I was wounded! I had spent hours and hours writing and rewriting the paper until I was pleased with the results. And with a Mom who was already a published author, to accuse me of plagiarism was something I took personally.
It was the only time anybody had ever criticized my writing. But that one incident caused me to stop writing for twenty years. Then several years later there I was, sitting on a couch trying to figure out why I was unable to share my work with the public.
For several years I believed the death of my Mom/Best Friend was the reason I couldn’t summon the inspiration to release my work into the world. After all, it was the kind of reason that made sense. But when the grief from losing her passed and I was still in emotional limbo, I knew there had to be something deeper that I was refusing to deal with.
I gave myself permission to go deeper and I discovered the wound that was responsible for blocking my ability to become the fullest expression of my best self. And with that discovery and the mental and emotional tools I had already developed, I knew I could heal my life and move forward with my purpose.
When we leave the perceived safety of a “normal” life to pursue a life more closely aligned with who we are at the core of our Being, there will be moments in the early going when we are tested. Because anything worth doing comes with challenges. Some of the challenges will be small and some will be ginormous. But along the way if you find yourself stuck and wondering why you’re unable to move forward, stop and reflect on your life to that point.
As I know firsthand, asking the kinds of questions that invoke the cooperation of the Universe requires a lot of courage. Because grazing on the surface is always more comfortable that a deep dive. But somewhere lodged in the memories and minutia is the answer that will free you to live the life you want to live. And there is no greater way to live than that!