“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”
– Henri Matisse
To some degree, we regard fog in our work and developments as a bad thing.
Fog means non-clarity: of what is coming together (or not); of what is working (or not); of what the end result will be (or not).
We hate not knowing, and will often avoid times when it’s all happening “in the mix” without certainty.
Yet, if we look throughout history, did anyone in the crucible of bringing something about know that the messiness and confusion surrounding them would eventually result in world-impacting change?
In 1928, did research scientist Alexander Fleming, who sometimes left a messy lab at the end of the day — failing to sterilize his plates and leaving the window open — know that mold would form, enabling him to invent penicillin?
In the early 30’s, did 10 drunks all but living together and struggling to stay sober know that they were forming a fellowship which would grow to over 2 million members in 170 countries?
I’m inspired by these and other stories which demonstrate that “in the moment” is rarely the time when we know what we’re actually creating.
In the midst of investing time into the bookstore version of “The Back Forty: 7 Critical Embraces for Life’s Radical Second Half” (the first manuscript was far too dense for bookstores)…
all while building some very powerful and fruitful alliances with players and organizations that jibe with our message…
all while building out a content base of online and live programs in which people can experience the transformative effects of this message…
all while embracing and learning new forms delivering the message (social media) and streamlined systems of communication…
all while maintaining the bread-and-butter support of these initiatives through the coaching, consulting and corporate-employment playgrounds that fund our activities…
Alexandra and I can sometimes feel that we’re swimming in wide-open ocean with no site of land.
So, the inspiration of stories that show how a willingness to stay the course in the unknown can, years later, be the source of statements of amazement – “Who would have known!?” – make all the difference in our world…and, hopefully, the world.
Here are 3 steps for Embracing Good Fog:
Wake Up…and see the fog, vs. remaining in the numbness that it usually puts us in.
Forgive…yourself for all the make-wrong judgments you’ve levied against yourself: “I shouldn’t be here”, “I must be doing something wrong”, “I should have more things in place already”. They just dampen your creativity and spirit.
ReMIND…yourself and others of the solid intentions that you moved forward into this project with in the first place. An intention has ways of fulfilling itself outside of our pictures of how it should necessarily come about. If you’ve designed Mission and Vision statements for what you’re up to, this could be a good time to review them. This will put you in your right mind.
By embracing the Good Fog of creativity, you can empower yourself to, as Thoreau says, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined”.
If you subscribe to The Back Forty conviction that “you have yet to do what you came here to do” and are committed that your second half of life be your best half, what fog of your own creativity can you embrace today for the sake of posterity?
“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.”
– Joseph Conrad