It’s easy to tell somebody to get into The Zone. Much harder to live it. But fight like hell to get there, regardless, every friggin’ day, or else you’ll never make it.
Mark Morris is a famous contemporary dancer and choreographer in New York. His dance company, The Mark Morris Dance Group tours the world, has its own large building in Brooklyn (not just the usual New York rented loft space), and has its own school for children. He’s successful, cutting-edge, critically acclaimed and really, really good at what he does.
I saw him being interviewed on television one evening several years ago. He said something that really stayed with me, something I always remember when I need a little jolt of inspiration. To paraphrase:
“When new dancers come to work for my company, I tell them, ‘This is it’. In other words, this is as good as it gets. They’re here to do their life’s best work, they’re not here just to fill time until WHAT THEY REALLY WANT TO DO comes along. And I only work with dancers who can sincerely operate at that level.”
I confess, I was doing ANYTHING BUT my life’s best work at the time. I was holding down a crappy, hack advertising job. Luckily times have changed since then, but at the time it was killing me, to be honest. Thank God they laid me off after not too long.
We’ve all been there. You know you’re capable of doing great things, being in “The Zone”, but every external marker out there indicates otherwise- that you’ll never get to do the “life’s best work” that you’re capable of. That your career will be nothing but drudgery and abuse, in exchange for what seems an increasingly meager paycheck.
Yeah, it’s a painful place to be. But it doesn’t last forever, not if you don’t give up. Not if you don’t succumb to all the overpriced, “treadmill-enabling”, external markers of success- fancy houses, cars, schools, vacations and “stuff” that you can’t really afford, that you don’t really need nearly as much as the guy in the next cubicle says that you do.
Fight like hell.
This is it.