Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
Originally I was going to start off this post with a Spice Girls quote about too much of something and too much of nothing, but thanks to the well-timed enlightenment from my Guru in Hong Kong, we’ve all been saved from the cheesy lyrics of heavily manufactured British pop.
This is an African proverb attributed to a whole host of creators and is often used in the business world, as well as fitness and general life motivationals. It’s commonly regarded as a question that is posed to its reader: Are you running from fear or chasing your goals?
In its most basic form, it’s talking about life or death, Darwin’s theory of natural selection – Survival of the Fittest, and refers to our innate drive to survive through finding food or dodging danger.
It’s about competition and our fierce animalistic motivation to out-run others and destroy anything that lies in our way to success. It’s about being physically strong, speedy and fit.
It’s focusing on the waking moments of dawn, the thoughts that go through our mind the moment we open our eyes and how important it is to start our days with a winning mindset and the determination to thrive.
It’s about adrenaline, the pursuit of happiness and the thrill of the chase.
He’d sent over this quote along with a homemade meme, which is to 2018 as a mix-tape was to 1996, and as with everything else, it was perfect timing.
After the influx of comedy gold, but nonetheless flattering, “you’re an inspiration” messages which had us both almost choking to death on our own chortles, I seemed to be riding the next wave of commentary from my readers.
“You are having the best life ever”, “you are in paradise”, “my life is boring compared to yours”, “you must be so happy”, and of course this year’s most cringeworthy hashtag – #livingyourbestlife.
What the hell does that even mean?
Even if I do believe in other lives, past, future and present, hashtagging the hell out of them just makes me want to curl up in a ball and die a thousand times over. Surely such woeful wisdom could only be the brainchild of some sort of reality TV Guru, perhaps with the surname Kardashian? It’s not even worthy of a new Googletab to find out.
Anyway that’s kind of the theme of messages I’ve received of late.
And yes, the majority of the time I am loving life more than life itself, smiling like a deranged Cheshire cat, and my writing has recently evolved into vivid dream scenes à la Gregory David Roberts, romanticising every breath I take – but it’s not all laughter yoga and rainbows, and it’s definitely not my best life.
It’s just life.
DEAD GAZELLES & ANOREXIC LIONS
For the last week, actually, I’ve felt a little bit little bit off track.
I’m sharing that not as a dramatic revelation or a call for pity and it doesn’t mean I’m whirling off down a helter-skelter of misery into a pit of deep depression; it’s just a no-filter acceptance of the ups and downs of our human existence, because sometimes you just feel a bit…meh.
My problem is I do too much.
My Lion and my Gazelle have been running around like lunatics since the day I was born but after my plane touched down in Chiang Mai six weeks ago, they’ve upped their pace to a gallop.
My Gazelle is my dreams, my hopes, my ambitions that runs free on the grasslands of my mind. She doesn’t need to be chased to start running and she’s not motivated by fear, but she doesn’t know when to stop.
She’s been busy prancing around Thailand’s northern capital with a full-time job, three extravagant Side Hustles – a business consultancy, an online magazine and this blog, plus lapping up all of the opportunities that Fate seems to be throwing her way.
My Lion is always there, lurking stealthily in the shadows.
He’s the drive and strength that makes me want to rebel against the limitations of my physical and mental self, and even the constraints of time. He’s the resilient force that barges through my world and claws through any sort of obstacle standing in my way.
Whenever he finds a quiet, shady spot, he works on his endorphin enhancers; morning jog-in-the-smogs, meditation, yoga and his weekly commitment to getting beaten up by a little Thai lady called Ning under the pretence of a relaxing massage.
Over the past seven days I’ve let my Lion go hungry and my Gazelle get lost.
YOU CAN’T KNOCK THE HUSTLE
I know that the most sagacious move would be to pick one thing and do it properly, but how do I choose one when I love everything I’m doing in equal proportions?
I refuse to let my love for a multifaceted existence to be restricted by the chains of reality, but I battle with the fact I know that I can’t really exist much longer on four hours sleep a night with my days fuelled on nothing but excitement alone.
I thought back to Chris Bailey’s talk at TedX Liverpool about productivity and a little lightbulb went off in my head.
Over a twelve month period of deep study, Chris had conducted various experiments on himself to understand what impacted his productivity. He concluded that productivity is the confluence of time, attention and energy and at the heart of all that is meditation.
That was it. That’s what had been missing all of last week. That’s why I’d been twitchy and not really known why; I’d neglected meditation, the art of doing nothing and mastering inner stillness.
So it’s time to feed the lion, guide the gazelle and get back to a more Heart-Centered Hustle.