How High Can You Go?

When I left yoga teacher training, the trainer, Todd Norian, said something to the effect of, “Scott, you are arguing for your own mediocrity.” I woke up this morning thinking about that. Brooding is probably more accurate.

The memory is with me today because we’re staying with a friend who has always believed (or at least acted on) her own exceptionalism. Ellen has created success in many fields. Among her many accomplishments, I learned last night that she was the first woman in New York to own a graphic design firm with major corporate clients and to do so without a man as a partner. Her home and her many interests (gardening, cooking, drumming, home design to name a few) all point to her willingness to excel.

Unlike some other successful people, Ellen also has made her family a priority. I don’t know if she would tell her story this way, but I see a woman who has always reached for things beyond her grasp and often gets them. Why? Because she doesn’t doubt her right to have them or her ability to learn new things. She cares not about the opinions of others who might want her to slow down or be “realistic.” In Ellen’s world, there is no limit to her creativity nor what she deserves out of this life.

To be honest, Ellen’s flight has never been without turbulence. Throughout, she has had to deal with setbacks and selfish people (mostly men) who wanted to limit her success. I’m reminded of the old tale of Crabs in the Bucket. In that story, we learn that when crabs are in trapped in a bucket, they will always try and prevent one of their fellows from escaping the bucket by pulling them down. Such is the way of some humans, too.

When I get too high, too close to my dreams, I consistently undermine my own flight pattern. With the exception of my marriage and, perhaps, my dogged determination to be a good father, I have always placed hard limits on my success. I’m much too afraid to fall or fail and I allow others to say, “Scott, you are arguing for your own mediocrity,” and walk away with my tail between my legs – sure that it will always be thus. Like someone once said, I am my own worst critic.

(That said, I read this morning in my ACA literature that recovery can mean that “the hurt parts of us no longer run the show.”)

Yes, I’ve lived a good life and taken some risks (being a musician and a householder, traveling, etc) but I was not inclined to risk it all and that is what is required to fly high. I’ll leave it to my therapist, coaches and smarter friends to say why this is so. In truth, it’s in shadow for me, hidden beneath character defects or family patterns I haven’t yet interrupted.

My friend, Ellen, thinks that there’s still time – for her and for me to climb higher. She sees what Beth and I can do and she wants to help us accomplish more, be appreciated more and, likely, make more! Her faith in me exceeds my faith in myself, but that might be the missing link. I have to trust others and God who don’t believe I’m mediocre.

The Adventure continues…

Beth teaching at Ellen’s home

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