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Everyday, in my line of work, I wake up and judge myself by a number.  When that number is elevated, I get this feeling of safety, control, and permanence.  It washes over me like a warm bath.  But then a new day comes, and who knows what it brings.

On the surface these moments happen once a day, when in reality, they’re occurring all the time.  They serve as a constant reminder of change, and at times, I drive myself crazy with the roller coaster ride.

One day you’re on top of the world – maybe your book of business is full, or you land a new job, or hit your own “number”.  And you feel fantastic.

Problem is…you can’t stay there.

This very fact can free you or keep you broken.  And in all honesty, I’m still fighting the battle.  But like it or not, each moment is a new moment.

My seven-year old son recently worked on a painting project in school.  While painting, he looked at the other students work and decided his painting didn’t cut it.  His conclusion – “I hate art and I’m not doing it any longer.” We have literally had to intervene so he would participate in art class.

It’s easy to be thrown off course by your successes and failures no matter what your age.  If you end up strongly attached to one thing, it throws you for a loop when change comes flying through.  But you must continue.  You must avoid the temptation to close yourself off, give up, or go comfortably numb.

Time and again I see people with great skill and interesting ideas begin with an ocean of excitement.  They work hard at turning their ideas into reality, but then the tide begins to pull back, they meet unexpected obstacles, and find themselves at a crossroads.  They’re frozen…deflated.

When this happens, remember, a new moment has arrived.  You begin anew.

Knowing this, I suggest you do yourself a favor and heed the advice I’m currently giving my son in heavy doses.

“Don’t give up on your art!”

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Discussion

  1. Kathy Morelli, LPC  September 28, 2010

    Hi David –
    Hey – this came just when I NEEDED it!
    I am having a lull, or more specifically, in a trough, of work, and
    I do know that it just takes some time to get/push/work through things. I was just pondering this feeling, and I got this in my inbox! How fortuitous!
    Never give up, it is a slow, steady stream of real work over a long term, not the flashy idea that occurred in a burst of energy,
    thanks, Kathy

  2. Dan Franz  September 28, 2010

    Absolutely spot on as always, David! I have found it so easy to ride the initial wave of excitement on a new project, but have to really push hard to get through the crashing of that wave – I think Seth Godin calls it “The Dip”.

    I’ve found that if you can push through it, great things are to come – whether it is with clients, business, or new adventures, working through the dip is tough, but is necessary and essential for growth.

    Great article!

  3. David Diana  September 28, 2010

    Glad you found the article timely and helpful Kathy! I’d love to hear how things progress!

    And thanks for the feedback Dan!

  4. Janis Ellington  September 28, 2010

    Thank you David. I have a lot in common with your son! Seems like I carry an invisible measuring stick around to see how I measure up to others around me too. My therapist friends have often warned me to not judge my insides by someone else’s outsides. 🙂

  5. David Diana  September 29, 2010

    I hear you Janis. It’s easier said than done. Just this morning as I drove my son to school we were talking again about his refusal to do any work in art class. Today is art day for him. What;s challenging is I am telling him art is an expression of you and so there is no right or wrong in art. Of course, in school, it is another matter as they are teaching techniques. So the model is very different!

  6. Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC  November 29, 2011

    David, I’m thinking everyone reading this can surely relate to your advice – from elementary school to the grave! It reminds me of my own experiences early on in PE in school. I wasn’t particularly athletic and found academics to be so much easier. Along the way I came to believe that “I can’t . . . (play softball, basketball, etc.).” Over time, that thinking about physical abilities contaminated many other areas of my life. At 51, I can see the error of my thinking and STILL have it affect the choices I make.

    I didn’t learn about perseverance from PE in elementary or junior high school. However, I did learn it from other experiences. Now, I pass it on to therapists moving in to private practice who often feel lost when it comes to building a private practice.

    I love that you are giving your son a healthy dose of “Don’t give up on your art!” I see you do that with therapists here on your blog, too, David. It’s a huge gift that you are giving to your son and to other therapists, too. You are changing the way your child and our profession moves through the world. I didn’t make it here before Thanksgiving but wanted you to know that I am grateful for the work you do and the wisdom you share.

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