Tenacity with a little playfulness thrown in can be a powerful combination when you’re looking for—and finally doing—the work of your life.
If you were armchair running, swimming, paddling and shooting your way through the Summer Olympics like I was, I think you’ll agree: they gave us a lot to chew on when it comes to tenacity and playfulness.
Take gymnastics, for example. Or platform and springboard diving if you prefer. What’s so excruciating about watching these competitions is how often tight plus nervous ends in a lost opportunity. On the other hand, all you have to do is recall gymnast Gabby Douglas’ all-around performance to appreciate what can happen when tenacity makes room for playfulness. As soon as Gabby’s smile said “I’m enjoying myself,” the rest was pure magic.
Sometimes playfulness is integral to the moment, as it was for Gabby and the purposeful individuals in my last post, The Power of Laughter at the Most Serious Times. Other times, playfulness follows the tenacity like a sigh of relief, and changes the whole meaning of the story.
As the Olympics rolled into their closing ceremony, the pageantry marked a triumphant end to what had been a long, hard year for London. You’ll recall the scenes exactly one year ago, when thousands of rioters smashed windows, looted stores and torched parts of the City. One of those looters burned down much of the 144-year old House of Reeves furniture store in the borough of Croydon. In the days and weeks that followed, the 5th generation Reeves brothers and their 81-year old father came to embody Britain’s World War II motto “Keep Calm and Carry On,” as they struggled mightily to put their business back together.
While the media was busy debating whether the riots represented class struggle or opportunistic criminality, the community summoned up its better angels to coalesce around the Reeves family as they got back on their feet. The lifeline extended to the family included over 4000 photographs from young people, holding up statements of encouragement and denying the hooligans the last word.
When their new showrooms opened this week, Trevor and Graham Reeves sat on a sofa outside their store, playfully gesturing to their storefront, which they had wallpapered with all of those photographs. It did more than express their gratitude. It provided a moment of effervescence: the grace note after a very hard year.
Having the tenacity to find and do work that expresses your values can be serious business.
When you can laugh at yourself and the odds you’re facing along the way, and celebrate what you achieve with playfulness, your path will be easier, the crowds pulling for you larger, and the story you’re writing far more impactful.
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