NOT chasing something is actually the quickest way to get it.” -Russell Simmons
Normally, I have to ignore Russell Simmons’ tweets. I respect and admire him for his business savvy, but when he starts trying to be Stephen Covey on Twitter, I have to mute him. This particular statement, however, struck a chord with me because I fear that many people agree with it despite the fact that it’s senseless. Where did we get the notion that not going after something is the way to secure it?
When I was between boyfriends, and would mention my desire for love, one of my friends who happened to be in a relationship at the time would always say: “You’ll find love when you stop looking.”
That never made sense to me because I’ve always believed that desire is the first step to acquiring something. As I’ve talked about before, when I met my husband, I was in the habit of going out on dates. Why? Because I wanted to be in a relationship and I figured that getting in a relationship started with saying yes to a first date. Most of my dates were either uneventful or total disasters, but eventually a first date turned into marriage. I wasn’t chasing him, but I was doing things that promoted finding love in my life such as trying to look nice on a regular basis, getting out of the house, opting to go inside of a fast food place rather than use the drive through, making an effort to meet new people, and agreeing to go on a few dates. Finding love wasn’t my sole purpose in life, but it was definitely part of my overall life plan and I don’t think anything is wrong with that.
For some reason, relationships seem to be the area where this “don’t go after it and you’ll get it” advice is given the most. Single women everywhere are urged to “find themselves” and “stop looking for love and love will find you”. As though anything worth having in this world can be had without effort. No one is saying that a woman should be desperate, but women who make an concerted effort to have love in their lives shouldn’t be shamed either.
I can understand adjusting the methods or even priority levels, but to imply that running East will get you to a destination West just doesn’t compute. In fact, I would argue that not chasing something is actually the quickest way not to get it.
It’s not just relationships either. I think this “focus on everything except what you want in order to get what you want” silliness is erroneously applied to career goals as well.
When I wanted to get a job in television journalism or begin freelance writing, I was working at a bank. I knew that I was so far away from my career path that there wasn’t a GPS on Earth that could get me back. One of my friends suggested that maybe an editor or news director would come into my bank, we would get to talking and I would get a job in journalism that way. It certainly wasn’t an impossible scenario, but it was pretty improbable. So, instead of just waiting for some cosmic gods to line up perfectly, I decided to go online and begin applying for journalism positions and pitching articles to publications. I never did meet an editor in my bank, but I did start getting my articles published.
Author Nora Roberts said, “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
Even the Bible encourages effort and persistence. There’s a story of the man who goes to his neighbor and asks for bread, the neighbor initially turns him away, but when the man continues to ask, finally the neighbor gets up and gives him the bread. The scripture encourages us that when we keep on asking, we receive; when we keep on seeking, we will find; and when we keep on knocking, the door will be opened.
I’m not saying that the miraculous never happens. I do believe that something totally out of the ordinary can come out of nowhere and change your entire life for the better in an instant. You never know what a day may bring.
I also believe that we can’t live our lives waiting on those moments. We have to get up and do something. Watching the Olympics has been very motivating because I think about the fact that these people worked so hard and made an incredible amount of sacrifices to get there. Some of them are rewarded with just being there (because that’s huge in itself) and others are rewarded with a shiny gold medal. None of them will tell you though they were chasing something else when the opportunity to compete in the Olympics just fell into their laps. Without focus and drive we can hardly accomplish anything. Sometimes, we need to figure out what we want and then chase it down until we get it.