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Peacock Feathers - Perceived Success

This week in my yoga classes I focused on feathered peacock pose, which is a challenging inversion. I did not have to go far in my research to find a meaningful theme – having researched the animal itself. I learned quite a bit about peacocks, and what really stuck out to me was the fact that peacocks are not born with beautiful green and blue wavy feathers. Instead, learning that it takes nearly 3 years to develop these striking plumes. So many metaphors popped out at me, but one really resonated.

First, and foremost, we aren’t born at our full potential. We have to put in effort, show up, make mistakes and for lack of a better word, SURVIVE. We cannot expect radiant results without withstanding some adversity and/or strife. Are you the person wondering “when the magic is going to happen?” First of all, magic doesn’t just happen. You have to put in the work to make the magic happen – life is not a fairytale (maybe a bit harsh, but true) or the conditioning society pushes us to believe.

Just like the peacock, we have to sometimes put in “years” of work to reach the “payoff.” Can you imagine if you were born with beautiful radiant feathers (i.e. given all you ever wanted from the jump)? How much meaning would the outcome have to you if you already had it? Probably not a lot.

Theodore Roosevelt said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

Ditto, Teddy! Each and every person I looked up to got to where they did through a patch or thorn bushes, not a field of daisies. And that shouldn’t give you credence to lean into victim mentality, but rather give you the will power to make it through the darker moments in your life. When you shift your perspective from “Why is this happening TO me?” toward “Wait, is this happening FOR me?” You will find your perspective shifted into opportunity and insight rather than sadness and oppression. The strongest voices in this world have recovered, “failed,” and crawled from the depths of despair, to INSPIRE others and develop self-growth.

When we face challenge, can we look at it as an opportunity for growth? Can we take a moment to appreciate the failures in life and shift them into practice, practice, practice and lessons learned? Can we begin to realize that what we gain the most is through the process, not when the outcome is reached? Take the yoga pose, for example. Once you’ve hit handstand, THEN WHAT? You did it. Great, now what? See, this is where we distort reality and perspective—we convince ourselves that the achievement is the success, but you see, that’s not it at all. The success wasn’t the pose, or the picture of it you posted on Instagram. The success was that you showed up, you fell, and you kept going.

The process was the success.

So, ask yourself, what are your blue and green feathers (desired outcome), and more importantly are you ready to not have them for three years? And can you enjoy the process of getting them, rather than focusing on success you perceive to feel once you’ve obtained them?

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