If you ever struggle with comparing yourself to the svelte person next to you in spin class…
…or the one with the bigger Instagram following…or the one with the more “significant” job…
…you’ll love the advice Linda Jones, 81, received from her father, Chuck Jones.
Chuck Jones was one of the creators of the iconic animated character, Bugs Bunny.
In her 30’s, Linda wrote her dad a letter saying she was ashamed of herself and that she wasn’t doing anything good in the world.
Compared with the success of her father, she felt inconsequential.
Her father wrote back with a letter that changed her life:
“Linda. Get off my f*cking mountain. We each have our own mountain to climb. I’m climbing mine and you need to climb yours.”
He explained to Linda that we each have our own challenges but wasting time competing with him was ridiculous.
She didn’t put a label on this lesson. But I want to call it…independence. Self-esteem. Inner strength.
Beyond all that, her father taught Linda the importance of developing the mind.
“My father taught me how to take things out of context and put them together.
“When I walk on the beach in the morning, I look at patterns in the seaweed on the beach and sometimes enhance them with a stick to try to make a picture out of chaos.
“It’s a very good exercise for our brain to see things differently.”
And she passed these attributes and skills onto her children and grandchildren.
Linda shared one story that really struck me.
Many years ago, she was with her granddaughter who complained, “Grandma, I’m bored.”
Linda said she can handle misbehaving, but she can’t stand boredom!
She said to her granddaughter, “Go find an ant and follow it around for 30 minutes and then come back and tell me what it did.”
And decades later, the granddaughter still treasures that story and that guidance.
It’s a great question to ask someone in casual conversation, “What do you pay attention to?”
It’s much more revealing than “What do you do for a living?” or “Where do you live?” or “What’s your favorite restaurant in town?”
WHAT DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO?
Ask me that question and I’ll tell you…I watch baseball games on TV and read the news from my 2 or 3 sources and spend some time on social media. Average stuff.
And I’m not a voracious reader and I’m not on the beach enhancing seaweed with a stick and I’m definitely not following ants around outside.
But after speaking to Linda, I want to use my brain differently.
There is something unique you can pay attention to today.
The way a certain person walks down the street.
How a cloud shape shifts in the summer sun.
The way an ant meanders across your backyard.
It’s way more awesome than paying attention to somebody else’s life.
And it’s the most soothing mental therapy, just to take a moment and observe something different, natural, beautiful.
And look, if your client sees you watching ants walk down the sidewalk…or if people in carpool line see you exploring how the clouds shape shift in the summer sky, you will look a little weird.
But what’s more weird is when you and I are wishing for somebody else’s life.
Of all the messages I’ve received from the elders, Linda’s message might be the most timely and most important.
GET OFF MY F*CKING MOUNTAIN.
Live, Cherish, Savor, Make the Most of YOUR Journey.
Nobody will honor you until you honor yourself!
It’s the greatest honor you’ll ever receive and the crazy thing is, most of us go a lifetime and never receive it.