Monday, June 25, 2012

I Dare You To Tell Me I Can't

Okay, so I wrote that line into a keynote address I gave over the weekend. I talked about working through hard things in life--and writing--and how we can become better authors as well as people by doing so.

This line came near the end, when I was talking about how a lot of things in life (athletics, band, writing) don't seem to have any pay-off until the end. You spend hours on the field or in the pool, hours with the clarinet in your mouth or your fingers on the keys, hours at the computer or with pen and paper in hand.

And there's still no reward. The practice is not rewarding. It's just hard.

But that the final result is the payoff we're looking for. The band concert. The swim meet. The published book. Sometimes it's easy to get lost among the trees in the forest. Very easy.

I talked about Michael Phelps a lot. I showed them this picture:


And I said, "This is the kind of face you need to have. The one that says, "I dare you to tell me I can't.""

Have you got your game face on? Is it hard to practice when you don't see the payoff as immediately as you'd like?

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41 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Love that sentence. You always can boil down the thought into one great phrase. And this one is so true.

Sarah said...

I'm a very achievement-oriented person by nature, so I admit I often have this "I'll SHOW you I can do this" kind of attitude (quietly. I mean--I don't think I'm obnoxious about it ...). I think it's very similar to "I dare you to tell me I can't." We might not know if we'll end up "succeeding", but just trying one's best and giving it all is a success in and of itself.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent line! I also play guitar and can attest to the endless hours of practice before anything resembling music appears.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love that line!! :) I'm going to have to adopt that face when I start querying! :)

Miranda Hardy said...

Very inspirational line. I bet the speech was great. Wish I could have been there to hear it.

Lyla said...

I needed this today. Thank you Elana. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It's the do or die attitude.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I do have that attitude, most of the time. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm pretty stubborn myself. And I wish I could eat like Michael Phelps eats.

Kelly Hashway said...

I completely agree! I thrive on people telling me I can't do something. In high school my tennis coach told my doubles partner and I that we'd win more than we lost. We were pissed! We went on to have the best record in school history. We showed him. :D

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I love the face!!

Julie Dao said...

I find that the one thing that drives me to succeed more than anything is to have people tell me that I can't do something. I love to prove myself!

Christine Fonseca said...

It is VERY HARD! At least, for me it is. Like right now. Hard. But I'm doing it.

storyqueen said...

Phelps!!

Is the achievement the gold medal, the publication...or is it knowing that have worked hard to be awesome at what you do?

Either way....takes some hard work:)

Shelley

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

Great thoughts. It takes more hard work to get places than people want to do sometimes.

T

Barbara Watson said...

So true. And something I try to instill in my own kids each day. Because giving up is easy. Going on is not.

Carrie Butler said...

Great point, Elana! You should see me try to get psyched some days. I pace the room, eye the computer, and plaster that game face on. ;)

Summer Ross said...

Inspiring post Elena! The revision process is hard- I'm there and I have to remind myself everyday that I am accomplishing something even when it doesn't seem like it. Thank you for posting.

Ruth Josse said...

It's all about the attitude, right?

Daisy Carter said...

Excellent post, and I love that picture. Does it come in life size?

Sheena-kay Graham said...

My reaction to your post was 'profound.' Your post was very deep and I definitely have on MY game face. Great giveaway too.

Elle Strauss said...

Love the face!

olmpic station park said...
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SA Larsenッ said...

That is a perfect face for a writer. I'm sure your speech was spectacular.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I have been feeling that this week as my family is less than interested in the work I'm making on my WIP. I see it as a major challenge and it's a huge motivator.

LD Masterson said...

My granddaughter takes tai kwan do classes. At the beginning of each class the instructer has them yell a Korean word I have no idea how to spell but it means: patience and perseverence. Pretty good motto.

Theresa Milstein said...

I feel pretty kicked around these days. I'm still wearing my game face, but man am I sore.

Martha Ramirez said...

Awesome line!

Stacy Henrie said...

Love that determination on his face and that line: I dare you to tell me I can't! Great post!

Nick Wilford said...

I love that line. I'm pretty stubborn and anyone telling me I couldn't would just make me want to do it more! I also believe that nothing worth having ever comes easily.

Donna K. Weaver said...

See, Elana, this is why your're my hero. I hate people telling me I can't do something. It really bring out my oppositional defiance (why then did I hate it so much when my children tried to pull it on me?).

Leigh Covington said...

This is awesome Elana. Actually - beyond awesome and exactly what I needed today! Thanks for sharing! I'm sharing this on FB! Love it!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Great picture, and great post! Although, I have to admit that with the writing, I most definitely enjoy the practice. :)

Liesel K Hill said...

I also enjoy the practice more than most, but the payoff is definitely awesome! Great line! If only we all lived by it, no one would ever fail! Thanks Elana! :D

Heather Murphy said...

I love this! When I was in school and someone told me I couldn't do something, that was my ticket to get it done!

Heather said...

Sounds like it was an excellent keynote address! I know I'm inspired. :)

Angela Brown said...

Well, now. I do believe if I were there, I would have walked up to you, shook your hand with my game face on then broke into giggles, hugged you all fangirl then ran away in embarrassment.

But I do have my game face.
Yes...because in spite of any naysayers, I CAN...

Nicole said...

Yes! Definitely this!

Peggy Eddleman said...

He has quite the game face! There's something amazing that's sparked by the simple sentence "I dare you to tell me I can't." I think we can all use a good reminding to put that game face on! It is sometimes replaced by a "I can't figure this out" squint, and we forget to take it off. ;)

Little Ms J said...

I love you. Totally needed this.

Nichole Giles said...

Someone told me I couldn't several years ago, and I set out to prove them wrong. Still proving it, but that person--not laughing anymore. Because they know I will.

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