Think about that thing you keep coming back to, no matter how hard you try to suppress it.
It could be writing. It could be painting. It could be coming up with funny one-liners. It could be a particular skill or perspective that we picked up during a formative period of our development that really frames how we operate in the world.
I call these things boomerangs. No matter how hard you try to throw them away, they keep coming back. They creep up in your thoughts when you let your guard down or you find yourself doing them when you’re in the flow. You suppress them one year to have a manifestation of it come up three years later.
Some people spend their entire lives running from their boomerang. This is especially true when accepting your boomerang makes you a weirdo.
Try as hard as you might, you will never be able to get away from your boomerang – it’s a part of who you are. Running from yourself is an exercise in futility because wherever you are, there’ll you’ll be.
Once people accept and lean into their boomerang, they start thriving. Great companies are built on boomerangs. Great careers are built when people use their boomerang rather than continually try to get away from it.
Not only do people become happier when they accept their boomerang, their lives become a lot easier. All of the energy they spent trying to throw and run from their boomerang can now be leveraged in their lives. Time, energy, and attention are finite, and, really, how much of your precious resources do you want to spend avoiding the thing that will help you come alive?
Dig deep for these questions:
- What’s your boomerang? You already know – you just need to name it.
- Are you allowing yourself to use it or are you resisting it?
- If you’re resisting it: what if you could be happier being yourself and accepting your gift rather than struggling without it? (You’re not in high school anymore.)
When it hits you this time, it might have a little additional force. I take full responsibility and I’m not sorry. I want you to flourish, even if I need to nudge you out of your own way. 🙂
Joseph Jin says
This is easy to answer, because my boomerang comes back to hit me pretty often: illuminated manuscripts, or at least the art of telling profound stories through simple yet ornate words and pictures.
I have a strong tendency to see stories in pictures and images in stories. I feel happiest when trying to give voice and body to people’s emotions, and it always pains me to see how people are passionate in their emotions yet desperately seeking for a coherent and resonant means of expression.
I know there are proverbs, parables, myths, and epic narratives contained in every ordinary feeling. And it’s a great source of pleasure to see these translated into words and pictures which can be communicated to all. But here are some of the excuses which slow me down when the urge to write and illustrate comes knocking:
– I used to be good at art and writing, but that was more than a dozen years ago. I’ve been too busy to keep up my skills.
– People aren’t going to like what I make unless I can find a way to make it seem more hip or modern. And I am sooo old-fashioned in some ways.
– People ultimately want practical solutions. Stories and drawings don’t offer much in terms of “how to”. I don’t feel good about illustrating problems and dreams without offering something people can use.
– I tend to get really involved in art and writing. My family will feel neglected.
Btw, the boomerang metaphor is appropriate. It’s like a ghost that keeps coming back to haunt you. So I think boomerang really means one’s own spirit. Like William Blake once said:
“Every man is haunted until his humanity awakens.”
I’m experiencing my boomerang coming back around right now. During high school and college I got really into print design, thanks to several years on school newspapers. I abandoned it when I discovered that it was a difficult field to break into (using the ‘normal’ career path) and that the print design major required more art skill than I had. I’ve recently picked it and another skill I learned in high school, web design, up again for a freelance client. And it’s FUN. I forgot how much I loved it, and the best part is, I don’t need a fancy degree or to start at entry-level and try to work my way to the top. I can just do it and enjoy it, and both my client and I are happy.
And I still remember all the print design terms I learned, too!
Is the boomerang like the Force? Does is have a dark side? Music and writing are the positive side of my boomerang. But for 25 years I was a professional fundraiser, and for the last year I’ve been trying to transition to something new. Yet I keep going back to look at fundraising jobs. Or consulting in the fundraising arena. Yeah, I think the boomerang can be negative, too.
Dorothy Ray says
Good thinking. I’m old enough to know by now, but still can’t embrace my boomerang enough to make money from it. Don’t you think some people might have two or more boomerangs that vie for attention?
Jackie Lee says
This is the perfect way to describe what happened to me for the first few years of my business!! I kept coming up with reasons I couldn’t be in the internet marketing niche. Every time I started something else though I ended up back at my first/original blog.
Once I just accepted it was what I was meant to be doing things started coming much easier, it started growing and I started making money.
I’m still learning to really stand in my own shoes, and grow my own voice, but it’s so much easier than fighting it!!
Pam McAllister says
Hah! It’s spooky how you’re reading my mind. I woke up today thinking that it’s time to stop resisting being a teacher and writer — and instead put those gifts together and get moving.
(I wish my boomerang made me a weirdo. Hey, maybe that’s why I’ve been resisting … it seems so ordinary. But it’s not really.)
Looking forward to talking with you soon, Charlie.
Andrew @ Blogging Guide says
Well, my boomerang is a certain situation in my life that keeps coming back to me, it’s like an unfinished business. After reading this post, I think I need to stop running away from it or turning my back from it, I think it’s time I face it head on. However, I hope it brings out positive results. Just have to muster enough courage or bravery to face it.
LaVonne Ellis says
My boomerang is writing. I have given up running away from it, but only as far as blogging goes. I always wanted to write books but that still frightens the crap out of me.
You know a good movie about the boomerang concept is: BILLY ELIOT (the boy who became a professional ballet dancer).
He definitely had to go through the “weirdo” wall.
It’s a real art to innitiate an “exit strategy” from whatever is keeping you from hanging on to that boomerang.
I think it requires laser focus and allowing part of your old “safe” self to die.
Andrew Lightheart @alightheart says
It’s interesting – I don’t think I do know what my boomerang is.
Though, a thread I see all the way back is wanting to know how it works. I was always the one reading instruction manuals, and the delight I feel when I get a bit of CSS to work (or whatever) is huge. Always wanted to understand the language at the next table, the hieroglyphics, the patterns.
More of Thelma than Daphne.
Michael Van Osch says
Charlie – great concept for talking about ‘going’ with our passions! I find that the I older I get, the less I’m willing to not be in the flow with my boomerangs.