This is part of a series exploring the seven lower Sephirot (spheres) of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. These spheres are the seven core emotions that drive human interaction.
This week we are exploring the sphere of Netzach, which is the trait of enduring action.
what gets you started
is not what keeps you going
how do you sustain?
- On August 24, 2013, I resolved to put my fitness first in my day, before getting online. I have not missed a morning workout since then.
- On January 1, 2014, I decided to begin a daily gratitude practice and evening review ritual. It’s something I still do today. I haven’t missed a day in over 8 years.
- On December 30, 2015 I decided to commit to a practice of daily meditation. It’s still going.
- On October 30, 2017, I decided to publish a daily blog post. I haven’t missed a day since.
The question people most often ask me is
How do you keep it going?
A short answer would be: Netzach.
These streaks are examples of sustained effort and action, endurance, resilience, ambition, and drive toward a larger mission. These daily activities are also examples of persistent action even when I don’t see tangible results or receive feedback.
This factor is crucial to understanding the dynamics of Netzach in general and today’s specific aspect of Netzach.
The Midpoint of the Journey: Sustainable Endurance
Today’s trait in our Omer journey is Netzach of Netzach. It represents the exact mid-point of the Omer.
This represents the shift from inner to outer; from the realms of planning and thinking to doing. Netzach itself represents a push to action. But the motivating force that pushes us to start is rarely the thing that keeps us going.
What keeps us going is the question at the heart of Netzach of Netzach.
Netzach of Netzach can translate literally to many things, including “sustainable endurance.” It tells us what this journey is really about: developing the endurance to sustain our actions over the long term.
Persisting Through the Desert
This is the place where it’s easy to forget what we’re doing, so let’s zoom out for a moment to review the context. This journey began with Passover, where Jews celebrated their Exodus from Egypt, and culminates in the holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates when the Jews received the Torah. The 7-week period corresponds to the journey of the Jewish people through the desert.
The week of Netzach is the mid-point. The exodus from Egypt has faded in memory, but the new life that lays ahead is still just a faint image. We are in the middle of the desert. All we see around us is sand.
In the Hero’s journey, this is the place where the biggest obstacle arises.
The Biggest Obstacle: Lack of Feedback
Sometimes, that obstacle is not an object, but a lack of feedback or results that can motivate us to keep going.
A sense of progress is a strong motivating force. It’s easy to keep going when we can see the results of our efforts. When you’re building something tangible, like a building, you see your progress at the end of each day. This creates a sense of excitement luring you back the next day.
But when you’re building a business, or a platform, a body of work, or even physical, emotional, and spiritual capacity, it’s hard to see your progress.
How do you know your daily workouts are working? How do you know if your daily gratitude practice is creating shifts in your perspective? How do you know your meditation practice is working? How do you know your daily efforts at blogging are paying off?
Sometimes you don’t see or feel tangible results for months or years.
This is the point in the journey when we are in the vast wasteland of the desert, lacking the sustenance of feedback or tangible results that tells us whether our efforts are working.
Without that feedback, what fuels our drive to keep it going?
The Secret is in the Sphere
The answer to this question lies within the understanding of the sphere of Netzach itself. Netzach corresponds to the 4th day of creation. This is the day on which the sun, moon, and stars were created.
The sun, moon, and stars is how we mark the rhythms of days, months and years and the cyclical nature of time.
This is a crucial piece of information regarding endurance: the way to sustain endurance through the long arc of time is to work with the cyclical nature of time honor the cycles of the seasons.
The Seasonal Cycle
Every project, no matter how small, follows this seasonal model. Even an individual workout can be broken down into the seasonal components.
- Spring = the warm up
- Summer = the build of intensity
- Autumn = the peak moment of intensity and the start of the release
- Winter = the cool down and rest
By recognizing the seasons within any project or journey, we can better attune to where we are, how much effort is needed, and even where we can (or should) reduce efforts.
Find Sustainability Through Seasonality
I was following this seasonal cycle in my streaks before I ever learned about the seasonal cycles. Back in the early days of Fitness First, I often shared with people that not every workout was a hard workout. Some days I might take it easy and do something light. In retrospect, and with my current knowledge of the seasonal cycles, I can see that I was following those rhythms.
Sometimes my meditation practice is 20 minutes and sometimes it’s 2 minutes.
As I reflect on where I feel stuck lately, I realize that my blog is the place where I’ve found it most difficult to implement seasonality. As a result, it is the practice that most often turns into an energetic drain.
Netzach represents our drive, but even when we drive, we sometimes need to step on the brakes.
The way to sustain the practice is to find a way to incorporate seasonality into it.
As the late Kenny Rogers said,
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em Know when to fold ’em Know when to walk away And know when to run
Choose one project or daily practice in your life. How can you incorporate the concept of seasonality into that practice?