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Inspiration from Legos: Use Resiliency and Flexibility to Build Your Dreams

in Do What You Love, Joan's Posts, Rants, Videos

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

Over the past few weeks, my family has had some trying times – everything from health issues to unexpected expenses (which, of course, you’ll hear about in next month’s financial update!) to even-busier-than-normal schedules.

We’re hanging in there, but I’ve had to make a conscious effort in the past two weeks to focus my effort on what I want to build, and not the things outside my control that can sometimes drag me down.

That means focusing on and valuing our strong family relationships.

It means working toward a healthy lifestyle of good food and regular activity.

And it means that I have less time for things that aren’t building me up.

A few times before on Man Vs. Debt, Baker and I have had the chance to share some of what’s inspiring us. Today, I want to share some things that have kept me focused on this idea of building my dreams, and they’re all related to a more literal building too.

That’s right, we’re talking Legos.

What are you willing to overcome to build your dream?

I owe all the credit for finding this video to my 12-year-old daughter, Sarah. She has watched in several times, and was really insistent that Chris and I do the same.

It’s a 17-minute short film, an animated look at the history of the Lego company’s founders and longtime owners, the Kirk Christiansen family of Denmark, and there are great lessons here on building your dreams – especially entrepreneurial ones – through hard times.

No fewer than THREE TIMES, Lego started from scratch. The whole company. I whine about starting over in my weight-loss efforts, or about little odds and ends of my day not going as planned.

But I’ve never had to truly start from scratch, and it was humbling – and empowering – to see that a company that brings our family a ton of joy has survived and even thrived after doing just that.

Where are you struggling with resiliency right now? Is there an area where you just want to throw in the towel?

What kind of life do you want to build?

The best thing about Lego bricks – and it’s shown clearly in the video above – is that you can build anything you can imagine.

Not long after I watched the Lego story film, Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness (a fellow Lego lover!) shared on Twitter this 50,000-piece Lego Rivendell model made by a teenager from Pennsylvania.

This week, I found a model of the Mars Rover Curiosity (complete with directions, if you’re interested in giving it a shot!)

I’m not sure how many of us are as flexible as these plastic bricks. I know I certainly don’t transition nearly as well from the world of fantasy to the world of science to the “real world” as depicted in the photos of my daughter’s Lego city seen with today’s post.

What are you passionate about?

Some people are passionate about Legos themselves. I’m a big fan, but I don’t have the passion that it takes to spend my free time developing creative new models.

But I am passionate about building – when it refers to building communities of interest. I’ve learned to be flexible, and to use my talents in that field a much wider variety of ways than I EVER would have expected. (I’ve gone from community newspapering to leading Weight Watchers meetings to busting debt to unschooling – a pretty big mix!)

It’s hard work to build your dream.

But when you do work hard, then take a cue from our favorite plastic bricks and leg godt – play well.

When I keep that mindset, along with the flexibility and resiliency I mentioned, I feel like I can overcome the obstacles life’s thrown my way, and I believe you can too.

What are you passionate about building? And are you resilient and flexible enough to do so, even if – or more accurately WHEN – it gets hard?

Let us know in the comments!

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Hagerman August 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Great post Joan!

I also think it’s important to point out that if you do not like what you are building, you can start over from scratch (or alter your original “build”). The initial path that you take does not necessarily have to be set in stone. There will be some major alterations to a “build” as you go through life’s various journeys.

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Joan August 30, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Adam, that is an EXCELLENT point. Nor does your “building” have to look like anyone else’s, either, to go a step farther!

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Agatha September 28, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Totally agree with Adam. I’m on my 3rd website re-design in 3 years because I tried certain things and they just didn’t resonate with me.

So rather than give up I kept adjusting until I reached the point where I am now – I know exactly what I want and how I want to build it!

Also, I liked what you said about “It’s hard work to build your dream”. I hear so much rah rah about how all it takes is passion and I think that’s pure B.S. It doesn’t only take passion…it takes relentless commitment to execute your passion into reality.

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Joan September 28, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Definitely true, Agatha – I know PLENTY of people with passion who are either unwilling or unable to put the real work into their passion, and they just are not making progress!

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Dana Leavy-Detrick August 30, 2012 at 2:58 PM

I’m passionate about doing more with my artwork on a professional level. With running a business, it doesn’t leave much time to launch additional side income streams. But in stepping back the last few weeks and looking at how I can bring my business consulting and my creative work together harmoniously, it’s helped me find areas in the business where I can be flexible, let go of unnecessary tasks and obligations, and make room to work on my art. It’s so hard sometimes to step back and let things go, especially when you work for yourself and feel like you need to take on everything to capacity, but it’s so important to do that to really be most efficient, and most fulfilled by whatever you’re doing. Good post, thanks for sharing!

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Joan August 30, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Dana, thank YOU for sharing! I think you’re far from alone in the struggle to bring a harmonious balance to multiple passions (and income streams!)

Keep rocking it!

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Robyn August 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I am passionate about uncovering the really old and cool bottle collection that I unearthed while cleaning up the small brook that runs behind my house. My husband and kids thinks it’s a waste of time, but I love it!

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Joan August 30, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Robyn, I think that is an EXCELLENT passion – and good for you for doing it!

My husband would especially approve – he is an “ephemerologist,” a guy who basically saves stuff that would normally be thrown away, and he researches the history of all the pieces he finds and tries to share some of the details on his blog. He’d love the bottles – especially because they clearly were just considered “discard” by earlier people, but not to someone with an eye for preserving them!!

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Nurse Frugal August 30, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I’m passionate about doing more charitable work. I can’t wait for the day when my husband and I are done paying off the house so that more of our money can go to better causes besides the bank! I’m also passionate about building community….everywhere: my church, online, my friends/family. It’s so fun to have a community of people to relate to and to go through life together! That task has been difficult since most of my days are now spent at work….I just keep thinking about one more year ;)

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Joan August 30, 2012 at 4:20 PM

That is an incredibly worthwhile passion – and I think the idea of charitable work and community-building go hand in hand in many, many ways!

Sorry you have to stick it out just a little longer – but I can’t wait to hear what you’re able to do and become once you’re clear of the debt!

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Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager August 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Wow! Thanks for sharing the video with me. Does building and decorating my own house count? Sometimes it feels like LEGO pieces…

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Joan August 30, 2012 at 10:19 PM

Uh, YEAH it does!!! Slightly pricier, though, at least sometimes ;-)

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Cassi August 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM

My step-dad loves legos also. There is Han Solo’s ship on the safe, the Statue of Liberty in the living room, R2D2 in his room, and random creations that seem to magically appear out of nowhere.

And some of them are bigger than my 13 year old sister…

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Joan August 30, 2012 at 10:19 PM

Whoa, Cassi! Good for him! I’m curious about the R2D2; he’s my absolute favorite movie character ever and if he’s full-sized, that would be WICKED.

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Jason Clayton | frugal habits August 31, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Absolutely agree. Resiliency is a major key to reaching one’s goals. I am a firm believer that the majority of people who never reach their goals or dreams, do so because they give up too early.

As you stated above, combining this resiliency with passion is a very powerful combination. I’ll bet my life savings on someone who has both – that person will achieve much more than they ever imagined.

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Joan August 31, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Jason, I think you’re right in a lot of cases – if you give up, you DEFINITELY won’t reach that goal! :)

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J. Delancy September 3, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Building mental resiliency is a game we play with ourselves. Resiliency will depend on how much we are willing to expose ourselves to risk of failure, fear of loss, etc. The less exposure to risk the more likely a person will be to crumble when under real pressure.
Despite the dust, the dangers of working with a chainsaw, and almost breaking three fingers, I’ve been working on making my woodturning hobby into a side income for almost ten years. That’s either passion and resiliency or outright insanity.

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Joan September 17, 2012 at 7:23 PM

I think you could pick any word you want, but it sounds to me like “doing what you love,” and I’m all for it!!

I’m in the same boat in a way – my tae kwon do hobby is a bit counterindicated with some medical issues I have (a derivative of arthritis that causes major joint issues), but I’m willing to take the risk because it’s worth it to me!

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Ferdinand September 7, 2012 at 2:39 AM

I’ve tweeted and shared the Lego video on my Facebook wall and in 30 minutes it got 50 comments and 300 likes. My point in here is not about how good the video was or how everybody knows and loves Lego but judging by the movie which shows a father’s persistence to get something done for this family which later becomes the key to ultimate success and how Lego have come to be a huge part in our lives. It was a very nice post. Thank you.

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Joan September 17, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Wow, thanks, Ferdinand! I agree – I think the overwhelming theme here is, “Never give up,” and I truly believe that resonates with so many people!

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Kris September 12, 2012 at 11:46 AM

I love LEGOs! I am 32. But what I love more is to keep going with this momentum of selling my crap. My recent motivation to take it a step further with getting rid of the crap in my life was when I lost my dog last month to cancer. Out of all the “stuff” I had let go, letting her go was more heart breaking than losing anything else so far in life. That is when I realized that I could let go of my LEGOs. Aside from a few cool mini-figs, I was able to let all 50lbs go without thinking twice. I don’t even play with them, I just collect them, but my dog, I played with her everyday! She greeted me at the door, she slept by the bed. I think I spent too much time organizing junk and not taking her up on the offer when she brought her tennis ball and dropped it in my lap. I was too busy watching TV or playing video games to have fun with her. Yes, we played, walked, and retrieved ball, but my regrets are that I let other “crap” get in the way of the more time we could have spent together, and I miss her more than any of the crap that I sold at the yard sale or gave to the goodwill. Relationships rock, crap sucks! :)

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Joan September 17, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Kris, oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog!!! :( But you are EXACTLY right – something you don’t use, that is only a THING – no matter how cool – should not be a hindrance to your relationships with living creatures of any kind!! Good for you for figuring that out!

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Fox September 12, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Such a wonderful post buddy, and thank you for posting the Lego Video. I was a little nostalgic while watching the whole video. It reminded me of the days when i used to play along with my brothers while our mom sits in the couch happily observing us play.

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Joan September 17, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Fox, that’s cool – glad you enjoyed!

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Sherry February 11, 2013 at 9:14 AM

So I’m sitting here in a job that I’d like to retire from, thinking I can’t wait to get home this afternoon and gleen the nuggets of wisdom from this blog. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate my job. I’ve been in the glass industry for 33 years and I want change. Courage is one thing I lack to “start over”, especially in a lousy economy with a husband who would give anything to be the breadwinner (part time pastor and speaker) and teen boys to support. What I find curious about this article is the fact that it involves LEGOs! My autistic 13 yo son has been all about lego constructions he’s seen on You-tub recently- like in the last 3 days, and has grand visions of being able to build some of these lego ball contraptions. (BTW- we JUST made the decision this weekend to begin unschooling b/c neither my son nor my husband nor I liked our current homeschooling program.) The question I’m asking myself is “Lord, are you trying to speak to me through LEGOs? Am I not listening?”. Thanks (in advance) for the post and for helping me to begin thinking outside the box relative to life and unschooling!

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Joan March 6, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Sherry, I just now saw this comment – wish I’d seen it sooner!! How has it been going? I’ll be praying for your family – and all I can say is, stay in touch (joan@manvsdebt.com) because I gotta tell you, I don’t know if I ever thought I’d find another autism-spectrum parent with a Lego-loving 13-year-old who was unschooling!!

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