5 THINGS HOBBITS CAN TEACH US ABOUT LIVING AND ACHIEVING OUR GOALS
by Elayne G. James
We are all on a journey in this world… a journey through life. We all have dreams and goals, hopes and fears, of where that journey might lead us. We are, in this way, bound together by the road that stretches out before us, and the fires that burn bright within us. And even with our vast cultural and personal differences, we all belong to the same family; the family of humanity. Within the Tolkien paradigm, there are secret clues woven into the fabric of each story—keys, if you will, to help us succeed in life no matter where it is that we are headed.
ONE • The only way to achieve your dreams is to step outside your door… to leave the safe environment of what is familiar to you and push beyond your comfort zone. Hobbits are very much comfort-seeking creatures who make every effort to avoid adversity and adventure. As it was said of Bilbo Baggins and indeed all hobbits, they were considered very respectable because they “never had any adventures or did anything unexpected.” But Bilbo does begin to act in a very unexpected way, as he is coerced by Gandolf into helping the dwarves, and he discovers in the course of his adventures that, as Gandalf says, there is “much more to him than even he realizes.”
The potential to discover that we are much more than we know is in us all. But we must first venture outside our “comfort zone” and face the challenges of a new and unfamiliar world. Once we are free of the confines of our safe, everyday existence, we will begin to recognize courage and strength we never knew we had… and only by embracing these new-found qualities can we follow the path of our dreams and see them to fruition.
TWO • Be a loyal friend and gather loyal friends around you. Seek the companionship of like-minded individuals—those who will support your goals, believe in your dreams and lend a hand along the way. A hobbit will tell you that true friends know when they are needed and never abandon a friend in their time of need, even when asked to. As Sam Gamgy said when Frodo told him he was continuing on alone; “Of course you are, and I’m going with you.”
One of the keys to a successful life and career is to create your own fellowship and remain faithful to that ideal. Gather a group of those you trust and turn to them not only for fun and companionship, but also for support, guidance, and reflection in times of need. We will garner higher respect by being vulnerable at times, exposing the less desirable sides of the self, such as fear and doubt, than by appearing constantly strong and invincible. Deep inside, people can sense the inherent falsehood in the façade of invulnerability, which keeps comrades and confidants at a distance. We can only gain closeness, and in turn loyalty, through being fully human in the eyes of friends and loved ones.
Be real to your closest companions, let them see who you truly are, show that you need them, stand by them in their time of need, and your reward will be a shared deep and abiding respect.
THREE • In the pursuit of your dreams be fearless, but when fear comes, do not deny it. If you suppress your fear it will steal your strength and your faith in your path. As Boromir says to his hobbit companion, “we are all afraid, Frodo, but to let that fear drive us to destroy what hope we have . . . is madness!”
All of us feel fear at one time or another. It is an inevitable part of life’s journey. Hobbits teach us that in the face of fear, we can summon the reserves of courage deep within us that we didn’t know we had. We can stand up to whatever frightens us, thereby diminishing its power over us. We can push past the fear and continue on our path. Know that fear is a passing emotion. It can only take hold and control you if you give it the power to alter your course. Hobbits never let fear alter their course. They will be the first to admit they are afraid, but they will never cower in the corner. Even when a hobbit does not feel brave, his actions will be brave. Fear only has the power you give it. Feel it and let it pass. Stay the course.
FOUR • Seek the counsel of those wiser than you. You are not alone on the path you have chosen, for those who have reached the places you seek, have gone before you. The journey may, at times, appear dark, but there are those who can shine a light on what is ahead of you. Find a mentor or an advisor that has achieved what you work toward. Hobbits know the value of counsel. They also know when to make their own decisions, despite the advice of their elders. Listen with an open mind, consider all points of view, but make course corrections based on what is right for you.
Listen to your instincts. No one else can know what is truly best for your life and your path. Consult your own heart for direction. As every hobbit knows, it will guide you true.
FIVE • Be the hero of your own story. When a hobbit meets with obstacles in his path, he doesn’t just stop and give up, or turn around and go home. He wastes no time fretting about it or complaining; he simply gets to work on creating a solution. Go around the obstacle, under it, over it, through it. If one solution fails, try another and another until something works. A hobbit never gives up and neither does a hero nor do they let anyone or anything talk them out of their goal. If you believe with all your heart that the destination you have chosen is your destiny, don’t let anything throw you off your path for long. Detours are inevitable, yes, but temporary. Course corrections are occasionally necessary, but keep one eye on the goal, and do at least one thing every day to bring it closer, and you will get there.
SIX (BONUS POINT) • Never give up. Even when things look hopeless and dark, there will come the light of day and you will persevere. When Frodo told Sam he wanted to give up, Sam answered by saying, “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights, we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo–the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were, but in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”
Hold on to that something in your own life, and follow the hero’s path. It will see you through the darkest of times and into the light of your own dreams.