I remember as a teen hearing this quote, "youth is wasted on the young". It sounded good at the time but to be honest, I didn't fully appreciate its message back then. It is easy to live for the moment without understanding the power of what we have in our hands. Whether or not we realize it when we are young, youth has the advantage of opportunity without the awareness of experience. When we are young, there are endless possibilities and while we may see the possibilities we don’t always know how to realize them. Quite the oxymoron. Having the ability "to" without the understanding of "how". The punch line or final irony is that by the time we figure it all out we are so ingrained in our ways that it becomes very difficult to change. Ergo the purpose of this article. To help you, the youth, to understand the "how" when you can still say as the Rolling Stones sung, “time is on my side".
"Being comfortable stinks" she said, but "changing is hard." I smiled, nodded, and said, "Yes it can be but who we become as we traverse the gap is what really matters ". She gave me that funny "I think I know what you mean but I am not sure I understand" look. So I began to explain to her and slowly she began to understand. To understand that life is all about closing gaps. It sounds so simple. I must admit it does, but it is in the application where all the opportunity lies.
It sounds simple doesn’t it? Just do it! Nike’s famed line, a battle cry for transformation. Yet if you have ever been stuck in neutral, saying, “just do it” is about effective as going to the casino to win enough money to make your monthly mortgage payment. There is truth and power in the phrase but not a solution. All to often we buy a book, get an inspiring email, or watch a movie about a secret and think; “now my life will change”. The truth of the matter is nothing ever will change until you change it. Today we will learn not only why we fail to change it but also how to effectively change. I must warn you. To do so takes courage, honesty, and faith. Are you ready?
Since 1999, I have worked with all types of individuals. From the business owner looking for the edge, to the couple trying to save their marriage, to the person who feels overwhelmed with her emotions and life. Although my clients come to me for many different reasons, there are common themes in each of their and each of our challenges
"Fortune favors the brave" and love is not for the faint of heart. Love is the timeless theme adorned in movies, song, and dance. Loving, losing love, and finding love shadows our lives. Most of us, if we are honest, desire love on the deepest level. We want to have someone with whom we can feel completely open, honest, and vulnerable. Yet through direct or indirect experience, we find a gap between our desire and our willingness to fulfill our desire. We share stories of how love has wronged us, how our heart was broken, or how we gave all and received less in return. So, in reaction to these experiences or perhaps in protection, we wrap ourselves with the belief that we don't need love, or that we can't find someone. Sometimes we just settle for something less than what we want and deserve to avoid potentially having nothing or no-one.
"There is no try, there is do and do not do". I remember as a boy watching this strange but wise little green creature. I was struck even back then by how profound and insightful this statement was. Yoda was not only a great Jedi Knight but a heck of a coach. The "There is no try" quote is quite legendary. Yoda was correct; no matter how you slice it there is no try.
They are within all of us. Two core fears. No matter how different we are or how different we think we are these fears are the same. They drive the actions we take and the actions we won't take. They can either shape us or imprison us. They define our existence and its quality. The two core fears that affect us all are: we are not enough and if we are not enough then we won't get what we really need, love.
So much of personal growth is constructed around themes such as perseverance, determination, and self-belief. As important as these themes are there is also another important side, the side of letting go and moving on. Perhaps it is a career path, a relationship, a dream, or a goal you hold in esteem. It is a fine line between giving up and moving on. That line becomes even harder to see when we are emotionally tied to the situation. Learning to recognize when it is time to let go could be one of the most important and valuable lessons you learn.
I opened the box of goodies I had ordered from Tama Kieves, ten each of the two CDs produced by Awakening Artistry that I have listened to again and again on my journey of living an awake and inspired life. They buoy my spirits and reconnect me with a sense of limitless possibility, and so I now happily recommended and sell them to others in my coaching and teaching work. We can never feel too supported or too inspired!
So I’m right in the middle of living an awake and inspired life when suddenly – or maybe not so suddenly, maybe it was ever-so-gradually and I was just too busy to notice - I’m not feeling awake or inspired. I’m feeling… dull and uninspired, to be very frank. And tired, and whiny, and cranky. And just a teensy bit hopeless. Despairing, even. Quite a long way from awake and inspired, now that I think about it. I was having a bona fide dark night of the soul, except it had dragged on for more than a few nights. I was too exhausted to do much more than sit back and watch the show.
Years ago I was in love with a very intelligent, very accomplished and very logical engineer who had everything figured out that needed to be figured out, as most engineers do. (He was also very attractive, I might add, but that’s a story for another time.) We often engaged in conversations about the meaning of life and some of its messier emotions, and I remember asking him, “Do you love yourself?” He paused to give my question thoughtful consideration, but not for long. In short order he answered definitively that he did not and, further, that he didn’t want to love himself. He viewed not loving himself as a necessary motivation for continual self improvement. Loving himself, he believed, was akin to rationalizing and embracing all of his worst qualities, and that would not be acceptable. No, he preferred to withhold self love as a means of whipping himself into shape. It was far better, he reasoned, to never be satisfied; that way he would never become lazy.
Muriel’s voice chirped briskly into the phone, confident and convincing and – maybe just a wee bit tight? “I had a rough month, but I’m okay now. I felt so frustrated that everything wasn’t working out but I forced myself up to my office loft every day to continue making progress on my brochure. It’s at the printer now and I’ll have copies ready by Thursday that I can start mailing out.”
Muriel is a coaching client of mine who lives on the west coast, and she had unwittingly raised a few red flags that waved frantically to me across the miles. Words like “frustrated” and “forced,” and her absolute refusal to tolerate frustration. She was demanding of herself that she be “okay.” Muriel had drifted from the brave new world of Creating Work She Loves into the seductive land of Making It All Make Sense.
“What about Michael?” the quiet voice inside my head kept asking, even though I ignored it repeatedly. It just seemed so unlikely that asking Michael could possibly lead to what I wanted. But there it was, that gentle yet insistent idea to send Michael an email. And so I did, and now I’ve got a great story to share with you – a story about the delightfully grace-filled world of trusting in what we long for and allowing our inner guidance to lead us there.
So I’m going about my life, happily expanding my business and spending quality time with friends and learning how to eat more healthfully and reading really good books, when all of a sudden I’m surrounded by people – friends, clients and, yes, even myself – who are dealing with “relationship issues.” It’s as if, all at once, the gods and goddesses of relationship have decided it’s time for us to heal those old wounds, already, and get on with the business of creating or deepening the relationships we really want.
There seems to be a lot of things to worry about these days. We’ve got an apparently looming recession, a continued crisis in the housing and home mortgage markets, global warming, the war in Iraq, lots of anti-American sentiment all across the globe, athletes using illegal drugs to gain competitive advantage, numerous unsolvable and chronic illnesses plaguing our population, a national obesity epidemic, mercury in our fish, high-fructose corn syrup in everything else, electromagnetic frequency overload doing God knows what to our brains and nervous systems…and, for the cosmetically-minded among us, we face harrowing conditions of sagging skin and crevice-like crow’s feet and yellow teeth and unwanted hair. Not to mention the stubborn cellulite that has taken up permanent residence on our thighs.
Fear… Abject despair…Anger, tilting toward rage… Then fear again – terror, really. Numbness, then another stream of anger and indignant righteousness. A virtual kaleidoscope of negative emotions triggered not because I am being held hostage at gunpoint, or because I’ve just been told I have a life-threatening illness. No, these feelings have emerged out of the seeming calm of my psyche as I sit safely in front of my computer, reading a few exceptionally well-written emails. These messages have been forwarded to me from caring and intelligent friends whom I love and hold dear.
My client sat before me, tense and expectant, having robotically reported the results of the journaling assignment I’d given her at the end of our previous coaching session. “So what next?” she demanded of me. “What else can I do?”
Ah, the seduction of doing…the lure of constant productivity. We have come to believe that our power to achieve results lies in nonstop action and a relentless drive to make forward progress. We plan and plot and push, exhorting ourselves to make things happen. We take action, any action, just to convince ourselves we’re getting somewhere. We don’t recognize that we’re robbing ourselves of power’s true power by defining it only as the “action” part of the creative cycle and leaving “stillness” to fend for itself - flaccid, limp and powerless.
This column is dedicated to all seekers of meaningful, inspiring work
You’ve recognized, sagely if a bit belatedly, that the job you’re in fits you about as well as your favorite jeans from college (in other words – not at all). You’ve carved a little time and space into your busy schedule to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. You’ve read inspiring books about creating work you love and have devoured every article you can find on people who are living passionate, exuberant lives of meaning and purpose. You are inspired and hopeful. You are ready.