I sat with this one for awhile before I pushed go.
I think one of the harder steps I’ve had to take in my own life journey is to learn to let go. Every bone in my body vibrates saying, “help others, serve, share,and hold the light up!” And if they can’t do it for themselves, do it for them!” Probably because I’ve felt this need to have a rescuer so powerfully too. However I’ve come to see it’s not my job to do that for others. As a partner, healer, Creator, and human being. My job is to do my damnedest to hold the right space for others to discover who they want to be. Letting go of the idea that others are helpless to create the change they need is an act of respect. By doing so I honor the Creator within myself and them. So, in a sense, letting go is a sacred agreement. It’s the space where allow the possibility for healing and a real collaboration can begin.
When we meet as equals we are within our strength. We open to the gate for re-connection, new adventures, and the dance of love to grow -if it’s meant to be. We can learn, listen, prepare, and then leap into the changes that are needed. If no change can be made, we respect that too. Why? Because allowing is the space where true love grows. And all souls are here to grow.
So practice the art of just being today. And let others be as well. And do you best to hold a space of love and respect.
This can lead to some serious soul-grinding along the way. However, as I’ve come along I’ve discovered there is a way to free yourself from this seeming paradox.
I’d suggest a first step at understanding these two approaches is to start looking at their similarities. If we wade in comparing differences, we’re headed for a long walk in dark woods. Unfortunately, this is where the bulk of the self-help and success literature falls. We often pit one way of life against the other, service-to-self vs service-to-other. Lots of books get sold this way. The truth is whether you’re serving yourself or others, the process of growth looks the same.
Each requires; asking, listening, adapting, and then giving. Giving, as well as sharing, are essentially actions. These are the fundamentals needed to grow and make progress, or find fulfillment. Let’s break these down by looking at service-to-self first.
Typically, for those that see themselves on a spiritual journey, or the “the road to authenticity,” this process begins by turning inward or looking within. This is the ask. To get answers to the big questions we have to learn to get quiet.
Then comes the practice of listening. Wisdom tends to be a whisper, so we have to learn to lean in. And this is important, because there’s alot of noise bouncing around in our head’s. Noise meaning we live in a world of information, advice, and agendas, and that includes our own internal judgement and expectations. Most of what’s in our head’s wasn’t consciously put there, it was swallowed. So the discipline of turning inwards and fine tuning is important. It helps us filter out the noise but also connect to truer source of guidance. Inner guidance.
Once we’ve made a connection, we then have to make adjustments. Many of our decisions in life are based on assumptions drawn from information. So adaptation a key step. Without the adjustment, we’re like planes stuck perpetually circling the airport.
Give it away
Finally, the last step is take what we’ve learned through the process and then share it with the world. This is the critical leap where a genuine contribution is made.
Now this process and steps are the same for those who live in service. The big difference, of course, is that they focus on helping others first. Or in other words, they start by turning their attention outward. When a person serves others, they work their way from the outside world in. So, instead of turning inward to ask as a first step, they ask the world, etc. In today’s business cultures the lingo is “value-driven.” Business, on the grand stage, sets up systems that operate in this way. They automate this process.
So, no matter your preferred path, if you learn to see life as an invitation to create a healthy conversation, things get better. Life is a good chat, or can be. The moment we stop listening is the signal we’re headed for trouble. Grace disappears, and things get sticky when we end up there.
I’m a huge fan of Glennon Doyle. Here’s a woman who for 10 years hid herself in a closet at 4:00 am to find the time and space to write. She began with a simple dream, an honest, heart-felt intention to reach out and touch the world. And she did! She started a truly magical conversation through her blog and then books. But then she remained open to continuing the conversation along the way. She shared her changes out loud because she made a commitment to not hide from life. Then later, when she decided to divorce her husband and then remarry another woman, despite being touted as an acclaimed “relationship expert,” she maintained her integrity. How?… She walked the narrow path. She didn’t listen to the noise and advice of those with agendas. She exercised her integrity. The art of integrity comes with knowing where you’re headed, and accepting direction along the way. The direction she accepted, of course, came when she learned to listen to life. She’s mastered the art of the conversation. Here’s a great article where Glennon talks through her decision to walk away from her marriage.
So, I guess I’d end by saying we’ve all been tasked with discovering a new way in life. We can call this “our way.” Whether we like it or not, there’s no way around the fact that we will create something brand new. The life you live will never be repeated again. Learning to celebrate this by staying open to change and embracing the process is a powerful thing. You’ll inherit a life filled with integrity and grace. Just keep the conversation going!
Watch the video and listen to the episode associated with this post.
I love this quote, “do what you’d do if you felt most secure.”
It’s like a message in bottle that’s just as alive now as it was 800 years ago! Meister Eckhart, a philosopher-monk who lived in the middle age, is credited as being it’s author. I had a dream about this guy when I was in the middle of a research project a few years ago. He’s ended up becoming a spiritual mentor of sorts. He was helpful then and still is now, at least in terms of the value his insights continue to bring me.
If you’re curious, here’s an image of Meister that’s managed to survive the ages.
I think this is a great quote to reflect on as it points to a mystery within human nature. It’s this;
The way we feel about ourselves matters.
We can build multi-billion dollar complexes to smash atoms, design computers to decode DNA, air condition 5 acre football stadiums, but none of it’s enough if we simply feel bad.
Why does feeling matter at all?
As human beings, feelings point us back to our nature. We aren’t just thinking or believing beings, we’re feeling beings. Feelings flow from what we think and believe, but ultimately it’s feelings that carry the most weight. For instance, you can live a life thinking, believing, and doing all the right things, and still fall short. If you don’t feel loved, you don’t have squat. And the biggest leap we all need to take is learning how to love ourselves. If we’re not connected to the type of love that radiates from within, we’re stuck with conditional love. And that won’t do the trick over the long haul. Probably most importantly, feelings point us back to an essential truth. Love is what ultimately sets us free.
So back to Meister Eckhart’s idea of doing what you’d do if you felt most secure. Let’s pause to think that through. If you felt absolutely secure, you wouldn’t actually need anything. Desire would go away. Doubt and fear too. You’d be left with love, so you’d act out of love. Love provides the keys to actualize freedom. This quote is a doozie, as it challenges us to reflect on what it would take for each of us to love and free ourselves.
So today, I want to encourage you reflect on feeling as a path to love and freedom. But just for a bit. Remember, thinking is not enough. Feeling is what’s important. By learning to engage feeling, we get a compass to find our way home.
Here’s a suggestion:
Self love is an art that starts with believing in yourself. Which means believing in your ability to care for yourself, manage, and direct your life. Believing starts with thinking, so I’d encourage you to start there. If you’ve lost trust in your ability to create happiness, do it anyway. The act of repeating these thoughts over time will influence what you believe and how you feel about yourself.
So simply start by repeating this basic thought, “I am good enough.” It’s a powerful mantra. Again, if you find yourself battling this thought, or feeling like a charlatan for thinking it, keep going. See that as a signal to invest more. Remember, you may have spent a lifetime thinking and believing otherwise, so this takes some effort. But start with thinking, because it tends to be easier than trying to start by believing or feeling the ultimate outcome. It’s much easier to get traction with thinking. Imagine if I said, so just FEEL different, or stop believing the thoughts you have! Not easy to start from there…
Every day, practice this art of thinking as the path to believing in yourself. Remember love grows where love flows. But also realize it’s work to tend a garden. You will have to work consistently at this!
Here’s a video and a episode where I wade into these things
So this past week I’ve faced some stuff. While I’ve been busily building and revising and my “master plan,” life continues doing what it does best. Teach. And whip up challenges. Powerful ones.
My son Gus just got of the ICU. I actually began writing this post from the hospital’s Starbucks. A week ago he caught a bug from school, and then as story often goes with kids, almost immediately he got popped with something worse. Next thing we know we’re at the hospital staring at a diagnosis Pneumonia and RSV – a dreaded respiratory virus that tends to hit kids with Down Syndrome hard.
And he got hit hard.
When we checked in he just couldn’t breath. It was terrifying. At one point, when things were sketchy, he shot straight up in bed and said, “tunnel.” I’ve never heard him say that word before, nor did I know he even knew it. I about had a heart attack. Outside I may have looked calm, but inside I’m doing cartwheels and thinking, “do not go towards the f$&! light! Not yet!”
So, yeah. Nothing like life’s hardest moments to get you thinking. And this situation had me doing loads of it – especially on what I thought I knew about life.
Turns out I didn’t know nearly enough to see this crisis coming. Definitely not in my plans.
So paraphrasing a bit, she said, “Life is about learning to let go. Things go much easier this way. We create things like plans because we believe they can keep us safe. But plans can not.”
I remember not being impressed with her statement at all. First off, I felt like this statement was just wrong. It seemed to me that humanity was built on the backs on the world’s best planners. Imagine Rome being built without a plan, or Civil Rights happening without the genius oversight of Martin Luther King. Or Steve Jobs winging it. I mean, how the hell would we have gotten to the moon without a solid plan? So I reacted, inwardly of course, not being courageous enough to rebuke her outright. I thought, “If I don’t plan, what am I left with?!” I could actually answer that: I’d be stuck with the stinking unknown. I saw plans like torches we carried into the night. And isn’t it helpful to have light when it’s dark outside and you don’t know where you’re going?
Curiously, I found myself chewing on my mentor’s feedback while I was knee deep in my son’s medical crisis.
I remember staring into his swollen blue eyes as he lay in that hospital bed. I was suffering over this issue and wondered, “how will I ever be able to keep him safe? Or my family? Or me?” This only got worse when I thought of the financial hopscotch I was playing as business owner. So there in that stuffy ICU room with bells and buzzers buzzing, I went round and around. I was totally demoralized. I’m not sure how I got there, but I had an insight. I realized my mentor wasn’t criticizing planning. She was inviting me to reflect on the nature of true safety.
What becomes painfully obvious when you’re a parent stuck considering the mortality of your child, is how helpless you truly are. While I could influence certain things, I had no control over the ultimate outcome. As a healer and therapist I saw this situation play out all the time. A person can do all the “right” things, but still not get a good result. But my familiarity with the issue didn’t make it easier to swallow. As a father I found it horrifying. Here I was totally powerless at a time when my son needed me the most. And as my son’s health spiraled out of control, the more I spiraled too. So, there tiptoeing Christmas, I was revisited by the ghost of a very inconvenient truth. Life is bigger than all of us. And I could clearly see that no matter how thorough or well I executed my plans they would always play second fiddle to life’s Master Plan; if you can call the unpredictability of life such a thing. And I choose too.
I knew if I was to regain any sense of sanity in this situation I had to let go of the delusion that I could control anything. The outcome was beyond me. And it was equally beyond the professionals working with him too. As trained experts they certainly had better odds at making a difference, more influence, but ultimately they had no more control over the outcome than I did. The outcome just hung like some mysterious mist of possibility just beyond our reach. No matter how much we desired and worked towards a positive outcome, we’d have to ride the situation out.
So I after a few more cerebral spins, I realized if I wanted to create a real sense of safety, I’d best not base it in the hope for a positive outcome. Or in faith either, as I do believe and have faith in the good of all things. While I do believe they are the wisest investments, especially in times of crisis, neither could offer me the level of security I needed. My son could die, and our relationship could go away.
Eventually I allowed myself to look beyond the outcome. And I realized that the magic existed in not having control of his life. The truth was I didn’t need control or a guarantee. All I needed was love. My promise to never stop loving my son was enough to keep us connected, and foerver. It’s hard to explain, but in that moment I finally understood that love was a sacred bond, a promise and the surest guarantee of safety I’d ever get.
To me this seemed like a miracle to me! How is it that a force as powerful as love was entirely within my control and life wasn’t?…
While this situation was not one I’d choose to relive, I’d gotten a powerful insight. I could see that love is a gift that transcends all obstacles, barriers, and time. So like my mentor may have been suggesting; a plan can’t guarantee safety. Only love can. And while I knew this, intellectually, my understanding kind of shifted from understanding to knowing. I now knew my relationship with my son was forever safe.
I’m reminded of a familiar bible verse from my childhood,
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. -Corinthians 13:13
Now that I’m back to my life, I’ve had to take a much deeper look at how I’m allowing love to inform all areas of my life. Including my business. I realized I’d sacrificed a large portion of my work as a healer in my efforts to build and launch my brand, for almost a year now. And while I’ve been missing that connection to people and the work, I’ve for some reason been playing down my role as a healer in my brand. I have reasons, of course, but it’s really been because of fear. So, in 2018 I’ve decided I’m going to allow my healing work to take center stage in my brand, alongside my other work. And I’m going to allow myself to reopen my relationships there. If I want love to flow freely, I can’t hide.
So for those of you that are wondering about the status of my son. Gus has been discharged and appears to be on his way to a full recovery. Man are we grateful. Here’s Gus enjoying a hula hooping Santa on Christmas Day.
Here’s an episode that features my interview with thought leader and TEDX’r Marcus Aurelius Anderson. He talks about his journey back from paralysis, which is powerful talk about the road back to health. I’ve also included the video for good measure!
Even the best days can be ruined by one powerfully crappy assumption.
Life is lived through our lenses. Or as one of my past spiritual mentor’s put it, we create our experience through our perspectives. So more or less our worlds are built through our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and then actions. So while LIFE may present opportunities galore – we may miss out on them because we simply haven’t created a place for them. Put another way, we don’t see them as possible. So there’s somethings to watch out for if we want to create a remarkable life, or at least remarkable to our own standards. Staying out of the trap of negative thinking, whipping up despair, blame and world-bashing, or when down allowing ourselves to stay stuck in hopelessness. If we hope to change our experience we have to change our perspective. And this isn’t magical thinking, this is work. We’re not always going to feel great. This means we have to persist and maintain our vision for life even when we don’t feel like it. Over time, our life is likely to follow.
So get out of your head and into your heart. Don’t overthink. Nurture courage, hope, success, compassion, and creativity. Be mindful of the challenges but don’t obsess over the things you can’t control. And when you do go to your thoughts, make good use of them by creating solutions from a place of promise. There are many roads in life. Some lead to barking failures and others success. So your world isn’t really created in outcomes. It’s created through your perspectives. But the decision to focus on the good no matter what the outcome expands your opportunities. With this choice you can see more and be more. You can make the leap from being a hitchhiker in life who has to wait around for the right opportunity to show up; To A Great Traveler who creates his world with each step along the way.
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What does it mean to give?… As a business owner I’m constantly reflecting and trying to dial this in. Is it really practical to focus on GIVING when there’s a bottom line?… When the survival of my enterprise and family depends on profit?… Admittedly I struggle here. I’m always grateful, but not joyful. And I know giving requires a joyful heart. When things are going well it’s easy to access joy. I give freely when I feel safe, connected, acknowledged, purposeful, and well taken care of. When my life is good and I’m moving forward -Man am I in the mood for giving. But when things aren’t going well? Joy gets lost at the expense of my own expectations and needs. I don’t believe I’m alone here, especially with the effort that’s comes with being an entrepreneur. Also with just being human! I imagine most can relate to what I’m saying here. Giving can become conditional to fair weather sailing. So this excerpt came from my daily meditation (see photo). The thought points to a powerful truth. Maintaining joy isn’t simply a practice. It a signal that we’ve entered intro freedom. Joy is enlightened living. We no longer operate from the struggle of unmet expectations or the binary language of transactions. We’ve made the leap into a joyful economy of being sorts. We give and serve freely because life is free and purposeful there -and so are we. As a stoic and believer in the practicalities of life I know I may struggle here. And I know all I can do is practice and stay mindful. But I believe I can make a quantum leap by finding joy in the struggle of getting there. And I do, so finding even more joy in the same. I encourage you to stretch to find joy as well until joy is all you’ve become.
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What do you think?… Is life isn’t about taking, crushing, mincing, dicing, destroying, and conquering?
Or is life about learning how to participate? Challenges, as difficult as they may be, ultimately provide an opportunity to learn how to become better collaborators with life. And collaboration doesn’t work all too well when we’re crushing and competing. It’s a CREATORS game.
Creation takes a ton of work. The demands are high. The requirements placed on those who desire to make a mark as creators are high. That’s why so many try the easy way – by taking, destroying, conquering, etc. To become a CREATOR you must learn how to reach and share value. Value is within – and there’s no forcing it out. The “IT” of course is your PURPOSE. Your passion. The unique dream that only you can realize, create, and share with the world. It’s something the world desperately needs.
So before stepping outside into the world at the start of your day, ask yourself “How can I honor life today by sharing my best me?
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