Most of the people whom I work with are driven by something greater than themselves. They feel a call deep inside to make a difference in the world. I am like this myself.
One thing that I have noticed in myself is that there are two parts to this drive that benefit from being seen as distinct: my personal/egoic need to be something as a result of life influences (often because of damage) and my deeper soul’s calling to my true mission. Very often when I go to create something in the world, it is inspired by my deeper Self but driven by my injury. This very often leads to experiences that I see often in other people’s lives as well: varying results, frustration, being overwhelmed, and even burnout.
As a result of these experiences, it is easy to ask the question, “Am I even on the right track?” And then, “What is Truth, and what is fantasy?” For some people, this is followed by, “Should I give up my dreams and do something ‘reasonable’?”—“reasonable” meaning whatever we have been told is the correct way to live our life. I have come to see this process—for those of us who are unlocking our true gifts and rising to our calling—as refinement. I have come to see this process as that of an old soul who knows better than to set up their life in a way that can get too far off track and who instead orchestrates things to play out so that the ego is thinned and the deeper self can truly shine through.
And so I have learned to be grateful for the frustrations that show me exactly where I am aligned with the lesser aspects of myself. I choose more and more to see this and make the necessary shifts, rather than seeing the obstacles as a sign of my lack or inability and then judging the worthiness or potentiality of my mission. The answer for me is in letting go of the idea that my mission is an outcome and seeing it instead as a process—a beautifully unfolding evolution of a way of being that I cannot fully understand and of which I will never entirely know the impact.
Last week, my husband and I went to an Aimee Mann show. We’ve seen her perform before, and she was as wonderful as ever.
During that show, I had an epiphany about myself, my sacred work, and my business that I wanted to share with you because the questions it raised and answered are truly VITAL to any business owner out there.
If you aren’t familiar with Aimee Mann, she is a musician who has been around for over 20 years now with a successful and long-term career. Her music is deep and soulful and really full of rich content, melodies, and ideas. She has had a few “bigger” hits, but for the most part her work has received a ton of critical acclaim and a consistent following of loyal fans, without making it to the Top 10 on the charts.
At the show, for whatever reason, I started comparing it to what I imagine a Lady Gaga show would be like:
Aimee wasn’t playing in an arena with thousands of seats. Instead, the theatre held about 500 filled seats and I know she sells out to crowds of about 500 every night of her tour. There weren’t flashy light shows, but instead gorgeous stained-glass windows that were lit up in the theatre. Aimee didn’t have back-up singers or dancers or change outfits 10 times throughout the show. She spoke directly to her audience and told pertinent stories about her life. She joked around with her audience. She put on no pretenses and even came out on stage to play a few songs with her opening act before her set, not worrying that this was some kind of showman’s faux pas.
And then I paused. And I looked around the theatre at the fans that were in a trance with the beauty and power of the show. And I realized something so obvious, yet so important:
Aimee Mann isn’t Lady Gaga, and probably doesn’t want to be.
Meaning: her music simply wouldn’t make sense in a huge arena. It would get lost in there. In this more intimate setting, it was much more powerful. And, it didn’t seem Aimee needed to be in front of more folks or having thousands upon thousands of audience members present. It appeared that everyone at that show was there because they absolutely loved her – they were loyal, devoted fans, not passing audience members momentarily getting sucked into big name hits. It was clear she was delivering so much value in that evening, and she loved doing it.
And that realization brought me to an even deeper one: When it comes to my own business, I have a choice about what I want. My choice is to be more like Aimee Mann than Lady Gaga.
My work is deep and powerful and intimate, and right now it fits better in a “theatre” than in a “stadium”. I’m not interested in droves of strangers unfamiliar with me and my work being in the room. I prefer a loyal following of engaged women who really want to do the work and really resonate with my message. I’m interested in long-term relationships with my clients instead of temporary fans, and I am committed to being myself and showing up authentically, without any pretenses, no matter what.
I admit, it’s sometimes easy to get lured into the image of being a larger-than-life superstar, to think I want a flashy business with a million followers. But when I really connect in to my heart and soul and what I want for myself, my work and my personal life, it’s so clear to me that being a “larger-than-life” super-coach guru isn’t my calling. At least not for right now. ☺
That doesn’t mean that I don’t strive to create more or more visibility. Of course I do. But I do it knowing where I fit best, how I serve best, and being in control of how I want my business & life to look instead of an empty longing for a stardom that doesn’t really suit me.
Now, I’m not saying that Aimee Mann is better than Lady Gaga. Not by a long shot.
What I’m saying is that it is so valuable to get clear on who you are and who you want to be, and live by that. If you reach into your heart and find that you truly are a Lady Gaga, then YAY! Strive for that and go for it.
But if you reach into your heart and find that you’re an Aimee Mann or a Madeleine Peyroux or a street performer or anything else – EMBRACE it. Love it. Take joy and pleasure in knowing that you know who you are and set goals that reflect it. Don’t blindly yearn or strive for the biggest or grandest business ever just because you’ve been told that’s what’s best.
Know yourself. Be yourself. Appreciate all the diversity and paths that are available. And take pleasure in who you are.
Joanna Lindenbaum is the founder of Soulful Coaching for busy women. She believes with every fiber in my being that women have the power to transform the world. Because of this, she coaches busy women who are looking to nourish their creativity and take their lives to the next level.
This past weekend I was teaching on Values to my LifeWork Community Group. I love talking about values with people as it gets us down into what is MOST important to us. I consider values to be an essential part of any heart-centered business or project. Our values are what set us apart from just being someone who runs a business to someone who runs a business that can make the world a better place.
Here is an example: Think of the difference between two businesses that sell scarves. One may support child labor, bad work environments, and invasive sales tactics, but the other can sell the same product but support fair trade, healthy work environments, and educational sales approaches. The first company might value profits at any cost; the second company might value sustainability. Big difference, right?
What I love about values is that this is the point in the planning process where we get to really see the difference we are going to make — not just in the big picture, but in the day-by-day. Each and every action we take for our business or project can support our values. Right away, this increases our well-being and our positive impact in the world!
Here is a quick exercise to get you thinking about your values:
If you asked three friends to describe three to five positive traits you possess, what would they be? Write them down as they come to you. If you cannot think of anything, try actually asking one to three friends this question to see what they say.
For more exercises like this, check out my book Real Answers
Do you feel lost or as if something is missing in your life? Maybe you want to make a bigger difference in the world than you feel you are, but you aren’t sure how. So many of us walk through life, feeling numb and desperate for a deeper connection, but aren’t sure how to get it.
The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out what your purpose is, but if you don’t know what your purpose is than you don’t know why you are here, and it can be hard to keep going.
I know this feeling all too well. I used to suffer immense inner turmoil while trying hard to find my purpose. I was in a job I hated, working in advertising under fluorescent lights, and suffocating from the stale corporate air. I saw people like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake shine so brightly when they performed. I wanted what they had, infectious passion, a thirsty love for life and an unyielding connection to their work.
I struggled daily to figure out my purpose, but it wasn’t until I took a step back and realized that my purpose isn’t “figure-outable” from my head that I found a way to get there. I thought to myself, “Maybe the problem isn’t that I don’t know what my purpose is; the problem is the way I am trying to find my purpose.”
We can’t think our way into our life’s passion and purpose, we have to do our way in. This means taking steps towards what you want, and removing those things in your life that you don’t want. I left my successful corporate job on a mission to find my happy, and it came by taking one step at a time and exploring many different passions. If you are looking for your purpose and passion, stop looking and start doing. These steps will help you.
How to Find Your Purpose and Passion
1. Get More Action
You can’t think your way into finding your life purpose; you have to do your way into it. Take a mental note from Nike and Just Do It. The more we act, the more we get clear on things. So instead of overthinking it — Will this work out? Should I try that? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t make money at it? Start taking steps toward your goals and start trying new things. This will help you get out of your own way. I struggled for years trying to find out what my purpose was. This cycle only created a deeper lack of clarity. It wasn’t until I started doing that things changed for me. I began writing, and sent a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. The second I received the letter of acceptance was unlike any ever before, love flooded into my heart and I knew that this was what I had to do with my life. You see though, I had to start writing to learn that my biggest passion was indeed writing. That only came with consistent action.
The experience is the reward; clarity comes through the process of exploring. Action is where you get results.
2. Drop From Your Head to Your Heart
Your heart is your best tool to access your true purpose and passion. Ask yourself what you love? Start taking steps to do what you love. When you are inspired and connected to your happy self, inspiration floods your heart and soul. When you lead from your heart, you are naturally more joyful and motivated to explore. By doing what you love, you will be inspired and gain insights into what brings you the most joy.
3. Break Up with The “ONE”
Many of us struggle because we try to find that ONE thing that we are meant to do; but trying to find only one thing is the reason why we feel like something is missing. The notion that we have only one thing we are meant for limits us from fulfilling our greatness. Take me for example; I have six different job titles. I’m a life coach, travel writer, author, speaker, teacher, mentor, designer, and each thing I do brings me joy, but none of these are my purpose, they are my passions. So start getting in touch with your passions! When you lead a passionate life you are living your life on purpose.
Let go of thinking there is only one purpose for you and embrace the idea that our purpose in life is to love life fully by putting ourselves into our life! This means we jump in and try new things; we stop resisting the unknown and we fully engage in what is happening right here, where we are. To lead a purposeful life, follow your passions. When we live a passion-filled life we are living on purpose, and that is the purpose of life.
That feeling that something is missing goes away when you lead a passion-filled life. The need to seek our purpose comes from a lack of passion. When you don’t feel connected to your life, you lack purpose and passion. To fix this emptiness simply add more passion. To boil it down, remember this simple equation:
Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life
Consider that the real purpose of anyone’s life is to be fully involved in living. Try to be present for the journey and fully embrace it. Soon you will be oozing with passion, and you will feel so purposeful and fulfilled you will wonder how you lived life without it. Enjoy the journey into your own awesome life.
Shannon Kaiseris a best-selling author, coach and travel writer.
When I was 16 years old, I went to Catholic school for a year. Interestingly, right in the middle of this drop in Catholic period, I began reading about Buddhism. In the 24 years since then, I have continued to find these teachings helpful.
In Buddhism there is something called the 8 fold path. The components of the path can roughly be described as complete vision, perfected emotion, whole speech, integral action, proper livelihood, full effort, complete awareness, and one-pointedness of mind.
When I read about the eightfold path, something really clicked for me. It was like reading about the path to fulfillment. I had realized at this point that much of my pain was self inflicted and was looking for ways to change how I lived.
The principles of the 8 fold path and similar ones from other religions and philosophies guide my work and my life.
For example, when I am working with my Business Development people, they often ask about different high level, often expensive methods that can be used to grow their businesses. They will feel like they need advanced strategies to be successful.
In response, what I always say to them is, “What ultimately do you want for your business?” You don’t employ top level methods for a 100k a year business. If you do, you will always be spending more money that you make. Not a good business strategy.
This is a very long way to say that things are not useful or not useful; good or bad, it is all about what they are intended for if they are the right fit for the situation.
When we start using a method or anything else for that matter without thinking, we create unintended results. These results are sometimes good and sometimes bad.
So, my question for you today is what are you trying to create? And, is what you are using going to get you there? To me this is related to the “complete vision” step of the 8 fold path. The clearer you are on both of these questions, the faster and farther you will move toward your desired goal.
Will the people in your life always support your decisions? No, they won’t. But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself; it’s about creating yourself. Your life is yours alone. Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you. They can walk with you, but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to walk alone and pave your own path when you know it’s the right thing to do.
Make this your lifelong motto: “I respectfully do not care.” Say it to anyone who passes judgment on something you strongly believe in or something that makes you who you are. People will inevitable judge you at some point anyway, and that’s OK. You affected their life; don’t let them affect yours.
And when you need a quick reminder or a dose of encouragement, refer to this list of things you shouldn’t have to justify to anyone else:
Why you’re putting yourself first. – During a 2011 television interview, Michelle Obama was asked if she thought it was at all selfish that she has openly admitted to making herself her first priority, to which the First Lady replied, “No, not at all. It’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my children is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.” Spot on advice if you ask me! There are only a few people in this world who will stay 100% true to you, and YOU should be one of them. Prioritize your own needs into your daily to-do’s.
Bottom line: Constantly trying to justify yourself to everyone else forces you to miss out on the beauty of simply being yourself, with your own unique ideas, desires, and life experiences. If you are led through life only doing and being what you’ve come to believe is expected of you, then, in a way, you cease to live… you merely exist.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
Do more than just exist! We all exist. The question is: Do you live?
reblogged from www.marcandangel.com