A friend and I were having a conversation about the challenges of uncertainty.
The idea evolved beginning with how it is easier when either
1) you know you want to do something or
2) you know you don't want to do something.
The challenge comes up when you don't know. My friend shared his experience of not knowing becoming overwhelming. When you start to recognize how much we don't know, and then are trying to move forward. It can paralyze you. The fear of the unknown can fill us up. There is the fear we could make a mistake that could lead us down a disparate path, one we would regret later. What if we do something "wrong"?!
For me, sometimes not knowing is irrelevant.
Today, that got me thinking about purpose. There are the times we are "spot on", feeling deeply connected to a purpose that drives all our decisions. It makes things so much easier. This is what I experienced immediately following my husbands sudden death. An unlikely time to feel purpose, but I did. This was definitely one of those completely unknown experiences that could have sent me into a tailspin. Yet, I knew no one else knew who he had become so intimately. Honoring his values upon his death became my mission. I was so grateful for the time we had together, I felt a deep responsibility to honor him. It made decisions simple, even in the face of opposition.
Soon after his death I adopted another purpose. Not feeling intimately connected with it didn't matter. It kept me moving at a time when that was paramount. There was a part of me that needed to withdraw, to process, to heal. And there was another part of me that knew I needed to keep growing. I needed to honor the need for both simultaneously. A part of my life was dying; a part of it was tilling the soil, even if I didn't know what for yet.
So a few thoughts when you get really uncomfortable with not knowing:
If you know you don't know.... you already do know something...you know that you don't know. That is a discovery that had helped my friend in dealing with the overwhelm of not knowing.
You can move from asking your mind, to asking your body. (Okay body, how do you respond when I say "I like this"? How do you respond when I say, "I don't like this"? Which seems more comfortable? Which response is more uncomfortable? Which is truer? Is there some other information begging to be discovered?
Not knowing our purpose can put us in a tailspin. It can also be the gift of chaos from which clarity arises. We all experience it. Next time you start to feel that you are sliding down that slippery slope, instead of fearing where it will lead, maybe try welcoming it. Step to the side and take a new look. Consider there is something else there to be discovered. Get curious. And get ready to discover something new.
If you're in transition, are feeling the need for a realignment, or new statement of purpose, contact me. You may qualify for a free "discovery" call. The chaos you are experiencing may simply be the first step on your road to clarity, and a path for discovering your gifts. Sometimes it is bold action that is needed, sometimes the action is to wait patiently and keep growing.
From the hills of Virginia, to the Harvard Business School, and then an experience at a local book reading, the theme emerged. The universe always seems to provide the signs I need to move forward. I ask for help, but then it’s up to me to become observant, and a deep listener to catch the signs. At other times the awareness pops up unexpectedly. I am working on my business and marketing plan. I asked where I needed to put my energy. This past week, the theme that has emerged is commitment. The beauty and synchronicity of how the response unfolded amazes me.
I had just returned from an inspirational gathering of family and friends to witness the marriage vows of my niece and new nephew in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Orated by one of the men in black, the two exchanged their commitments in a magical setting surrounded by loved ones. The black and white horse that strolled by during their exchange witnessed from the other side of the fence.
Concurrently, I have been immersed in “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton Christianson. This thought-provoking book on success and failure theories taught at Harvard Business School examines how these same ideas can help you think about your life and your purpose. Between sculpting what you want to become and metrics for measure your progress on the path, there needs to be a deep sense of commitment. That commitment will guide the day-to-day actions that bring success.
Commitment came up again, as I listened to a reading from a newly published author friend of mine. One of the other authors raised the need to recommit at different points in your life, to develop new vows. Rather than recommit to old vows, there is an opportunity to create new vows that honor the people we have grown to become over time.
During this same reading, someone mentioned the death of a man who came into my life briefly twelve years earlier. This person provided a recommendation for me to attend one of the most transformative programs I experienced in my life. I looked up the obituaries when I returned last night. Now he was gone. His impact in the world of transformation will live long beyond his body. I am grateful he touched my life.
So this week I am revisiting my commitments, updating my business and marketing strategies, to look at how I serve the world. When my husband died, I made a commitment to serve. It wasn’t from a place of passion, as it is now. Making one step at a time, I found it changed both where I was and who I have become.
My purpose is to help my clients step into their exploration. While I create the space, the opportunity and the guidance to help them accelerate their own journey, it is still up to them to take the first step. Are you willing to take that step? What is not taking that step costing you, and what would make it worthwhile for you to commit?
Nothing stays the same. The question is are you a willing participant in creating and responding to change, or are you simply waiting for life to come to you? I invite you to step into the journey, to make a commitment to whatever purpose you choose …..and to be amazed, watching how life unfolds in its mysterious ways. It begins with committing to the exploration.
Back to my planning....
Happy Monday Morning Minute to You.