We certainly live in quite an incredible period of time. In many ways our world has expanded.
I’m not talking in the sense of ‘grown larger’ of course, rather I am referring to the amount of our world that we now get to experience as individual humans – often right from the comfort of our own homes.
No longer are we aware of the happenings of the world within only a 50, 100, or 200 kilometer distance of our own homes.
No longer do we rely upon the wanderings and travels of the foreign strangers to bring understanding and knowledge of other parts of the world to us.
No longer are we required to be that venturing foreign stranger who walks the lengths of the Earth, to gather the experiences that create the wealth of knowledge about the world, outside of our own limited existence.
Why begin this blog by drawing your attention to this? There is an emerging phenomenon being experienced by people which I refer to as opportunity overwhelmed.
Never before has there been such potential for people to think expansively, dream limitlessly, and take chances to create an impact upon our world so powerfully.
We have access to information about every culture, every landscape, every occurrence natural and otherwise, every language, and every mindset that humanity has to offer – all available at the simple keystroke on a keyboard, or swipe of a finger across a screen.
It is this limitless access that now provokes our minds and our entrepreneurial hearts to leap forward into the abyss beyond our comfort zone, and dare do something different and meaningful. This open knowledge now loads our mind with ideas, with creative power, and with value-driven agendas that we have not previously been inspired to entertain.
This potential for opportunity makes all of this an experience of not only the few courageous seekers, but of the many…and so we have hundreds of thousands, if not more, creatively inspired entrepreneurial-oriented powerful individuals across our world taking ownership of all that our world now allows them to access. Exciting times indeed.
This brings us back to Opportunity Overwhelm.
Many people become completely immobilised by the sheer mass of opportunity that is at their fingertips, so much so that they are unable to bring their mindset power into a concise and clear usable format.
Opportunity Overwhelm converts our powerful mindset into a uselessly swirling vortex of ideas, circling with such momentum that we are unable to pull together a viable pathway to bring that into a manifested state. This escalates our frustration, often triggering our deeply buried fears of incompetence or failure, meanwhile dis-powering us and stealing our valuable time – all while misleading us to explore and contemplate pathways that do not align with our values and visions. Messy detouring essentially.
It is so ironical that we live in a period of time which offers us total access to inspiration and understanding, and yet it is exactly this total access that anchors us immobilised in the centre of this vortex. So we frantically seek solutions to our own inspired confusion.
Many focus on the logistics of implementing each and every potential opportunity simultaneously. They contemplate the standard pathways observed or taught by others who manifest opportunity. They focus on the words that define their creative concepts and ideas, and hope that they bring clarity to what they’re trying to achieve. Yet in taking this focus we continue to amplify the overwhelmed state because quite simply the answers are not there.
This is no different to the writer with writer’s block investing their time flicking through the pages of a thesaurus or dictionary or text book on how to write books. This does nothing to diffuse the block. This does nothing to bring clarity to the direction that the writer’s tale should take in the next chapter, or to the creative destination of the tale. This does not work because it is not meaning-oriented.
What do I mean by this? Knowing what is meaningful to you will help you focus on the right opportunities to develop. Being inspired by your world will show you how to manifest them.
Experience yourself indulging in these four brief yet targeted exercises outlined below when you find yourself immobilised in the vortex of opportunity overwhelm. Let this shift the block and dissolve your overwhelm.
Build the Opportunity Stack – Take every concept, idea, opportunity that you can conjure – write each one on its own separate piece of paper and then place them all inside of an envelope labelled Opportunities Stack and place it aside for later.
Create your Chest of Meaning – Imagine a chest in front of you that you have to fill with everything meaningful to you – fill it with what you value most, with what you want to stand for, with that which is most meaningful to you, with that which represents who you want to be in this world. The contents of this chest are what will define you – there is no judgement on what you choose – but take your time and ensure that it is filled with only the things that are of most value and meaning to you, about you, in your world. It helps to write down everything that you place into your Chest of Meaning.
Create your Well of Inspiration – Now imagine a deep well in front of you, one that you will fill with everything that is inspirational to you. Seek the people that light a spark within you. Find the ones that have done, and are being who you want to see yourself being. Seek the information and ventures that light your neural pathways with excitement. Indulge in that unashamedly. Seek the historical events, people, concepts that warm you and resonate with you. Seek that which you find to be an experience of beauty and allow yourself to be inspired by that. Fill your inspiration well with everything and anything that brings fire to your soul. Again, it helps to write these things down as you discover them during this is a task of discovery – this is your well of inspiration.
Illuminate your Opportunity Direction – Now the fun begins. Open your chest of meaning. Draw up from your well of inspiration. Connect with them in front of you. Then slowly remove each piece of paper from your Opportunity Stack and consider each one carefully.
Does it fit with the contents of your chest and your well? Based on your answer to this – assign it to one of the following categories:
Might be Useful Later
What was I thinking?!
Seal the later two piles in their own envelopes that are titled accordingly for later use.
Now spread your Definitely Fits pile in front of you while keeping your Chest of Meaning open and your Well of Inspiration flowing allowing your mind to join dots and create a picture before you. Don’t force it – this is a creative ‘allowing’ – much like watching a photographic print develop in it’s tray of chemical solution slowly revealing the image that it holds. Notice your clarity sharpen, your insights emerge, and your vision excite your mind. Notice how customised this vision to your own authentic values.
All that is left to do now is to summons your courage to be as powerful and you can be in your manifestation of this opportunity.
After many years supervising and guiding early career Psychologists, I would like to offer this advice as you continue forward.
Often during supervision consultations and training sessions, I hear comments such as “I wish I had your brain!” or “How did you know that! How did you work that out?!” or “How do you get that? Show me how you case conceptualize that?”.
At first I used to buy into the desperate need to ‘nail the therapeutic skill quickly’ and would find myself trying to respond to their questions with some useful version of my own internal processes as a therapist.
The personal benefit of this supervisee query was that it made me reflect mindfully about what my internal processes even were, processes which after many years of doing therapy had become so intuitive for me that I hadn’t recently examined them with such scrutiny.
In itself this was an experience that I am grateful for, and one that I hope as therapists you will absorb yourself in frequently throughout your careers.
The drawback of this supervisee query was the personal energy expense of having to continuously come up with a metaphor, an analogy, a formula, or a protocol, to define my internal processes to make them useable. This was tedious work. This was also not always effective because it’s very difficult to put an intuitive process into a tangible concept that others can then apply to their own work.
It was this struggle that raised this realisation for me – that it was important to impart this understanding to early career psychologists and therapists.
Your creation of yourself as the ‘healer’ that you’ve chosen to be is in itself a process.
It is not a skill to be learnt in a single lesson.
Clinical or therapeutic excellence is not a case of being delivered information to regurgitate in an assessment with clear and static parameters so you can get a high distinction as your University assessments were.
Receiving a chunk of information from a more experienced therapist, even an amazing therapist, about the internal process they use to get their therapeutic outcomes, will not mean that you can instantly possess the same excellence that they possess.
It is unlike university when getting the right journal article, piece of research, information about the assessment from your lecturer, meant that you could turn out the same high distinction that another student who also got that information could turn out.
This is now the time that you learn drip by drip by drip through the experiences you have and share with your clients.
Now you have to be patient, accepting that this is your continuous journey of experiences drip by drip by drip that will generate your own internal processes, developing your own therapeutic excellence.
So – I am not saying don’t ask the questions. I am not saying don’t read and learn more.
What I am saying is to do those things and acquire more information but with an understanding that you will need to be extremely patient with yourself as you expend the time needed.
Surrender to that frustration of urgency. Bring patience to your journey as your cumulative experiences consolidate the internal processes that will become your own fluent clinical skill and therapeutic intuition.
Understand and befriend that part of yourself that yearns with this urgency – the ego that must excel or compete, the unrelenting standards schema that simply cannot make error in session. Comprehend your own ‘imposter syndrome’ and feelings of being a fraud when you don’t have the magic of ‘fixing’ the client. Master self-compassion and acceptance to offset these.
You cannot, just because you learn information, become an effective therapist.
Experienced therapists will indulge in the opportunity to share their wisdoms and secrets with you – after all it is often the only time that we witness our own excellence and skill, and we also have ego’s and unrelenting standards schemas to soothe!
Drink that in – but be balanced in your expectations of its power without combining it with your own rehearsals of excellence.
Hold all these wisdoms in mind as you share drip by drip by drip the experiences with your clients, with your colleagues, and with the people in your own personal life and your global world. It is in this way that you will obtain the internal processes that you need to make your learnt information powerful and transferable.
Bring patience to your journey of experiential learning.
Savour the knowing drip by drip by drip.
I can’t take credit for this headline, but perhaps only for the questions that I cast from its inspiration. While walking through one of Singapore’s subways, an innovative inspiration in themselves, I noticed one of the graphic banners on the wall that simply stated –
ATTENTION Future Under Construction.
This simple statement spiralled my mind into a creative vortex of contemplation. It’s quite stunning how blatantly available inspiration can be in our world.
Think about it. Your entire life is this statement – a future under construction.
Every moment, every choice, every action that we make during our life is a determination of what you choose your finished future to look like. Every today that you make a decision, that you project a thought, that you choose an experience, is the construction of the tomorrow that is your future.
Ask yourself. What type of builder do you want to be?
As the project manager who is constructing your future, do you want your focus to be about the quantity or the quality of what you construct? Will you focus on beautiful finishing touches, or rush everything leaving so many half completed experiences?
As the day by day construction manager of your future, what phases of the construction will fill you with the greatest zest?
Which construction phases will you have to push through with perseverance as if wading through quicksand to complete? Which will you dance gracefully through as if a well-rehearsed and loved choreography?
Which construction actions that you choose to take will create the future that is most inspiring to others, and more importantly to yourself?
Doesn’t your mind suddenly light up with passionate potential at the simple thought that you are – right this moment – constructing your future, even as you contemplate these questions?
How entrepreneurial do you want to be in your construction?
Extend the concept a little more. Contemplate this – if you are the builder constructing your own future, then by default you are also contributing to the construction of the future of others.
We do not exist in isolation. We are constantly interconnected within the humanity eco-system, and so the future that we construct for ourselves is also interconnected to the futures that others are constructing for themselves. No longer is this only about you and what you can construct for yourself.
How will your construction contribute to the construction of future for others?
Will your construction inspire others to construct their own futures authentically?
Will others witness your day to day construction of your own future, and experience joy at what they witness, a joy that will infuse itself by default into their own construction?
Contemplate even further. Extend yourself even further.
Beyond the point where you are even here any more to live the future that you constructed, what will be left behind of your construction that might impact this world and the future generations of it in a worthy way?
Is this global agenda even drafted into your construction plans?
While the concept of future under construction and self as builder of that future is expansively provoking for the mindset, it is the very first word of this graphics banner on a subway wall that speaks the take home message.
You are currently constructing your future, and by default the future of others.
Your construction has the potential to inspire, bring joy, and be a legacy for future generations.
Every single moment ahead of you is that future.
The utter mindfulness about one’s life that this single word demands is deeply powerful in its simplicity.
You are, right at this very moment, constructing your future.
Sometimes it is in the most simple of events that the most obvious principles standout. And it is always surprising how the most effective principles are usually the simplest.
I want you to see this just as I did so that you can grasp what I mean by the above statement, so imagine this as you read…
Sitting in a huge gymnasium for a graduation assembly of the year 12s of my daughter’s school, I am watching the bored disinterest on the faces of the students as they limply clap with obligation to the announcements of student awards. One after another each individual made their way up to receive their award, surrounded by the dull slow applaud of their peers.
Then the individual student awards were complete – relief was obvious across the cohort.
To follow were the announcements of the places held by the individual houses of the student body. The school population is divided into six house groups which compete throughout the year for points awarded for achievement, contribution and good standing. The announcer started by announcing 6th place.
The faces of the students lit up with anticipation and excitement, the applause erupted with fervour, the gymnasium filled with chatter and cheering from the whole student population. Every student cheered with equal excitement for every house place – regardless of whether they personally benefited as an individual.
This was the power of affiliation and belonging manifesting right in front of me.
A strong yet simple reminder that when we lead a team to achieve and excel together, the engagement of each individual is actually greater than when we focus on providing individual accolade only.
Early research differentiates affiliative interest and affiliative assurance, finding that leader affiliative interest (leaders concerned with their followers’ needs, welfare, and development) has positive influence on the follower cohort and climate. “They (affiliative leaders) support and empower them (followers) and create an atmosphere of openness and interpersonal trust. These leaders seek to work toward organizational objectives together with their subordinates and—as they are able to see a person’s performance independent of the relationship they have—provide them with feedback” (Boyatzis, R (1979) In Steinmann, B etal 2016).
When you choose to climb the ladder, you are making a choice to lead others, to work for their development and achievement.
If you haven’t realised this, it may be important to reassess why you bothered aiming for a leadership position to start with – because ego placating is simply not a good enough reason.
If you have realised this about yourself as a leader of others, contemplate this immense and dynamic power that affiliation possesses to empower and motivate your team to new levels of functioning.
Beyond the benefits of this dynamic to your organisation or to yourself as a leader, enhancing affiliation among your team gives your followers reason to want to show up for you each day. They emotionally commit to being ‘a part of’ what you offer because let’s face it – everyone wants to go to a job that they actually enjoy.
Boyatzis, R. E. (1979). “The need for close relationships and the manager’s job,” in Organizational Psychology: A Book of Readings, 3rd Edn, eds D. A. Kolb I, M. Rubin, and J. M. McIntyre (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall), 95–100.
Steinmann, B.; Otting, S. K.; and Maier, G. W. (2016) Need for Affiliation as a Motivational Add-On for Leadership Behaviors and Managerial Success, Frontiers in Psychology, 22 December 2016, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01972.
We live in a world that has a template or protocol for almost everything. That also applies to the designing and developing of the self as leader.
Our industries are shaped, moulded and often dictated by research, theories and regulations. It seems that in our world we are told how to be who we want to be – with restricted opportunity to engage independently in reflective imagination as we create ourselves.
We believe that we are climbing the ladder to success, developing our-self into the great leader, executive, supervisor that we desire to be. Often we are in fact hurtling our-self down the proverbial rabbit hole of self dissatisfaction.
At the intense crescendo points of our lives we find ourselves in turmoil and chaos wondering how we can be so unhappy with our-self when we have followed the ‘leader-construction’ instructions we were given so carefully?
We find ourselves confused that our leadership experience is not what it should be given that we have followed the instructions. We despair at how difficult it is to be this leader and be self-satisfied. So our human nature seeks understanding of this dissatisfaction by looking critically toward the instructions, the industry, the organisation, or worse still our followers.
Yet I would urge you, at these times to direct your attention to the gaps that exist in your design of yourself as a leader. It is these unattended zones in our awareness and self-insight that create our constant struggle to be the leader that we hoped we could become.
The ‘unattended zone’ is the absence of reflection about what you as a human being value, and how well those values have been incorporated into your creation of yourself as a leader of others. Are you a values-aligned leader?
When we allow this unattended zone to exist in our leadership-self we find ourselves performing in roles with great amount of influence yet impacting others in a way that does not sit with whom we are as people. This creates cognitive dissonance, discomfort and internal angst – a dissatisfied restlessness that festers and expresses itself in maladaptive ways.
How can we truly be an ‘authentic leader’ when we have not even established within ourselves what we highly value in our functioning as a human being? How can we make strategic decisions and execute organisational solutions when we have not consciously established the value parameters within which we are willing to and prefer to operate?
The positioning of values from one person to another vary greatly, and as such the qualities of each authentic leader should also vary greatly. This suggests that not all leaders – even if they are great leaders – are suitable for all positions. The value of the uniqueness of each individual leader is perhaps something that we grossly underestimate.
Back to the proverbial rabbit hole. Standing on the precipice of the rabbit hole, realising that your slide is about to begin – take two steps back.
Take the time to reassess yourself as a human being outside of your leadership role.
Take the time to identify the values that you choose to live by, the parameters of how you wish to operate.
Contemplate strategically how you can incorporate who you want to be more completely into who you are creating of yourself as you go forward in your leadership role.
Take the action of finding a mentor who can challenge and provoke this process so that you can not hide behind your own fear of standing out in the crowd of molded leaders.
Actively take yourself to the unattended zone and attend to it for the purpose of enhancing the person that you are as a leader in your life.
Click this link to take a brief survey that will launch your discovery of your own values. Be curious about the reactions that you notice in yourself in response to some of the questions – what does this tell you about yourself? Be curious about the reactions that you notice in yourself in response to your results chart – what does this tell you about yourself? Often the reaction we notice in ourselves enlightens us more than the actual result.
Where is the place in leadership for integrity?
I get so frustrated listening to so much ‘talk the talk’ in the industry.
Words are splashed around as if they alone justify right or successful action.
So let’s break this down.
Let’s start with looking at the guts of what integrity is before we even bother to try to consider how to apply it to our roles as Leaders.
Integrity, and all its complexities of definition, is essentially doing the right thing even if doing so doesn’t get you what you want and isn’t reciprocated by others.
now let’s consider how, or in fact if, we can apply this to ourselves as
leaders and our actions toward our followership?
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to achieve in developing yourself as a leader for several reasons.
The first is that you must authentically evaluate your actual ownership of integrity as an inherent value of yourself as a human being.
In which direction at any point in time does your moral compass point, and what are the factors that make it oscillate in either direction?
After all is it not only the integrity that we possess as an individual human being that can possibly determine the integrity that we can possess as a leader?
Some of the challenges maintaining integrity in your leadership role, as outlined by Emler (2019) include “…resisting the temptation of personal gain at collective expense; foregoing the attractions of tyranny; managing justice; pursuing a moral mandate; avoiding mission failure; minimizing collateral damage in pursuit of the mission…”.
Secondly, how do you apply “doing the right thing” by your followers even when this does not guarantee you the outcome, appreciation, or reciprocation from them that you want or that serves your organisation?
Your followers, and your organisation, may not view ‘integrity’ in the same manner that you do. Integrity is a subjectively values based quality, and as such perceptions of its presence and its action will vary from individual to individual.
In this respect it would seem that integrity alone is somewhat lacking, as there seems to be a need to have the strength to maintain your position and action of integrity in the face of adverse responses.
Do you have that strength?
Furthermore, how you strongly maintain your positions and actions of integrity with others, when your organisation ‘outcomes measures’ or ‘strategic solutions’ may in fact require action that is difficult to pair with integrity?
The extraneous pressures of KPIs, restructuring, policies and procedures, and organisational norms or culture often leave little room for us to act with our ‘whole’ self and hence our ‘whole’ integrity.
Peng & Wei (2019) found that “Leader behavioral integrity positively affects employee voice via team independence climate, but only when ethical values are emphasized in organizations.” This would suggest that your integrity alone will not get results unless your organisation is aligned.
So where is the place in leadership for integrity?
How do you make a place in your leadership of others for integrity, while also giving consideration to the differences in individual perceptions and the extraneous pressures of the organisation?
Perhaps this question cannot be answered until first you contemplate why your integrity, and applying it to your leadership role, is even important to you.
Are you committed to not only influencing your followership with your behavioural integrity, but also to influence your organisation with entrainment?
If we are going to “walk the walk” of leadership integrity, it is pertinent that we delve deeper into the function and purpose of our choice to be such a leader, and explore more completely the realities of how to apply this value effectively.
Emler, N. (2019). Seven moral challenges of leadership. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 71(1), 32-46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cpb0000136
Peng, H. & Wei, F. J Bus Ethics (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04114-x
Read this question then pause and reflect before continuing on…
At what age did your failures become ‘failures’ rather than a learning child’s experience?
Failure is a common theme among inspirational literature. There are so many empowering growth mindset oriented perspectives for us contemplate. Often we grasp at these to soothe our fears of inadequacies, to calm our anxieties as we strive for success. We grasp at these truth-based intelligent mindsets – and yet we ‘grasp’. Why?
While these mindsets and perspectives are cognitively accurate and acceptable, they lack emotional believability – particularly when we are facing the failure experience or its consequences face to face. We find ourselves clinging to these mindsets in an almost “fake it till you make it” manner hoping that they manifest!
How do we increase the genuine emotional believability of these wonderful mindsets at the time that we most need them?
Consider our emotional response to watching a child attempt a task and fail.
You will probably identify that you are compassionate and helpful in response to the child, that you offer to comfort and then teach the child, because you hold a highly believable perspective that a child is not expected to perfect the task as they are existing in a life phase of continued learning.
The expectations you hold about performance are reasonably set for a human being who is not only learning but is also “human” and hence acceptably imperfect.
We mentally identify the positives in the failure performance and highlight them.
We ‘deconstruct’ the task into manageable chunks, infused with development and learning, that ensure future success experience for the child.
We identify the skill, knowledge or attribute development need.
We positively and supportively bring this awareness to the child and set a course for ‘offering’ the opportunity to strive again.
We do all of this with a genuine attitude of positive regard for the ‘successes so far’ and the future potential of the child.
At what age did your failures become ‘failures’ rather than a learning child’s experience?
Is it possible for you to believe that there is no such age? That perhaps the all moments of your life (regardless of age number attributed) are a continuous learning experience in which you are acceptable in your human imperfectness.
Is it possible that you can simply identify the positives in the failure performance and highlight them; ‘deconstruct’ the task into manageable chunks, infused with development and learning, that ensure future success experience for yourself; identify the skill, knowledge or attribute development need; positively and supportively bring this awareness to yourself setting set a course for ‘offering’ the opportunity to strive again?
Is it possible to do all of this with a genuine attitude of positive regard for the ‘successes so far’ and the future potential yourself – an imperfect human living a continuous experience of learning?
How do we increase the genuine emotional believability of these wonderful mindsets at the time that we most need them?
I challenge you at all points in your life – regardless of the number of age in years that you have been allocated – to consider yourself as you would a child continuously learning, failing, and striving.
I challenge you at all points in your life – regardless of the number of age in years that you have been allocated – to offer yourself the same compassionate acceptance and supportive hand up that you would any child who you recognise to be on a continued path of learning.
This is the foundation that is needed for all other ‘failure’ mindsets to rest upon such that emotional believability releases your grasping and empowers your momentum.
The take home message.
Aim to fail like a child.
An expansive number of years sharing space with people who have sought from my guidance – clarity, solutions, support and understanding, has revealed to me how easily we complicate our experiences with limitations created through constructs of language and our blind compliance to societal norms.
A recurring example – I frequently have people present to me the dilemma of being unhappy in their current work experience. Their reaction to this dilemma is to seek another “job”. A “job” that they hope will bring them greater satisfaction.
The simple use of the word job narrows the person’s ability to discover what will bring them happiness and satisfaction because they leave themself able to only look inside the box called job.
My first task is to ask the person to discuss with me their passions, interests, and ideals – without thinking about a job. We share a vibrant conversation about the fascinating things we read on social media, the global topics that grab our attention, the seemingly small but precious moments that warm our inner self.
As we share, I make note of the snippets of inspiration that the person raises, eventually laying them all out for some visual acknowledgement. You speak it – you own it. You see it – you own it.
You speak it – you own it.
You see it – you own it.
The response to this visual display? Surprise. Shock. Sometimes even sadness that those things are such a small portion of their daily life – the realisation that they have created a life that they are barely inspired by, at least not anymore.
Then inspiration and hope come to their face. The mind consuming its passions lightens and becomes playful and joyful. This is a mind that is courageously creating outside of the box.
Then I suggest – “Now let’s make a career (not a job) out of all of this so that this feeling gets you out of bed each day.”
At this point many people almost climb back into the box. They almost give up on those things that bought lightness, enthusiasm and energy to their whole person as they retort to my suggestion “I can’t do that as a job and get paid.”
So the gentle, creative process of grasping that courage to climb begins. Let’s dare to be creative for a moment in private – committing to nothing, publicly announcing nothing – just splashing some creative dreamer thoughts out there to see what happens.
Let’s dare to be creative for a moment in private – committing to nothing, publicly announcing nothing – just splashing some creative dreamer thoughts out there to see what happens.
“What would happen if you took these things that you chose and creatively made your own version of a “job” with them?”
“What could we even call that person that does that as a “job”?”
“Can you imagine other’s benefiting from you doing this?”
“How would it feel to get up and do this each day?”
The light returns to their eyes. There remains some ambivalent hesitation as their world has taught them to caution climbing out of that box. They have also learnt the comforts that come with staying inside of that box.
So we might question why it takes such significant courage to allow ourselves to create and be outside of the boxes that we have been taught to exist within?
It is the early experiences of reward and punishment that we have endured in relation to compliance and sameness.
Compliance and sameness receive acceptance and approval, a conditioning reward for ensuring that our courage does not extend beyond certain limits.
In contrast, non-compliance and different receive isolation, alienation and punishment for breaching the imposed and assumed limitations.
As children we are given boundaries – “boxes” – to keep us safe until we are competent enough to comprehend risk and danger.
However you are now an adult with a comprehensive understanding of your world and a vast capacity to evaluate risk and danger when making choices.
You are, as such, more capable of ‘being outside of the box’.
Are you willing to expand your possession of courage such that you can climb to see outside of the box?
You are now an adult with greater ability to create connections for belonging, and cope with rejection or disapproval from those that do not understand, align, or value you.
Are you willing to risk being different from others such that you can forge your own path away from the box toward a space where you can create your box?
Are you willing to risk being different from such that you can forge your own path away from the box toward a space where you can create your box?
You are now an adult, and as such the master designer of your own experiences.
Are you willing to reignite the passions and creativity that you possessed as a child, combine it with the power and ability that you now possess as an adult, and courageously immerse yourself in that which you are naturally inspired by – that which sits outside of the confines of the box?
Reflect on history…there are amazing human beings that have courageously acted in this way, and today we reap the rewards of their courage and speak of them as great people. It would be unlikely that any did as they did without resistance or disapproval from others – without nay-sayers that yelled their complaint from inside the box.
The take home message about courageously creating outside of the box?
Be the Master Designer of your own life and forge the wonders of your future…possibly the future of others.
Let’s talk success and joy.
Notice first how it felt to have both of those words placed so near to each other in discussion.
Did it stir confusion for you to consider both of these experiences together? Did you comfortably consider that they belonged together – that they were mutually inclusive?
Notice which you most wanted me to continue to talk about. Notice which you felt disinterested in, as if already achieved or perhaps too elusive for you to indulge in.
Take a moment – contemplate ‘success’ as it has occurred or exists or has been achieved in your life. Contemplate the presence of joy – ‘deep joy’ in your life.
So this is the thing about success and joy.
One should bring the other.
They have potential to occur together, and yet often in the pursuit of one we find ourselves feeling the absence and lacking of the other.
We strive for success through all of its constructs as we are taught to understand it, by the world that raises our awareness.
Success through position, status, education, career, or recognition from others. Throughout this striving we become tired and narrowed in the roles that we adopt to give definition to ourselves.
If we are ever given enough space either mentally and physically to contemplate, we can find ourselves so immersed in these success-defining roles that we no longer even remember who we were before we were our roles.
So joy diminishes – or at least deep joy – because while we’ve been relentlessly locked in pursuit of success through only the reflections of our roles, we experience only some form of joy expressing at its most surface level.
Yet we keep running the same treadmill in the pursuit and the generation of that success, and that surface depth joy.
Rarely are our assumptions about the sustenance of success based upon carefully contemplated conclusions about what we value in ourselves, our lives, in others.
Rather, it is the values of others and of our parent-world that construct our views, and so the presence of deep joy becomes a unreachable reality.
We believe joy is present while we are succeeding, and yet generated from our roles rather than our values, it in fact is a single drop when we thirst a full cup.
I can remember times in my life that were what I would call transitions. Some of them tumultuous transitions, some of them very deep transitions, some so deep they seem to be the ‘dark night of the soul’ that is often noted through literature of history.
Through every transition period the theme remained the same – the recognition that what I was striving to define myself by as ‘successful’ was a contradiction to what I needed to define myself as ‘joyful’. This terrifying realisation is easier to turn away from than to turn toward.
So the treadmill becomes preferred for its familiarity, and yet only fleetingly satisfying.
Rarely do the structures or pace of our world allow sufficient reflective space to truly dissect our meaning of success or deep joy. Rarely does time allow us to reconcile the two to exist within the same space bringing richness to our individual existence.
Often, only through deliberately sought out processes such as therapy, coaching, mentoring, or supervision are we awarded the opportunity to take this reflective space. Often it is these processes that inspire and guide us to transform our values based reflections into a life that we mindfully choose.
The life in which success and deep joy coexist for us. Our life as a series of chosen rich experiences that are worth getting up for every day.
The take home message about success and deep joy?
Seek courageous sources of inspiration that will challenge you to purposefully transform.