A few weeks ago, I started to get reminders from the interwebs, helpfully pointing out that there were less than three months in 2017, wondering how I was doing with my goals and if I was on track to slaying and crushing and 10X-ing by the end of the year.
All of a sudden I look at my life and feel bad that I haven't been crushing or 10-xing.
I start telling myself the story that I am not a good and enough person, because a good and enough person would be exactly on track, doing Insta-worthy slaying and extensive 10X-ing.
I spastically start to get into gear, nonspecifically trying to crush a lot of things I don’t even really care about because of some sort of deficiency I've spontaneously decided I have.
I remind myself that an authentic breath is available to me.
With the new intelligence that comes from actually breathing, I summon the audacity to remember that these kinds of gymnastics are not how I want to live my life.
I remember that measuring my success by other people’s metrics does not provide meaning and fulfillment, and that shaming myself into doing things consistently fails to produce the quality work I want to be known for.
(I ALSO REMEMBER THE MONSTROSITY THAT HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY/WORLD THIS YEAR AND REMIND MYSELF THAT THE FACT THAT ANY OF US EVEN GOT OUT OF BED – LET ALONE DID ANYTHING AT ALL RESEMBLING PRODUCTIVITY – IS A MIRACLE)
We have to be gentle as we evaluate our 2017s and heartily acknowledge ourselves for showing up in whatever ways our broken hearts could muster during this uncanny moment in history.
And also: We need to gather our warrior-strength for 2018.
We have big roads ahead, both personally and collectively, that will demand our stamina, power, clear intentions, and fierce open hearts. My plan is to soar into 2018 with the strength and purpose of Wonder Woman and I hope you will join me in the spirit of whatever supershero gets you going.
(I am classically late to the party but newly obsessed with Wonder Woman. More on this later, but, for now, she is my daily spirit costume and it is magic).
But in order to soar, we need an unburdened and aligned take-off. Nothing is born well by shame or force. Usually, we carry some sort of personal deficiency narrative about not measuring up as we transition from one year to the next, vaguely hoping we can finally be better next year.
The urgency of the times and our big dreams demand we evolve out of our attachments to thinking of ourselves as unworthy and not enough and make the radical commitment to gracing ourselves with wholeness.
Here is a quick but mighty practical ritual to ignite this evolution into your coming year:
THE DAILY INVITATIONS
A simple, spiritual, and subversively strategic practice to cultivate worth, hope, and power.
#1: Grant Yourself Grace
#2: Ask for Miracles
The invitations take about 1-5 minutes and they can be added on to any other type of daily routine. Right now I do them daily-ish (because my ducks are nonlinear nothing every happens exactly every day) followed by my Courageous15 (I kept going after our exploration because it makes me a better human) and then some type of physical movement.
You can do them anywhere, at any time.
The Daily Invitations invite you to start the great adventure of whatever lies before you - your day, project, relationship, year - from a place of grace, intention, forgiveness, trust, and strength.
You can download the Daily Invitations Worksheet HERE.
Invitation #1: Grant Grace
I remember the day during my coach training when our instructors introduced this principle:
People are whole, and simultaneously moving toward a fuller experience of their wholeness.
I nearly fell out of my yoga-meditation chair.
Isn’t that cheating? My obsessive Tiny Terrorist wondered.
Isn’t feeling whole only reserved for that magical day when we finally arrive at our destination having DONE ALL OF THE THINGS???
Prior to this revelation, my Tiny T and I had been operating from a pathology worldview - that myself and others were in constant need of improvement and fixing, and that were we to accept ourselves as whole, we would be admitting that we were lowering our standards or giving up on big dreams.
The Pathology worldview sounds like this:
Once I ____________ (get the job, know the right people, lose the weight, get representation, have enough followers, find my partner)
then I am _______________
(whole/legit/enough/an artist/worthy of love/deserving of time off)
We do this in relationships, too:
Once she _____________ (takes out the trash, respects me in this way, makes enough money, works hard enough)
then she is ____________
(whole/legit/enough/an artist/worthy of love/deserving of time off)
The faulty thinking leads us to believe that depriving ourselves of acceptance is what fuels us to accomplish with excellence.
We believe that by withholding a view of wholeness in others, we will somehow more effectively be able to get them to do what we want them to do.
In addition to being utterly un-fun, this perspective actually inhibits us and those we love and lead from doing our best work. Thinking of ourselves as not enough and unworthy is profoundly energy-draining and puts us in a constant state of stress, which can actually shut off the part of our brains that are responsible for creativity, problem solving, and connection.
Our Tiny Terrorists lead us to the delusion that this kind of destructive carrot and stick situation will be effective, when, really, we are depriving ourselves of our full capacity to be all in to any moment, situation, creation, or relationship.
Furthermore, by maintaining the pathology worldview of ourselves, we are also teaching others to view us in this way. Many of us want others to see us as whole and worthy even and especially when we have not done the work to see ourselves in this light. But the reverse manifests - if we are constantly thinking that there is something wrong with our own magnificent selves, others will inadvertently begin to adopt the same view.
(If you get quiet and honest, do you notice yourself expecting others to make up for your lack of worth?)
The times of right now are calling on us to evolve out of our patterns of inherent unworthiness.
We have too much to do together to stay stuck there.
By granting ourselves grace we audaciously accept ourselves exactly as we are before we have done all of the things we think will make us better.
This kind of unconditional positive self regard is the most strategic move we can make because it unlocks our most excellent work and most excellent selves.
Acceptance is the special success sauce we have been searching for.
How It Works:
The Practice is simple. Every day-ish, say to yourself:
I grant myself grace for...
And mentally list or write down anything - big or small - that needs your acceptance.
Here is what I granted myself grace for this morning:
HERE is the challenge: After you make the list, take a moment to say to yourself that despite what you may have written, you are more than enough, and a very very whole human being, just as you are, even before you start to address whatever you have written.
(This is an essential step that you will want to skip. Please do not skip it).
I still may work to amend some of these behaviors, but by accepting the granting grace invitation I commit to doing so with forgiveness instead of judgment.
I know that this practice works because one of the humble privileges of my lifetime is getting to witness the breakthroughs (at work, in relationships, in art, in bodies) that emerge when people start seeing themselves in the way that I see them.
(Also - granting ourselves grace is oh-so-especially-important as we move into the Holidays when advertising and cultural messaging can make us feel like we are perpetually lacking and not enough until we buy it/eat it/own it...).
Invitation #2: Ask For Miracles
I asked several clients, recently:
What would a miracle look like this month?
It's a harder question than we might think.
Though we can ask for miracles at any moment, we are afraid to because we:
I encourage you to work with a definition of a miracle that feels aligned for you - Marianne Williamson calls a miracle a shift in perception from fear to love, and I think of a miracle as any tiny or big shift that can bring authentic light, wonder and relief into our worlds.
We do not need to get precious about definitions or origins, nor will we judge the sizes and types of miracles we ask for.
Asking for them is a transformative practice that we underutilize. Here is why I think we need to ask for them more often and especially right now:
1. They focus your attention: You'll start to think about what you authentically want (it's nearly impossible to include a "should" in a miracle list) and what it would actually take to up-level the quality and circumstances of moments, days, and years of your life in ways that will feel uniquely meaningful to you.
2. You are held accountable for granting yourself grace: The only way you can have a chance at asking for and receiving miracles is if you first deem yourself worthy of them (which is why this comes after Invitation #1)
3. You grow underdeveloped muscles: If you have overdeveloped doing muscles, you will strengthen your trusting, surrendering, and receiving muscles.
4. Miracles are the best holiday time-management hack: The Holidays take a lot of energy and it is more efficient to ask for a miracle than muscle through an unforgiving to-do list.
5. We need a new way: The torrential nature of our world is providing a clear message that our current strategies are not working. Anyone who is awake knows we need to make a seismic shift. We have not yet tried regularly and collectively asking for miracles so I think this seems like a great option unless anyone has any better ideas.
6. You allow yourself to be helped: Regardless of who or what you believe in, asking for miracles calls on inexplicable forces to act on your behalf. Magic will occur if you are patient and open. There, I said it.
When I asked the question about miracles, I was moved by what I heard:
To trust myself
To take a break and not feel guilty about it
To let myself dance again
To create a film with my child
To receive the money I need to start my business
To follow my intuition
To get my script into the right hands
To reconcile with my sister
Invitation #2 is about asking for miracles - as many of them as you want, any size or scope - every day-ish, without judgment. You can ask them for yourself, and you can ask them for the world.
It is comfortable and easy to pick apart why things are not going well and think of ourselves as undeserving of the things we want. It is much harder to grant ourselves the grace and courage to ask for what we really want - for ourselves, for our communities, and for our world - then remain open to actually receive it.
Granting yourself grace and asking for miracles is your most powerful strategic plan.
To grace. To miracles. To taking an intelligent breath and remembering our inherent worth.
With big love and encouragement,
Sometime between the ages of three and four, I developed an alter ego named Sally Kimball.
By alter ego I mean I actually spent a period of my time showing up in the world as her, demanding that people call me Sally (which came out as ''Thally' due to a not-so-subtle lisp), and sitting at my play desk like it was her big fancy office.
Sally was audacious and very ballsy.
Sally was never worried about being annoying, whether people liked her, or whether or not what she was doing was correct or appropriate.
In fact, unlike Little Liz, Adult Liz, and all of the other women in my family, Sally did not worry at all.
She was too busy making herself known, making her needs known, making deals, and making phone calls.
Sally loved to make phone calls. She joyfully answered the (pretend) phone with a jaunty:
Hell-oh-oh! This is Thally Kim-ball!
She made up her own rules and took joy in doing so.
As a chronic rule-follower, it feels like much of my adult life has been an attempt to reclaim some of Sally's boldness, and, more importantly, the joy with which she goes about her business.
To take any leap, I believe we have to make the excitement about taking the leap more important than the fears about taking it.
Sally understands this. She is having so much fun wanting what she wants and going after it that she doesn't bother to wonder whether people will like her. Thinking about whether she is worthy is a big snooze, because she has too many important phone calls to make.
I've developed a fun habit of asking What would Sally Kimball do? (WWSKD) when I'm feeling particularly stuck, obsessive, or over-thinking things too much.
In the spirit of bold moves and the Courageous15 beginning this Friday, I thought I'd go straight to the source to see if she wanted to share anything with all of you.
(Of course she did. Sally loves to unabashedly share her thoughts.)
Here is what she said:
Hell-oh-oh!! This is THALLY Kim-ball!
Write the email.
Take a nap.
Introduthe yourthelf to that perthon
Go off the grid.
Thart the thing.
Thay no to the other thing.
Let yourthelf want what you want.
Your work ith good. (Thtop judging)
Trutht what you know. (Thtop second-guessing)
You are fabulouth! Just Fabulouth! (Exactly as you are)
Of course there are times when things are more complex than jutht doing the thing, but, if you are anything like me, and you have the tendency to turn things over relentlessly in your mind, you might try asking WWSKD? and seeing what happens.
Sally teaches me that sometimes we need to do the next bold thing and let go of the story we have created about why we couldn't possibly.
And... let me say one more time in case you didn't hear it the first time:
You are fabulouth. Just fabulouth.
And you are doing the best you can.
If you're inspired, CLICK HERE to join the Courageous15 - a FREE 15-day adventure in personal bravery.
With love and deep admiration,
**CLICK HERE to download the (free) becoming bold guide that supports this post**
This is a story about how the actions of our 45th President jolted me into alignment, catalyzed bold action in my life, and inspired a study of courage.
It is October, 2016, the day after the Billy Bush tape was released to the general public. I am at a hot yoga class, because I feel lost and sick and in great need of something… alignment? Healing? A prayer?
As it did for so many of us, listening to the tape deeply affected me, and I had replayed it over a dozen times since its release. Every time I listened to it I felt sweeping pain, constriction, and anger in my body, but, obsessed, I couldn't stop myself from hitting repeat. Just a few minutes before coming into class, I had replayed it once again on the subway.
As I wait for the teacher to begin class, I find myself in the mirror (because where else do you look in a hot yoga class?) and begin the usual litany of All The Wrong And Unsatisfactory Things.
This is a routinized practice, just like the laying out of my towel and mat and the tying back of my hair. I can't seem to help myself; the behavior is so ingrained that I don't even know I'm doing it.
But that day was different.
My Tiny Terrorist launched into the usual:
Shoulders are uneven…why is your hair so flat??? Too bad your skin isn’t as glowing and youthful as the woman next to you. Speaking of the woman next to you she looks very successful and like she’s accomplished a lot in her short life. Her alumni magazines probably write long articles about her. Just like your friend on Facebook who seems to be winning at life and who has all the great outfits. YOU, on the other hand...
When all of a sudden -
Drop it. A new voice says.
What??? Who is this?
We’re done. She said.
Do I know her?
This is ending now.
I want to know her.
She went on to say that with the barrage of threats to so many people's bodies and existence happening externally, we no longer had the bandwidth to be participating in the same thing internally.
I didn’t know it was possible to be so supported by my own self.
A fairy-godmother-badass lawyer-superhero birthed in one of the most uncertain political climates of my life, my new advocate helped me realize that I was rigorously demanding that the world give my and everyone else’s bodies and existence more respect, care, and support while simultaneously allowing my Tiny Terrorist to in some way mirror the same oppressors I was marching and calling and petitioning against.
I was advocating for women all over the place in my teaching and with my clients and in the stories I was working on creatively, but I had ignored the one who needed me the most. I was taking care to create safe spaces in all areas of my life except my own internal landscape.
I was profoundly out of alignment. Ghandi says that when what we say, do, and think are in harmony, we are happy.
We are also energized.
Being out of alignment with what you say, think, and do zaps your life force - it’s like driving around not knowing you have a slow leak in your tire.
(It's no surprise that I was, unknowingly, experiencing profound burnout at that time).
And it's not how to get things done.
If I am committing to doing my own tiny part to fight against the big, dominating, bullies outside, I need to fight them on the inside of me, too.
Marching in the street means marching inside of my heart.
I became curious about inviting my advocate to the leadership table on a regular basis.
Could she somehow collaborate with the Tiny T? Stick up for me more regularly? Create a safer space?
It turns out that she could, and it was much easier than I thought. The surprise result was that, fairly suddenly, I started to take more risks.
I asked for what I wanted while negotiating contracts, I initiated difficult conversations in my family, called elected officials, approached dream collaborators about working together, started taking actual days off, guided hundreds of people in a non-results oriented creativity exploration over the internet (even when I barely understand the internet), challenged clients to go bigger, published imperfect writing, started the creative project I've been dreaming about for years, said NO to projects that weren’t aligned with my values...
And a positive cycle emerged: the more empathy I gave myself (meaning the more I invited the super-hero advocate to the party) the more energy I gained for bold action. The more bold actions I took, the more courage and confidence I gained to keep leaping.
I have never felt like a very brave person. I research courage. I dream about it, teach about it, I write about it, but I had always felt that bravery was a label reserved for the real risk-takers of the world.
But my advocate showed me that counting myself among the bold made me...bolder.
Furthermore, I learned that there is no one right way to be brave.
You, courageous, looks mightily different from me, courageous, and this is a good thing.
What matters is that we both figure out how to making living inside of our own selves a safe place.
Anyone who has ever taught anyone anything knows that long-term growth comes from encouragement, and that shaming someone into doing something is one of the fastest ways to deflate their ability to unfold.
Yet the overwhelmingly most popular answer people give me when I ask about what is getting in the way of what they want is...
Igniting change in your world and your life calls for massive reserves of courage. Bold action is one of the quickest ways to get where you want to go. You know this. A million Instagram posts bombard you with this message daily.
But that message can often make us feel badly about ourselves, like we're not doing enough, and we might as well just give up.
I believe that to cultivate that courage, we need to start with radical self-compassion. We need to get your Tiny T to stop depriving you of the light and encouragement you need to make things happen.
Can you shame yourself into doing the brave things that will take you where you want to go?
Is living in an internal dictatorship worth whatever you might accomplish?
Not in my book.
Here are some signs your Tiny T has an overbalance of power:
The way out of these patterns (and that's all they are, ingrained patterns of thought that can be redirected) is to first get curious.
Then put out a call for your own personal advocate to make herself known.
If this resonates, download my BECOMING BOLD GUIDE for strategies and frameworks to take control over your Tiny T.
My not so secret theory is that when we begin dismantling the power of the oppressive voices inside, we summon greater collective strength to dismantle the bullies so many of us are committed to dismantling on the outside.
I challenge you to expand your personal practice of boldness.
Turn yourself toward creating a safer space inside of your heart in the next 48 hours and see what happens. (It might feel more expansive than you can possibly imagine).
Don't waste another second thinking you are anything less than miraculous.
With big love and encouragement,
PS: If you identify as a female creative, join me for SHE BREAKS THROUGH, a free evening in New York City to explore and support YOUR boldness in 2018 and beyond.
A most beloved story from my childhood that my mother loves to tell and I love to hear is the day I came home from Church with my Dad and asked:
"Mommy, is there a HER book, too?"
I love this story not only because it contains the seeds of a future feminist and mission to make more space for female voices, but also because it reminds me of what it feels like to be wholly curious.
I remember being four and in the car and asking the question - or perhaps I’ve created a memory after hearing the story so many times - but I can access the muscle memory of what it’s like to wonder about something without any judgment.
And I am becoming more and more interested in how we can wonder about our own lives, instead of judge them.
As we approach the middle of the year, I’m sharing 13 questions that will help catalyze momentum for the second half of this year. My challenge to you (and to me) is to reflect on where you are and where you want to go while making like 4-year-Liz and being:
Being wholly curious means saying:
I wonder what’s stopping me from ___________? (starting the project, taking the leap, lessening the destructive behavior) with the loving and bouncy grace of a 4-year-old, instead of:
Why the #$%@ can’t you just __________ ???? with the accusatory and aggressive tone of the Tiny Terrorist-Who-Lives-Inside-Your-Head.
Being wholly curious means wondering:
I wonder what's important to me about ____________ ?
Instead of feeling shame about wanting something you've decided you don't deserve to want.
I am willing to bet that if you take 15 minutes to explore these questions creatively - writing without overthinking, talking them out with a friend, recording your own voice answering them, drawing - you will experience a surge of courageous motion.
Being wholly curious is a prerequisite to being wholly courageous.
I heartily encourage you NOT to dutifully answer these questions because I told you to. Instead, see what sparks something in you, and follow that. If you work through one question, and then feel inspired to go start something or make a thing or have a conversation, then please follow your inspiration. You are a creative being and there is no one right way to reflect.
Here are the questions (and then scroll down for a fun list of resources below):
get (wholly) curious:
1. What are the most important discoveries I have made about who I am / what I want / how I work?
2. What is my gold? (Gold = anything that is going well: achievements you're proud of, mindsets you've been cultivating, contributions you've made, internal shifts, relationships you've nourished)
3. Who / What can I thank for bringing me joy? (Think about: other people, parts of yourself, animals, your body, obstacles, places, energy, circumstances)
get (lovingly) honest:
4. What rules and limits have I created that are preventing me from soaring? OR: Where do I get stuck?
5. What parts of me and my life need encouragement?
6. Fill in the blank: It would be amazing to say no to _____________, in order to make space for _______________.
get (playfully) inspired:
7. What creations / experiences / achievements do I most want to manifest right now?
8. What is ready for an upgrade?
9. I dare myself to _________________ by the end of 2017.
get (joyfully) moving:
10. Where would I love to be by the end of the third quarter of this year (the next 90 days)? What 1-3 projects will I put my energy into in service of these shifts that I want to make?
11. The title or theme of my next quarter = _____________.
12. What kind of support would empower and accelerate these next 3 months?
13. What actions will I take next week in service of these projects? What one action would feel good to take in the next day or two? (or, like... nowish?)
If you feel yourself giving answers that sound like things that would make someone else happy, proud, or fulfilled, recognize that you might be caught in some shoulds. There is nothing wrong with a should except that it is a dream that does not belong to you, and most likely you will lose steam in pursuing it. Go back and see if you can listen for the sound of your own soul. (And check-out this article I wrote about shoulds vs soul directions if you haven't already).
Here is a google doc with all of the above questions so you can explore at your leisure and share with others.
I am obsessed with reading, researching, and experimenting on myself to find resources that will help me and folks I work with live a more meaningful and vibrant life. Here are some of my absolute favorite things I've come across so far this year (in no particular order and spanning a wide variety of categories):
And a halfway-through-the-year-prayer-for-you:
May you cheer yourself on with the same bright enthusiasm that you would bestow upon the most beloved young person you know, midway through a wonderful adventure.
And if you can't do that, then I will do it for you.
(I just got out of my chair and gleefully jumped up and down for you).
K E E P G O I N G!
I believe in you,
1. Following your intuition is the most important thing.
2. Creating a legacy of risk-taking is profoundly more energizing and productive than trying to be liked by everyone. Courage is a muscle that must be regularly exercised. (The Courageous15, a companion project to the #Creative15 will be happening later this summer. Stay tuned for details...:)
3. The part you want to crop out of the picture is the most beautiful part of the picture. The parts you are embarrassed about are the most interesting parts of who you are, usually have the most value for other people, and make the best art.
4. If you want the whole thing, the Gods will give it to you, but you have to be ready for it. - Joseph Campbell. Safety trumps desire. Usually the things we want are not showing up because we have some sort of hidden resistance to them. Do the work to fully align with what you want to go big on.
5. Taking care of yourself is paramount to growth. Self-care is not to be trivialized, but, rather, the path to being excellent at whatever you want to do. Take days off, take care of your body, and stop letting busyness be your rubric for whether or not you are doing a good job at life. (Thank you to my coach, the extraordinary Kristine Oller, for helping me learn this and a zillion other essential ways of being and thinking.)
6. The best results happen when we give up the need for a result. Train your brain to recognize not knowing as progress, and allow yourself non-results oriented time to create.
7. Do the difficult work to prohibit The Tiny Terrorist Who Lives Inside of Your Head from mirroring the same oppressors you are marching and calling and petitioning against. Demand justice and respect internally so that you are walking your talk when you are fighting for it externally. Be the boss of your Tiny T and not the other way around.
8. You are not an airport. Leave your baggage unattended and see what happens.
9. Despite what you may have inherited or been trained to think, there is nothing wrong with you just because you were born. Worth = your birthright.
10. Self-doubt and fear are kerns on the path to your wonderwork - signs telling you to keep going.
11. Losses are the pathway to the bigger wins. If I'm being rejected from one thing, it's really just the path redirecting me elsewhere to where I'm supposed to be. - Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.
12. Decide to be prosperous.
13. Success happens in communion with others and is not a zero sum equation. Regular isolation will deaden your work and life. Be among brave and creative humans and you will become more brave and creative. Surround yourself with people whose skill sets are different than your own and you will take off.
14. When you want to create change in your life, conduct fun experiments instead of giving yourself strict ultimatums.
15. Your Inner Chid is your wisest mentor. Ask them regularly how they feel about the adult you have become, and respond to their guidance.
16. Do the difficult work to create your own healthy relationship to the digital world. Seek joy in the opportunities it provides and create strong boundaries around habits that send you down the rabbit hole of comparison and disconnection. (For the best digital marketing advice for creatives, get to know the wonderful work of Tony Howell).
17. Ask for what you really really want; go for the no, and you just might get a yes.
18. Things don't have to be so hard. The path of ease is a fruitful path.
19. Get to know who you are without the labels that hold you back, and don’t let your limitations be what make you unique. Allowing yourself to feel special because you have imposter syndrome, or are terrible at networking, or are really hard on yourself become excuses for doing your best. The past is not the present, and the brain is neuroplastic; you can behave your way into a new way of thinking and being.
20. You cannot worry and feel very very alive at the same time. Choose the latter.
21. Prayer works. (Thanks to the tremendous Alison Sinatra for this one)
22. There is no secret that everyone else knows that you don’t know.
23. Respect your work and allow your projects their complete natural cycle from idea to completion. Deadlines empower creation. Done is profoundly better than perfect.
24. Reduce your use of “kind of,” “um”, and “you know” from your speech, and watch the power of your connections, convictions, and communication amplify.
25. You are responsible for allowing yourself to be seen and heard. Stop waiting to be discovered and decide to be known.
26. Your intersections = the stories only you can tell. If you are a multi, create an episodic career around projects that live at your intersections. The world won't worry so much about you not fitting into a box if you don't; teach people how to feel about you.
27. Make learning how to receive be a top priority. Allow yourself to be helped and supported and deeply encouraged. Say thank you for everything that shows up.
28. Learn the art of non-violent communication and let your relationships flourish.
29. Dare to organize your life around the things that you actually care about, rather than the things you feel you should care about. Let your google calendar be a powerful reflection of your most important values.
30. Waiting for confidence is like waiting for Godot. Confidence is the result of taking inspired and breathtaking action and not the prerequisite. Include actions that light you up and actions that make you gasp in every 90 day cycle (and, ideally, every day) to garner the most exciting and fun results.
31. Commit to a project you would create if it were your last year on earth.
32. When you don’t see a clear path ahead of you, or can’t find any other paths that look like where you want to go, it's a sign that you are on the right path. The trailblazer’s path is made moment to moment, and sometimes you can only see one small step ahead. Keep going, and let intuition + a healthy dose of fear be your compass.
33. You can. End of Story.
Following our inner guidance may feel risky and frightening at first, because we are no longer playing it safe, doing what we 'should' do, pleasing others, following rules, or deferring to outside authority.
I received a visit from my future self this week. As usual, she yoked me into alignment with who I am, how I want to live, and what really matters.
You know, just those small things... :)
It all started because I downloaded the FaceApp.
I often think about how I will feel and what will be important when I am wearing mumus, sitting in my rocking chair drinking kombucha and eating chocolate when I am 103, but I'd never before put a face to that vision.
The (albeit, imperfect) software on the app didn't show me at 103 (unless, of course, I age REALLY well - scroll down to the bottom of this email if you're curious to see...), but upon first glance I felt a sense of awe and reverence while looking into the eyes of one computer's version of a future me.
My grandmothers both died when I was very young, and, in some ways, my future self feels like the Grandmother I've always wanted but never had.
I decided to do an exercise I often give my clients and write a letter from her to me.
She was tender and radiant and hilarious and called me out on several of my worst habits. It was exactly the guidance I needed. Here are some highlights and excerpts of what she wrote:
BE A FULL PARTICIPANT
...Worrying too much is what you will absolutely regret when you get older. It makes you exist slightly outside of the happenings of your life instead of right at the very center. Worry is like a virus to your soul and to your creativity; it's impossible to be both worrying and feeling very very alive at the same time. Your purpose is to do the latter.
...I don't care one SMALL POTATO about being the smartest, most successful, most attractive person. Now that isn't to say I'm not all of those things (I DO look pretty darn fabulous, don't I?) But what I care about is maximum loving, maximum creating, maximum generosity, and maximum doing exactly what I want to do. Life gets so much better once you untangle yourself from the terribly exhausting gymnastics of trying to be who you think other people want.
LET YOURSELF FLY
...You are the only one keeping your plane on the runway. Wouldn't you say now is a good time to let yourself FLY? You were born to take flight, not sit on the runway.
DISCOMFORT = LAUNCHPAD FOR DESIRE
...You can't fly until you actually prepare for takeoff, and takeoff is uncomfortable and bumpy and jostles your tummy. You are looking for a version of takeoff that is smooth and comfortable, but that doesn't exist. When you feel this 'good' kind of discomfort during takeoff, it is confirmation that you are on the right flight. And drink lots of ginger tea for the tummy...
LEARN HOW TO RECEIVE
...When you are fortunate enough to receive help, it is your responsibility to honor that gift, in whatever form it comes, and to be very grateful. Get over your nonsense stories about how you couldn't possibly, or you don't deserve it, or you feel guilty, blah, blah, blah and learn this sacred and important skill.
Period. Mic drop.
Mic drop! She is loving and fierce!
The advice about receiving reminds me of a theory I've had for awhile that the velocity of our success is directly proportional to how much we are willing to request and accept support.
So try this: imagine yourself at some point in the future and write a letter from that future version of you. You can ask your future self specific questions you want answers to, or simply listen for what she / he / they might want to offer.
If you're in need of some encouragement right now, you might simply ask:
What am I not trusting?
What do you see that I don't?
After you've received and processed the guidance, design a few small experiments to apply the most resonant wisdom to your life this week.
Here are mine:
1. Every time I catch myself worrying extensively about something, I will either put a possibility in the possibility jar, or do a spontaneous dance.
2. Before I tend to the day's tasks and correspondence, I will complete one inspired action in service of my most important dreams.
This exercise always unearths powerful insights when I do it with clients and students, and I heartily encourage you to try it.
We can't underestimate the power of listening to this internal guidance and applying it through action. And we can't know what is possible for you once you begin to follow it, though I have a hunch that it's even better than what you can imagine...
May you find in your future self the support and loving wisdom you need to keep doing the big work you are here to do in this world.
Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’
Once upon a time she was writing and working and working and writing and she still couldn't figure out where she was going.
Her chest was tight with panic that wouldn't subside because knowing where you’re going and how you’re going to get there is both a superior and comforting way to feel.
The Tiny Terrorist inside of her head told her that until she knew exactly what it was going to be and how it was going to turn out, she would never have a chance at being good and it would really be a much better idea to quit right now, and, REALISTICALLY speaking, if she can’t do this, then she can’t do anything.
The deadline loomed; her stomach flipped.
Wanting anything other than to feel this way, she began searching the internet, traversing pages and feeds for answers to distract her from the devastating truth that she still didn't have all the answers.
She admired others’ confidence through perfect crops and filters and unblemished happy moments and impressive amounts of likes.
"What do they know that I don’t?" She wondered.
She kept scrolling-searching-scrolling until she came upon an article with E-Z and foolproof ways to solve all of her problems.
Finally! THIS will give me the super secret knowledge that everybody else seems to know already.
She read - voraciously - for it's a good and exciting feeling to know that all she had to do was follow these steps and become The Person She'd Always Wanted To Be.
But when she got to the end - the foolproof ways had not made her head clearer or her stand any taller. It had seemed so clear and perfect while she was reading them but maybe they were not so foolproof and she was definitely the fool - and she felt aware of how far away she was from such clarity, and she was still the same person she was before only now she had lost an hour and she was behind her deadline and that is proof that she's not supposed to be -
SUDDENLY! A whisper - (her artist? her soul?):
"Come back. COME HOME! You are okay. It’s OKAY. Trust me, and I will take you there."
Okay so the she is me sometimes and is it also you sometimes?
I’ve been thinking recently about how much bravery in takes to surrender to saying: I don't know.
John Keats call this negative capability - when one is “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason” - and advocates that it is one of the most important qualities for someone to achieve great things.
Like Keats, I sometimes think that the ability to truly be in the 'I don't know' is more important than pretty much all of the other abilities.
Because the thing I keep learning and (re)learning about making things and making a good life is:
The quality of your work (and life) is directly proportional to your willingness to dive headfirst into the unknown.
This takes replacing right with being curious, and replacing coming in looking like you have all the answers with a lot of what would happen ifs...?
This takes being brave enough going to go bed not knowing, and maybe even wake up not knowing, and lead a team of people, still not knowing.
And if I am smart enough to gift myself that dive, my next step is to rigorously cultivate my ability to listen to and then act on my instincts, so that I can find an honest ticket out of the land of confusion.
Because it’s not murky forever. But having the bravery to go through the uncertainty and mystery and doubt fertilizes your instincts. We have to go through it before we get to the inspired flashes of ahas and I do knows.
And the paradox is that surrendering to this state of unknowing results in the best kind of knowing. Best, because when we allow the answers to arrive instead of forcing them, we make things and do things that are less contaminated by what we think other people want from us.
We stop trying to be like everybody else and we start making and acting and being like who we really are.
The most effective way to get the answers you need is to give up pretending you know them already.
Loosen the grip, and things start to get good.
So maybe there are only 4 rules to making and living:
1. Show up (with as few distractions as possible)
2. Let go (into the 'I don’t know,' doubt, and mystery)
3. Listen* (to your instincts)
4. Act (before you feel ready)
(*or, like, maybe worship at the altar of them)
So often our Tiny Terrorist - getting jacked up by our fast paced digital world - wants to reverse the order. The Tiny Terrorist says she is only willing to let you show up if and only if you have a 100% guarantee that you will succeed and every single person will like what you're doing and also like you.
She’s just doing her outdated job, trying to protect you from lions and tigers and bears. If only she knew that a whole host of brilliant thinkers and scientists are telling us that from a biological and evolutionary perspective, it’s now imperative that as a species, we need to evolve out of letting the Tiny Terrorist run the show. (Watch neurobiologist James Doty say smart things about this)
So what would happen if I were able to lift - for one minute - the Tiny T’s pressure of needing to know all of the answers about your life/art/project/path right now?
What would your body feel like?
And what would it be like to hang out there for a few minutes longer, having faith and surrendering to what wants to emerge?
Totally unnerving? I know. I know. For me, too. I'm about to start a creative project that is, right now, only a bunch of questions.
So we need to make a dive but your artist/soul is ready to catch you. Usually only with an idea or a flash or one tiny little next step, but that is all you need to keep going.
And, today, if you cannot hear that artist/soul voice that says come back and keep going then hear my voice that says keep going. It is only going through the uncomfortable 'I don’t know's that we arrive at the authentic creative DNA for our next project, path, or journey.
What don't you know right now?
(and what would it take for you to be okay with it?)
Stay there a moment (or an hour or a day)
May you summon the bravery to loosen your grip, hang out in the land of confusion, and worship at the altar of your instincts.
I believe in you, dear ones.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.
As I was hard at work on a long and (overdue) blogpost that wasn't finding its stride, I was interrupted with an important message for you sent from your Artist/Inner Creative:
KEEP MAKING THE ART THAT IS IN YOUR HEART
Immediately after, I received this from the Statue of the Liberty:
KEEP FIGHTING FOR LOVE
(If you don’t think you are a person who has an Artist/Inner Creative living inside of you, let me assure that YOU DO. Your art = your unique gifts)
(Regardless of where you live and who you are, the Statue of Liberty says SHE LOVES YOU)
(if you’re wondering how I received these messages - that's a story for another day:)
I dropped the other post because sometimes we have to let go of our plans in order to make way for what needs to happen. We are in uncanny times and there is no time to waste. What I want to address today is how we can stay committed to our creative work and path while also staying politically engaged. This issue is coming up for many of you - as it is for me - read on for resources, strategies, and ideas on how to do this.
I always feel a bit of magic in the liminal nature of this week before New Year's. Not quite the last year, and not quite the next, there seems to be a usefulness in the threshold of this week - a powerful in-between vantage point to see what's been and what's coming with fresh and curious eyes.
To me, it feels like traveling to a foreign country and looking back at my life in America with an objectivity not usually available in the hustle and bustle of my life.
If you, too, are taking a break from the wild news cycle, and taking a moment to look at what's happened, what is, and what's next in your life, here are 9 questions to accompany that reflection and visioning.
These questions are meant to be meditated on, to spark insight, and give you new openings into who you are and who you are becoming.
Between the stress of holiday shopping, the exhausting self-improvement messages of the approaching New Year, beautiful-but-oh-so-triggering-family-time, and the deep tumult of the divided world, I pause to wonder:
Where is grace?
I failed at my most important goal in 2016, but that failure has turned into a small but mighty challenge in early 2017 to start the year with a surge of creative energy and, hopefully, make space for some much-needed grace. I'm deeply excited about this and I hope you will join us.
Two questions that have been surfacing for many these past few weeks:
How do I keep going?
Why even bother__________ (taking action, writing the play, making the film, giving the talk, singing the song, pioneering the intersection of two things that involve a verb you will invent...)?
Yet you and I both know that these questions aren't unique to the current moment.
You and I both know that this current moment is merely igniting the doubt that's always there.
You may know that doubt to be a not-so-welcome-ever-present-companion in your pursuit of what matters most.
But what if these doubts are guideposts telling you that you are headed in the right direction?
What if the moment you want to give up is the moment you must keep going?
Invisible | in·vis·i·ble | in-ˈvi-zə-bə | (adj) =
hidden, impossible to see, withdrawn, inaccessible to view
Are you choosing to be invisible?
Historically, I've been a pro at invisibility. Growing up as the shyest kid I knew, hiding (literally or metaphorically) from people, situations, and experiences was one of my strongest suits.
Being invisible feels comfortable. It keeps us from getting hurt, it prevents us from being a human being with needs and desires, and it shields us from the terrifying possibility that we could, actually, be great.
But if greatness is our destiny, we must train ourselves to be keenly aware of when we are conspiring in our own diminishment. We do this so we can change the game.
I am walking through a desert with a large and heavy piano strapped to my back.
My progress is slow and the strain is immense, but I attempt to walk forward, effortfully - nearly impossibly.
Suddenly, a voice booms from the atmosphere:
WHY ARE YOU CARRYING THE PIANO?
I stop, confounded - unable to speak an answer because I realize I don’t know what it is.
Then the voice again:
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CARRY THE PIANO.
LET GO OF THE PIANO, AND YOU WILL BE FREE
Paralyzed, I do nothing. Then: I wake up.
Finish this sentence without thinking:
If I had an amazing mentor, I would: ________________________
From my own experience and that of my students and clients, I’ve learned that many of us feel that if we had a great mentor we would:
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future…What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. Seneca, 4 BCE – 65CE
I’ve heard it hypothesized that we might orient our lives differently if we walked around with the number of days we have left to live inscribed on our foreheads–
That perhaps a constant reminder of the preciousness of our lives might spark us into living more deeply and meaningfully, more awake and alive.
When I envision this I am terrified.
I am electrified.
I zoom straight to my center, wondering: am I living a meaningful life?
In the midst of figuring out how to respond to the deep turmoil happening in so many parts of the world right now, I have been thinking a great deal about a different kind of turmoil -the private kind that wages wars between our ears and inside of our rib cages.
The kind that can be as constant a companion in our own daily existence as a TV that stays on in a house all day, every day.
For me, July is a month of resparking.
(Yes! I invented that word!)
Today I’m sharing this process, because I want you to be over the moon about what you accomplish and how you show up for the rest of 2016.
The good news is, a short moment now to check-in will allow you to move forward with more acceleration, flow, and fulfillment for the next six months.
I once saw a cartoon that shows a guy standing at the foot of Mount Everest. He's staring in awe at a secret, hidden stairway that's been built into the backside of the mountain. It leads straight up to the peak. The sign next to it says: LITTLE-KNOWN ENTRANCE.
I believe that bold conversations = a little-known entrance to the things we want.
Furthermore, since we know that confidence is a muscle that is the result (not the catalyst) for taking courageous action, making bold or uncomfortable conversations a habit - regardless of the outcomes - is like cross-fit for your confidence muscle.
A mentor of mine says:
A short zen story:*
Once upon a time there was a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfied, he hoped to teach them a lesson.
His plan was to place a boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observe their reactions.
The king watched as subject after subject came to the boulder and turned away. Or, at best, tried, meekly, before giving up.
Many openly complained or cursed the king or fortune or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.
After several days, a peasant came along on his way into town. He did not turn away from the boulder, but, instead, strained and strained, trying to push it out of the way.
He was unsuccessful, but, then, an idea came: He scrambled to the woods to find something he could use for leverage. Finally, he turned with a large branch he had crafted into a lever and deployed it to dislodged the massive rock from the road.
Beneath the rock were a purse of gold coins and a note from the king, which said:
2016 has been big for me, filled with change, new developments, and challenges. Some highlights include:
and there has ALSO been doubt, struggle, and slog.
(sometimes a lot)
While it's wonderful to celebrate what's going well (we can't build on success we don't acknowledge), I'm also reminded how necessary these less-than-exhilarating feelings are to any creative process worth our time and energy.
Whether you're wanting to plan the next phase of your career, start a business, finish your pilot, book next-level work, create your own show, assemble your dream team - I've compiled 5 big ideas from my learning this year in the hopes that they may create some resonance and forward momentum for you, wherever you are on your creative journey.