Sometimes you’ve just got to not know

by | Jun 25, 2012

On Friday I tried for hours to write this article. I glanced at my notes on various topics, surfed on over to Flickr for some photo love, leafed through books for inspiration. But nothing. Nada.

So when it came time to meet Jeffrey Van Dyk by phone I was of two minds. Happy to put down my laptop, yet concerned about having enough time to write an article. Looking forward to showing up human-to-human and also feeling pretty vulnerable. (Does that make four minds?)

Friday’s call was my first meeting with Jeffrey. I knew it would be natural and desirable to share with each other a bit about who we are and what we do. And on Friday I did’t know how to answer those questions.

Oh, I was able to tell him that I’m a coach and a teacher of authentic, conscious business. I said that I free people from the spiritual and psychological misunderstandings that keep them from growing healthy businesses.

And that’s all true.

But what is also true is that on another level, I don’t know who I am or what I do. I’m in the midst of a re-visioning, a re-encounter with myself and my work.

You could say that I’m in the gestation phase of transformation, the darkness before the sprout breaks ground. The seed is there, but I don’t know quite how this particular flowering wants to look.

It’s okay to not-know, but is it okay to say it out loud?

I know that it is okay and even necessary to be in the dark, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it with Jeffrey. If I did, would he try to coach me toward a bold declaration? Ask questions to help clarify my brand? Would he–ugh–query me about my life purpose?

Would he think that someone who has been around as long as I have ought to have    it more together?

I did tell Jeffrey what’s going on and he was a prince (not to be confused with my husband, The Charming Prince). He didn’t probe. He didn’t roll his eyes. He just listened and got it.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m telling you this because someday (today?) you might be trying and failing to grok who you are and what you do. And while I believe and teach that it is important for you and your business to be able to answer those questions, I also know that sometimes you just can’t.

And when that happens, you need to be okay with not knowing.

Not knowing is not passive!

There’s a pitfall on the not knowing path, and that is the temptation to passivity or retreat. It can be tempting to cave in on yourself. To collapse the distinction between not knowing and not being able to function.

When you cave in on yourself, you abdicate your sovereign responsibility to remain in touch with your core. You use uncertainty and fuzziness as excuses for not taking care of yourself and your business.

Not knowing is different.

Not knowing is active engagement with the mystery

Not-knowing is active engagement in the process of transformation, not blind trust in fate.

And active engagement requires three things:

  • Sincere commitment to every stage of the process.
  •  Skillful attention to the movements of Spirit.
  • Reliability.

Sincere commitment doesn’t play favorites

When we sincerely commit to the process of transformation, we say yes to all stages: planting, gestation, growth, and harvest. Each of these stages has its own challenges and graces, and we don’t get to play favorites.

(Well, we can like one more than another. Duh. Still we need to say yes to them all.)

Skillful attention means staying awake

We’ve got to be willing and able to pay attention in order to authentically trust the process.

That means making space for silence, so the whispers of Spirit can get through. (Note to self: Turn off the iPod already.)

It means checking in with trusted confidants to check out your impressions and intuitions.

And it means cultivating multi-sensory awareness, so your imagery, language, emotion, and body sensations can all be heard.

Reliability holds the process together

Reliability means showing up for the process day by day. While none of us is perfect, we all need some degree of consistent practice in order to hold the space of not-knowing in an authentic and creative way.

Reliability isn’t just soldiering through. It’s taking care of yourself. Exercising. Eating well. Sleeping. It may mean designing a support system or structure of accountability to help you stay awake.

You’re allowed to have a life while not knowing

A final word about not knowing. You don’t have to blow up your life in order to transform. While big outer changes may be part of the picture, they often are not. You can stay married. You don’t have to move. It’s okay to leave your web site the way it is and to keep telling people what you’ve been telling them when they ask what you do.

In fact, keeping your hands off your life when you’re in the state of not knowing may be the most important choice you make. It’s when you hold the tension between what is and isn’t known, that something new can be revealed. So let things be as you let the next thing emerge.

What’s your experience with not-knowing?

Where are you in the process of transformation? What skills are you being called to develop? What have you learned that might be useful to others?


The origins of Shaboom and an invitation to apply for individual coaching

The name of my company, Shaboom, is taken from a tune written and recorded by The Chords in 1954. The refrain, “Life could be a dream” captures the promise and impermanence of dreams. It calls us to be bold, visionary, and creative. It honors intuition and alternate ways of knowing. And it reminds us not to take  ourselves too seriously.

It’s exactly what I want for myself and for my clients.

This fall I’m opening up my practice to five new individual clients. This is a rare opportunity to work with me at a deep level to unleash your creativity, hook up your genius, and take bold action to create your dreams. I’m interviewing prospective clients now. To learn more and apply, please click here:

Graphic by the sprouts via Flickr