Here’s the deal.
For a good part of November I made myself dizzy trying to figure out what I have to offer in today’s economy.
I niched, I visioned, I did EFT and The Work.
And while I reached a place of peace about my personal economic situation, I choked when it came to promoting my work. So much so that I didn’t even do a newsletter last week.
Granted, it was Thanksgiving week here in the USA. And Maggie’s daughter, Sharon, had a brain tumor removed on November 21, which was just a wee bit distracting. But still. I would have ordinarily sent at least a quick note. (By the way, Sharon is doing spectacularly. But I digress.)
The Funny Thing Is…
Freezing up like that is ironic because, as Maggie and my Brain Trust buddies keep reminding me, Accidental Entrepreneurs need inspiration, clarity, and support now more than ever.
So once again I find myself face to face with the shadow side of my life purpose: fear that I have nothing to offer. And once again I am reminded that my work is to teach what I need to learn.
Light and Shadow
When you are in the shadow of your life purpose, things come to a halt until you turn on the light.
The first step is to stop lurking in the shadows, feeling your way around, and open your eyes to the fear. Warning: this is embarrassing! We’ve been so schooled in the culture of mental manipulation that it can take a long time to simply admit the truth.
Step two is uncovering the purpose on the flip side of that fear. This deep purpose is humble, not grandiose. It stems from a conviction about how you are meant to be in the world.
This should also be embarrassing, because your deep purpose is always something you haven’t attained, something that will take a lifetime to fulfill.
For me, that purpose is to shine.
What kind of purpose is that?
A deep one. A true one. One that brings tears to my eyes and a quiver to my tummy.
And when I connect with this deep purpose, I feel huge compassion for the small self that is terrified that she doesn’t have anything to offer. I mean, what could be more natural and more silly?
Natural because big impossible aspirations are threatening to the small self, the ego-bound one that craves approval and is terrified of failure.
Silly because the small self is a servant of purpose, not an orchestrator. And even as a servant, it is not meant to act alone.
And that, folks, is the lesson I’m here to learn one more time.
It Takes a Village
You’ve probably seen the Marianne Williamson quote that begins:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Well, I propose a corollary.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are without resources. Our deepest fear is that we are infinitely and completely supported. It is the wealth of opportunity, not the lack of resources, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to benefit from the work and support of others?
“Actually, who are you to do it alone? You are a child of God. Pretending to be an only child or an orphan does not serve the world.
“There is nothing enlightened about doing it all yourself so that other people won’t envy or resent you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And to shine in that way requires that we open our minds and hearts to infinite Love, Love that is made manifest in the kindness of strangers, the support of friends, and the brilliance of those who have gone before us.
“It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And as we allow others to help our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
Bringing It Home
Before I close for today, I want to share some practical steps for reconnecting with purpose and getting unstuck.
- Tell someone. Don’t keep your fears and doubts to yourself. Share them with people who support your work. Ask them not just for encouragement, but for specific examples of what your work does and for whom.
- Listen critically. Pay attention to what you hear. Take notes. Look for evidence in support of what you are hearing.
- Reconnect with purpose. Not the mission statement kind of purpose, but the being kind of purpose. Most recently, I turned to a process in The Power of Story by Jim Loehr.
- Find an object that reflects your purpose in action. For me, it’s the photo illustrating this article. I want that spirit to animate my work, and keeping the photo near my desk reminds me to reconnect.
- When self-doubt creeps up, call a friend or colleague who has agreed to remind you that what you are up to is the work of being who you are. Repeat as often as necessary.