In my last post I shared that it took me a long time before I owned my gift of voice and its link to my purpose. This was in spite of the fact that my fondest experiences involved me using my voice, and that I feel alive when I am writing, speaking before an audience or engaged in stimulating conversation. Now, my mission is to use my voice, through speaking and writing to inspire and encourage others to become the best version of themselves. To speak life and always add value to every person I interact with. The voice holds power, and with it we have the opportunity to change lives.
Author: Leona Isaac Page 1 of 3
In my last post – Beware of these 3 Things that can Kill your Dreams, one of the dream killers I talked about was the lack of a clearly articulated dream. In so doing I mentioned Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why. I also said that I will talk more about it in this post. I was introduced to the book by a colleague, and was able to find value in the core concepts shared.
There are several different approaches that we can take to help us clarify or purpose, mission or dream. But I enjoyed the approach developed based on the work of Sinek’s book. Based on that book, David Mead and Peter Docker in collaboration with Sinek, developed a guide titled Find your Why a Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team.
In this post I will share two salient points from Sinek’s book and the approach developed by Mead and Docker for finding your why as well as my testimony.
What is your dream? What is your purpose or your cause? What do you dream of doing or becoming? Whether you realize it or not, you do have a dream. Buried deep within each of us is a dream. A seed is first buried in the soil, where it receives nourishment. As it is nourished, it begins to grow, and as it grows it eventually produces fruit. Your dream is the seed and you are the soil, the actions you take to ensure that you fulfil your dream is the nourishment. Of course, without nourishment the seed remains just a seed and it produces nothing. Likewise, without taking the necessary action to support and nourish your dream, it remains, just a dream. There are times however when our dreams are threatened. That is what we want to discuss today. Beware of dream killers!
We go through many periods of transition throughout our lives; some may be unique to us and our particular circumstances, others are common to all humanity. This is not an unusual occurrence but a natural part of life. What transition do you find yourself navigating at the moment? You may be transitioning from one job to another, or from a junior position in your company to a management position, or one level of education to another, maybe it is from one career to another, or even from being employed to being unemployed. Maybe you are transitioning from being single to being in a relationship, or from a courting relationship to marriage. Whatever it is, periods of transition can lead to many struggles and even feelings of fear, self-doubt, anxiety and uncertainty. However, your struggles are preparing you for your purpose. Silence feelings of fear, self-doubt, anxiety and uncertainty with preparation, and focus on the promise, purpose and plan for your life.
What are you expecting? There are some who believe that they should live life without any expectations at all. In that way there is little room for disappointment. But that is a bit unrealistic, don’t you think? We all live life with expectations, whether or not we are consciously aware of it. For example, we expect our children to behave in alignment with the upbringing and values we have instilled in them. We expect our spouse to be faithful or to fulfil certain needs. When we leave our homes in the morning, we expect to get to our destination safely. We expect to receive our pay cheque at the end of the month. Maybe, we are expecting a promotion, or a job offer. We may even be expecting a negative outcome from a recent encounter or project or life in general. Having expectations is unavoidable.
However, some of our expectations may be realistic and some may be unrealistic. Some may be healthy, and some may be unhealthy. Some expectations may serve us, while others may not. Since they all shape and impact our lives in one way or another, it behooves us to work at successfully managing our expectations. So, I ask you the question again, what are you expecting?
I am enough. The yoga instructor announced the affirmation for the day’s class, which we were to repeat to ourselves. The words flung open the doors of my soul, greeted me, pulled up a chair and got comfortable. Three small but powerful words; they resonated deep, within me. I repeated them to myself as I continued with my efforts of breathing deeply, while carefully following the instructions for the next pose. That is, breathing from my diaphragm, not the shallow breathing I often do from my chest, while unconsciously restricting my breath. Which is as if I am waiting for the next shoe to drop or for the monster that is waiting in the closet to jump out at any minute. Notice I said efforts, it is not always easy. Even after my practice ended, I continued to repeat the words to myself. I still repeat them to myself regularly. I even wrote them on a piece of paper and stuck it on the wall above my desk. I am enough!
In the rat race of life, the demands placed on us by ourselves and by others can leave us feeling like we are not enough. Everyone including ourselves want more from us. Under the pressure of these demands for more, and challenges in meeting them, feelings of inadequacy show up. Often sweeping in like raging flood waters, eroding our self-confidence, creating doubt in our minds and knocking the wind out of us. These feelings are fierce, never subtle, never kind. But here’s the good news, these feelings of inadequacy, are LIES! You are enough! You are mortal, you are not superhuman and you have done all that is in your power to do. Remind yourself, say to yourself, so that you hear and feel the words rolling off your tongue, I am enough.
A few years ago my family and I took a cruise. As the captain navigated the ship across the vast ocean we experienced feelings of excitement and apprehension. Some days the sea was calm and we enjoyed the journey, other days not so much. There was one day in particular, when my daughter felt so sick because of the rough seas, she threw up several times and missed her meals. She even had to opt out of an excursion when we pulled into our next port. Our relationships can often produce a similar experience.
Learning to successfully navigate our relationships as we ride the waves of life, can be a bit challenging for anyone. Think of your relationships as a beautiful and luxurious ship sailing the open seas. The ride can sometimes be smooth as well as it can sometimes be rough. The times when the ride is smooth there is happiness and enjoyment. When the ride gets bumpy, this usually tends to lead to sickness, which sucks the joy out of the experience.
How do you feel about endings? From both an intellectual and emotional standpoint? Does it make you sad, anxious, or even angry and regretful? Do you think of it as being practical, useful and necessary to allow for growth, improvement and, progress? How do you feel about endings? When we have become invested and, attached to something, letting go can be difficult. Ending something can be difficult; especially if that ending is not of our own free will.
Nothing can be quite as challenging as dealing with the death of a loved one. It has a way of simultaneously testing us and putting life into perspective – fleeting, fragile. The sudden passing of a young man whom I deeply respect and admire reminded me of this fact and led to much reflection and introspection.
Nelson Mandela, lived amidst the turbulence of racial prejudice and injustice, yet he was able to forgive his oppressors and lead a life that inspired so many. The preceding quote always resonates with me and causes me to reflect on the way I lead my own life. What kind of life am I leading? Have I made a difference in anybody’s life? Do I inspire growth and change in others? Am I living a life as God would have me live? What can I do better? In what areas do I need to improve?
What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived! How are you living your life? Are you merely living? Or are you living a life of purpose? Are you living in such a way that you are making a difference in the lives of others?