As many of you know, for nearly 15 years I’ve set an annual theme. My 2017 theme has been FEARLESS.
The night before Spark, I cozied up, laptop nearby, and reflected on my FEARLESS theme. I thought about all the fearless actions I have taken this year, as well as what I’ve learned from fearless family members, clients, friends, and leaders I admire. The more deeply I reflected, the more examples of fearlessness came to mind. I must admit, I felt quite strong and emboldened by this immersion into fearlessness!
And then I glanced over to where my sister was sleeping, spotted a mouse scurrying under her bed, and I immediately jumped on top of the furniture, screamed, and went into full freak-out mode.
Perhaps I am not *quite* as fearless as I thought.
I didn’t beat myself up over that, though. Besides the fact that we are all a work in progress, I view fearlessness mostly in terms of my values, purpose, and overall vision. If I speak up when a core value is not being honored but squeal at the sight of a tiny critter in my room, so be it!
An Unexpected Theme Emerges
But as I’ve reflected more and more on 2017, I realize another theme has emerged, too: the theme of LETTING GO.
This year, my oldest child graduated from high school and moved on to college. A super exciting, inspiring time, for sure! And also, for this mama, a big lesson in letting go.
This year, I burned 90 of my journals from the past 30+ years (you can read about that experience here). The decision took me 15 years to make and required a great deal of letting go.
This year, I brought some new team members into MAP Inc. and learned the power in letting go of many things I previously thought only I could do. They have been outstanding and have inspired me to let go of even more!
And of course, this year I made the decision to let go of the public Spark event after 5 amazing years. While I still offer Spark within organizations and businesses, the annual fall gathering of 100+ purposeful professionals will not take place in the same way going forward.
What Letting Go Has Meant
Letting go isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. But it always prompts growth – if we are open to it.
Letting go has taught me that my white-knuckle grip to try and control as much as possible does not serve me – nor those around me. When I open my palms, quiet my mind, and flow in purposeful action, miracles happen.
Letting go has created space in all areas: my mind, my calendar, my sense of possibility, and in the case of my journals, even my physical surroundings.
Perhaps most importantly, letting go has allowed me to listen more deeply to what I now feel called to do. For over a year, I’ve sensed the need to leap further out of my comfort zone, and I’ve even had some very specific ideas on what that might look like. But I’ve pushed those ideas to the back-burner because how do you let go – especially of things that are going well – in favor of the unknown? I couldn’t seem to quite get past this (see ‘white-knuckle grip’ above).
But I’ve learned. And here’s how I do it:
I get quiet and clear.
I do the necessary homework.
I gather support (my coach and mastermind group have been invaluable in this).
I run everything through the lens of my values, purpose, and what matters most.
And then I breathe in positivity and confidence, honor what I know to be true even amid the unknown, and take inspired action.
I am now able to coach more one-on-one clients than I could in the past, which is where such deep and transformational work occurs. I am bringing the ASPIRE Success Club, as well as my coaching course for leaders, into more organizations and potentially universities. I am connecting with counselors and mental health experts to explore ways we can support confidence, positivity, and coaching-style communication among more children and young adults. I am finally finishing the draft of my latest book, completing a Positive Psychology + Wellbeing coaching certification, and exploring the possibility of a podcast.
And I am staying open to other ways of reaching more people, more deeply, with the message of meaning, purpose, and making a positive difference.
Letting go has meant discomfort. It has meant allowing that voice that comes up with such big, wild, ridiculous – yet 100% inspired – ideas speak, rather than silencing it. It has meant clearing away to create space for the new.
And it has meant incredible – and in many cases, fearless – inspired action.
What’s Your Next Inspired Action?
In addition to the many tools and resources I’ve shared with you over the years (and all that are to come!), right now I want to encourage you to do one thing that has helped me tremendously these past few months.
You’ll need to set aside a quiet hour, hide your phone, and go somewhere outside of your usual space. Bring a few pens and some paper or a journal with you – and nothing else.
Get comfortable, then imagine that I’ve waved a magic wand over your next year and everything has flowed seamlessly and beautifully for you. You’ve achieved meaningful goals, grown in significant ways, and have made a powerful, positive difference.
Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and just envision whatever comes up for you. Honor the feelings that arise, too.
Then, from that space a year from now, write a letter to yourself – from your future self. Keep your pen to the paper, writing in stream-of-consciousness style for a full ten minutes or more.
Sounds woo-woo, right? But give it a try. You can apply the structured goal-setting strategies later. But first, connect with what appears and how you feel.
I’ve been surprised – and at times, utterly shocked – by what’s shown up for me lately. But the joy, knowingness, and sense of purpose that have accompanied it are too strong to ignore. And once I gain clarity, it’s just like Joseph Campbell wrote – doors begin to open where before I only saw walls.
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