I’ve had a slow, visceral dawning over the last year about two related lessons. Both might be as obvious to you as the nose on your face, but I’ve a hunch that you don’t give much thought to your nose most of the time, and more conscious attention to these lessons could richly nourish your trust.
The first lesson is this:
You don’t have to do it like anyone else.
Lots of voices in the online world are saying some version of this these days, but it’s remarkable, to me personally, how possible it is to hear this and agree completely…and not actually live like it’s true.
Living like it isn’t true can include things like:
- Feeling your energy drain away around certain activities but continuing to assume those activities, or those activities done in that way, are a must.
- Not actually doing the activities you feel you simply must do, but keeping them on your to-do list anyway and feeling a gnawing dissatisfaction with the fact that they aren’t ever getting done.
- Being conscious of a dream (Get in shape! Be more peaceful in my parenting! Quit the job I hate! Get the promotion! Find love!) but getting stalled up in pursuit of it because the steps you feel it must involve aren’t ones you feel right about taking.
- Taking class after class after class (or reading book after book after book) to try to get the right information and the right set of steps to do whatever it is you want to do.
- Feeling like your real life, the one where you’re living how you want to live and feeling how you want to feel, will finally get started once you figure out how to be a grown-up, how to be a parent, how to be spiritual, how to feel safe in your skin, how to get the right friends, etc.
I’ve had these experiences in relation to parenting, to the clothes I fill my closet with, to my feelings around writing a novel without a writing degree, and most recently with the boundaries I inadvertently set around how to package and sell trust-nourishing content.
I “believe” that I don’t have to do any of these activities like anyone else, but have continued to act and/or feel as though I don’t.
It IS true that there are ways things can be done that can’t and won’t achieve our goals at all. Showing up to an interview in your underwear, for example, in almost every case, will not land you the job.
But there is a wide open field of possibility, around almost everything you can imagine, for how to do it, and succeed at doing it – even excel at doing it – NOT like everyone else.
I’m so inspired by people like Jen Lee, who challenge the common assumption that digital media is the only profitable way to go these days. What if you really don’t like ebooks? What if you can’t bear to put your content into an online course? Get creative about some alternatives.
I’m inspired by people like the Soules who are parenting non-traditionally (check out Amanda’s parenting book list or list of books on unschooling), living close to the earth, and making a living largely through online means without screen time dominating their days. This amazes me!
And Tami Strobel and so many others in the tiny house and simplicity movements – living as though the American Dream of a house, two cars, two kids, and closets crammed with stuff just isn’t their idea of fun. How cool is that to get conscious of what lights you up and then set up a lifestyle that completely supports that?
But take this lesson right down to you, sitting or standing where you are this very minute:
What about your life could lift and lighten if you truly believed that you don’t have to do that thing (that relationship, that project, that landscaping, that extracurricular routine, that sex, that exercise plan, that career, that connection with Source) just like anyone else?
If you can imagine believing such a thing but, like me, can’t always…believe it, this exercise might help.
But maybe you’re already steps beyond that thought and on to a set of fears that can come on the tails of this first lesson.
Such fears might have already flared for you, at times, while surfing the sites of “Do It Your Own Way” types, or entrepreneurs whose creative genius floors you.
Namely: What if I need the guidance of existing models? What if I’m so new at ______ that I couldn’t deviate from the norm if I tried because I simply need to know the very first things about this new-to-me task? Am I somehow less-than if this describes me?…if I’m not ready to shed all conventional skins?
Here’s where the second lesson comes in:
Many of our world’s greatest innovators started by learning from those who’ve gone before. Learning and mastering a particular form is a legitimate and downright helpful means for getting to live and dream beyond it.
Maybe you sit at the feet of a teacher and soak in and imitate everything they know for a time.
Maybe you find a how-to book about something you want to do and follow its instructions completely.
Maybe you pray like your parents or interpret sacred texts like your rabbi or priest or meditate as though that’s your only and sure-fire path to waking up.
Maybe you dress and act just like you think should….
And then you reach a day when you realize you’re ready to take a different path, a sideways step. And you’re conscious enough of what you’ve learned so far to clearly and powerfully make that choice.
Go all of us!!
This is a world and a time of great innovative possibility and a wonderful era to learn from those who’ve gone before. A wonderful era to learn consciously from what has gone before for you personally.
The more conscious you can become of what you need right now to thrive – whether that be to shed the inadvertent belief that there’s only limited right/best/awesome ways to do _______ (fill that blank in with ANYTHING you’re up to these days), or to recognize your need of concrete teachers of specific forms, the greater your trust will be that where you are, right now, is a wonderful place to start.