When was the most energizing time in your life? By energizing I mean, physically, emotionally, spiritually? When did you feel completely fulfilled? What were you doing? Who were you being at that time in your life?
This is what I ask any client who is struggling with burnout, disaffected at work and wondering what their purpose is in life. These questions are a window into your soul, and indicate where your light shines brightest. These questions ultimately open a doorway to freedom.
Until last November, I had never answered deeply explored these questions for myself. Silly right? As I was in the last week of a three-month leadership-training program called Masterful Living (ML), I was prompted to answer these questions. The results were eye opening. The lessons I’ve learned since asking those questions can help you experience freedom, joy and fulfillment.
I will warn you before we get started that a lot can be triggered in both your internal and external world when you ask these questions. This series of articles will explore what happened to me when I dove into these questions and I hope will support you in your jourey. Ask these questions carefully and with eyes wide open. But ask. They will set you free.
Seeing Yourself As Others See You
We rarely see ourselves as others see us. Yet when we do take the time, we see our greatness reflected back to us. We also open the doors of infinite possibility.
The truth is I had never seen myself as a team player. I’ve always been a strong individual contributor. So it was shocking that my answer to the above questions was when I was working on a team. There was the time I was working to make major shifts in the way a company did business. There was my experience on the ML team. In both cases, I felt total satisfaction, engagement and freedom. I wanted that again.
This was a huge self-revelation. How did I miss this for 47 years? Certainly I was wrong, I thought. Yet my ML teammates, former co-workers and husband concurred. I was happiest and most effective when working on a team.
While I might have been happy and relieved upon this aha, I went into complete panic. Did this mean hiring a bunch of people I couldn’t afford? Or did this mean closing my business? Did this mean getting a job? And if so what kind of job? What action should I take now that I knew this about myself? My mind was racing.
When you explore what makes you happiest and energized, you sometimes get answers you weren’t expecting. You can even get answers that seem the opposite of what you have believed. The key is to view everything that got stirred up by the questions from a neutral and objective standpoint. Put your old stories and beliefs aside.
From this neutral vantage, at my core I knew my full-time coaching business was no longer energizing me. Now I was seeing why. I was doing it alone.
By experiencing myself as others experience me, and focusing on when I’ve been energized, I opened a door into a whole new way of looking at my life, vision, purpose and career.
Battling The Tiger
“You just haven’t figured out how to ignite those miracles yet. Well now you know. The switch in consciousness is the method.” ~ Satan, An Autobiography
Within 24 hours of this aha, I found a job posting for my perfect position. Miracle right? Buoyed by those in my ML program and my closet friends, I applied. After months of interviewing, I got to the final round. I was excited. This career transition was easier than I thought. Then they choose another candidate.
My Ego sensed a weakness and went on attack. “It must be a sign,” the voice inside my head said, “stick with your business where you have control and freedom.” Not being one for rejection, I poured myself into my business and licked my wounds. But I couldn’t shake the incessant thought, “Laurie, you shine when you work in concert with others. It’s time to heal your past and step into your future. ”
I knew this latter voice (the voice of my Higher Self) was right. I knew the thing to do was create my perfect position, the one that would allow me to fulfill my vision for the world, work in team and feel fulfilled. It was possible. I knew it in my bones.
Yet every time I sat down to polish up my resume another voice (the familiar voice of Ego) chimed in. “Don’t do it. You’ll lose your freedom.”
My Ego also told me I would be failing if I got a job. Failing as an entrepreneur. I was about to do what – in many entrepreneurs’ eyes – was the unthinkable: get a J.O.B. I even had one of my mentor’s sending out marketing emails about how her clients who got jobs were failures. Ouch.
No matter how excited I got about working on a team, my Ego couldn’t get off the “but I’ll be viewed as a failure” tape. Why? Because this is what the Ego does. It inserts fear, doubt and judgment. It holds us small.
Luckily I saw that if I didn’t get a handle on my Ego, I’d end up with no job and no business. In short, I saw that I was holding myself back because my Ego had a distorted view of freedom.
What Is Freedom?
“The power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.” New Oxford American Dictionary
We commonly think of freedom as freedom of time, speech, money, behavior, and movement. Freedom is I can do anything I want whenever I want. I call this freedom of circumstance. Freedom of circumstance means our freedom is dependent on where we live, work, time, money, etc. It is freedom from things outside of us.
Freedom of circumstance is not true freedom.
Look at Victor Frankel, Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela; all men whom had their physical freedom taken away. Yet they all say they were free, even when in prison. How is that possible? True freedom is not freedom of circumstance.
Freedom comes from within.
Freedom is a by-product of the thoughts we choose.
It is our thoughts that make us independent of fate. That is why, as I have spent the last 9 months going from epiphany to career transition, I have spent as much time on my thoughts as I have networking and applying for jobs.
You can freedom no matter what you do for a living, simply by choosing the loving thoughts of Higher Self and neutralizing the naysaying thoughts of Ego.
The Labyrinth To Freedom
A labyrinth is distinct from a maze as it has only one non-branching path to be navigated. As we journey toward freedom, there is only one path to take; it is the one we take.
Today I begin my new ideal position as a senior director of human resources working on a team dedicated to creating a thriving, energized, results-oriented culture for a growing company expanding educational opportunities for kids. My vision manifested.
The journey to this moment in time where I have manifested my vision has seemed like a maze. I have felt lost at times. I have battled my Ego, befriended my Higher Self and at times been confused about which is which. I have seen the value of living in community and the meaning of true friends. I’ve also learned the value of being vision driven and being clear on how I want to feel everyday.
My journey to find freedom, align with my heart and create my vision has had many facets, twists, turns and hurdles. I want to share all of them with you in the hopes you to can create freedom. Over the next few months, I will be exploring what it takes to truly ignite your life with vision, passion, and purpose.