August 2013: Being Your Work in the World

by Brad on July 31, 2013

                                                                  “We have met the enemy and he is us.”    — Pogo             .

Last month I wrote about designing your life and work around your deepest truth, rather than around a job you hate. The suggested practice was geared toward helping you discover that truth, thereby enabling you to live it. I had many comments from readers, generally seeking more about how to transform newfound awareness into action. Here goes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou are unique. In your uniqueness is your deepest truth, your life purpose, your gift to the world. That gift wants to express itself through how you live life. In return, the world truly needs your gift. If you took on the suggested exercise from last month, you may now have a deeper sense of this energy inside you. Although few people ever come to know this awe-inspiring feeling of inner truth, even fewer experience the joy and meaning that invariably come from living it. As is often (always?) the case, you won’t get there by trying harder, or by thinking it through. What it takes is (1) being it, even if only in small steps at first, then (2) listening to feedback offered by the felt experience, allowing it to guide your next steps. Taking this approach, you may discover that you live between two opposing forces:

  • One force pulls you forward – love. Your truth has a voice. Quietly but persistently, it tells you there’s more to life, to you. It speaks to you all the time, asking you to honor its message. Even if you deny it, you feel its pull.  It shows up as that hidden dream, that perhaps-nagging feeling that you are better than the live you’re living.
  • The other force holds you backfear. Fear appears in many disguises – fear of not being good enough, of not being accepted by others; of not having enough time or money. If getting to know your own truth evoked fears (looking inside yourself), then choosing to be that truth evokes the fear of how uncertain reality truly is. Do I have anything to offer? How will I be? How will I deal with ‘not knowing?’ Can I learn to trust my heart? 

OK, so if you’re not fully living your truth, then you’re not experiencing the richness of your life’s potential. Yet if you are fully living your truth, your always on the edge of your fears, plagued by uncertainty. Great, huh? That’s the assertion of this month’s book recommendation. Most people simply avoid this whole dilemma, by living ordinary days fueled by unconscious thoughts. Assuming you want more in life, however, then the real ‘work’ here is to get to know yourself – your love and your fears – to a level of clarity and perspective that allow you to manage the tension between what’s authentically you and the fear that being you isn’t good enough. By noticing what is, you come to accept what is, opening you to step wholeheartedly into what could be.

Last month’s exercise was geared to discovering your love. This month’s exercise is geared to getting to know your fears, so you can move past them and experience the joy that comes from bringing your truth to the world. 

Exercise: Bringing your work to the world: The way you truly know your art is to be it. Whether your “art” is writing, speaking, creating or caring, the felt experience of being it cements it within you. When you do, life offers you feedback, a natural source of information in all living systems. Feedback brings you clarity on who you are and why your work matters. Part 1: During a purposefully chosen space of quiet reflection 3 – 4 times a week, ponder deeply the following: What do I care about in life? (see last month’s article.) How do I want to express it in the world? How would I define this as my “art?” How could others benefit if I were to bring my art to the world? What do I sense holds me back from fully being my art in the world? Name the fears. Part 2: Set aside specific time each week to ‘be your art.’ Even if it’s just “practice” for now, be what makes you you. Write, speak, create, etc. “Just do it.” Later that day, quietly reflect on how it went. Just listen to your inner self. What did I experience? What did I learn? How did my fears play out? Get to know your experience and your fears. No need to judge, to try harder, or to stop doing. Neither denying your fear nor denying your art serves you. Self-awareness alone opens you to being your greatness.

As you “weave your art in the world,” you tap into levels of consciousness deeper than you need to get through an ordinary day. This creates a window into a world far bigger than you could ever imagine from “life on the couch.” When you can see a bigger world, you become a bigger world.

 

A River Runs Through It  [Life lessons offered by nature]

My art is the art of ideas – new ways of seeing old truths about life. My work in the world is conversation – bringing the art of ideas to others, enabling them to see themselves and their world with renewed clarity and perspective. This work so naturally me that I can’t not do it. In being my art, I’ve coached hundreds of clients, in thousands of conversations. I’ve written 139 (now 140) newsletters over 11+ years. I’ve given many presentations and have developed 12 group workshop programs. I’ve written 3 books [almost], though they’ve yet to be ‘officially’ published. And every day, I fear I have nothing to say.

For me, quiet reflective time in nature helps me maintain both clarity and perspective on the power and potential of my art. Nature’s way shows me the answer – keep on dancing, “like nobody’s watching.”  So I come back from my quiet time in the woods – refreshed and re-inspired; yet I come back to the same fears. So this month, I’m doing the same exercise I’m offering you. I believe in my art. I believe the world needs what I have to say. I trust in the power of getting to know my fears. Somehow, in the midst of this paradox, I intend to “be my art” anyway. I’ll never get to choose how the world responds. (Indeed, thinking I could control that would bring my creative process to a standstill.) But I always have the choice to believe in what I offer.

If this article, this suggested exercise, the recommended book, or my words here open you to action, send me an email. Perhaps by sharing “notes from the journey,” we both might step more boldly into the “uncertain wholeness” of our respective gifts. I welcome the conversation.

 

Openings to New Possibility

Available for you:

  • The Road Not Taken Community, a no-cost subscription that offers you connection, interaction, challenge, and learning. See articles, newsletters and blogs; you’ll find “new stuff” here regularly. I welcome comments and conversation; this kind of dialogue is an example of how we may all learn together.
  • “In Nature’s Image,” a series of blog posts here. A new post every few days, each a simple suggestion for adding meaning to your life, accompanied by one of my images from nature. If you’d like them delivered to you by email, you may use the green icon (“receive blog via RSS feed”) on any page of my website or right here. If we are connected on Facebook, you’ll also find each post there.
  • My e-book, A Field Guide to Life: How to Live With Authenticity and Freedom, offering a path beyond the limiting belief that you can’t live an extraordinary life. Reclaim the power of your deepest longing. You can purchase the ebook, or read it at no cost as a series of blog articles posted on my website.
  • The Road Not Taken newsletters (11 years, 132 issues of Purposeful Wanderings) available here as a pdf file.  
  • Photo images from my travels available here on fun products – note cards, coffee mugs – great gift ideas.

An invitation to possibility: If you have the courage and determination to step apart from the crowd and challenge conventional thinking so you can live instead with authenticity and freedom, contact me for a conversation that can shift your thinking forever. I will help you reach a level of clarity and perspective – about yourself, others, your life, your work and the world – that allows you to live your truth, every day. Trade the way it is for the way it could be.

Book of the month Art and Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. As I was thinking about this month’s article, a newsletter from my first coach, James Flaherty (www.newventuresswest.com), arrived, speaking to this same topic.   I read his recommended book and loved it. So it’s my suggestion in this newsletter, too. The authors explore the “no man’s land” between the love for your craft and the fear that it should never see the light of day. The book is about art in the traditional sense, but it opens doors to seeing whatever’s deepest in you as “your art.” If you want to bring your truth to the world, this book can help. Of course, so can this article and the suggested practice!  … And if you’re on Cape Cod, you’ll find this book available at the Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee Commons – 508-539-6985.

 

Download August 2013 pdf

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Heidi Champagne August 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

As always, thought provoking and beautifully written, Brad. Thanks for continuing to share your true light with so many, inspiring us to find and shine ours!

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