I’m coming to you after a monster month filled both with inspiring work and interesting life lessons. I have been meaning to write something to you all for a while. My thoughts have been percolating on what to write but I haven’t felt the inspiration to sit down and do it. I know if I’m not in the zone then the words don’t flow freely. So, this morning, I’m trying to hack my process by sitting down at the Curl Curl office with a candle lit, coffee made, and my desk cleared so here it goes…I hope you enjoy where-ever you are at in your life or business journey.
Firstly, let me say the overwhelming theme this month for me and all of the leaders I have been working with has been about; who you want to be in life and how you want to show up both as a leader but also as a partner, parent, friend… I think as we are well over halfway through the year and we can almost taste the frenetic pace that might be coming at us in the run in to Christmas (yes, I just mentioned the ‘C-word’), I think a few people, myself included are getting caught up in the ‘washing machine of life’. I think this quote sums it up perfectly.
“Knowing yourself then means separating who you are
and who you want to be from what the world thinks
you are and wants you to be”
Man is there a lot of expectations that are placed on us in this crazy and fast-paced world – not least the expectations we place on ourselves. I spend a lot of time exploring this with my one-on-one coaching clients so, when I got the opportunity to appear at my first ever Agency Leaders Symposium, I decided to open this conversation out to a group of leaders across a range of businesses. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. This was a new format for me and, if I was to create the connection and energy in the room that I wanted, I had to open with a story that I have not told in public before. It was still raw to me, I felt incredibly vulnerable, but the group was gracious enough to receive it in the way it was intended. Several people shared with me they also had felt this way and thanked me for sharing. So, I thought I’d share the condensed version with you guys as I think there are probably a few ‘hard-earned’ gems in there that might be useful for you.
I was away in Cambodia last September on a silent meditation retreat/ self-enforced intervention…I had a moment of clarity (excuse the pun), after 5 days of sitting on a cold floor, trying not to slap the mosquitoes from my skin, well into 10+ hours of meditation practice I realised, that despite the fact I had gone on the long road to create the business and relationship of my dreams, I was not happy. I saw very clearly an image of myself completely surrounded by bamboo scaffolding. It was flexing and straining against the weight of what felt like 10 elephants. I was desperately trying to hold it together. I felt that if one pole popped out, then the whole thing would collapse. Have you ever felt like this? I was maintaining this ridiculous structure for fear of letting other people down. I realised at that moment that I was going to have to let go and see where it would all land. And boy did I. The tears tumbled, the facade cracked, and the poles broke away…but instead of trying to pick them back up quickly, I gave myself permission to just let go and crucially, met myself with a little compassion. I acknowledged that I was just trying to do my best. Now, of course, there is a much longer story here but the key question to ask is:
“What might you be maintaining in your life that you think ‘should’ make you happy but, if you were to be truly honest with yourself, is making you miserable, tired, exhausted…(insert your word here)?
All too often, in pursuit of success, we want to keep pushing forward whilst our foundations might be crumbling. It’s crucial as leaders in our businesses and lives, that we create those moments to stop, reflect and give ourselves permission to course correct if we have got off track. If you feel like this would be of value for you to do, then just DM me and I’ll share my ‘structural re-alignment’ exercise with you. Gosh, I got a little deep there upfront, now to something a little lighter…
This year I’m happy to say that my annual ‘pilgrimage of me’ didn’t feel like it required hours sat on stone floors meditating (although there’s always a time and place for that), instead I spent a week in beautiful Broome deeply resting to recharge the creative juices. There was a mix of yoga, meditation, hanging in hammocks reading books and touring into the red dirt wilderness. For anyone wanting a magical experience of this wonderful country please also DM me and I’ll share my itinerary as I know how long it takes to do the research so, if something is worth recommending, I’m very happy to share the love!
One insight that came to me in a slightly less painful way and this time from the comfort of a padded seat and an air-conditioned van…A gorgeous woman called Robyn drove me too and from Broome to Eco Beach camp. She called herself a ‘nomad’ explaining that she had been a tour guide all across Australia and now lives out of her camper van going where the opportunities and inspiration take her. We talked about the challenges with embarking on this less ‘conformist’ life. For her, it’s felt like a trial for her to live into who she wants to be and what makes her happy vs conforming to what others think she should be doing. I think we can all relate to that?! She concluded that this has taken her a lot of work to look deep inside to love and accept herself and her path. The path for her started getting easier when she started spending 20 minutes practicing yoga and setting an intention for the day every morning. Today she said her intention was “to be open to meeting some like-minded people and having some interesting conversations”. “ha” She said, “mission accomplished!” As we shared about life and love on the road for our 90-minute trip.
The conversation and connection were instant, it became a highlight of my holiday and, something so simple yet powerful, here I am sharing it with you. It reminded me of Dr Barbara Fredrikson work on Love 2.0 that we share in our Leaders Wellbeing Programs. She calls for us to re-evaluate our expectations about love being only for those intimate relationships. Instead, we can create what she would call ‘micro-moments of love and connection’. These moments can be so powerful and nourishing that they can enhance our overall wellbeing and of course, the wellbeing of those around us.
This is a practice I have inserted into my morning routine for the last couple of months. Every morning I meditate and set an intention for what I want to get out of my day. Recently, the question I have been asking myself has been inspired by the wonderful Gabriella Bernstein who asks herself; “who would you have me serve today, where would you have me go?” Now at this point, I may have become a little too woo for you that’s OK or maybe, your morning routine is working just fine but, if you are curious about the power of setting intentions in the morning, you could insert a question or mantra that resonates with you? Here are a few examples:
Phew, that was a long one. I hope you enjoyed some or all of this letter and, if you took out 1 thing valuable from it then please feel free to pay it forward and share it with your friends and loved ones.
To your health and happiness,
Founder & Head Coach, CLARETY