Success: Where does it lead?
Harvey, a client of mine for over four years, lives and works in LA in the television industry. Brilliant, creative and kind, he makes everyone feel appreciated by his character and presence. Harvey has finally arrived at his dream. Not only does he have the dream job for himself, he’s also getting paid what he’s worth. He is in the groove!
Harvey grew up in the bible belt of Texas. Allowing himself to be worthy of a salary that reflects all of what he brings to his career was a huge undertaking since it went against the primary tenets that money is evil, and that we shouldn’t want material comforts. The underlying conflict between being spiritual and making enough money to thrive has been an underpinning of Harvey’s financial demise for all of his adult life. Now, in his mid-forties, he’s taken the steps required to receive the full benefits and reap the rewards of all he brings to his work life. Success!
This all within the past two months; so Harvey has been adjusting to a whole new reality – money, prestige, a new BMW motorcycle and more. And …
What I love about Harvey is that he is very much awake when it comes to seeing that having arrived at his desired destination doesn’t mean the journey is over; he knows that in many ways, a new journey has just begun.
I was unsure what would show up in this coaching conversation once Harvey fully owned his worth, asked for a raise, got it and so much more. What did arise had me breathe a sigh of relief; for what Harvey brought to light was the realization that the money, the position and the motorcycle does not bring an individual to a sense of fulfillment but for just a few brief ecstatic moments.
To see that the striving for more money, prestige and power as just that, takes a breaking through of a reality that we believe to be the only reality. To see the striving as a spiritual practice changes the attachment to the outcome to something that is accumulative and builds something greater over time; we find ourselves with more wisdom, clarity and strength.
It’s not the destination but the journey
Harvey certainly wanted to enjoy the increase in income, prestige and position, as we all do; but the significance was what he had to shift in himself in order to bring this level of success to fruition. He had to dig deep beyond bible belt beliefs and family circumstances in order to truly honor his gifts. It required him to recognize all of what he brings to the workplace – just as he’s always wanted and provided for others. He had to reframe spiritual tenets to see that it’s not about the money or about worthiness; it’s about breaking through belief systems that don’t serve one’s awakening. He had to think outside the box of a very seductive context in order to realize himself more fully.
Now that he has come to this part of the journey he asks: “What do I have to do to feel comfort and security? I don’t see it as a possibility for myself.”
I wanted to ask: “Why did you get this raise and position if it wasn’t for the comfort and security that comes along with it?” It wasn’t a question to be asked out loud, not yet, because to Harvey, there was so much more going on.
Up until this moment, the edge of Harvey’s comfort zone had been receiving equal payment for the value that he brings to his work. Now that he has expanded his comfort zone to include this he is now, once again on the edge of his comfort zone – how do I allow myself to actually enjoy my life, experiencing the comfort and security I’ve created for myself. This is a whole new world he is opening up to, because he was able to get the value/worth dilemma complete – at least to this point.
There’s a point where one realizes that there is no end or finish line. Those who pretend this is so tend to mask the physical discomforts that arise when living inside a box that will consistently feel smaller and smaller. What’s the point if we never arrive at our final destination – we never get to fully reap the rewards of our labor? Why not just settle for less – less stress, less effort, less personal abuse …?
The questions lead us to ask: What is success? What is fulfillment? What’s it all about? If it’s not about stuff and winning, then what’s worth the effort?
For many people, especially men, the crisis in the mid-life crisis means coming to the edge of one’s reality, peering over, and saying “there’s nothing there!” Illnesses, job loss, collapses of the economy all bring us to these same moments of realization that reveal there’s no security, there’s no money, there’s only nothing! What’s that about?
Go forward – there’s nothing.
Stop - and there’s nothing.
The reason so many of us choose to not choose is because, whatever dilemma we face, choosing to choose brings us to the edge of our comfort zones. It requires that we be uncomfortable, that we be open to seeing ourselves and our reality different and that we be willing to explore and experiment with the countless facets of the achievement we’ve come to be, already, in this life. The edge of nothing is the same edge as thing. The practice of walking both sides of this edge, fearlessly, well, it’s pretty darn scary.
Harvey has gone forward, found that it’s not about the money, about winning or about things. He’s now onto his next big adventure, knowing that whatever he finds, it won’t be about that either. Fortunately he sees the humor in it all and we both laugh our heads off. Being in business is a very fun venture!
5 Steps to Presencing (Being Present)
Presence: It seems like a no brainer; aren’t we always present wherever we go? Actually, it’s rare that we are present, in the moment, with our full attention on the individual, the group or task in front of us. Opportunities to have distractions pop up and take our attention away from what we are intending to be attending to.
Cell phones, emails, texts, phones, people passing by our office or cubicle – these are the some of the external distractions; what about the thoughts, emotions and body sensations that also pull us off course; the emotions, stress, anger and fatigue; or worries about money, partners, friends and family; hunger – isn’t it time for a snack break?
Choice-making is occurring – we are choosing to choose what to be present to. So, what has us choose to choose what we choose? We can be present when we want to be – like when playing a video game, or to the quick perky tune that lets us know someone has just texted; in a sense we are present to our distractions – always alert to their call. What are we committed to that allows for our presence to be usurped by distractions? Maybe it would be more helpful if we turn the question around and ask it this way: What allows us to be so present to distractions? What is so compelling about the sound of a text coming in or the footsteps of a passerby? What are we committed to that has us so available to distractions?
My curiosity has me explore some possibilities:
- When someone calls me or wants my attention, I feel important, wanted and needed.
- There’s something missing that distractions provide.
- Sometimes I’m stuck or challenged and frustrated with the task at hand. I want a distraction to take me out of my misery.
- If I’m fully present in the moment I might miss out on something.
- I don’t like what I’m doing, I don’t care what I’m doing and I’d rather be doing anything else but this!
If we choose to interpret our work or work environment as boring and lacks stimulation, or if we enjoy the tiny but mighty shots of adrenaline that arrives with each text, email or phone call, or if we are overstressed by what’s in front of us, most likely we will allow ourselves to invite in what is otherwise missing. We are then committed to relieving stress, boredom and the mundaneness of our environment.
I believe, generally speaking that we think that the state of presence occurs only in the physical world we call reality; but the fact is that presence has an energetic component that fuels, inspires, propels and provides momentum to relationship, connection and fulfillment of our intended outcome. By not presencing ourselves we are not maximizing the fullest expression of our intention to make a difference.
Consider a Practice of Presencing
What’s required of you to be fully present? I suggest we do it all the time – selectively choose to be present to what we choose to be present to.
Here are 5 steps to practice presencing:
- Intention: The intention to be present has to be in place.
- Focus: The practice of focusing is required.
- Willingness: The willingness to exercise the muscles that distinguish to what you bring your focus and attention.
- Noticing: The ability to notice or witness what is occurring while you are practicing presence; what’s showing up? What feelings, thoughts and body sensations arise while practicing? By noticing, you become aware of what generally pulls away from being present.
- Mindfulness: Assessing what’s valuable and available through the practice of presencing. There is a degree of mindfulness that is required in any practice such as this. A practice in mindfulness is in itself a practice of presencing.
Presencing is a discipline to be practiced, first as an experiment and then perhaps because there is actual fulfillment experienced by being present. What’s it like when you are fully present – what’s the quality of the experience? What is available to you when you are fully present, as opposed to answering texts while listening to your direct reports talk about the challenges they face?
My work as a life and business coach requires 100% attention to every word and action taken by my client. I cannot afford to be present to anything that distracts me from fulfilling my intention to empower them. In a matter of seconds, my work can become sloppy and haphazard when out of the state of presence. I miss something and my effectiveness goes down the toilet; I’m not committed to that!
The question then is, what would have to be here, now that is compelling enough to turn off cell phones, emails, internet – everything that isn’t serving this moment and being present? I ask you to seriously consider asking the question for yourself, for most likely the degree to which you bring presence to your work is the same degree to which you presence yourself with your partner, your children, and to any other aspect of your life.
My client, Jeremy, when home from work would continually be distracted by emails and texts from his boss. He was constantly on alert to his boss’s every need. Through our conversations he realized that his concern and worry about what his boss thought of him was a priority over what his wife and children thought about him and a priority over his own enjoyment of his personal time. He realized too he couldn’t allow himself to be present and enjoy his family as long as his sense of value and importance was coming from outside himself. He began to practice being present at work and at home and found a whole new perspective from which to be most aligned with his highest truth, his integrity and his vision as a human being. A small practice with a gigantic benefit.
W is for Will
I’ve been thinking about this blog for awhile, specifically the intention I had in mind – what I wanted to convey regarding our will. The third step of the Twelve Step Program came to mind:
We turn our will over to the care of a higher power as we understand it
(The original version is: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand him. Quite often, people are turned off by the religious components of the twelve steps, so I am paraphrasing in order to hopefully make this more palatable).
What I realized was that throughout our lifetimes, we’ve turned our will over to higher powers many times. From the time we take our first breath we turn our will over to our parents, teachers, coaches; we turn it over to our employers, our lovers and sometimes our children. We turn it over for the purpose of physical survival as well as emotional, spiritual and economic survival. We turn our lives and our will over to those who require respect and authority over us. As a consequence, we often learn to choose disempowering interpretations about ourselves and our lives; we learn to compromise and compensate for the loss of our will; our spirit and life-force; and we choose to use our will in ways that temporarily relieve suffering of such a loss (most of this is unconscious).
In a sense, we have surrendered our essential-self, which handicaps our capability to fulfill our highest expression of Self. Instead we compensate for what is no longer accessible by justifying our existence with what we do and what we get paid to do. Connection with our life force is lost and we use our willfulness to do what we are supposed to do.
To be willful is to thrive and yet, to be willful as a child or as an adult who is required to meet certain expectations is often punished, rejected or humiliated. We’ve all learned to temper our will for the will of those of higher authority. Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness to make a difference in the world turns us toward activities that numb us in all ways. TV, food, gaming, just to name a few, keep us from experiencing the desperateness that underlies so much apathy and dis-ease caused by surrendering our will to others. When we capitulate our ability to empower ourselves in service to our highest truth and our highest good we’ve lost connection to our essential nature and to Universal Consciousness, the source of all that is.
Not my will but Thy will be done
In the world of business each of us is required, sooner or later, to discover what is ours to do. Recognizing and acknowledging this then requires us to observe how we choose to use our will and whether this is, or isn’t, in service to our highest knowing. This is the moment when great leaders are born, as well as great managers and team players. When we choose to use our will to play it safe and stay small we are willingly fencing ourselves off from what we are wanting to avoid, that, however will inevitably precipitate a breakdown. Our survival mechanism – the way we use our willfulness to suffer, settle and survive, will need an overhaul.
I have no doubt that each of us is exactly where we need to be in order to figure out what’s truly ours to do. Willingly and courageously inching our way through the maze of confusion; willfully taking a stand for a quality of being that will transforms corporate culture is a self-transcending process for each individual and for each individual business institution.
We are all essentially in the process of recovery from the influences of our current paradigm, primarily the fear-based reality we are immersed in. Any traumatization we’ve experienced by our circumstances, to whatever degree, has to be worked through, reintegrating our souls/our will back into our bodies. Business environments are a perfect for this healing to occur, because of the multitude of opportunities we meet daily to use our will in alignment with our highest truth. Sometimes we can do this on our own, sometimes we have to reach out for help, and sometimes we feel like we are beyond help. In these moments we realize that we’ve turned our will over to a higher power that failed us. With no hope in sight, where do we turn?
We’ve corrupted our own identity by willingly surrendering our life force to those to whom we have been forced to trust. How do we begin to willingly choose differently, to will the will of our own highest power – our own highest truth?
Willingly stopping the corruption inside ourselves and all of our organizations is only possible when we are willing to notice that it is in all of us and that only through each of us can we begin to practice something different.
At what point do we consciously choose to turn our will over to an invisible source of support? Most of us wait until it is beyond obvious that our lives have become unmanageable and we are powerless over our addictive ways we deal with our circumstances. At this point, too frequently, we hurt like hell and feel as if we have no other option but to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Universal Source of all the is.
Though it is the same process – turning our will over to God as we understand him(Sorry for the religious languaging), to do it consciously feels vulnerable and scary. Consciously choosing to surrender is different than using the usual logic and justification: “I have to because my boss says I have to; I have to if I want this promotion; I have to if I want to if I don’t’ want that SOB breathing down my neck.” Surrendering our will in these cases required a surrender of our integrity and dignity. I think that’s very telling. We can stop this corrupt practice by revealing the denial that is going on inside each of us.
Regardless of our work environment we have the opportunity to notice how we use our will to empower or disempower ourselves by giving power away to those we choose to have authority over us. How has it served you to exercise your will in this way? What’s it like for you to live with these choices? Are there other choices that would be more empowering for you and your company?
Notice when what you are wanting isn’t in your highest good or the highest good of anyone! Continually ask yourself if what you are thinking or doing is in your highest truth and highest good. If it isn’t, you might want to engage with someone that can support you in making the changes you want.
To willingly engage in this practice of cultivating awareness is in alignment with the paradigm shift. More and more support is available to you and your business organization to ensure an extraordinarily empowering experience. Enjoy the Adventure!