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!
S is for Sacrifice
I grew up in Michigan in a large Catholic Family in the 50’s and 60’s. I was taught that sacrifice was the price you paid to get into heaven. In service to this I let go of my wants, needs, thoughts and feelings. What I was left with when I hit my 30’s was pretty much an empty shell of a being and became, to some extent robotic – exclusively looking outside myself for commands for me to follow. I was terrified to think, feel or act on my own volition. Having never been given a copy of the blue prints or the How To Manual for being me, I had no idea what course to steer to get to my true north. Over decades I taught myself how to listen to my internal wisdom and practiced checking inside myself, retracing my steps (from before I could even walk) to rediscover my fullest expression of myself.
In the name of Heaven we make incredible sacrifices. The question is – what is Heaven? More importantly in the context of this series, what is Heaven to you? How will you know when you’ve arrived?
Given that we are talking most specifically about spirituality in the business, I suspect that each one of us has maneuvered into our current roles and positions because to some degree we are wanting to create heaven on Earth, especially when it involves the fact that we spend at least one third of our lives in this environment. What have you sacrificed in order to be where you are right now, in this moment? What I’m really wanting to know is – have you sacrificed the right things in order to have what you currently have? Rarely do I use the word right, so I’m obviously on the way to making a point!
On Tuesday, I spoke to the San Francisco Professional Career Network. These individuals are in the process of once again becoming gainfully employed, however many of them are up against some very stiff resistance (the R word, remember?). Not much different than many of us, they experienced rejection, trauma, abuse, neglect and humiliation in their previous work environment, and as they move in the direction of employment, something stops them. What stops them, and appropriately so, is the memory of what they’ve previously sacrificed for what they thought would provide stability, a role that contributed to the growth and development of their company, as well as a sense of personal and professional fulfillment. They are now having to choose to choose what to choose in service to what it is they want. This time they have the opportunity to choose what to sacrifice from a more conscious perspective.
Everyone has to make the choice to sacrifice that which they are willing to sacrifice: Health, family, personal fulfillment, creativity, integrity, financial stability, trauma, stress, abuse – each of us has our price.
I’m suggesting that maybe what we’ve sacrificed isn’t worth the price. This is a huge spiritual issue for those who have come to believe that financial stability will create happiness. The current global economic circumstances are indicating that, that may be an inaccurate assumption. The wounding that has occurred – that we’ve allowed to occur for the sake of financial viability for many has cost them their lives, their families and their dignity. I don’t think this is working very well – do you?
I’m guessing that when searching your internal database you’ll un-conceal regrets and lost dreams that were sacrificed for what at that time seemed like the appropriate or only choice to be made. All of us have these regrets and losses, yet until we come face to face with them and the emotional well of powerless and hopeless that has never been mined we will continually repeat the circumstance – just different environments and we’ll never allow our essential self to guide us to our fullest expression.
It makes sense to me that many of those individuals in the San Francisco Professional Career Network are balking at returning to the corporate environment. It makes sense to me that they are no longer willing to sacrifice their souls for the almighty paycheck.
Not all work environments are dysfunctional but the fact of the matter is that too many are dysfunctional. My belief is that because most of us were raised in families where dysfunction played a huge role in how we come to see ourselves, how we value and treat our selves and how we choose to choose what we choose, we can’t help but create environments that reflect the same.
I believe that each of us has come to this planet to fulfill a very specific life purpose. My job is to support people in choosing to choose to live into that purpose – fearlessly. This conversation definitely includes the question “What get’s sacrificed?” It also allows evidence to speak for itself; “Has it worked so far to give up what is most essential to your BEING and to you living your LIFE PURPOSE?”
This line of questions emphatically points to the dilemma and what we do in this dilemma. The dilemma is a choice-point where most of us choose to choose NOT to choose, thus experiencing a quality of life that feels stuck, lost, paralyzed, trapped, confused, depressed. SIGH! I know of no one who is allowed the “get out of jail free card” and doesn’t have to actually choose when facing the inevitable choice-point: Now or later – it’s up to you!
I don’t wish this moment on anyone, however, the inevitability of it is what it is. I can’t convince or cajole you to take me seriously. I only encourage you to feel into your heart and soul and reveal, discover and acknowledge your own evidence, your own truth and your own wisdom to know what is yours to do.
Enjoy the exploration!