This weekend’s TEDxAustin experience was a crash course in authentic living. How will you face your fears and do the task/job/dream anyway? And you can’t participate in an event like this without being changed in some way. The deeper you feel the more potential for transformation is possible. But at the end of the day, conferences, retreats, and even new year’s resolutions have a half-life. If you don’t change the bad habits, or redirect your energy an intention towards the goals you really want to achieve, then you will continue to achieve the goals you kinda want. Goals that don’t fulfill your dream. Not bad, but not lifting either.
In Thomas Moore’s work Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life he talks about listening to what things you get really excited about. Notice when you’re voice goes up, your energy goes up, your passion goes up. And then carefully, but consistently redirect your life and intention towards those things. It’s much more subtle than Follow Your Bliss. It’s more like, Listen to your bliss, and begin the shifts and challenges that will take you towards it rather than away from it.
An exercise I used to practice several years ago was to work on this skill-point of self-awareness. And in observing yourself, almost from a meta perspective, make note of when you reached any of the millions of decision points during the course of your day. Then ask yourself, as frequently as you can remember to do it, “Is this towards or away from my dream?” And make a decision based on that information. You can’t always choose dream, but if you begin to notice all the things you are doing, are being asked to do, are required to do, that are moving you AWAY from your dream, then you can notice that and make changes.
Another great lesson in awareness I received while working in the BIG SOULLESS MACHINE of DELL. A fine manager and mentor used to ask me several questions during our weekly one-on-one conferences. The first one pointed out how many tasks “teammates” tried to put over on others. She asked me, “Who asked you to do this?” And as I tried to explain why I should do it, she would gently redirect me, “That’s not your job.” She knew. She was the one who set the expectations for my job. I would thankfully hand the task back to the rightful owner.
And the second question she would ask me, “Why are you doing this?” It almost always threw me into a moment of silence and self-reflection. She was like a zen master of project management, or employee management. But she was guiding me in subtle ways by asking me to answer my own questions.
Often the WHY would be obscured with some side-agenda or task that was really not on purpose.
And in life as at DELL, ambiguity of purpose or activity is the killer. If you don’t know WHY you are doing something, you will have a hard time explaining and championing that project. task, purpose to others who you need to enlist.
And some parts of DELL are not inherently evil. The one thing that DELL places above all else is PROCESS. Often to the detriment and dismemberment of the humans trying to work the system. But if you understand the power of process, you can go along way towards improving your life (Finding the strategy and process for what you dream of doing.) and improving your work (How can I get more done and with less stress.) by simplifying the chain of tasks required to accomplish some necessary task.
I still struggle with this daily.
But I am often the champion of “process” in my small business relationships. And I have learned to be fearless in asking, WHY first.
Saturday’s TEDxAustin conference was titled “FEARLESS.” And if you spend any time around successful people you will hear how they over came fear. How they confronted failure and the fear of failure at almost every step. And in the case of the Slackline Walker, Faith Dickey (Professional Slackliner, idratherbeslacklining.com) the fear was actually in the form of a step. And occasionally that step would be too much, even for the pro. But that step was always the beginning of a journey.
Ask the harder questions. First of yourself. Listen for what comes back. Then take the first step. And if that goes okay, the next step.
If the first or second step fails and you fail, you have the opportunity to learn and reinforce resilience. And the more you get used to falling off the line, the easier it becomes to confront that first step again and again in the things that matter.
Wake up, Fearless.