I finally cracked open Inspired and Unstoppable last week, one of the books for Elevate. I was tentative about this book – the author, Tama Kieves, spells universe with a capital U and refers to things like “a co-creative Powerful Loving Consciousness.” But I was curious, and open to the possibility that under the flowery language there would be some concrete learnings. My openness paid off pretty quickly – by chapter two I was sniffling and scribbling madly in my journal.
The immediate pay-off to reading was Kieves recounting the story of when she realized that wanting to win first and foremost and wanting to do good second isn’t terrible and egotistical and wrong, it’s simply what she’s here to do. She describes how saying this out loud was a moment of self-acceptance that freed her from the feelings of guilt and shame surrounding her drive. Once the secret was out of her, it seemed neutral and natural. A simple involuntary truth. She describes it as the note she’s here to sing – she can’t sing any other note quite as well as she can this one, and will never be happy ignoring the truth.
So, I read this and started to cry. (Obviously. Sigh.) It pulled me back to last January when I was so frustrated that nothing I was doing was good enough or meaningful enough or great enough.
I wanted to be like the professors, doctors, thinkers, and writers I admired so much, who have big ideas and have made it to a place in life where people care about what they have to say and what they have to say actually makes a positive difference.
I wanted to be just like them but couldn’t figure out how to get there.
And then some terrible feeling happened. I became aware of what I wanted – this greatness – and I felt ashamed and humiliated and angry with myself. It was no moment of loving self-acceptance, not by far. My thoughts followed the lines of: I thought I could be something big? I thought I was meant for great things? Who am I to think I’ll become anything special when I am small and insignificant? Who am I to think I’ll become anything at all?
I was kind of heartbroken. Did this mean I don’t get to be great…? I figured that was it, the end of my big ego dreaming for my small self, better figure out something else to do with my life. And I left it there.
The problem is of course that I haven’t figured out anything else to do. Not for lack of trying – I have tried everything – but nothing has fit. I’ve been trying to work out what I’d feel happy and fulfilled doing, based on knowing that I care about motivating people to live healthier lives. But I’ve been totally unable to figure out how or what or why. I’ve been digging and digging and digging, and turning up nothing more than what I already know.
Until I read that page from Kieves’s book and the floodgates opened. Suddenly, after almost a year, I was presented with another option: I can accept that I want to be great, and can even go on wanting to be great. In fact it’s looking like I can’t not want to be great and like I can’t go on without wanting it. When I think about it like that, it seems neutral and natural and true. As Kieves says, it feels involuntary more than anything else: it’s just the way it is. This doesn’t mean I’m actually going to be great. But it does mean I’m allowed to want it without the wanting making me a terrible person. It also means I’m allowed to want to be something else, some other way, later on – if that’s what happens. And I still deeply want to help people.
My girlfriend suggested the Stratejoy blog is allowing me to follow my drive to greatness, in a non-threatening way. And she’s probably right.
Hear ye, hear ye, I’ve got some shit to say, most of it personal and messy and some of it maybe even helpful. Here on the blog what I want to do feels worthy and good, and not like a massive ego trip. I get to write about something that matters to me and that I’m confident I know a lot about (i.e., me!), and there are people who read it (i.e., you!) and hopefully take something meaningful away.
I spend hours on every blog post, making sure I’m getting it from my head to the screen as best as I can and making sure it’s something that might give those of you reading it something to connect with. Eat, Pray, Love, Panic is a perfect example of what I like to do here. These posts are not meaningful lectures that have you all running out the door to change the world…but they might be just me clearing my throat for what I have to say next, whatever that turns out to be.
When I started to realize I’m not a small, insignificant, egotistical person after all, and that it’s okay (read: non-optional) that I want to be great, I asked myself for the millionth time: So what would I feel happy doing? And for the first of these million times, answers tripped over each other coming out. I want to give a Massey Lecture! I want to teach courses and workshops. I want to give community talks. I want to set up shop in various places for a season at a time to “research” (learn and somehow get paid for it). I want to write and write and write!
And when I looked at this list, I felt happy and excited and overwhelmingly of course I want this.