I ask people quite frequently what is your goal in life and the most common answer I get across the spectrum is I just want to be happy.
For the longest time this left me with a question mark because I did not understand what was holding these people back from being happy. I would ask a few of them what would bring them happiness and I would get the stereotypical answer of a good job, nice car and house, to have a good family and to take care of my kids. Sometimes I would follow up with well how are you going to get there. This was the stumbler, usually I would get an answer about working hard and getting promotions, but the most common answer I get is to just be optimistic.
Optimism… are you serious
What is it for you, what is going to drive you forward to what your goal is? The reason I was so drawn back by the optimism answer is because I did not understand how optimism drove somebody forward. I do not think the majority of them knew how it did either, but it was the nice, positive thinking, good vibe thing to say. It showed that you had a glass half full perspective without relying on hope. I think the most common way that people would define optimism is just a positive outlook for the future. A dictionary definition says it means to expect the best.
So here is my problem and how I am working to change the way we see optimism. Optimism is nothing without action. If optimism is not pushing to action then it is not optimism. It is positive reinforcement so you can maintain the status quo. The common definition barely gets at it with the focus on the future, but the dictionary definition shows us there is something more to expect. When there is an expectation then there is something that we have to participate in the act of making the future what we want. If there is no action then it is fake optimism.
The lies of fake optimism
I am going to be real with you. It does not matter if your glass is half full or half empty. It does not matter how many good vibes you put out, it does not matter how many karma points you have racked up, and it does not matter how good you feel about something. You can feel like a girl is the one for you, but unless you ask her out you will never know. You can feel like the job is a good fit after the interview, but you will not know until you start the job. You can feel like the person is nice, but unless you walk life with them for a while you will not know what kind of person they are.
Feelings are deceptive. They come, they go, they are easily influenced and stubborn, they easily persuaded and can bring you down, feelings are important, but we need to approach them with curiosity. We can feel positive and put out positive vibes, but that is all they are vibes and feelings.
I know I may have rubbed some of you the wrong way in the last paragraph with telling you your half full glass does not matter. Let me take the metaphor a bit further to explain. The glass only sits there whether it is half full or a quarter full and it does not matter until the glass is tipped over and pouring. I will take a glass that is a quarter full but tipped over all day over a glass half full that is up right. Do not get me wrong positive thinking is great and I support it and promote it all the time, but I think we have gotten to the point where we are abusing feeling good. Positive feelings do not create positive efforts unless there is an effort towards action. . When the glass is tipped over and pouring then it is doing something the positivity is interacting and changing lives in some way real positivity is what we are aiming for. Whatever is in the glass it is an expectation and the expectation is not going anywhere as long as the glass stays standing up right and to its self. For me I like to say I do not care for my glass to be half full or empty I want my glass to be overflowing. Then there is no room for fake optimism and feelings to waver. Real positivity is founded in purpose and meaning instead of feeling and inspiration. Real positivity is what comes out of the glass.do not let optimism mislead you. It is much more radical than the common perception. The question is what you are going to do to turn fake optimism into real optimism
When the odds are stacked up what are you going to do?
Are you going to wait or are you going to act?
Optimism takes action because without action it is just a feeling that sounds good.
In the comments let me know of a way I can help you get over a hurdle. I can help fill up your cup
We need to stop waiting for the people “above “us to make change. We have been taught as the people that do the “menial” work that we do not have any agency for change, but that is so far from the truth.
We say we need a coach, a trainer, a mentor, a teacher, a boss, an assistant to make the change in our life that we want. We search for the affirmation of somebody else being present with us in our project or dream. At the root of this I believe is the desire to not be defined by what we do or what we have done. If somebody else is there, there is less chance of something going wrong, but more than that I believe internally we would be able to dismiss some of the responsibility onto another person if something were to go wrong.
We have become so accustomed to top down ways of management, leadership, coaching and so many more things. This is the trickle down growth method. The skills or experience of the older, higher up, more credentialed people would be able to assert their wisdom and it would build and grow people. This trickle down practice has been disproven time and time again whether it is economics or management styles, it does not work because it takes away autonomy. This is the freedom for you to be you as an individual and choose the path you want to take from your unique experiences and creative expression.
The easiest way to find evidence of this is in the work place just because of the multiplication of efficiency, productivity, and innovation. This is the same equation that we confront when we wait for change. In this is the belief that our autonomy is not enough. We think we need things like drive, focus, or vision to start moving the needle. We see change as a big picture, which it is, but it is a big picture vision with a small picture perspective. Essentially what I am getting too is that the only way change is going to happen is by taking one step and another step.
Practical small steps
Easy does it, I admit I have never been one to just jump in the pool. I am all about taking the steps, getting two steps in and then saying it is too cold and then saying screw it I am jumping. We often get frustrated when we do not make the progress like we see other people making. We would not get frustrated if we saw the struggles that other people had. I write and I create this website a little bit at a time. I have not gotten to where I am without showing up consistently.
Consistently showing up is the key. The one thing to get out of this article is SHOW UP. 10 minutes of writing, work on the website twice a week, water the tree daily; whatever it is we need to not only show up for ourselves but for others. I do not do this work to get myself somewhere, but I do this work to get other people places. We have been misguided by those above in positions of power. It is easy for them to say they are making change because they have all kinds of people below them doing work. We need to break through the perception that change happens from the top. Approval from a boss is not needed to make a change; you are competent, wise, creative, and intelligent. You are able to make a decision of a change that needs to take place. I am granting you this as somebody that has spent the majority of his life being timid. I did not feel I had a place, so I know what it feels like to be on the outside in the you do not matter land, but I am here to tell you that you are important, you are beautiful, and you are remarkable.
Please come make your mark!
Whatever it is you want to change let somebody in on it, ask them for feedback and then to hold you accountable. We need people that have our backs; learning to walk is not easy.
If you want your boss to treat you differently then ask somebody the best way to bring it up
If you want to start an organization ask somebody to sit with you and create a plan
If you want to start a diet then cut out one thing that you do not want to eat
If you want to start a big weight loss then go for a 15 minute walk
If you want to have a focused meditation then try it for 2 minutes
If you want to organize a rally around a cause then text a few friends and ask them to join
If you want to learn sign language start with the ABC’s
Small steps, then build momentum, build excitement. Passion does not happen right away and it does not come from people at the top giving it to us. We have to take a step and discover it
I believe you can make change, I believe you can create, I believe you are worth it
Be remarkable, leave your mark!
Start here and in the comments say what it is that you want to change
Look good, feel good
This is what I have been living by the past 9 months. I started fresh when I moved to a new city and there was a new found freedom in caring about my health. I started getting in a structured workout routine in the gym and entered the journey. A couple months into the journey I started eating Kael and all kinds of nutrients rich foods. This was a big step that was extraordinary for me.
A couple months later I started running and before I knew it I started calling myself a runner. I was setting new personal records in the gym and outside the gym.
Earlier in life exercising, more specifically lifting weights, helped me get out of a depression. I do not believe it was the ability to look at myself in the mirror and see results, but it was the act of putting my body in motion. The way to recover emotion is to put the body in motion. This is where the phrase look good feel good comes from. I found that exercising makes me feel good. There are times where I could not rely on exercising though and needed to have other things that helped me feel good. For most of my life I did not know what it was that helped me feel good. When I felt bad I turned to my sport of hockey to express the way I was feeling in life. For a long period this was the only thing that I knew that made me feel good, but I have discovered there are more.
I believe we need to know what makes us feel good and it can not be just one or two things, but there needs to be many. More precisely 25, but I understand if not that many can be named right away. Number a sheet of paper or a word document and make this list right now. Here is a template if you need one to get started
We want to express the way we feel. A physical manifestation of what is going on inside. If we hold back what is happening inside then we do not feel natural, we do not feel authentic, we do not feel us. If we do not feel like we can be who we are freely then we will not feel good. There may be many road blocks and hurdles you have to get through to get to this point of the outward manifestation of who you are, but this activity of feeling good is one way. Connect with who you are and what you enjoy and figure out if these things you do really make you come alive. I have been able to come to a place recently that the emotions inside have become whole enough that my outward manifestation has been a constant smile. That feels good and it looks good. I know there are greater ways I can do good, but we can not do good if we first do not believe we are good.
Here is my example of things that make me feel good.
6Really loud music I enjoy
7 going for a walk
8 spending time at a coffee shop
10 playing guitar
11 sitting outside
12 taking a long shower
13 helping someone through a tough circumstance
14 Getting lunch with a friend
15 Going to a conference
16 cleaning my room
17 sanding wood or polishing metal
18Giving a massage
19 Receiving a massage
20 Taking a train ride
22 Making list
23 Dreaming and envisioning goals
24 making a healthy breakfast
If you found this exercise helpful then share your top 5 of your list in the comments so we can learn to feel good
To learn more:
Emotional intelligence Daniel Goleman
Awaken the giant, Tony Robbins
Do you ever come to an understanding of why a really difficult thing happened?
I think we all want to know the reason for suffering… Right? Maybe?
People really do want to know though. At least the Meaning of what would’ve been if it could help us to understand the reasons to murder and hate, to reject and discriminate, exclude and segregate. All these horrible inconceivable actions are rooted in fear.
At the core of this question of suffering, I think his fear.
What do you think? What is at the core of it for you?
Fear is one of the most universal experiences. Fear of the other, fear of the loss of power, fear of knowing what is true, fear of losing a part of who we are, and so many other grappling foundational aspects of life.
Fear of spiders, fear of heights, and fear of the dark, fear of intimacy. These are the common ones that we often hear about.
Fear is not as universal as pain because I cannot say fear is fear like I can say pain is pain. There is a universal characteristic of fear that allows us to all understand it in a very similar way. There something really unique about fear; fear is connected to our unique individual experience, our interactions with the world around us and what we believe about ourselves. This is what makes up our reality or at least what we believe our reality is. Often times there are false interpretations in this reality and we believe them as if they are truth. This is where fear plants its roots.
When people ask me if I am afraid of anything I tell them the only thing I am afraid of is the unknown. This is kind of funny because it is the easy way out. Answering I am afraid of the unknown is like saying I am afraid of everything.
Have you heard the acronym for fear? It stands for false evidence appearing real. This essentially means fear is the possibility of something happening that we may not be able to conceive or imagine through the lens of our reality.
So If I were to answer the question more honestly I would say yes I am afraid of spiders, yes, I am afraid of heights, and yes I am afraid of intimacy.
So the question should not be what are we fearful of or what are we afraid of but how do you act with fear, interact with fear and how do you embrace fear. This is the transformational question that can be deeply empowering. It makes us our own agents of change. It says you have the choice to act in the face of fear and you have the choice to run or embrace.
The reason we often run from what we are fearful of is because it is scary to imagine what will happen, what the reality is and what it could be. We get so caught in what could happen that we forget to attach a feeling to the fear.
We think fear is the feeling.
Fear is not a feeling. Fear is an experience, a way to view reality; it’s a perspective, it’s a perceived interaction with what could happen.
What if we attached a feeling to our fears?
Like, I am worried that I will be rejected again.
I am scared that the airplanes engine will stop working
I am anxious because I am not sure if they will say yes
I feel sad because I do not want to go back to the place where I was hurt
I feel frustrated because I can not know whether this person accepts me or not.
I am concerned I will not be able to advocate for myself because the other person is a bully
I feel stuck because the other person will not listen
I feel unworthy because somebody treated me unfairly.
The more we are able to attach feelings to our fears the more we will be able to see that they are not based in the reality of what our possibility could be in the future. If we are honest our feelings attached to fear are based in our desire to control what happens in the future. What often happens is the feelings wrap us up in the fear and they give us a false reality. These fears are real, they are a part of our experience, but they are not reality.
What is reality?
Our reality is that we are smarter and more superior over the spider
The airplane flew just fine on its last flight and has proven itself billions of times
You can not change other people, but you can improve or change your approach
You can ask the question and learn from it and enjoy the experience
You can embrace the pain and redeem the hurt
You can have strength and the power to take the next step
Fear holds us back but fear doesn’t have to hold us back if we see it for what it is. Fear tells us what it. What is this, what is that, maybe this’ll happen. But Instead of asking what if maybe we should be saying “you can”, or better yet, “what if you did blank blank blank”.
This is not a change of behavior change, but a change in the way we perceive ourselves, the world and how we interact with both of those. I understand how hard this is. I am writing this because I am in the middle of the fight; the fight to fight fear, the fight to fight anger, the fight to fight resentment, the fight against the voice that says you can’t. I am beginning to wonder if we should continue to fight fighting fear, fighting anger, fighting resentment.
Maybe we should connect with it, see what it is teaching us and put a feeling to it. I think when we put feeling to it then we are able to increase its value and see it as part of our experience. When we experience something that we come to believe is true then there is power to take action, whether it is a positive or negative turn, it will be up to us.
Each time we make this decision there is an opportunity to change and transform.
So what does it look like to get over fears?
Step 1: We need to embrace it.
If we do not embrace fear then we will not be open to the feedback. We need to listen to the spider that is up in the corner of your room, just as we need to listen to the person that has discriminated and rejected us. This is part of loving our enemies. The reality is that our enemies will not even know this is happening because it is transforming ourselves first, which will allow us to love our neighbor because we will have loved our self. Part of embracing fear is embracing our self.
When we are loved then we can take the next step. Steps can be taken other ways, but it will carry resentment and anger. overcoming fear can and will take us to the core of who we are because it will reveal many layers at one time and bring up so many past experiences. Our goal after embracing our fear though is to tell it how it makes us feel.
Step 2: the conversation
Seriously as silly as it sounds have a nice conversation with it. Ask it where it comes from and what you would really like done about it.
If there is a spider on your wall and you are freaking out
Say ok I see you fear of spiders; I am worried that the spider is going to attack me and bite me with its poisonous venom. Spider fear where do you come from, when was the first time you were in my life and why did you show up. Spider fear when you showed up, what was it about you that actually scared me?
This is an example of the conversation with fear. This conversation happens already, but takes place in a much different way. Conclusions usually come before questions are able to be asked and an action takes place before we can realize we reacted to fear.
Step 3: step into it
To interact with the fear we need to take a step into it. I do not want to talk about conquering fears just yet. No need to get high and mighty just slow and steady. If it is spiders then find a spider and just look at it from a far and take a step closer to it. If it is the dark then step into it and do something fun in the dark. I do not like taking the trash out when it is dark because I fear a critter like a raccoon or skunk will attack me, but if I take the step to open the door to take a step outside and then go get the trash after seeing the coast is clear, and then it becomes much easier to take it to the big trash can outside.
We just need to be able to put one foot in front of another. This is how we interact with the fear. If we put one foot in front of the other then the fear does not hold us back. Conquering fears is not about erasing them, but not allowing them to hold us back. We can never get rid of fear, but we can know and learn how to take action in spite of them. Even if I were to conquer the fear of a raccoon or skunk attacking me then I would fear an attack of the boogie man. Fear is a constant, but the way that we respond to it does not have to remain a constant.
If you want to have some fun with fear then create a 30 day fear breaker. Make a list of 30 things that you are scared of, anxious about, worry about, become timid when faced with, or even just scared to initiate. Then take smalls steps into them and make it fun. The only way to get past a fear is to interact with it.
If you have a fear of spiders then get a toy spider and put it on your friend’s keyboard.
If you are afraid of heights then have a stair race to the top with a friend or hike a hill.
Fears are attached to our core and can often be quite deep issues to deal with, but I believe we can answer the difficult questions in life like what to do with suffering if we take one step at a time.
Here are good resources on going farther
Rejection therapy Jia Jiang
The war of art
The reason who do you want to become is one of my favorite questions is because it is two parts understanding, one part imagination, one part desire, and 6 parts action.
It says I want this and I desire this for myself. The question alone begs imagination and when we imagine what we want to become then half the battle is won. The other half of the battle is doing the patient work of seeing that character come to fruition.
This question is NOT asking who do you look up too and want to imitate, but instead how do you want to be looked up too. We are in charge of our own life. The only person that can change you is you. You have the power and the agency right now to become who you want to become, so what is it?
How are we to figure out who we want to become?
I guess this topic automatically assumes that you know who you are. If we do not know who we are then how do we get any idea of what we want to be and how it is going to come about in getting to that place? I find the question “who do you want to become” one of the most provocative questions because it requires you to analyze and understand what has made you who you are to this very moment. The question of who you want to become is almost a catch 22 because it requires putting yourself in the future of some amount. How far in the future is your choice, but the catch is to not get stuck in the future while dwelling on the past. We have to get past our past and come back from the future. No more hover boards and road tripping with Mcfly. So the first question to ask is who are you. to dive into this deeper check out the who are you article , but for now let’s stick with the understanding that you have the social identities of a male or female, a student, a friend, a son or daughter. These are the first significant identities we have in our life. Our family is our first understanding of community, our first understanding of care, compassion, acceptance, affection, affirmation, and love. So to answer who you are, basically it is an exploration of how these expressions of love have been reflected to you. Like I said to dive into this more check out the who are you article.
Now to the fun stuff…
Who do you want to become. I do not say who you want to be for a very important reason. Becoming is a process, a journey of transformation that is centered in learning by experience and it is not something that can just be. If you want to be somewhere you have to see that place as a location that is begging you to come. This place you want to be is the place where your created purpose will come alive. It is from this place that we can say your desires are pure and good. It is admirable to desire to become this thing that keeps coming up for you. There is purpose; The more we become aligned with our natural desires and what we were created to do, the more our purpose in coming into who we are will be realized. I believe this plays into the meaning of Gandhi’s famous saying of “be the change you want to see”. Often times this quote is used to silence critics and complainers, but it is important to see that we need to quiet the inner voice that tells us that we can not be the change. The truth is that we have agency, we have power, and we have a purpose.
Change the world
If you could change the world, in what ways would you like to see it change? Often we make change about me against them or me against you instead of us. What I am trying to say is that we have a natural bend towards a collective community, but our focus is fixed on ourselves. The only change we can then think of is the change in our own lives instead of the world. Granted we have been told the lie that we can not shoot for the stars and we can not change the world. I believe you can and the only person getting in the way of you believing what I believe is you. When we are against something the problem seems too big to conquer, but when we focus on what we want things to become the job is much easier.
What makes you come alive?
This does not take jumping out of an airplane contrary to popular belief. An abundant life can be found outside of adrenaline induced activities. Being excited for life does not always mean it will be extremely exciting. It could be hiking, fishing, sailing, knitting, painting, or a sport like curling. What is it that will energize you when you get up so the excitement from your passion will expand with vibrancy? We can not only let the days that we go to Disneyland or six flags be days that we wake up excited. Even in those activities I would urge you to understand what it is that you enjoy about them. It is this enjoyment that keeps you excited for the activity. It is not the activity itself that keeps you doing it over and over again. There is an underlying reason that draws you, what is it for you? That is where we can start to look for the excitement for life. This excitement for life will be what propels you into what you want to become.
What makes you cry? Sorry to get sad and somber on you, but this expression of emotion is one of the greatest tools that we can use to see what stirs our soul. I am not talking about the kind of crying that takes place during a funeral or the death of a loved one, but the kind that arises when you are in a movie and you are stirred with an overwhelming emotion. This happened for me when I went to the holocaust museum because of my desire to be in peace and reconciliation work. Maybe this would happen for you while watching Inside out, because you connect with the loneliness and pain in childhood; or maybe it is watching Hotel Rwanda because international justice work excites you. When out shopping or just in the community what do you complain about or what hurts you to see happening? Often our complaints are just a cover over vulnerability so that our emotions really do not get seen. Is it somebody in a wheelchair trying to get by without assistance or is it a child playing in the park by herself. Emotions are good; we were purposefully created with emotions. They are supposed to direct us back to our creator and to what we are created for, but I want us to see that our emotions can guide us to what we desire and what makes us excited for life.
What are you skilled at? I am not trying to get you to figure out if you can swing a hammer or draw blood, both which takes more skill than you think. Maybe a better way to ask this is what are your strengths in? Are you an idea person, a strategy person, a director, a contributor, or somebody with empathy? There are so many things? A great test to take is strength finders, to get an idea what your top five are. Essentially this question is asking what gifts have you been given that can be used to make your work connect with your desires. It is when the gifts and purpose connect the abundant life comes about.
Finding these things out does not void the hard dedicated work it will take to pursue the abundant life that comes from being who you have been made to become. Neither does it void the necessity to grow and participate in relationships. What my hope is that it pushes you further into understanding your relationship with the world and everything beyond it. This is a journey and is not easy to figure out. It will take patience with much drawn out effort, physically and literally.
One of the most helpful things for me has been to find a theme to your life. With that theme think about what directions you could go and how you can serve. I have it been told to me that the most life giving thing is the continual act of giving back. I believe you have something to offer and it can change the world.
Let’s turn back to the original question, what you want to become. I will start the conversation later about the transformative process, but let’s sit the brain storming spot. Sit here; take a minute, a few deep breaths. What is your dream, what can you provide? This may lead you down a path of seeing what you are missing in life, but what I want us to be able to do is dream from a place of desire and hope. The pieces are not really missing in life, but what is missing is the initiation on the path of becoming. Remember becoming takes a destination and that destination will beg you to come to it, so let’s spend some time figuring out this important part of life. Remember we are not defined by what we do or what we have done, so who you are and who you are to become is the emphasis. What traits do you want to see come out in this person you are to become?
Let me know who you want to become below in the comments
Talk about the gritty part of who you want to become,
The attributes and traits
The imagination of the life you want
How do you want to live?
here is a link to the strength finders resource
So last time we got a basic over view of who you are and took a peek into how we view ourselves. Now we are going to dive into how we view ourselves.
Growing up I was often told you are mature for your age and for a 13/14 year old I did not know how to respond or even what to think about it, but as the years past I came to understand what was being said. When I was 17 I told a history teacher I was close with that people often told me I was mature for my age and he said I do not think so. I did not know how to respond to him, I was not even sure whether to be angry or happy, but there was a sense of freedom that came from hearing those words. It was like somebody finally saw me for who I was. Instead of hearing his words I do not think you are, it was like I heard you are free to be who you are.
There is a myth that we have to go through a difficult life altering circumstance for us to ask the question who am I, that you find who you are when you in the low places or was it in the ditch. Not sure how that country song went.
It is not necessary to wait for life to make us know who we are. It is vital to know who we are and do it now. If we center ourselves in who we are then the storm that comes when life tries to kick us in the ass will not be a level 5 hurricane. Yes, I had some difficult life circumstances that pushed me to understand who I am at an early age. I ran from the question for a long time though only wanting to address when I had the tid bit of inspiration and strength to confront reality, but this was not helpful.
We often answer the who are you question with a sense of holiness, not out right, but internally. Do you ever say I am who I am? Oh yeah those words, we say those words when people try to challenge us or come off as judgmental. Those words were recorded by Moses in the explanation of who Yahweh is. We are only allowed to say I am who I am when you have made it to the other side of the pearly gates. We are ever changing and ever being shaped by our social surroundings, which is where we get our social identity. This can range from bully’s making fun of you in high school or the area you go for a walk every night to the job you work. Who we are is shaped by all of our surroundings. This puts most of the emphasis on the aspects of life that nurture you into who you are, but what about the ones that you are born with. This is your ethnicity, spirituality, sexuality, gender. These are things that define and shape who you are, but are still main defined how you encounter them in your social settings.
The important aspect to remember when understanding who you are is that you are unique and there are very particular traits you have that nobody else can express the same way you do, but all things that define who you are come from the intersection of our reality and our beliefs. This is what we know as values or ways of life. From this comes interest and desires. The sad part is that we often do not take time to figure this out until the phenomenon of midlife crisis hits or something like divorce hits you. I am here to say you do not have to wait for the difficult circumstances.
Through my time of self-discovery and entertaining the question of who am I; there were some key questions that stuck out to me as important. I figured these out through many hours in counseling, meditation, praying, reading, friendships, courses and conferences. If find it interesting that the combination of all the previous work can be summed up by a few questions, But I have come to know and believe in the importance of these questions
1 what are you passionate about?
Passionate means to suffer with, to go through the grueling days of learning about perseverance; it is the heavyweight version of dedication. This question is asking what would you do if you knew you could not fail. Passionate is not a leisurely day to day patient pursuit for something to happen. It is a complete restructuring of life to pursue what the passion is. Time resources, work, relationships, finances, health; Being passionate takes all of who you are to the point of suffering to learn what it will take to get to the next level. If there is no suffering then it is dedication and if there is no push to get to the next level then it is just a hobby and if there is no waking desire each morning to do the work then it is just an interest. So what is it that you will wake up each day excited to pursue without failure
2 what do you do
This is the time for your elevator speech, you have 15 seconds if the attention span is short and 90 seconds if the elevator ride is a long one, but this is the time to shine. What summarizes who you are and why you do what you do? Do not tell me what you do is marketing. What people look for in this question is they want to know why you do what you do. saying I am a sales manager, does not cut it because that profile in that persons head of a sales manager is not really who you are. It does not even answer the question. The question was what do you do and to know the we need to know the why, so understand why it is you do the things you do and what it is that you enjoy about them. If you are a mom explain why you do it and what you enjoy, if you are in marketing explain the purpose behind your decision to take the job where you did. If you are retired then explain what that means to you and why you got to where you are.
3 what do you value?
This may take some thought, but we put value on particular traits and characteristics in our life often because we were raised to value those things. Remember when we ask what we have to ask why, which leads us down a long road of wondering why do I value what I value. This can range from friends, to career, to politics, to cars, to personal traits. These things shape how you live and the priorities you have. The greatest imbalance is when we do not live align with our values and our passion because then we do not find purpose. (There is a link at the bottom for you to take a free values assessment)
4 what makes you come alive?
This ties into passion and values because if we are pursuing those in an authentic way then an abundancy of life should start to flourish in our life. On the other end of this question is what is taking life from you. We need to know what makes us come alive, what keeps us afloat, and what we need to keep our energy and our mind set in a focused place. This will look different for extroverts and introverts, men and women, those with fewer years and those with more years. The importance is on knowing what it is that keeps life flowing through you and out of you and also knowing what brings you down and diminishing the role those have in your life. There is always room to step outside your comfort zone, but we need to know where and what our source of life is so that we can return to it for strength and rejuvenation.
5 what are your limiting beliefs?
What hold ups do you have in life? We all have frustrating things that happen in life, things that push us back and give us resistance, but they are not a wall of fire that marks a dead end. A hold up is a time to do just that; hold up, pause, take a second, and take a look where you are. There is a reason for the hold up, so what is it and what does it tell you about who you are? We have a choice when we come to points in our journey where there is resistance; we can either get bitter or we can get better. There are many other choices that we have to make when we encounter a hold up, but this is one of the most essential questions that will determine whether you move forward or not. This is the beginning part of creating a plan to move forward.
6 what is your foundation?
Ok, so I save the best for last. What is your rock, that thing you return to when your world feels like it is falling apart? We can build our life on sand or we can build it on a rock and it is important to know what we are standing on. It is ok if you learn that you are on sand because beneath the sand is a rock somewhere and you are on the journey of finding it. There are quicker paths to the rock though. Peace comes when we know what we can expect in the future. Wisdom and revelation of who we are and where we are going is available to us but we can only hear it when we are not being blown around like a hurricane. What is the place you can be still to hear wisdom and revelation; this is probably the place where your rock is. We may not have a rock or a foundation, so where is your security found in life, that will be your current foundation.
These are big questions and there should not be an expectation to know the answer to these right away. These are questions to frequently return too and the answers will not come easily. It will take patience and the time to rethink an answer when you think you have it.
This work is hard but necessary to really understand who you are. It is not the end though. This is only part 2 of 3. I know this work sounds thick and heavy enough. I believe you can handle more. I believe this because we were not created to just be we were created to become. We have something to transform into. Who we are is not yet who we are to become.
The third part is going to look at my question I like to ask people, who do you want to become.
Until then, bookmark this article, write down the questions, screen shot it, do whatever you have to do to continue to return to these questions.
Peace to you in your discovery
In the comments let me know the most helpful question you have come across in discovering more about yourself
Here is a link I found helpful in understanding more
Here is the link for the free values assessment
My favorite question to ask myself and challenge others with is who are you becoming?
So who do you want to become? Sorry too soon…
A bit pretentious I realize, so let me back up a second and start with figuring out who you are. I am going to enter into unpaved territory. This is not a common path to take, an adventure that does not get taken too often, and a territory that only a few value to venture into. This is my call into the wild discovery of who we are. It is found each step further into the forest as the tree’s get thicker and thicker.
The reason I say this question is a bit pretentious is because asking who you are and experiencing who you are tend to be very different. Not only because the way we are perceived by others is different than how we view ourselves, but because who we are is still yet to be discovered. To assume that you know who you are is quite presumptive. Not only does it take extended effort to step into self-discovery, but it takes a step into the unknown. This is scary territory. Few dare to venture to this land. This is like the big Rottweiler that looks scary but you make friends by offering a treat and you find out she is just a big teddy bear that wants love.
Why are we so scared of ourselves
Somebody once said the only thing I fear is fear itself. Discovering who we are is a big responsibility because when we find out who we are then we actually have to act from that place; that is if we want to have integrity. We are not held back because we fear pain but we are held back because the fear of having to take action. Granted we get caught up in seemingly more important immediate things, but I find nothing more important than knowing who you are. It helps to have somebody affirm a character trait, believe in us, walk with us in this journey, and be there to catch us when we fall. This is not realistic for all of us and if we wait for this it will not only disappoint with procrastination, but it will perpetuate a victim mentality of reminding us of what we do not have. The reality is that self-discovery is here and it is available now, and it is quite easy if you give it persistent attention.
I believe we all want to know who we are; some of us just settle on something sooner than others.
Easy come easy go are you able to say no
When we say no we are making a decision, a boundary, and a declaration of who we are and what we value. Saying no is saying that I am not going to go along with the status quo; I am going to stand for what I want to be known for. Do not stand for what you believe in; stand for what you want to be known for. This question begs the question of who do you want to become, but we will get to that one later. right now we want to know who you are and how you can discover what it is that makes you, you.
There is no way possible to find out who you are without either stepping into the past or stepping into the future. Since we are going to talk about who we want to become later let’s talk about what has shaped us into who we are. It is said we are the person of the 5 people we spend the most time with. As somebody that does not believe in black or white thinking, there are definitely more things that shape us, for instance negative memories as well as positive memories. What I want us to be able to reflect on is the voice that we sometimes hear or the ways we think we are being perceived by our actions. What identity do we take up?
The exercise that I take people through in this introduction to self-discovery is quite simple, but helpful for us to think through before we move onto the next step. This is part 1 of 3 on self-discovery.
I want you to pause, be present and take 2 minutes of your time and write down who you are by simply saying…
I am Matt Lowe
I am 26
I am a son and a brother
I am thoughtful
I am scared of disappointing people
I am worried if my lips are soft
I am ready for kids
I am timid when approaching women
Now your turn
Go ahead, Fill a piece of paper.
Say who you are, it is just you. I want us to be comfortable being us. It often is uncomfortable seeing who we are. It is quite vulnerable and can be scary to be honest with ourselves this much. Some of the things could not even be fully true but they are still an aspect of you in your life. When you think of who you are, what do you identify with and what comes up.
If you are comfortable sharing who you are in the comments, I have found it to be a very powerful thing to share who we are.
I want to remind you that this is part 1 of 3, so these things that you identify and see yourself as will not be what identify you. . We will be diving deeper and more intently in seeing how we can change who we are and get past limiting beliefs.
Peace to you and be present with yourself and with others
If you would like to read more, here is an article that guided me in self-discovery
What do you do?
I have a ranty confession. Every time I hear this question I cringe and every time I get asked this question I avoid answering in the way they expect it to be answered. The reason I do not like the question is because it defines us by what we do instead of who we are. Most of the time this question gets asked when you first meet somebody and a label is automatically established. The label says if you have made it, if you have prestige, if you are a hard worker, if you are respectable, and it represents your importance; all based on what you do.
This question drains me to ask and it kills me to answer. The conclusion is made of what is important to us by what we do for work and that is such a small part of who we are. We have gotten so good at manipulating this so we seem important by coming up with fancy sounding titles that are just elaborate words that have fake prestige to them. I understand employers want their employees to have importance in their title and to have professionalism, but some titles these days are getting out of control and you have not made it unless your name includes an abbreviation or acronym.
Making lemonade with lemons
We can try as hard as we can to avoid and change the environment that this question is asked, but we will have to face it. I have accepted this and believe it or not I have a way that we can use this question to create a powerful impact. It does take some creative action, but it will be powerful.
For me, I would tell people I am a writer and life coach, some of the time I would get that is nice with the possibility of a follow up question about what I write about since writers are always writing something interesting. Things changed when I started to tell people I help champions become champions. I have not changed what I do, but I changed how I portray myself. The first is bland and boring and the second is helpful and transformational. People love people that serve to help others and it is a powerful bonus when they hear the transformation of somebody becoming a champion. To be honest, I took this from somebody, but it is something worth sharing and using because it works in a powerful way.
How it works
The problem at the beginning was that I did not like how our work defined who we are and the figure out who somebody is we use the question what do you do. It puts the emphasis of identity on what you do and have done instead of who you are. When you hear I help champions become champions, you hear somebody being helpful, believing the best of others, somebody that believes in transformation, and somebody that is in the service of making change. When I say this it shows that I believe I have purpose and it shows that I believe others have purpose. It puts emphasis on who I am instead of what I do.
This is hard work to figure out because it takes a little soul searching and step outside of the status quo, but that is the responsibility of being creative. Fortunately it comes easier than you think. Here are a few questions for you to figure out how you can be more powerful in what you do.
1 I help blank
3 can do blank
This is just a suggested path, as you notice the example I gave of “I help champions become champions does” does not have the words so or can. It has an action, it has a person, and it has a transformation.
Examples of this can look anything like the ones below
I care for new moms getting through the stresses of the infant phase.
I watch over the trends of sales to enhance the potential of sales in our company
I lead a team of engineers to create innovative products to make medical procedures more safe.
I train and invest in employees to be effective and purposeful in the work place to maximize their potential.
These are much more powerful than the alternative responses to
Answering the do you do question in this way is much more powerful than saying I am a…
In the comments give me your most powerful response to what do you do.
Show me that we can transform the way we answer this question
If you want to know more about this transformative process send me an email at email@example.com and I can give you a call to help you have a more powerful impact.
We can set up a free 30 minute consultation to see what it is that is holding you back from becoming who you want to be and being who you want to become
In the comments give me a powerful example of what you would say to the question
What do you do, so you show you have purpose and meaning?
We need to talk about privilege
I have somethings to admit and let you in on. This idea of restoring vision is somewhat pretentious. What I mean by that is that it is quite assuming of our social position. Jus the basic level that I have the time to write, coach, and think about restoration, passion, and vision is a privilege. I am not saying this is not work and I am not doing my part in the world, but there are some privileges that have gone unrecognized. If restoration is going to be practiced and utilized in its full capacity then the privileges will have to be recognized, considered, and adapted into the plan of reaching and teaching. Here are 5 privileges that we need to be aware of when restoring passion to pursue our vision from the perspective of the coach.
1. Free time and money
Time is money and money is time. As a coach there is an assumption that you have the time to absorb the information I have to give and the process is trustworthy enough to take your time and money. If I think of somebody that is economically disadvantaged, racially disenfranchised, or under resourced by any other means; I probably do not think they would be able to financially afford the investment to pay for coaching to pursue their dreams, their passion, and their one true desire. Most working class people can not afford coaching programs like this because they are so expensive. Often times in the entrepreneur world I hear this being talked about as a “target audience”. If the population of people does not fit your goal than that is not your audience, is what I hear, and that sucks for a large chunk of the population that gets left out.
The privilege is that I can financially afford the time to think, process, and teach these coaching programs
Within this same presumption is the presumption of time. It is one thing to financially be able to afford it, but can you afford it with your time. When people are under resourced they often spend their time working 2 or 3 jobs to get by, maybe providing for a family, just to get through each day. No big dream pursuits, no ambitions to create the next nonprofit that changes the world, just the drive to take care of themselves and their family to make sure there is food and a roof over their heads. Yes there are dreams of things that would be nice, but dreaming about nice is not too wise. My privilege is that I can speak to people that have time to think about the big picture vision of life, coach them to their goals, and to figure out ways to not be held back by everyday struggles and responsibilities. Sometimes I look up to this way of life; it has dedication to family and faithful work. The simplicity of it is envious from the outside, but we can not assume that their struggle is any different than ours because we all have the same amount of hours, but different resources that display our privilege for opportunities.
2. Coaching will do it
I think as a coach, I as well as many other coaches think we have what it takes to get you to your goal. coaches that try to promote how well rounded their research is , which is in-turn their practice, without listening and investing in the person first; is that it comes off as narrow minded. It assumes that the only thing holding the person back from their manifest destiny is themselves. I believe this is true, but not all the time. Coach’s talk about it is how you organize your life and figure out your priorities. I do believe everyone can benefit from a coach, but a coach will not get everybody to their goals. Sometimes there needs to be training, a tool developed to cross a physical barrier, and the most restrictive and frustrating limitation of being lawfully or culturally segregated so opportunities are not available
This reminds me of the cool Runnings story. The Kenyan bobsled team and how unlikely this group of 4 Kenyan men from Africa would make it to the Olympics in an ice bobsledding competition. It hurts when this presumption is racially bias and we discount people based on what we think their capabilities are based on their race. The Kenyan bobsled team had to overcome this in their journey to the Olympics. Coaches can only do so much. They can not make the goal happen, the dream come true, or the restrictions disappear. The coach can guide, a guide is helpful, but guidance is only responsibility a coach can fill. We would be foolish to think there is more a coach can do. Let’s embrace our privilege of being a guide and be realistic with what our help is as a coach.
3. Vision is everything
As much as this is something I promote and believe in, it just is not true. Some will say there needs to be a decision. You need to decide that you want change before change actually happens. Without turning this in a chicken before the egg standoff I want to emphasis that vision is important and is a turning point, but there are many other vital impacts that affect your ability to move forward. I have the privilege of talking about vision because it is an all-encompassing aspect that I can use to speaking to various avenues of change. Vision is almost a synonym for belief, identity, social change, and goal setting because it speaks into each of those areas.
The most common way that this privilege gets portrayed is by people saying things like just imagine your dream and let that guide you and be your power, or you need a vision of your goals before you can go pursue them. These things sound good but they are not exactly true in the simple sense they are being portrayed. Yes you need to have an idea, but making vision the focal point is not necessary and comes from a place of privilege. For most people, just putting one foot in front of another is hard enough, so I do think vision is important, but when we put it in front of decision making and taking action the priority gets messed up. In the coaching world vision helps you to dream and think in the big picture. Seeing life in the big picture is a privilege for most because the small picture of essential task does not bury them so they have the privilege of having the ability to dream.
4. Speaking from an a-historic perspective
A-historic means that the present is only view through the lens of the present. When folks look for a coach they are usually looking to get over a hurdle to accomplish a goal or just get life straightened out to pursue something richer and fuller. Most take the perspective of what is your goal, where are you at now and what do we need to do to get there. Unfortunately this will lead to burn out and disappointment in the long term. This framework only works for so long. When looking at the future the past needs to be incorporated to work in the present. The most powerful journeys of transformation are the ones that dive in the past and are determined to reconcile with it and not repeat it.
It is the nature of coaches and counselors alike to stay focus on the present and meet you where you are at. I understand the frustration of going to a doctor, a therapist, or a coach and spending an hour on the history when they did not even use the information or even more frustrating when they do not use your history and just guess about the condition and the solution. It takes the dignity and humanity out of the person. The privilege is being the one in control because the coach, counselor, doctor, or whatever is the one getting paid. If somebody says they take a holistic approach make sure they take a full holistic approach that includes the past because it is important to listen to the whole person.
5. Not everybody wants to change, change is not for everybody
This is the hardest one for me to grasp. For me this goes beyond my practice of coaching and into my personal values. I believe everyone has the ability to change, but the reality is that not everyone wants it to happen. The desire has the meet the ability. This is frustrating because potential is left on the table when a fuller more abundant life is possible. Coaches promote change and make money off of change. They are in the results business, so if the customer does not notice or feel the change in their life then business will die, so there is in an invested interest in change. The ability will always be there, but the desire is the one that is always in question. It is a privilege to always be in the mindset to pursue change. For the majority of people they have to just rely on their abilities to get by in life and take care of the priorities of putting food on the table and maintaining a roof overhead. I ask many people what their passion/desire/ dream is and many of them do not know, not so much because they have not dream, but because their dreams have been limited to their abilities. So the dream is to be the best mom, just to be happy and a good person, to have a good family, to love and care for my children. For most of us our abilities have pushed down a path and the path is not something that we consciously choose. Some people work on just being present with what they have, which is a dead end for a coach because there is nothing more abundant than be grateful and present with what you value.
The only question I will leave you with is do you like what you value or is there something more that you want for life?
I find it important to recognize privileges so that we do not take things for granted. I believe this practice has helped me be more compassionate and allowed me to walk the extra mile in the other person’s shoes.
If you have a coach, share this with them and see what they think
If you do not have a coach let these questions set in a see if any of these hold you back from having a coach.
There are people out there that are willing to lessen their privilege, so that you can have the ability to pursue your desires and dreams.
You are powerful where ever you are and I hope you are able to find abundance where ever you are at.
What is vision and why does it need to be restored?
I would like to say something definite and fancy like if you do not have vision then you do not have anything, but is not true. We can walk and act without a vision, at least a grand vision.
A vision is a big picture goal or an imagination of an activity that has yet to take place. Vision can be small which leads to small victories, but also they can be big which are usually planted in living out a particular value or belief.
When we talk about restoring vision we are talking about restoring a possibility, an identity, or perspective. We can walk and act blindly and will be like a duck with a broken leg spinning in circles. Without vision our impact will be limited. Going from task to task is tiring because each time the ignition needs to get restarted. Vision keeps us continuing to drive forward.
When we look at pro athletes and people with seemingly magical talents we see something special because we can not imagine how they got their talent. Hard work can be seen, but internal drive can not. Internal drive is fueled by vision. Vision is the one thing that transcends talent and hard work.
The big things in life
The question then turns to what do we build our vision from and how do we get vision. The important part for you to remember for yourself and the people you interact with is that your vision is unique to you; nobody sees the world like you see the world. This means you have a unique impact and purpose on this earth. I like to think of this in the frame of a story. This is why I use the phrase restoring my vision.
Vision is a journey and is being shaped and formed by each experience. The restoring aspect is the process or the silent step of faith into the unknown.
I would like to be able to give you a particular outline with a step by step method of how to get your vision back to the clear 20/20. I can tell you what goes into vision, but that is as close as I can get because the restoring of vision is a journey and an active pursuit. There are particular experiences that will come and people will go; change is inevitable, which is why vision is intersectional.
You have your values and this shows how you walk. Not the particular stride, but the wake that comes from the path you have blazed. Your values guide you, but your values are also guided by your beliefs. Sometimes people confuse beliefs and values. We have to value what we believe to let it be something that impacts us and a value comes from a personal experience. This personal experience can be a momentary situation or it could be a past memory on repeat. Values can change and develop but are defined by what we believe to be true about our reality.
You are what you eat, well not really, but you are what you think you are. This intersects with what you believe, but is different than a value. Identity is the inner workings of you coming out. Some refer to identity as a sense of worth, your inner foundation, the rock on which you build your life on, or for our purposes who you see yourself as. Many different positive and negative things can be our identity and it can be slippery or it can be stable. Who we are can always be changed and developed because there is a rhetorical question that life begs of us and that is who are you becoming. Identity is the answering of this question
Desires and wants have a bad reputation. This is something I think should be restored and can be restored. If we always view desires and wants as negative things or something that needs to be controlled then we will just come to fear our inclinations. this can turn to a deep rabbit hole, which I have found so many people stuck in. it is so hard to get out and embrace our inclinations. Yes there are bad motives and selfish desires, but what about the opposite side. You have desire for joy to serve, to understand, to be in community, to be with others and to give yourself. Often times these motives are misunderstood by others and they are misunderstood by ourselves. This is definitely a cultural and structural pressure that has contributed to this ignorance of a vital aspect of your humanity. It is an essential part of vision because it is the collision of knowing who you are and being able to voice it. If we can not be comfortable saying what we desire and want then how are we going to be comfortable dreaming and pursuing an ambition? Yes, again this gets back to what you believe about yourself and if you feel you are worthy enough to dream. If we can not get excited about a desire or ambition then how are we supposed to move forward?
Drive is that internal aspect that people do not see and is only recognized by those who see the daily dedication of faithful hard work. The internal drive is often referred to as a flame. This flame can be low and it can be blazing. The people with the blazing internal drive have been able to make sense of life in a seemingly unique way. I believe this unique way is available to anyone. The internal drive is found from matching your purpose, which is all the previous things that have happened in your life, with your identity. When your identity falls align with your purpose it is like a rush of air for a fire. This is what people call passion, full of life, exuberant and full of abundance. We often refer to these people as the glass half full people, but in actuality there glass is full and over flowing. This is why they are able to develop their skills the way they do, live with so much vitality, and love each person as if they are the last person on earth.
This post has been quite long, but vision needed to be explained so that we can see how to see. Each one of these aspects can have an entire book written about them and can be expounded upon in many coaching lessons. The important part to remember is that they are intersectional. As your virtual vision coach I want to be with you in this journey of discovery. I will be with you as you are discovering what it is like to have clearer vision.
In the comments share which one is the hardest for you or the one that is the greatest struggle, but also if you had this 20/20 vision what would you do with it, what would be your big vision?
Tell me how you are restoring your vision