Sometimes we get disconnected from passion, and our inner light goes dim. Here’s how to set it blazing again.
I came to a point, about 10 years ago, when I realized that I was doing something I was really good at, having a lot of success, making a lot of money, and truly helping people. That was one of the lowest points in my 20 years of being my own boss.
I came to that realization at a funeral. Not mine, but it forced me to think about mine – which I assume will happen someday. This was a funeral for someone who left the material world long before any of us were ready. He was 52, and his human life was over. I was 42, and my human life was on autopilot.
As I listened to the slow heartthrobbing beat of The Flaming Lips’ “What is the Light,” I realized my light, the one that had once shown from inside and all around me, was barely a flicker. As I listened to each of the eulogies, testaments to a life lived on fire, and heard over and over “Steve was passionate about …” I realized there were few people in my life who would know what I was passionate about. Few people who had ever witnessed my life when I lived like a bonfire in motion.
It wasn’t all about my work. But most of it was. Like most entrepreneurs, my work isn’t just my way of making a living, it’s a vehicle for being of service, for delivering value, for being on purpose in my life. I was helping people, but the way I was helping them didn’t fire me up. It hadn’t fired me up for a long, long time. Since part of my value to my clients, and to the world, is my energy — I knew I had to do whatever it took to get that energy back at a peak level.
I took myself on a three day retreat. I know what I need to do when it’s time for inner work and transformation so I designed that retreat accordingly — water, sun, privacy, quiet, a couple of notebooks and a sketch pad and all the pens, pencils, and other artsy stuff I could gather up. This was 10 years ago so I didn’t have to think so much about unplugging from technology – today that would have to be part of it too.
That may not be what YOU need, you’ll likely have a different list. But ask yourself what environment and tools you need to get inside your own head. A lot of people work better with a coach, or someone who is outside their situation, to help them through the process, but I’d been doing that kind of inner work a long time by then so I worked at being my own observer and taking myself though the process.
What Change Can You Be that Fires You Up?
I started by cataloging all the things I could remember that still fired me up just thinking about them. Projects, conversations, accomplishments, anything I could look back on and still feel joy in having been part of. And I dug down to discover what ABOUT that was exciting and fulfilling for me. I believe that our real purpose isn’t in the activity – it’s in the outcomes. You’ve heard “be the change you want to see in the world,” well what change are you fired up about being part of for one person, a community, or for the world? I spent a lot of time in that space, going back as far as grade school memories, or even stories told about me that I don’t remember, to ask what change I’d always wanted to be in the world.
What Help Can You Be that People Value?
Then I asked myself what people usually ask me to help them with, to do for them, to answer for them, to be part of with them. Where did other people just instinctively sense my value to them would be? Because no matter how on purpose I am, if I want to make a business of it then it has to be something people trust me to do and value from me.
I’m fired up about being change in the world. But I’m compensated for the change other people perceive in their lives because of my being in their world. And the same is true for all of us.
What I Learned
One, my heart still jumps when I think about the people I helped reach a big goal or dream that they thought was impossible.
Two, a lot of my proudest memories have nothing to do with business growth, they have to do with personal growth, the business growth was simply a byproduct. But I’m most fired up about personal growth when it’s related to creativity and business growth, I’m at my best working with artists and entrepreneurs because their dreams excite me.
Three, people are drawn to me when they are either at a cross roads and can’t decide what direction to go, when they’re feeling trapped by their own story of limitation and adversity, or when they’re trying really hard to go in a certain direction and are coming up against one brick wall after another.
Four, I’m am most impactful when I am using words to create change, and most fulfilled when I am using words to create beauty. To feel whole, and of ultimate service, I need to write, I need to speak, I need to use words to exchange ideas and reach the hearts of others.
Five, I can find examples of all of those elements that go back to first grade, some even before. It’s not about my business model, it’s who I am. Even people who don’t know me tend to talk to me about those kinds of problems and I’m always drawn to help them solve it even if it’s not in a professional capacity.
For 10 years I had been a business analyst and management consultant. I’d been in business management several years before that. I was writing, I’d been published in top industry journals. I was speaking, to large audiences. But while I had become known for “personal development” and “team building” my primary focus was on numbers and metrics. While I was using words to communicate, my primary focus was on “how to” and “should do.” No wonder I was feeling dead inside.
In those two days of private reflection and realization I discovered that I hadn’t really been those things, I’d been doing those things. What I had been, long before I chose business development as a path, was what most people call a “coach.”
I was already doing what I wanted to do, I just needed to change my focus/methodology and redefine my ideal client. So I began to focus on the personal development/coaching and dove even more deeply into the study of how the brain/mind functions and how we can use it to support us instead of letting us hold us back. And I set out to attract entrepreneurs who wanted coaching for themselves instead of consulting and team development for their business.
Approaching the 10 year anniversary of rebranding and rebirthing myself and my business, I’m grateful for that wake up call. Approaching my 52nd year on this earth, I know that if any of you attend my funeral you will hear people say, “Dixie was so passionate about …” And they will know how to fill in the blank.
How will people know what you’re passionate about?
Photo: Flickr/Abhishek Srivastava