Friday, July 18, 2008

Other People's Lives Are Highly Over-Rated

I get concerned when I hear a public speaker say, "If you follow my steps and do exactly what I did, you too can become as successful I have become." Having been an educator for over 30 years, I don't think I have ever seen someone copy someone else's steps exactly and become as successful as another person. I can't say I have ever seen two people successfully solve a problem or meet a challenge in the same way.

Take a roomful of only 20 people, break them up into four groups of five, and give them all the same challenge to solve, and they will come up with four different solutions. Furthermore, they'll base those solutions on their own experience, knowledge, and aptitudes.

To be even more fair, take three very successful people in the same field and interview them about how they became successful, and you will hear three distinctly unique stories. You might hear some similar themes, and those are certainly worth noting. However, we are all unique in our aptitudes, skills, experience, beliefs, preferences and our intuitive guidance. What you came here to do is not exactly the same as what I came here to do, even if our goals and fields of interest are the same.

Perhaps even more importantly, how we heal and grow spiritually throughout our various experiences in meeting our earthly goals is what the real journey is all about. If I'm occupied copying someone else's life, I'm not really living my own, am I? I'm not listening for and following Spirit's whisperings in my ear because I'm focused on becoming successful by mapping someone else's journey on to my own life. I'm not attending to the spiritual growth opportunities right in front of me, that ultimately define who I am, because I'm following a prescription to an end goal, not following my own path.

Of course, it is wise to listen to and consider the knowledge of someone more accomplished. If you have engaged a teacher, it only makes sense to get as much out of their programs, steps and methodologies as apply to you. You can benefit greatly by learning from others' successes and mistakes.

Yet, other people's successes usually occurred as they worked through their unique set of challenges that were a result of their personality, aptitudes, skills, experiences, and the spiritual purpose they are here to fulfill. Their ultimate successes create new and unique challenges for them to overcome, and hopefully, those new unique challenges, keep them growing.

Other people's lives are their lives. They aren't meant to be adopted by their friends or students. We can over-rate other people's lives when our own is overwhelming or super challenging for us. It is too easy to assume someone else has figured out the answer to success and all we have to do is follow in their foot-steps. Real spiritual growth and its inherent success comes when we have the courage to learn from the wisdom of others, listen to our own inner guidance from Spirit, and then boldly follow our own course—our own special lives.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Does Easy Always Mean It Is Right?

I've been asking this question to some of my peers and associates because it comes up a lot in my work. I'm amazed the number of times someone tells me a decision they have made must not be right because it isn't coming together easily. I certainly understand the desire, maybe even need, to create as much smooth, comfort and ease in one's life as possible. And certainly, when things are flowing well, it affirms the incredible efforts we have made to create that flow, but is it a static indicator of right?

In speaking with a woman who has been studying a marshal art form about this, she indicated that some of the most worthwhile accomplishments are the ones that are challenging to achieve. In other words, without challenge, there is no growth. She questioned whether we ever get beyond our limitations if we aren't going to our edges of discomfort.

I asked a curandera her opinion, and she stated that looking for life to always be easy is a way to avoid growth. She believes we create greater ease as we master our challenges, but we don't when we avoid them. She further suggested that when we avoid our challenges, we often exacerbate the very challenge we are trying to get away from.

In my own experience questing people for the past 12 years, I have discovered tremendous challenges and obstacles often come up for some questers right before they are about to get in the car to drive to Quest. It is as though all of their pent-up or buried fears become manifest in obstacles so that they have an opportunity to overcome them before they get to the hill.

Even participants will encounter perceived obstacles such as fears of camping, exposure to the natural elements, or being near animals. This year one very wise woman called me to talk about her concerns. She told me how she needed to spend more time close to the Mother Earth—how the Mother was calling her—and how she was afraid. She knew her objections were reflections of her fears, and by talking it over with me she was able to see the opportunity in walking through her fears, rather than walking away from them. She came to Quest and was glowing the entire week! She deepened her connection to the Mother by being completely truthful with herself, as she owned her fears and chose to transcend them.

I discovered the same truth the first time I firewalked. Just the thought of firewalking filled me with fear. My stomach tightened up and I nearly panicked, when my friend handed me a flyer and told me she thought I should go. But the fire had been calling to me for some time. I knew the firewalk had a gift for me. So I registered telling myself I didn't have to walk, but I needed to attend in order to honor the call of the fire.

Well, you have probably heard this story already. I did walk, and it was one of the most significant transforming moments of my life. Was it easy? In truth, when I finally got to the head of the fire, it was. You see, I had mastered my fear by just getting to the fire. It was getting to the fire that was difficult and challenging for me. Once the fear was mastered—yes, it was easy.

Imagine the story a butterfly might tell us, "Getting out of the chrysalis was the most tremendous work I could have ever imagined. But now that I'm out, I've never felt so free."

Woody Allen has been known to say, "Eighty percent of life is just showing up." Perhaps he knew saying, "yes to the opportunity" and getting out the door is where the greatest challenge exists. Does easy always mean it is right? Sometimes it does. Sometimes it means we have chosen the right career, goal, project, relationship, or made good health choices. Sometimes easy means we have mastered something already and we are living in our mastery. But I'm willing to bet that when something is difficult, showing up to face it may be equally right.