Living From Your Inner Compass

There isn’t a map for our lives.

We can, of course, create maps and plans for ourselves and they can prove to be quite useful, but ultimately, the plans only maximize their usefulness when they are being guided by our inner compass. If you’re moving in the opposite direction your inner compass is pointing you, you will be left feeling like you are always taking wrong turns. Something will constantly feel off.

Because there isn’t a map, we have to be very cautious about people trying to create a map for us.

Almost always well-meaning, our parents and teachers and friends and other people in our lives will try to create a map for you. This is a good way to keep you busy and out of trouble, but is not always ideal for helping you find what you were made to do.

We create maps because it makes us feel safer and more in control. But the map is useless if it’s taking us in the wrong direction.

If you follow your internal compass, there’s a very good chance your life will look unconventional to the rest of the world.

That’s okay. Remember this: You hasn’t been done before. Your life hasn’t been lived. So why should your life look like anyone else’s?

We create maps because then we can make copies and hand them out to anyone looking for somewhere to go–anyone that hasn’t yet realized they have an inner compass.

It’s easy work to hand out maps. It’s safe. Soon we can start to predict what will happen to each person: how much money they’ll make on this path, what their typical day will look like, and where they will likely live. And as humans, we like the predictability. We like to know where we are going and how we’ll end up, even if, deep down, we know something feels off about it. Better safe than sorry.

When you follow your compass, you’re not signing up for the easiest path.

It will have its share of difficult and demanding work. Probably more so than if you were to follow a predefined map. It requires creativity and intentional action to navigate (both of which you do have). It requires boldness and resilience. You will have incredibly fulfilling days followed by days of struggle and doubt. You won’t always be able to find shortcuts by Googling “how to get from A to B” because your “A to B” hasn’t been done before.

It will feel uncomfortable at times and even feel unsafe.

But the truth is, it is the safest path you can take.

It won’t be the easiest path but, alas, it will be the right path.

When you sign yourself up for living the compass-driven life, most people won’t understand. Surround yourself with people who do. Ask for their support. Use them to bounce ideas and worries off of. Even your failures. Because people who understand that you’re living from your internal compass will know that this road is littered with challenges and unique twists and turns. You’ll need the support from someone who isn’t there to say, “I warned you,” but instead encouragingly says, “what did you learn?” and “would you want it any other way?”

…would you?

The Mistaken Beliefs of Happiness

Here is a common script we play over and over in our lives:

If I can have the things I want and do the things I want, then I will be happy.

For most of us, it sounds right. Of course, if I can have what I want and do what I want, why wouldn’t I be happy? That’s the ultimate goal, right?

Not exactly.

Let’s break it down and call out the mistaken beliefs within this script.

If I can have the things I want…

The mistaken belief:

that having something external will provide sustained internal joy and happiness.

and do the things I want…

The mistaken belief:

that there’s somewhere we need to get to in order to be happy.

then I will be happy…

The mistaken belief:

that the state of being happy comes last.

 

The problem with this script, though it seems like truth when we say it, is that it mistakes happiness as being an outside in experience. If I have and do things out there, I will be happy in here.

In fact, it works the other way around.

Yes, having things and doing things can create moments of joy and happiness, but it is not sustaining. Eventually the new 48 inch TV that made you so happy and excited last week, is now just another thing in your life. And the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted will soon become a memory. And though the opportunity brings excitement and thrill and joy, it too will pass and we will begin looking forward to the next opportunity that awaits.

Our pursuit for happiness must not be an externally-motivated one. It is exhausting and there’s always “somewhere else” to get to–an even bigger TV, another vacation to plan. Out with the old and in with the new.

Instead, our pursuit must be an internally-motivated one. And it’s much less of a pursuit and more of an allowing of it to emerge.

Happiness and joy are here. In the present moment. Within you. There’s nothing you need to do to experience it other than get out of your own way–out of your own mind and out of your own contaminated thinking. (Obviously, there are exceptions to this that make it more complicated. But I’m not referring to those instances. I am assuming you have the conscious ability to make the choice to be happy.)

It is not a place to get to.

It is a place to come from.

When we live our lives from our values and set our priorities and filters around what matters most, we can’t help but live a more engaged, energetic, and enthusiastic life. We are living from the inside out.

As healthy boundaries form, we create space in our lives for the emerging of our innate well-being: love, connection, joy, gratitude, creativity, and compassion.

Happiness isn’t a place we get to. It’s a place we choose to come from. And it begins when we recognize the futility of living an outside in life and the vitality that comes from living from the inside out.

Live out your values. Do the things that matter. And stop being influenced by the absurdities of the world telling you what you need to have and do to be happy.

The People You Meet On The Path Towards Becoming

When we are too scared to look at our own power–the ability to create and do something meaningful–we turn our attention to the shortcomings of others. Because we fear that they will do the thing we know we should do but are too scared to endure the challenge.

That challenge is to live true to our authentic self.

When we are engaged in the process of becoming–a path that is imperfect, beautiful, and narrow–many people that are too scared to take the path will turn their energy towards stopping and defeating you.

These people show up in forums under pseudo names. They maintain their anonymity because they have not yet built up the courage to show themselves. They provide endless reasons for why things won’t work.

These people may even show up at family gatherings and disguise themselves as “concerned family members.” And though they may truly mean well, it’s almost always coming from a place of fear of watching you live out your authentic life.

It’s a fear because deep down there’s regret for never having lived theirs.

And on the flip side, those who are walking the path to becoming who they were created to be show up with encouragement and excitement and inspiration. Because they know the difficulty of the path you are on. They know it’s hard. But they also know that it leads to living a life far greater and far more beautiful than you can imagine.

When you become a self-leader on your path to becoming, you will undoubtedly face resistance. Use it to strengthen you. And remember: the critiques coming from others aren’t really about you.

And when you meet someone walking their path, enjoy it. Be grateful for them. Encourage them. Strengthen them. It’s a narrow road they’re on.

What is Your Life-Driving Question?

What’s the question that won’t go away for you?

The question that keeps showing up in your life.

The question that opens your mind to dreaming, to imagining, to hoping.

What’s the question that leaves you asking, “What if…”?

What if that was possible?

What if I had the courage to live into that question?

What if that was the question that I woke up every day of my life seeking the answers for?

The questions that we ask help us to glean insights about our life. Insights around our purpose, our values, and our hopes for our lives and the world.

So,

What’s the question that won’t go away for you?

The question that keeps showing up in the pit of your stomach.

The question that stirs up excitement, fear, hope, and urgency.

The question that makes you want to jump up and get started finding the answer to.

The question that makes you feel alive!

What is it telling you? What direction is it pointing you in?

And finally, will you listen?

Be Here

We are called to be here.

To be present.

…in the hardships and pain, be here.

…in the celebrations and gatherings, be here.

…in the demands of our daily work, be here.

…in our commute, be here.

…to love, be here.

…to connect, be here.

…to experience deep joy, be here.

…in all the smallnesses and immensities of life, be here.

To truly live…be here.

Pleasure Disappoints, Possibility Never

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and argent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never.Kierkegaard

We Need Less Advice, More Curiosity

When a friend starts to experience a problem in her life–perhaps in her relationships or at work–it’s common for us to resort to giving advice.

“Have you tried this? Or how about this?”

“Actually, do this. It worked for me.”

Most of the time, however, we’re not looking for advice.

We air out our problems to people close to us (and sometime not close to us) because just the act of speaking it takes it out of our mind and into reality.

The problem takes a different shape when spoken. Within our minds, our problems seem big. We make them big by replaying them over and over and over again. And each time they are replayed, they grow.

Speaking it out loud frees us from that, at least temporarily.

Speaking our problem allows us to see it differently. Less like the giant problem we have made it in our mind that appears unsolvable, and more like what it truly is, a problem that is solvable. (I might even argue that your problems aren’t really even problems, but I’ll save that for another conversation…)

But just because we speak it out loud, doesn’t mean we need it solved in the moment with advice.

We don’t need advice. There’s already too much of that floating around from well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) friends, in how-to books, and located within our human resources pamphlets.

What we need is more curiosity. 

Curiosity is without judgment.

Curiosity isn’t focused on solving a problem for you, but rather to help you continue to see it in new light and from different angles.

Curiosity creates space for you to reflect, explore, consider, and solve your own problems.

When we solve our own problems, when we finally see the problem in a way that “clicks” for us, it creates a deep, lasting change.

Advice provides temporary relief. It only treats the symptoms. It makes us feel better for a little while, but gradually the problems come back, often times with even greater force.

Curiosity leads us to the cause. And once we get to the heart of the matter, miracles happen. Transformation occurs. And suddenly, everything seems different. Our lives change.

Don’t offer advice. Ask questions that evoke personal exploration. Be curious.

Create Space. Change Your Life.

We live at an absurdly crazy pace.

There is very little space in our days for the creation of amazing things. Very little, if any, space for ourselves to think, to ponder, to dream, to be creative.

As a result of our hurried lives, we’re overworked, bored, stressed, worried, and distracted.

It is in the space where our lives change, where miracles occur.

It is in the space where we connect with another human being on a deep level.

It is in the space where insights occur.

It is in the space where wisdom and creativity can be accessed.

It is in the space where we are able to see things that have gone unnoticed, where we become present, and where we learn that life is an abundantly beautiful and amazing phenomenon that we get to experience.

Create space in your day for quiet, uninterrupted time. Slow down. Breath. Stop trying to outpace life and instead reflect on it and enjoy it.

Your Best Self

Who gets to experience your best self?

It’s so easy to get caught up in chasing a more secure financial future.

It’s tempting to put in a few extra hours of work in hopes to be rewarded with a bonus, or a raise, or simply a nod of acknowledgement and approval from your boss.

We push ourselves harder and work a little longer. We drain ourselves in pursuit of material assets.

I love to put in work. I enjoy the gift of being able to put emotional labor into a project that is meaningful, that pushes against the edges of my comfort zone, and provokes others to think differently.

But the body of work we generously give to the world is only a piece of the larger purpose of life.

Arguably, the most important (and precious) asset we have are the children we raise. But we cannot invest powerfully in them if we are physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually weary during the few hours we have with them each day.

They need our engagement and presence more than anything. They deserve our best selves.

If you are interested in changing the world, it begins in the home.

This is a lesson I’m learning.

I struggle so much with turning off the piece of me that wants to create a financially secure future for my son. Constantly, I battle the deceptive voice in my head saying, “keep working, keep working, keep working. It’s not good enough yet. Keep working.”

And almost everyday, as I turn my attention to this voice, I ignore of the most important work that I literally hold in my hands every day…

…the work that deserves my best self.

…the work that requires a level of engagement and presence that often feels uncomfortable in a world of constant distraction.

…the work that needs me to show up powerfully as an authentic and courageous leader, a loving and generous husband, and a playful and passionate father.

Ethan_6mo-2246

Everyday, my most important work, the work that deserves my best self, is to raise a son who will one day outplay me, love better than me, lead more courageously than I could ever have dreamed, and become far more generous than I find comfortable.

To do that, he must be able to experience the best of me on a consistent basis.