As a visionary, I see possibilities. I see where the world is and where it could be. And I see where I am and where I could be.
The distance between those two points leaves a vacuum, and many times, I’ve found myself filling that space with the energy of anxiety, which becomes a fuel with which I leap into action…
For example, last year, my business partner Ryan Rigoli and I wanted to hone our core messaging from many different ideas down to a few. We envisioned how this precision would guide what we communicate on our site’s homepage, in talks, and through blog posts. We could feel how useful it was going to be in that future state — the power of that clarity and focus.
And for the next 10 months, we felt the desire to be there as well as the sometimes painful reminder that we were not there yet. Yes — at times, we experienced not being there as a kind of suffering.
This began a practice between sometimes pushing forward to clarify our core messages and sometimes letting go of needing them to be clarified. In the pushing, there was a voice that would crop up and say, “I want it done now!” I would call that voice Impatience. Impatience prefers action over non-action because he feels productive and useful. He also has spiky hair and likes to get in my face.
In the letting go, there was another voice saying, “there’s nothing you need to do right now.” That voice I would call Intuition. Intuition knows when non-action is necessary. I can’t see Intuition’s hair but he tells me not to worry about it.
Ruled by Impatience
Impatience wanted us to be at that later stage, reaping the benefits of having a clear set of messages, rather than being with the reality of what was unclear in the present moment. Impatience believes that once we get to the future state we’ll feel an ease of being. After all, with clearer messaging, I can imagine more speaking opportunities, more clients, and more appreciation for what I share… why not rush to get there?
When Impatience runs the show, he encourages acting by any means necessary to attain a goal. For example, we could have paid someone else to do our messaging. We could have locked ourselves in a room for 5 days and not left until we had a version of our messaging. We could have done many things that would have been more from impatience than intuition. In other words, from urgency rather than trust.
What is the cost of acting from urgency?
For me, I’ve wasted a lot of time on the computer or in meetings, stuck in my head, believing I was being persistent or resilient. I’ve wasted money to purchase a service I did not need. I’ve wasted opportunities to be kind to myself and others when the vision seemed more important than the current reality or the people in my presence. I’ve ignored my body by not allowing for pauses and silence, barely breathing in the process.
Why would I allow this?
We all have a shadow. A shadow is the place in my psyche where the impulses I unconsciously make “wrong” in myself wait for their chance to control my behavior when I’m not paying attention. In my shadow, exists a desire for fame and fortune, a desire to control others and force things to happen.
I could ignore this shadow by focusing on my beautiful vision and thinking, “as long as I get there, the quality of my progress doesn’t matter” (similar to how we sometimes view the need for changes in the world, such as upgrades to education, government, or our environment’s health — i.e. “do whatever it takes and don’t look back at the damage created along the way. We just need to get THERE!”). As long as I ignore my shadow’s impulses for attention and control and don’t find a way to redirect them, they will run me in a way I don’t always notice until it’s too late. Often leaving me wondering, “why did I do that?”
Guided by Intuition
In his book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle reminds me that the most impactful and likely shifts in our world will not come from putting our focus on making those changes happen. The “new earth” as he calls it is created by how we engage with ourselves and one another with more presence and attention. In other words, a set of internal shifts rather than external ones putting our focus on “how” we go about inviting change to occur. Before driving our vision forward, we lead first with our presence.
This orientation has inspired Ryan and I to look at what is going on in ourselves in the midst of any effort, whether it’s clarifying our messaging or working with a client. We take time to check-in and be honest with ourselves and each other. By doing this, we have felt much more clear and confident with our choices to act or not act. This allows us to show up more consciously in our communications, both in marketing and during client sessions.
Along our journey to clarify our messages, Ryan and I went about setting deadlines, but those deadlines became fluid (perhaps they are therefore not “dead” and we should call them “lifelines” : ) We learned to follow and trust the natural rhythm of when our messaging wanted to be birthed. Maybe the timing of getting clear on our core messages was more about when we were ready to receive them.
In all creative processes, we have periods of blindness. When it’s time to allow the “not-knowing what’s next” and step away from the canvas. Time when Intuition says softly, “there’s nothing to do right now. Just listen for the next time you hear my whisper.”
And so it was, as we had landed much of our messaging internally, we were experiencing a shift in our own sense of clarity and receiving our first wave of invitations to speak from colleagues — the best part is that we still had not shared our messaging with anyone yet.