It doesn’t matter how self aware you may be, plugged in, tuned in, connected, guided, spiritually advised – if you are human, you will fail. And that failure is important because as we are humans, we learn the most from our failures.
It’s logical really, but not something we spend much time thinking about. We strive and stretch for perfection and really miss the realization that perfection is a pathology, and it doesn’t exist. And, if even if we were perfect, we’d get pretty bored with nothing to learn, no challenges to face and zero goals to accomplish. So, what is it we’re missing?
It’s my belief that we miss the fundamental irony of life. In order to achieve what the world says we need to achieve, we need to instead strive for the opposite. Does that sound a bit ‘riddle me this?’ Well, it’s actually not that confusing if you think about it. Success is determined by our own individual definitions of what success really means. Arriving, or ‘making it’ is often something we think happens outside of us. We think that the world will tell us when we have ‘made it’ – when in actuality, those who have ‘made it’ as we see it, will tell us the opposite. They will say that they truly found their success when they ceased to strive for success and just followed their passion their instincts and inner guidance instead.
We get many mixed messages thrown at us daily. STRIVE, EXCEL, WORK IT, WORK HARDER, PUSH HARDER, GRIND IT. These are messages that function more to shame us than they do to motivate us, because when it comes down to it, we always end up failing when we TRY to be something that we’ve been told to be.
Failure is success. The failure you work so hard to avoid, is your pathway to the success you’ve convinced yourself you desire. The tricky part is, when you start to allow yourself to fail, you will slowly start to realize that ‘success’ as you saw it before, is not really the same thing as it is now.
I’ve experienced this in my life countless times. And even though I’ve got the badge of experience when it comes to embracing failure, I still fear it, I still try to avoid it, and I still wind up right smack back into it when there is something really important for me to learn. There is no right or wrong way to do life, and there is no right or wrong way to do failure. You’ve simply got to surrender to it.
Surrender – this is the unicorn we all look for, the missing puzzle piece that we cannot find. Surrender feels like a negative thing, but when understood fully, it becomes your partner in life and teaches you humility, gratitude, faith and hope. All of those things are the foundation of a life with meaning.
When you want something in life, we are taught to set goals, write it down, strive for it and reach for it. When we don’t get it, we get mad, sulk, feel victimized. We try again, and again we don’t get it. We start telling ourselves a story about how we are not important enough – because if we were, we could get this ‘thing’ that we want. That cycle sets in to stay and we perpetuate constant misery for ourselves.
What if? What if that thing we want is actually not really the best thing for us? What if, our partner, Surrender, has better plans for us. If you knew that, would you be so inclined to fight against it?
The Universe, God, Spirit, or whatever you choose to call the divine in life, ALWAYS has your back. The trick on our end is to surrender to that and allow our life to happen in the best possible way. Have you ever heard the term ‘get out of your own way?’ yes, this is what it means. We block our true success, time and time again because we refuse to surrender, to get silent and to listen to our own inner guidance.
Sometimes, we get so busy in life being busy and having goals the Universe has to knock us over to get our attention. We get sick, something fails, or some kind of wall is put up for us to run right into. My own recent epic experience of this was tripping over my own feet as I was merely walking down the sidewalk. I tripped, flipped my ankle over and ended up with a very bad sprain. I walked away from that moment, embarrassed, in pain and I and walked into a forced ‘downtime’ but I knew immediately when it happened, WHY it had happened.
I had needed to SLOW DOWN. And I wasn’t offering this to myself, so the Universe stepped in to help me achieve what it was I needed most. And I was so stubborn about doing things MY way, I failed to surrender and needed a real bonk on the head ( in this case my foot) to get my attention.
I am now 3 days into my forced ‘down time’ and it is clearer than ever what brought me here, and how I got here. It’s not ideal, it’s not fun, but it’s pretty obvious to me that I had not been listening.
I’ve known there are some things in my life that needed to change, particularly around my business. So, instead of getting quiet, slowing down and listening – I started to rev up, set goals, push forward and force the issue. The more I pushed, the more crap would come my way. The more I forced, the more things would fall apart. I got more stressed, more tired and felt I was coming apart at the seams. Does this sound familiar?
All I really needed to do at that point was do the opposite of what I thought I had to do. I had to slow down in order to get focus in my life and get clarity in my direction. Once I slowed down, I would be able to see the quickest route, the best choices and make decisions without hesitation. Instead, I sped up, which actually ended up slowing me down – considerably.
My forced slow down did what it was meant to do. On the outside it looked like I had failed to walk properly in heels and literally landed on my face on the pavement – but what was truly happening was an intervention to remind me of SURRENDER.
We can get a lot done on willpower alone, but the amount of movement and success we can achieve when we surrender and listen is far more profound.
Here are 5 signs that you need to slow down in order to speed up your life in a grounded and true way:
1. You’re very busy. You have no time to do anything but work. You find yourself repeating the phrase ” I’m sorry, I’m too busy” constantly to everyone, including yourself.
2. You stop eating regularly. You eat when you remember to, and it’s not that often. You are more than likely starting work in the morning and looking up it is already lunch, and you have only had your 10 cups of coffee, with no food.
3. Your body starts to ache and complain. You start getting a backache, or your shoulders hurt, or you have a headache. Your body is speaking, and you are not listening. You take Advil and hope it goes away.
4. Insomnia – sleep stops working. Your mind won’t shut down and you just cannot relax enough to get some decent rest. You toss and turn and then eventually get up and go back to work since you might as well use the time. You’re running on fumes, but you keep going anyway.
5. You feel anxious – you’re not sure why or what and chalk it up to the 10 cups of coffee you had this morning. But part of you knows it’s something else. You know it, but you push it away and keep moving anyway. Eventually you forget you felt ‘something’ that wasn’t right – denial is complete and you keep pushing forward.
All of these are danger signs that you are abandoning your inner wisdom and your inner guidance and you are focusing on STRIVING, PUSHING, and FORCING.
When you get to sign #5 – do yourself a favour and stop there. Realize that you ARE trying to tell yourself something and STOP before your friend and partner SURRENDER finds a way to make you stop.
Here are 5 things you can do to support yourself in slowing down when you start to feel that beast of forward momentum start snapping at your heels:
1. MEDITATE – in any way that you can feel you will actually allow yourself to do. Meditation is not just about sitting still for an hour. There are many ways you can approach this – read up on it and find a way that works for you. Don’t expect it to be perfect when you do it, that is the whole reason you need to do it in the first place. Be patient. Be Still. Listen
2. Go for a walk in nature – there is something about being amongst trees, the sky and the dirt below that brings us back into ourselves. Get yourself outside, rain OR shine and allow the natural energy to do it’s magic. Sometimes this is all you need to get grounded again.
3. Journal – rather than force all of your thoughts into action, write them down to get them out. Write your ideas, your visions, your worries, your feelings – write all of it. The mere act of ‘expressing’ what is going on allows you to step back from it all and see the bigger picture again.
4. Make a date with a kid – as a mom, I know when I am losing my marbles and starting to force things when my kids start to become REALLY annoying. I’ve lost the true connection, the playfulness and the real meaning of life. Get yourself back there by hanging with your kids – or borrow one if you need to. They will snap you back into the important parts.
5. Book a weekend away. Travel is so very important at ALL times. It offers us fresh perspective and takes us away from the grunt and grind that has got us in it’s talons. Do yourself a good and go away somewhere. Have a romantic weekend, family getaway or even a solitary one. You’ll find that this will allow you to see your life in much clearer way.
Silence, stillness and slowing down are not negative terms. They are not lazy words in business. They are exactly the opposite. Make friends with these words and their power and they will become your biggest allies to your true and genuine personal success story.
Slow down, to speed up. Success is just a moment away, as long as you can get out of your own way long enough to surrender to it.
Here are some resource tools to help you reconnect and get back to your inner guidance:
Sparkling Hill – Relax, Refresh, Rejuvenate
Harrison Hotsprings – Haven when it’s hectic