As the end of the year draws near, and the time for New Year's resolutions approaches, do you find yourself reflecting on whether your efforts have produced the success and fulfillment you desired? Do you feel expanded or exhausted by your efforts? Do you feel meaningful success, or do you feel a superficial fulfillment that seems to rise and fall with each day?
Sitting quietly on the sand, watching the beautiful sun rise over Miami Beach recently, I was contemplating how we determine our "true" gifts that lead to meaningful success. How do we know whether the gifts that we see are those that are our most powerful and most authentic gifts -- those gifts that once embraced, will manifest the greatest meaning, purpose, and passion in our lives? Those gifts that take us beyond ourselves and our own interests to a higher, shared, and enlightened purpose. Those that bring meaning to our lives.
As I looked out to the horizon, contemplating the question, "What are those gifts, really? How do we connect fully with those gifts?" the answer seemed to gently flow with the waves rolling in from the greater ocean.
"Your GIFTS are...
"God's Intention For The Soul." Those words repeated as each wave gently rolled onto the sand and sparkled with the soft orange light of the rising sun. The touch of the light wind, as if a tap on the shoulder, gave the words a further presence. But still, how do we become insightful enough to clearly see our most purposeful intention and recognize our most meaningful gifts? How do we "change our shoes" and step forward embracing those gifts?
Perhaps, we find our greatest intentions at the heart of our greatest inspirations. Some of the early meanings of the word "gift" are founded in a sense of inspiration. Thinking of that, it became clear that we can also find our greatest intentions from our greatest inspirations.
We have seen that in so many of the most inspiring people who have lived -- Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, and so many others.
Likewise, we see this in people today who are living to make a difference in the world: Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Yunus, Desmond Tutu, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Jaycee Dugard, Nick Vijicic, and so many more.
If you can center yourself in your sources of inspiration -- from those experiences that have most challenged you, that have most impacted you, that have most moved you, that have brought you most happiness, or have brought you to tears -- you can find intention, and then the gifts that will bring those intentions into your life will emerge. Then, you can turn those gifts into the "work" you do every day -- the "work" that can bring you most meaningful success.
The Buddha said, "Your work is to discover your work." I believe that discovery is a life-long journey as we continue to be inspired by the experiences in our lives, and from the things we witness in our lives -- deaths, births, sorrows, betrayals, disappointments, joys, accomplishments, injustices, triumphs.
When I think of my childhood, and the almost daily sexual abuse by my father, that is the experience of my early life that most brought me to tears. Yet, from that, has come my greatest inspiration and intention in my adult life -- to empower people around the world, especially women and girls, to be free and to live their greatest lives. Once I tapped into that intention, I found gifts emerging that I never knew existed and that helped manifest that intention in my life -- writing, speaking, creating, empowering. Ironically, from those gifts came opportunities to "work" in those areas -- authoring, developing and conducting workshops and retreats, motivational speaking, creating programs in impoverished communities, consulting to corporations as to how to empower their people, helping baseball players create philanthropic foundations, helping non-profits fulfill their mission, helping leaders bring their visions for change into reality.
I believe our experiences and those things we witness in our lives are seeds planted by God, the universe, our spirit, our source -- whatever you believe that source to be. They are seeds of inspiration that evoke intention, and from where our gifts emerge. They are God's Intention For The Soul.
We know we are "on track" and connected to our greatest intention when we can directly connect the activities we do every day to our sources of inspiration, to a compelling intention that moves us -- when we can feel gifts rise from within us and around us to make those intentions manifest in our lives. That pattern becomes our "circle of life." With each manifestation of our intention we become more inspired, and with each new inspiration, new gifts emerge to manifest our intention further, bigger, bolder, and more powerfully -- in our lives and in the world around. And so we continue to grow and expand that circle.
We all know Gandhi's words, "Be the change you want to see in the world." When we take the time to pause, to step away from our daily busyness, to feel our greatest inspirations, to be centered in our most compelling intentions, allow our gifts to emerge, and put them to "work," we will experience our most meaningful success. We will be the change we want to see in our lives and in the world.
So today, pause, take time to step away from your busyness, feel your inspirations, be compelled by your greatest intention, allow your gifts to rise. Write them down. Put them to "work!"
For more by Kathy Andersen, click here.