When we first moved to the Great Sage Plains of Colorado, the sacred ancient grounds of the Ute, Anasazi and Hopi, we decided to live as sustainably as possible, making as little impact as possible.
One of our first considerations was water, namely how to find it in this arid high desert. It was a conundrum as old as the land.
We were advised to seek out a local water witcher, someone who finds water using a divining rod. In the spirit of letting go and embracing the new (and because I didn't have a better idea), we decided to do it.
It didn't take us long to find "Mr. Ayers," a respected 90-year-old water witch. He showed us his divining rods, along with an oxygen tank strapped to his back. All this seemed ordinary to him, so I followed his lead.
He held his divining rods out in front of him as if he were holding the steering wheel of a go-cart. The rods seemed to be leading the way, turning slightly this way and that. Every now and again, the rods would stop. When they did, we did, too. Then, as if held by some invisible cable, they would tug forward and we'd all start off after them again.
Imagine one acre of land. Now imagine 160 acres of land. Now imagine walking, stopping, and starting over those 160 acres. That's what we were doing.
We were about a half mile away from the main house when all of a sudden Mr. Ayers's back straightened. He was looking at the rods, the tips of which were pointing down at a 90-degree angle. They stayed there poised in front of him like an English pointer who'd whiffed a quail.
Mr. Ayers looked up. "Here," he said.
My husband, Jess, and I looked at each other. We looked back at the rods, which by then were bouncing up and down. Mr. Ayers was counting the bounces.
"Ninety feet down you'll hit water."
My shock at his certainty must have been so obvious that he added, "I have a money-back guarantee. If you don't hit water at 90 feet, I'll give you your money back."
I couldn't argue with that. His fee was $50.
The water drillers came a week later. We had marked the spot with a little orange flag that flapped in the warm breeze.
"Here?" they asked.
Jess and I both nodded.
So they went to work drilling and 90 feet down, they hit water.
One day about five years after we started using the well, we went to pump water and nothing came out. How was that possible?
It's as possible as you waking up and finding you are out of steam. Spent. Empty.
Great leadership comes from a wellspring of great love. Those on the receiving end feel the love. Some return it. If there is a steady flow of love coming in and going out, the spring remains a fountainhead. What is of note in this equation is the "coming in" part.
Those whose lives are led in service to others often forget to take care of themselves, to replenish their own reserves in order to remain a fountainhead. Demands on their time and wisdom can be great. Still, they go full tilt ahead as the rush of feeling good from helping others or meeting goals washes away the pragmatic need to satisfy their own basic needs.
As for the well, we started to use it again, but we did so consciously. There was a greater demand for water as we grew. We met the demand by inserting a float valve that would self-regulate the amount of water being pumped out at any given time, and when the well ran low, it filled up again within 24 to 48 hours.
It's the same for us as people and leaders. We often use ourselves up until we run dry. Like the flow in the well we can begin self-regulating by asking ourselves: Is there as much coming in as there is going out?
Before I was aware of the critical importance of this kind of self-maintenance, running my life unconsciously nearly cost me my life. I had spent decades rushing full speed ahead, giving in to my drive to meet goals, deadlines, bottom lines. When I became conscious of this, I stopped. But it took me hundreds of thousands of dollars and more years to restore my health and happiness, and regain my life.
Are you going full tilt? Here are some easy tactics to help you regain or find your balance:
- Decide how important it is to live your life, not just survive it. There's a difference. Please make sure you understand what it is.
- Decide how important serving those around you is to you. And why.
- Take an honest look. Does your outgoing energy match the incoming energy? Are they in balance?
- If not, identify what story you are holding onto that prevents you from getting into balance. Acknowledge how hard you've worked to create that story (or to deny it). And how long it has protected and served you. Look over the fence at whatever side needs more weight. What story prevents you from finding balance?
It's what feeds a fountainhead. And who doesn't want to drink from a wellspring of truth?
Lisa Arie is the co-founder of Vista Caballo, an advanced learning center in Southwest Colorado creating a new breed of leaders. The StillPoint Experience online self-discovery tool helps identify and develop character traits needed to restore internal balance. It's an empowering path to unleashing the smartest ideas and solving the greatest challenges.