I have bowed my head down in churches, mosques and temples. I've prayed, chanted, sang in choirs and meditated. I've studied the Bible, the Upanishads and a lot of Shakespeare. I've travelled to the foothills of the Himalayas where the Beatles meditated with the Maharishi Yogi. I've offered flower petals to the sacred River Ganges. And there were years when I abstained from eating anything that had a face on it.
I've always been deeply passionate about self-realization. It's a BIG double- barreled word isn't it? But what I've discovered over the years, is that wanting to know my purpose, understanding the big picture of why I'm here, and connecting with the fullness of who I really am, is no small thing.
My so-called spiritual attempts at becoming self-realized have definitely made a difference in my life. I've learned that I'm much more than just this physical body, and I've discovered that when life gets rough I can always depend on there being a spiritual solution. Meditation, prayer and acts of kindness have been life-saving practices. But never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that learning to become an entrepreneur would turn out to be the biggest catalyst for my self-realization. Let me explain...
I work as a personal development coach -- I've been trained by the best in the business (Martha Beck). I love what I do. Coaching is my right work. But I've discovered over the last six years since I've been doing this work that being good at what I do is not enough. You see, I've also had to learn how to become an entrepreneur -- how to let the world know that I exist and what it is I have to offer people who are wanting to hire a coach.
And there's the rub. My entrepreneurial journey hasn't been easy. In fact, I've had some pretty dark days where I've thought about closing-up shop, and where the idea of a regular job with a regular paycheck begin to look like heaven. There have been days where I would have given anything to get this entrepreneurial monkey off of my back. But my work as a coach keeps calling me back... keeps reminding me to stay the course and figure out how the heck to make it work. No matter how hard I try, I just can't shake it off.
So what has all of this got to do with self-realization? Well, almost everything, because as I stumble along this entrepreneurial path... I'm discovering what I'm really made of. And let me tell you, it hasn't been pretty.
There's been the endless loop of self-critical chatter that goes on in my head reminding me that I'm not good enough or smart enough to be my own boss. There's the nasty jealousy and envy I feel about other coaches who are more popular and who are making more money than I am. There's the inertia and lack of tenacity that I succumb to far too easily when I can't figure out how to do anything technical. There's the fear I hide behind when I think about putting myself out into the world, because I'm afraid of being judged. There's the selfish side of me that chooses to hide and forget that people are suffering and could really benefit from my coaching. There's the incessant listening and believing the painful thoughts my mind churns out. And then there's the loneliness of it all -- learning how to be OK with just my own company.
In short, I've never been so acutely aware of my weaknesses and fears -- my ordinariness. And isn't that what self-realization is all about?
But fortunately, that's not the whole story. Because every now and then, I have managed to step out of my ordinary self and find out what's extraordinary about me. I've had to learn how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And as I put on my entrepreneurial cap, I can feel myself being pushed into excellence. This is when I move into unfamiliar territory, where I discover a new voice and creative force that has power. This is me being extraordinary.
Poet, David Whyte writes: "Our greatest opportunity for discovery and growth is in the thing we most often want to get away from: our work. It's where people spend the majority of their time wishing they were doing something else; not being present; not being themselves. And it is this kind of disengagement that is so damaging to our souls."
Whether we are trying to endure a job that is all wrong for us, or attempting to make a dream job come true, our work and place of work has tremendous power to not only to provide us with financial abundance, but to also open us up to our true selves, our weaknesses, our pettiness, our creativity and to discover the bigger version of ourselves.
Our work can cause us to back down, shrivel-away, play safe, dishonor ourselves and others, and keep us in a rut. It can also cause us to change, step up, get decisive, speak up, get honest, and experience the expansion of our souls.
This is you in the act of self-realization.
I used to think that self-realization was about living the life of an aesthetic, giving up worldly goods, and learning how to do a perfect down-dog pose. But what I've discovered is that it's really about how I am being on any day of the week, and especially when I am doing my work.
Stepping into our greatness won't happen all at once. Much like dancing the tango, you'll take two steps forward and then one step back. You'll wallow in the drama of it all, and then you'll have moments when you're ready to do what it takes if it could promise you the happiness and success you long for. But then you'll slip back yet again to life as usual. But that's OK.
It's OK that I'm not where I want to be with my business. It's OK that I hide like a coward from taking that bigger step. It's OK that I still occasionally believe the crappy thoughts I think about myself and others. I am where I am, I'm on my way. I'm noticing. I'm realizing my self.