Reflection - Why Our Stories Matter
Our stories grow out of our life experience, continuously shaping how we view our place in the world. Some are happy. Some are sad. Some may be exhilarating while others may be profoundly tragic. The range of feelings our stories evoke is as wide and deep as the endless scale of human emotion. They are a rich source of self-discovery that can be mined to discern our truth and uncover our treasures.
Some of my posts are stories from my past that have influenced who I am. I share these for two reasons. The first is trust. If you are to trust what I say, you must first trust me. My hope is that these stories shed enough light on my personal history to help build that trust. The second reason is rooted in self-discovery, and its companion practice of Reflection. Reflection is non-judgmental. It is simply you, observing you and your past with no criticism or judgment. Curiosity and wonder rule this world. You reflect on past events and personal history for the sake of reliving and exploring connected emotions and meaning. My personal posts model this practice.
Clarity - Why Reflection Matters
Why share my stories and model my Reflection practice? Because Reflection is a foundational practice for clarity. And clarity sweeps the leaves off your path to being yourself. Do you have clarity now? Are you crystal clear about the path that will produce the peace, satisfaction and results you desire in your life? If not, you likely feel stuck.
The good news is that Reflection takes you to the fertile ground where the seeds of your talents, your passions, your motivators, are planted. When your non-judgmental contemplation mingles with your reflection, clarity sprouts. It emerges unpredictably. Sometimes in fits and starts. Sometimes all at once. It can't be forced. And it's not something you do. It is something that happens to you. Intending to be clear is like intending to be loved. It simply doesn't work that way. With love, you show up under the right conditions, with an open heart, and love finds you. Clarity works the same way. You show up, reflecting and contemplating with an open mind and heart, and clarity finds you. And when it does, it brings focus with it. Focus you can use to powerfully channel your energy in pursuit of your dreams. Without clarity, efforts lack focus and energy is dissipated, weak and ineffective. Focused energy has power, and power yields results.
This simple model shows this cascading effect, starting with Reflection, the first and least tangible of the steps, and ending with last the most tangible, manifested Results.
After I finished this thought and committed it to the post, I leaned back to clear my mind. I stretched, took a few deep breaths, then took a "TED Talk" break. That fortuitous decision brought me face-to-face with Adam Leipzig. Adam is an extremely talented creative who defies narrow description. His website homepage bills him as Entertainment Executive. Author. Educator. He's even been likened to a cross between Einstein and Warren Buffet. His TEDxMalibu talk, "How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes," is where I landed. It is wildly popular. Its 4.5 million views bear witness to the ubiquitous yearning people have for more meaning in their lives. His five minute claim is bold, but don't have to buy into that to find good value in his line of inquiry and his observations. He suggests you ask yourself five questions.
Inward (Reflections about Self)
1) Who you are?
(Nothing deep here - just asking your name.)
2) What do you love to do?
(Prompt: What do you feel supremely qualified to teach others?)
Outward (Musings about Others)
3) Who do you do it for?
4) What do those people want or need?
(...that they come to you to get it?)
5) How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?
Adam points out that only two of these questions are about you. The other three are about others affected by your choices. And of the two questions about yourself, only the second requires any "work" to address. "What do you want to do?" And to fuel your thinking, you can add to the inquiry, "What do you feel supremely qualified to teach others?" Exploring this is an exercise in Reflection to yield Clarity. And hence, the serendipity with this post.
Now it's your turn. If you are struggling with clarity, it's time to adopt a Reflection practice. It isn't hard, but it takes commitment. A commitment of consistent time set aside to develop the habit to go inside and draw out your stories. There are no shortcuts. But once you've established this habit, it will constantly clear your path.
The first step is to pick a time of day when you can be alone with your thoughts. It may mean getting up earlier, or finding a quiet place over a break at work. Perhaps even retreating to your parked car, as I used to do many years ago. Or in the evening, choosing to forgo that last hour of electronic entertainment or escape, or extending your evening an hour after your home has settled down. Experiment until you find what works best for your situation.
Once you've established your time and space, choose a means for recording your thoughts. Write, type, or record. Whatever is easiest for you. The purpose is to reflect on your life and capture the times and events that moved you then or move you now.
Sitting here, right now, writing this post in my quiet space, a memory surfaced of a kind gentleman who approached me after a church service. I was perhaps five years old and decked out in my Sunday best, bowtie and all. He looked me in the eye as I extended my hand with a big smile to shake his. He then asked if I was going to be a preacher. I suppose my greeting took him by surprise. It is funny looking back. I didn't have aspirations to be a preacher, and still don't, but there was something about that incredibly unremarkable event, that fifteen seconds, fifty years ago, that imprinted a memory that remains and resonates to this day. Quiet reflection made it surface. Contemplation tells me I have a passion for connecting with people. My life experience tells me that those warm feelings surface when I connect with people one-on-one, from a podium, on stage, or in writing. These revelations, and many more, have contributed to my clarity. As Mark Nepo so beautifully describes it, each revelation sweeps more leaves from the path that is already before you, yielding clear direction and next steps. But you are forever sweeping leaves. It is the endless practice of becoming the person you were born to be. A blog now. Perhaps webinars and live presentations later. Stories from people around me who are blazing their trails, or are about to, are now coming to me in a flood. Does this suggest podcasts? A YouTube channel? Perhaps. But I am not concerned with all of that now. I can clearly see my immediate path, and I can clearly see leaves ahead. I will stay in reflection while I apply focused energy toward the goal of making BeYourselfBlog the most useful resource possible for the most people possible. And I will sweep more leaves as I get to them.
Reflection. Clarity. Focus. Energy. Power. Results. Start your Reflection habit today. Your life stories are gold mines. Don't wait another minute. Strap on your headlamp and go deep. Then bring your treasures to the surface and start pondering. Don't give up if you get interrupted. If you go blank. If your mind wanders off into concerns of the day. Stay with it and grab what comes to you. Decide to never give up, and this powerful practice will yield the clarity you need to see your path. You can't get it wrong, and it is never done. You are embarking on an endless practice to be the person you were born to be. To be yourself. Fearlessly.