Did you know your work is as unique as your DNA? No other person can do the work you are doing, in the same way that you do it.
Take that in for a minute. Breathe it in.
Isn’t that liberating??
So why do so many people try to get you to work the way they do? From bosses, to professors, to parents (no offense, I love mine), to thought leaders and motivational speakers – it’s “Do this like me.”
- “Here are the X steps to happiness.”
- “5 ways to productivity.”
- “Habits and routines for success.”
I could go on…
It’s an interesting paradox. Only I can do what I am meant to do, and yet I look to someone else to tell me how to do it. No wonder I’m really frustrated by the end of it!
It’s true that there are many great success stories. It is fascinating to learn of other journeys and be inspired by their triumphs. However, somewhere we got the idea that we were supposed to follow their road to success – and so the suffering began. “Why do they have what I want?” – we say. That must mean I need to do what they did to get there.
I get it. It’s a natural conclusion, if you don’t have any other information on how we are wired as humans.
As I started to explore how we got here, I got more intrigued. We are at an interesting intersection right now. Only recently, (as in the last 50-80 years) has a certain segment of our population had the opportunity to not suffer and lose their life to illness and physical threat. I say that with reserve, because the truth is we are not very far removed from these same threats. We are more in touch with that fact every day as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and our own fellow humans wreak havoc on that precious distance from physical threats that we have worked so hard for.
What does this have to do with work? Well, by and large for the last 250 or so years, you survived work the same way you survived the wilderness – by blending in. You didn’t work too slow, or too fast for that matter. I have an entire post on this, but the essence is that the Industrial Revolution brought with it a deepening of the paradox I described above. It brought with it many gifts, some of which we can’t imagine life without: sturdy and affordable homes, reliable and safe cars, and many of the comforts that at the time were only available to the very wealthy.
As a result of this access, and security, we are continuing to evolve. In a way, we create obstacles for ourselves as we evolve. So in developing incredible systems for productivity, we actually trapped ourselves in the system. One of the other results of that access is the limitation to our creativity that we are still working to reconcile today.
We have trapped ourselves with the false sense of safety in it. The truth is, even 70 years ago, it was not considered “safe” to do something your own way. It meant risking your family’s health, not being able to provide critical nourishment or shelter, possible imprisonment for debt (oh, hi forefathers!), being ostracized from your community, incredible scrutiny from “the establishment” – banks and the government, and so on. As the granddaughter of a willful entrepreneur, I have heard incredible stories of the hardship this caused.
Yet, in those seemingly safe spaces there has been little room for expression. Ah, expression….the path for creativity. What I want you to know today is that we can have that room for expression – whether you are in corporate or not in corporate. The internal exploration we are talking about here is what will create the path for your creativity.
Back to the paradox: Only I can do what I am meant to do, and yet I look to someone else to tell me how to do it.
If you are reading this, you are here with me at this critical juncture. The paradox we are living in is what reminds us of our edge. It’s what truly engages us in the work we do on a day-to-day basis. If you go inward in those situations where you feel conflict or tension, it will do wonders for your wellbeing. The small changes I’m going to tell you about can mean a world of difference to how you experience yourself inside the paradox and the conflicts it creates.
So, here we are. This is the truth: Only you can do the work you are meant to do, and only you can determine how to do it. There is no “one way” to do your work. However, there is a way to do your work that is in alignment with you and your highest service. That is the route to truly thriving, and it requires navigating the myriad of “should dos” that we talked about earlier.
I know that statement is not as liberating as before. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. It’s risky. It’s also ok. You don’t have to tell anyone 🙂 – we’ll just keep it a secret for now, until you feel safe enough to talk about it.
It is a bit exciting though, right? The idea that you doing you is only possible by you.
This approach of going within to find solutions has been my greatest teacher in every difficult situation or conflict I’ve navigated. Whether it was a challenging situation with a boss at GE or the internal challenges of navigating the startup of my business, each experience has revealed incredible resilience and resources that I didn’t even know I had – all within me, and those same resources are within you.
Here are some of the beautiful benefits you will start to experience as you go within:
- You will start to recognize ways that you are giving away your power. Are you asking for opinions before you do the work to search inside for the answer? Get comfortable with not knowing. As long as your life is not in mortal danger (i.e. no bears chasing you), uncertainty does not pose an immediate threat. Work with that voice inside that panics at the thought of not knowing. There is so much richness to be uncovered about who you are in that space.
- You will start to take people off of the pedestals you accidentally put them on. This is important for so many reasons, but the main one is connection. When we idolize or imagine the perfect life of someone, we disconnect from his/her humanness. We allow them to speak their truth into our life, even if it’s not a good fit. This might show up subtly, as in comparison, or more outright from their opinions that get internalized. The impact of these small transgressions on our own self are small at first, but they snowball to a place of not trusting ourselves. Whether it’s a boss, a teacher, or a part of our social circle – we are all on a learning path and in our greatest power when we are getting to know ourselves first, before we open up to any outside influence.
- You will start connecting deeper to your unique service. Your unique way of doing your work is the magic key to unlock your greatest gifts. When you are focused on knowing yourself best, an incredible portal to your creativity opens. This works as a self-fulfilling prophecy, in that as you connect to yourself >> you feel more confident in your creativity >> you take back more of your power >> you learn new things about yourself >> and so it goes on!
This is such a life-giving practice. I’m so excited for you to start to pull this into your work. It’s going to take everything up a level.
To start, in those anxious, uncomfortable, or frustrating moments – ask yourself these questions: who am I allowing to speak into my life, and are they helping me get to know myself or just telling me how to do something? Is my first response when I feel conflict to talk to someone and ask for advice, or do I get quiet and listen to my own inner advice?
I would love to hear how this resonates for you. Please leave a comment or come find me on Instagram or Facebook. What are you facing today that you promise to take within instead of letting someone else speak to it for you?