Leadership Perspective a Year Later

“Wow! What a fantastic day! Yesterday, the meeting with Dr. Wayne Dyer elated me. Tonight, I feel a sense of calm excitement. Is that an oxymoron? Maybe, but that exactly describes how I feel.

I have decided to slow down – do maintenance work on my business, a few teaching contracts, and spend time on me! I am going to read, exercise, pray, and meditate. I am going to slow down and go inward. I am going to focus on me, now.”

I wrote this entry in my journal during a conference in Tampa, where many of my favorite inspirational authors spoke. It was the end of the year and the end of an era. The era of which I speak is my era in Corporate America. I left my comfortable, six-figure income to launch my own company, write, and to continue speaking and teaching about leadership. It was both exciting and simultaneously, terrifying.

Entering my 5th decade, I always thought of myself as self-aware. Yes, that is true to a point; however, I did not realize what the depths of having a relationship with myself really meant. I knew it was time to do the work, go inward, and take the deep dive. I was embarking on a journey of the most profound relationship in my life – my relationship with myself.

From a coaching and leadership perspective, I wonder how effective we can truly be in leading and coaching others without really knowing and leading ourselves? We know that most of our coaching clients eventually find the path of growth in their own relationship with self before moving forward in other areas. This is where all growth begins, for us as well as our clients, and we don’t call it “growing pains” for nothing!

As I began my journey inward, I realized immediately that my first step to having an authentic self-relationship began with an exercise in forgiveness. I listed all of those people towards whom I harbored resentment and hurt, with the ultimate goal of forgiving them. Wow –I was surprised when the list got so long. It was a difficult exercise, and yet, so amazingly freeing. I swear I lost 20 pounds at the end of the exercise! During this time, I was working with an amazing coach who taught me a meditation of forgiving these people and myself for holding the resentment and fear. I visualized myself walking to the door of the person’s soul, their true essence, knocking, and asking if I could come in. I was surprised that one or two said “no” initially. That was OK, because I came back later, until they said yes!

Once in, we would sit down and talk, soul to soul, essence to essence. When we sought forgiveness, love filled our space and both of us were free. This beautiful exercise is very effective and simple to do anywhere, anytime, in the safety of our office, or our client’s home.

Time was not my friend, especially in the early months of my journey. As a Type A personality, I was always in a rush, never in harmony with time. It was very difficult for me to learn to slow down and meditate, especially when I had so much to do. A funny thing happened on the way to a relationship with me – I learned a secret: You must slow down to move faster. I would have never believed this a year ago! However, I found that when I did slow down, meditate, and lavish myself with time to think, I became much more productive and completed tasks in shorter periods of time.

The next corner of my journey took me down a path I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to go – fear. As we do with many of our clients, I started to identify underlying beliefs that no longer served me. I identified beliefs about fear that held me back in weight loss, success, and putting myself out there for all to see. Again, with the expertise of my coach, I visualized myself on a track, running a relay. As I tired of the baton, representing a belief that no longer served me, I handed it to God, who ran the next leg of the relay. He was gorgeous with his long flowing hair – I have always been a sucker for men with long hair! As soon as I handed the baton to God, within the first few steps, the baton– fear – dissolved in his hands. As I sit here now, typing this visualization, I still feel the warmth of love filling me, where fear used to reside.

Out of the fear-zone on the journey, the next section of road was a lesson of “stuff.” In June, we went to Detroit to celebrate my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful time and two nights before we arrived home, my sister’s husband called to tell us there was a fire in the mountains and canyon where our home was located. He said we did not have to evacuate, but wanted to know what we wanted from our home in the event there was an evacuation.

As we arrived home, the fire escalated and within one hour of our arrival, a sheriff knocked on the door and told us we were on pre-evacuation alert. I immediately moved our clothes from the suitcase to the washer, dryer, and back in the suitcase. We were packed and ready to move. That night we “slept” in our own bed, but not really. We did not want to miss the mandatory evacuation call, should it come.

The next morning, we received the mandatory evacuation notice to leave our home. We went to my sister’s home, where we again, had to evacuate due to the rage and speed of the Monument Fire. The fire burned for over a week in our mountains and four canyons. Forty homes and a half-dozen business were lost.

One month after we returned to our home, spared by the fire, we had a major flood. Nearly five feet of mud, ash, and debris rushed down the mountains along with boulders the size of Volkswagens, because there was no ground cover or trees to hold them in place. Within 30 minutes of the sludge subsiding, neighbors and friends emerged from their homes, armed with shovels, smiles, and hugs to help those affected by the flood.

I lost much and gained more during this year. I lost my attachment to “things” and gained an appreciation for my family, friends, and neighbors. I lost my fear about money, and gained gratitude for the wealth and abundance already in my life. I lost a sense of arrogance, and gained humility in service to others. I lost my busy-ness, and gained the power of now and presence. I lost my mindless activities and gained awareness that my thoughts and feelings are my best friends. I lost my unconsciousness and gained awareness. I lost the ego view of myself and met me. The year of The Monument Fire...was a good year.

With love, joy, and gratitude,