What Work Would You Do Marooned On An Island?

In an earlier post, I challenged you to ask yourself some questions about what kind of work you would do if you lived on an enchanted island and the only requirement was that your work must naturally bring you alive and make your heart sing.

Isle of Delightful WorkTo make sure I was right there with you, I answered the questions myself; frankly I was surprised at what I discovered!

The questions were:

  1. What kind of work would you do?
  2. What would your unique contribution be?
  3. Who would you be?
  4. What could others say about you that they cannot say now?
  5. If you woke up tomorrow and such a miracle happened, what would you see differently?
  6. How would you feel?

Something I almost didn’t admit was that I found these questions a real challenge to answer. As a coach, I’ve lived an extremely aware life for many years. I’ve made vocational choices by following my heart since 1992 – so I was surprised at how difficult this was for me!

What happens when suddenly we have the opportunity to imagine what it would be like to live in complete vocational bliss? You may have a different experience, but mine was fascinating. When I began answering these questions, I faced a great void. My relatively safe and formerly dark hole of dreams was now illuminated. Then, once the pressure was completely off (i.e., I didn’t have to be concerned about the marketability of what I did on the enchanted isle) it felt heavily on like never before.

Why? I’m going to take a few guesses.

  1. When we finally have permission to let our wild, unrestricted selves out, when faced with freedom, we hesitate to seize it. Kind of like the animal who becomes so used to the boundaries of his cage that he still won’t cross them once the walls are down.
  2. Talk is cheap. It’s easy to say we want to find our true calling, but when faced with the actuality of following through… another level of fear arises.
  3. We really do care what others think. But when faced with living in an environment like the enchanted isle, where people are not judgmental and the only requirement is that what you do brings you deep fulfilling happiness, yet another excuse is removed. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Theodore Geisel, (Dr. Seuss)
  4. We become intimidated by our own power to chose to be who we really are. It’s time to stop pretending. “If you do not pretend to be more than you are, you will dare to be all that you are.” – Susan Thesenga

So I decided to drink my own Kool-Aid and answer all the questions myself. Rather than bore you with the details, I summarized my responses and created a shingle for my cottage on the Enchanted Isle of Delightful Work. Here it is:

Tom's Shingle

On the Enchanted Isle of Delightful Work, what would your shingle say? Exercise the courage to let your heart answer these questions, and then boil your answers down to the words you’d hang by your cottage for your fellow islanders to view.

What would your shingle say? I’d love to see it, if you’d like to share it with me (you don’t need a graphic – text is fine)!

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

What Will I Be When I Grow Up? I Wonder…

What will I be when I grow Up? Curiously and whimsically wondering is the right approach for this essential question. Curiosity keeps our inquiry light and speculative, rather than stressful and anxious.

It’s funny how so many folks sheepishly explain their lack of success or focused clarity by claiming they’ve yet to grow up. As if facing the responsibility of adulthood automatically clears up all the confusion around finding one’s true calling. First of all, it doesn’t clear up anything. Secondly, such a heavy thought is completely the wrong approach. We need to find work that feels like play and most of us played far more as children than as adults.

What’s an approach that does work well?

SunsetImagine you’ve moved to The Enchanted Isle of Delightful Work.

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning on a lush, beautiful island with 999 others. Each of you is required to contribute only through fulfilling work that’s uniquely joyful and delightful. Pleasant and encouraging neighbors explain that the only kind of work you’ll be paid for is work in which you totally lose yourself.

If what you produce or create involves struggle or toil in any way, you will not eat or be given shelter. Indeed you’d be cast out for working too hard and you would not survive. The only requirement is that your work must naturally bring you alive and make your heart sing.

Take a moment, right now, to close your eyes and imagine such delight.

Know the answer to .. What will I be when I grow up?

You wouldn’t need to worry about marketing because your authentic value would be self-evident and highly attractive. Those who genuinely appreciate whatever you are offering will enthusiastically support you.

  • What kind of work would you do?
  • What would your unique contribution be?
  • Who would you be?
  • What could others say about you that they cannot say now?
  • If you woke up tomorrow and such a miracle happened, what would you see differently?
  • How would you feel?

Here’s your chance to be paid very well just for being your naturally wild self. You’ve joyfully grown up, so what are you?Can we have some fun with this? I dare you. Let all your untamed, unique beauty express itself through these questions. Post a comment and let your imagination run wild.

I’ll tell you a secret. This enchanted isle of delightful work is the same place you’re trying to get to anyway, probably with a lot of stress, effort and struggle. Live it first in your imagination – and who knows what wonderful blessings may transpire!
Stumble It! Stumble It!

You can read my answers to the above on this companion post.

The Power in Being Pissed Off

Sometimes we just need to get good and mad at ourselves. Not a judging or belittling mad, but an empowering mad. The kind of mad that reaches deep for a determination that will not easily die.

The best time to reach deep and channel your anger is when things are looking dire and could go either way. We could just curl up, cry and go to sleep – or we could reach deep for that fire that burns brightly within.

Once we find that fire, we need to follow it up with action – in the moment. Bold, bodily movement works best.

There is a lot of energy in what pisses you off at a core level. There’s a lot of power to tap within a long-standing struggle that you’re sick and tired of. This kind of power creates a “good-mad” kind of urgency that builds a strong unwavering conviction to act now!

Are you fed up enough with your current situation to act and act today?

It’s up to you, you know. Nobody is going to save you.

I may have never met you and that doesn’t matter. I can tell you this for sure. Whatever you want, you have what it takes to go out and get it. You have within you every talent and quality necessary to make your dream come alive. If you did not, the very idea of it would not have even come to you.

Emilie Cady, in her classic book, Lessons in Truth, said it well, “Desire is the thing you want in incipiency.” That means when you get a fresh idea, it has come directly from Universal Intelligence straight to your heart. Your recognition of the idea not only means that it was meant only for you, but that it’s already on its way into being. So not only can you do it, the fact that you even see the idea proves that you’re already in the midst of manifesting it.

But you’ll never know unless you reach deep and act. Can you get fired up enough? Watch this short clip all the way to the end and scream with him, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”

Because it’s that level of being pissed off that will launch your dream. Nothing short of authentic fire is guaranteed to move you from your funk. Get pissed off, will you? The world needs you to show up with all you have.

Opportunities Abound… But Where Do They Come From?

Become an opportunity creator rather than an opportunity seeker.

I used to search for opportunities. As an opportunity seeker, I once sought out ways to make more money. But I know now that what I was really looking for was greater freedom. That freedom was found by recognizing my own talents, values and capabilities rather than seeking opportunities created by others.

As a self-described “multiple streams entrepreneur,” I value having four to six income streams in various stages of development at all times. This year, for the first time in my life, I have more opportunities than I have the willingness to develop. How did this happen? How did I become flush with solid, cash-flowing streams when I once so desperately and skeptically sought them out?

Did I go out on the web and find a wonderful site that . promotes “sure things.” No, I did not. Sorry if that disappoints you.

In fact, I’ve reached this abundant state by making an internal adjustment. My focus is now more inner-directed than external. I no longer seek opportunities designed by others. This is an approach that could work very well for you.

How? By following the following two steps.

  1. First you’ve got to decide on your value-based requirements.
  2. Then, you must not waiver from these when evaluating possibilities.

I now follow a higher, freedom-based standard when deciding on my income streams. Here are my three decision points:

  1. Leverage (the ability to build something once and repeatedly make money from it automatically)
  2. Joy and fulfillment
  3. Creativity expressed

What might your value-based points of decision be?

To help with your internal evolution, I thought we could look at the most likely sources of fitting opportunities. Where do the most fulfilling money – making opportunities come from?

  1. They come from your trust-based connection to others. Associates with a shared business history are more likely to tip you off to good possibilities they themselves are developing.
  2. They come from your visibility in the marketplace. Make your presence known in the forums you care about.
  3. They appear out-of-the-blue, based on the abundance of space in your life. Want to recognize more authentic opportunities? Then create a vacuum so they have room to sprout. Let go of opportunities that do not align with your values.
  4. They come from your willingness to be receptive and to keep a truly open mind. Being open-minded means being open to new ideas or arguments. It means having an unprejudiced, approachable and accessible mind.
  5. They come from your decision to boldly intend them into being. “Someday perhaps the inner light will shine forth from us, and then we’ll need no other light.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  6. They come from your authentic actions. Trusting your gut and acting on it is an irresistible force.
  7. They come from your ability to keep your head up in the midst of seeming misfortune. You may have heard the phrase … “it’s all good.” Even the darkest challenge only needs the light of time to see the hidden benefits.

Did you notice the main theme in the above list? Opportunities primarily come from the inside out. From that perspective you are engaging authentic positioning that allows you to see even more possibilities. Authentic positioning is the process of aligning your core self with your business intentions and actions so that you are positioned optimally for success.

Ground your actions in your own uniqueness.
Don’t seek the right opportunity. Create it.

That usually means creating a profitable business of your own, in your own way. Nothing works for everyone. That’s why so many opportunity seekers who try to duplicate the success of others end up disappointed. It’s not about the opportunity. It’s all about the man or woman who’s creating it and working it.

All things don’t work for all people. What if truth was actually more individual than universal? What if some systems work for 90% of the people and you’re among the other 10%?

Earl Nightingale was fond of offering this non-conformist, success advice. Look around at what most everybody else is doing and then do exactly the opposite.

Decide to put yourself in play in a very big way. Yes, the truth will set you free, but only if it’s your truth. There are no one-size-fits-all money making opportunities or success formulas.

Don’t seek the right opportunity. Create it. Do it your way. Create the business opportunity that perfectly fits your lifestyle and you’ll have more money, greater freedom and fulfillment. Opportunities abound, from within.
Stumble It!

Screw Going Back to School

How many times have you heard this from confused folks who have yet to find their true calling?

“I’m thinking about going back to school.”

Screw that! Why? Because the odds are excellent that more education and/or additional credentialing isn’t necessary to get to the level of success, freedom and work fulfillment that you desire.

I’m not anti-education. In many cases I’m for it. I certainly don’t want anybody that hasn’t been to medical school removing my appendix. I’m especially pro education for younger folks and for those who clearly know exactly what they want to do. College is a great place to grow up. I almost did there. But I didn’t find out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Did you? Perhaps that’s because at that tender age we’re still in the process of growing up.

But that’s not who’s going back to school. More often than not it’s the confused and uncertain folks who are returning to the classroom. If they told themselves the truth, they may have to admit this: “I’m going back to school because it’s a socially acceptable way for me to avoid making this big decision for another 2-4 years.”

They are prime suckers to fall into this trap – perpetuated by the world’s biggest lie: someone else knows better than you do, what’s really good for you.

Of course it’s safer to believe in this illusion because it’s a convenient way of escaping personal responsibility. If things don’t work out, you can always blame the school, or the government or heck, blame the economy.

We frequently fall into this trap because we are experts at belittling ourselves. We doubt ourselves, undervalue our talents and judge our performance so harshly that it seems like we’d be nuts to trust ourselves. Somebody else must know better. Bull! They really don’t.

This return to school could be nothing more than a hidden urge within you that’s looking for approval. You’ll never get the approval you need from others, so stop looking for it. Every one of us is the product of a collection of beliefs and assumptions that were laid on us by family and society. It’s time to examine those beliefs and to toss out those that no longer serve us well.

Instead of wondering, “Should I go back to school?” why not ask, “What exactly do I think this education or further credentialing will bring me?” Then, “What will that bring me?” Keep asking and drilling a few rounds deeper and you’ll eventually get to what you really want. Then you can ask this beautiful question:

Is there a more direct way to get what I want?

Often, self-employment (with the talent and resources you have right now) is an easier, more direct way. But, self-employment is so bold, you say. Yeah, it is. So what?

Has being cautious paid off big for you so far? Going back to school does not put you in play in a big way. It’s benching you. It’s like putting yourself on the sidelines of life and delaying your real contribution. Then at the end of 3 or 4 more years and thousands of dollars, “they” may still tell you that you can’t get what you want. Going back to school is not a sure thing.

Neither is self-employment. But I can fail a lot faster and a lot less expensively by walking my own path and adjusting in the moment to what I’ve learned. So can you. Going into business, leading with your own strengths and expressing yourself authentically is a much better bet at success than following the herd.

Delay is much more expensive then failure.

Any delay. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hiding in school or hiding in shitty employment. If you’re putting off the active pursuit of your true calling and work life freedom, then you’re not fully in the game. And it’s costing you big time.

Complete One Small Action

In this post I offered a dare. I dared seekers of work life freedom to make both a decision and a declaration of their intention. It’s interesting that so many have chosen to remain in work that does not bring them alive. So many think that fulfilling work is so difficult to find that they need to be dared to just take the first step.

Why is such boldness necessary to awaken us from the work life slumber we’ve settled for? Could it be that we’ve so limited our view of what’s possible that we believe it’s unnatural to be excited about work? That’s bull and you know it. Snap out of that line of thinking and at least give yourself the integrity of telling the truth about what you believe is possible.

This post is about taking that next small step after you’ve made your declaration. Don’t over think it. Just one little thing that can get you closer to the work you love. Even if completing that thing only serves to give you greater clarity about another thing you don’t love to do. The true value comes from the completion and the resulting feeling of strength that comes alongside the action.

Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here’s a method that works well to improve your chances of success.

You have four personal creation arenas to work with. Use all four in concert and you’ll increase your probability of success.

  1. Make a firm decision and bold declaration and you’ve aligned your metal powers. Mental power is activated by what we think and say.
  2. Imagine how wonderful it will soon be to enjoy work life freedom all the time. Really picture that freedom and deeply feel the accompanying natural euphoria. Emotional power is activated by our ability to fully feel.
  3. Ask and understand what such a life will mean to you. Understand why you were uniquely meant to enjoy it. Spiritual power is activated by the clear and deep meaning we give to our actions.
  4. Then, only after you’ve aligned your previous three powers, take that one small step and honor it with the dignity of a completion. Taking and completing a predetermined action activates our physical power.

Activate all four powers in your quest to engage work life freedom and you’ll be way ahead in this glorious game. Looking at it as a game is sound strategy. Lots of mistakes are made in game playing and players just laugh them off. In this process you’re rewarded for exercising a lighter touch.

Some get stuck in the physical realm thinking that hard work is the answer. But the self-created pressure that comes from trying to push so hard only serves to wear us out.

Others get stuck in the mental realm trying to figure it all out. The trouble with a mentally dominated approach is that it also invites all the reasons why we should not act yet.

But you and I both know that deep down you really want to live a lighter, freer life. Really, what do you have to lose? Complete one small action towards what you think you want, using all four powers.

But wait. What about those of you who don’t know exactly what you want?

You’ve got to begin somewhere. You’ve got to select something to take action on. I wish I could give you a direction that would be certain for you. But I can’t. I can only give you some possible openings. I like the light approach that Pamela Slim has offered in this post, Five Easy Ways to Discover What You Are Meant to Do With Your Life.

Try one of those or just take your best guess. At this stage of the process it doesn’t really matter. You’ve made the declaration that you want work life freedom. To honor that desire you must take and complete a number of small actions until you find your gold.

If it’s right for you, you’ll feel really good when you think about it. If it’s right for you, it will have some connection to something you love to do right now. If it’s right for you, it will put a smile on your face -and that’s more than worth the effort. Complete one small action and welcome to the land of full living.

Is it Your Time for Work Life Freedom?

Okay, it’s time to put up or shut up about this business of making your dreams come true. I’m directly speaking to those of you who have believed your own excuses for far too long, or who are biding your time, waiting for your ship to come in. (Update: There are no ships headed for your port, right now. And none are scheduled.)

Today, in this powerful present moment, you’re either in active pursuit of your work life freedom or you’re not.

We work 40+ hours in this society and that’s far too much to be at the whim of someone else’s wishes and desires. It’s time for you to declare total self-determination as one of your dearest values.

Work life freedom is simply this. A declaration that you have engaged your natural ability to work on exactly what you want, when you want to, and with whom you want.

Let’s cut through the bull. When you look deep within, you know that you’re destined for something far more enjoyable than you’ve settled for. Embrace this truth. Savor its promise and then you’ll be ready for authentic action. You might ask this. If this is all true, why is it so challenging to find work that I love that also makes me financially prosperous?

I’ll tell you the secret.

You never get started. You never get started because you allow your own fears to keep you from getting started and from consistently following through.

It’s the active pursuit of work life freedom that puts you in position to see your next step.

When you follow your bliss….doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else. Joseph Campbell

The first step to the active pursuit of work life freedom is to admit that you want this freedom. The second step is to declare that now you are actively engaged in the pursuit of this freedom. What’s next? Take these two first. I dare you. Then write – by commenting on this post – and tell me how wonderful (or fearful, or whatever) you feel. Stay tuned. I’ll help you take step three, but it can’t even be seen, let alone reached, until you take the first two. Dare you?