In the morning of our lives we copy our idols in a bid to find out who we are. At some point in the afternoon, we find ourselves. Then, something happens to make us ask ‘who am I really?’ It’s at this point the real search begins. And if we’re lucky, by the evening we’ll have found who is looking!
This was the thought that popped into my head the other day as I watched my six year old son’s latest fixation play itself out in front of me, as he mimicked Michael Jackson’s moves dressed in a black jacket and trilby.
In his film ‘From Ambition to Meaning’ Wayne Dyer illustrates what many of us tend to do as we move into the afternoon of our lives. A film maker having what many might describe as a midlife crisis, desperately tries to get his lucky break. As his bid to gain recognition gathers intensity, he disconnects from the life that is happening around him. His constant striving makes him tense and angry. He misses what’s going on; the relationships that are forming, the beautiful environment he is working in, the questions that are being asked, and answered. If only he had connected with the subject of his film, and his team, he would have heard profound wisdom and enjoyed a completely different and satisfying experience, and he wouldn’t have felt so rejected when he and his backers parted company.
From my own experience, and that of many of my dearest friends, colleagues and associates, connection is exactly what we avoid when the chips are down. If only we recognised in those moments especially that it is our deepest desire to be heard, understood and be part of a collective experience. Instead, we step back and cut ourselves off. We find ourselves so discouraged and abandoned that we even disconnect from ourselves. We don’t know how to feel better, so we reach for the quickest, easiest, fix: alcohol, drugs, food, or another pair of shoes to add to the mountain already in the cupboard. Anything that will fill the void.
And yet, connection is the best way I know to become whole and healed, and to know myself. Connection has left me in awe; breathless with the deepest level of understanding and compassion that being human is all about. Connection is what gives us meaning. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said
“ The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
Indeed, it is true that even when physically distant from another, being close in spirit can be enough to lift us from our disengagement. The world wide web has opened up the opportunity to deeply connect in so many more ways than were ever available before, and for this I am truly grateful.
Several years ago, at the beginning of my afternoon, I trained and volunteered as a Samaritan. I thought it would feel good to give back to others. I didn’t know that it was in fact my way of finding connection. To listen deeply turned out to be my first step to becoming whole. Some of us are naturally better at it than others, and all of us, I was frequently reminded, have two ears and one mouth. It was one of the best lessons I ever learned. To hear and be heard. Such a profound sense of wellbeing comes from this alone.
Brene Brown says
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Of course, I didn’t derive sustenance and strength from the callers who used the services of Samaritans, but from my fellow volunteers. After each shift, a volunteer would be available to talk to. Even if nothing remarkable had happened, we were required to connect with this person, affording us the opportunity to share our feelings, and be reminded that we are not alone, and our contribution was valued, no matter what.
One of my most valuable life lessons
When I feel at my most vulnerable and lost, then I know it’s time to find the courage to wave the red flag and say, Help! Can someone save me from myself please?
Some Great News!
In response to this life lesson, I am delighted to announce that I’m forming a community. The Meaningful Work Community will be a place where those of you who are searching for more meaning from your work can meet with each other, face to face. My intention is that deep connections are made and you will find some answers to your afternoon question, ‘ who am I really?’. You will get to enjoy a variety of speakers who will be invited to share about their own experience of meaningful work. Watch this space for more information!
The Meaningful Work Mastermind
For those of you who have already worked with me directly, or would like to but need to be mindful of your costs, I’m setting up the Meaningful Work Mastermind group. This group is for midlife career changers who want more meaningful and fulfilling work.
This group will meet fortnightly via teleseminar using skype or telephone. Each call will be recorded so you don’t have to miss out if you can’t make it. If you would like to participate, you are invited to send me an email. We will then arrange a chat and decide if this is the best route to coaching for you. Everyone who participates in the Meaningful Work Mastermind automatically becomes part of the community, and pays no additional fee to come along.
If you would like to find out more about The Meaningful Work Community, or The Meaningful Work Mastermind Group please contact me. I’ll be delighted to connect!