[warning: strong language]
I have grown so much in the last year of my life. In fact, I have grown more in the last 12 months of my life than in the other 29 combined and multiplied by ten.
I think ‘life’ has the potential to really fuck us all up. School. Parents. Friends. Lovers. Managers. They all do their bit to unhinge us from our source of power by demanding that we live up to their expectations: fit in to social norms, conform to their view of the world. In response we construct our egos: the pieces of us we present to the world to ensure a warm embrace, a welcome home, an income and ultimately survival. We bend, and re-mould ourselves so much to fit in that we lose and forget our original shape.
Some of us never awaken to our own personal power, face up to our demons, do the work to set ourselves free and reach our true potential in this life. Like zombies we sleepwalk through life, never even knowing there is indeed more to it, even though our souls sigh heavily each night as we put our head on our pillows and ask ourselves as our eyes close: “is this it?”.
Some of us wake up and resort to sleeping pills to avoid the reality we find as our eyes open and squint in the sun light. Alcohol. Chocolate. Abusive relationships. Like ants under a magnifying glass that, somehow, can see the path to freedom but who choose to stay because the pain and risk of this life is more palatable, somehow, than the journey and risk it would take to start anew.
And then there is that small but steadily increasing group of us who do know there is more to life and who are choosing to find the courage deep, deep in our guts, our bellies, the pit of our stomachs to ask the question out loud: “How far can I go…how far can we go as humanity?”. This is the group who realise we chose this life for a reason and the people we meet don’t mean to hurt us, they’re the resistance we need to grow.
I am 30 years old and I have been through more than the average person but less than others and at this tender, pivotal age where we decide whether we have missed the opportunity in life to be great, or push on through to make the next ten years the best ten years yet I have realised the most important point of my life this week.
I have been asking the wrong questions.
It is not: “How far can I go?”, or “how much do I want this?” or “how can I achieve my goals?”.
The question we all need to ask ourselves is: “How much do I need to grow to achieve my dreams and impact the world?” followed by: “Am I willing to do the work?”.
As humans, we all want to be loved, accepted, wanted but have you ever noticed that the people who stand out in this world sacrifice those comforts for something more? They are persecuted, judged, laughed at and cast aside…until they make it and then they are acknowledged, celebrated and welcomed. We live in a world which says: succeed first and be accepted later; when it should be: be accepted now and succeed later.
Les Brown always says you have greatness within you.
Tony Robbins says humans need growth to survive.
Oprah is known for saying we must accept responsibility for our lives.
Yes, I think we do a lot to fuck ourselves up as we grow up and it’s often not until our late 20s, 30s or even 40s and 50s that we ‘wake up’ and realise we’ve spent our lives marching to the beat of someone else’s drum. Sadly, some people realise much too late as the final breathes of life escape their lungs.
Don’t let that happen to you. Ask yourself: What does your drum sound like? What does your soul command of you? How far can you go in this life and to get there…how much must you grow? Are you willing to go there?
I am. And I hope this is inspiration to you to at least ask the question…what would happen if I had the courage to try?
For years, I wasn’t ready. Playing the victim and avoiding my calling by making myself busy with everyday bullshit was far easier than taking control, making tough decisions and finding the courage to act even when I knew it would hurt. Especially when it hurt.
Something happened to me a year ago that caused this monumental shift in me, my awakening. I’d been depressed for years and years and I learnt quickly that depression is not sexy, nor is it an admirable quality in friends or employees for that matter. I told myself it’s a burden, a condition without ‘visible’ cause, an endless state to be managed. One day, I was fucking sick of it. I wanted out. I prayed for a miracle and I got not one but three.
The first was a copy of the book the Alchemist. The point that resonated most for me here was the idea that the shepherd in the story relied on his flock and the flock relied on him. He earned a living from the sheep and being a shepherd formed part of his identity. But, he knew there was more out there and was torn between the pull of life’s great treasure which he could only pursue if he let go of his flock and went into the unknown, and the pull of the security which he got from his life as a shepherd. I recognised my own ‘flock’ in the team of eight or so people I’d built in my businesses. I had to let them go in order to pursue my own treasure and I did. Growth began.
The second is an incredible woman called Alice – a soul mate who came to me at precisely the moment I needed her; an angel who provided the safe space I didn’t even know I needed to admit who I truly was, what I wanted and what I knew I was capable of. Alice helped me to face up to myself and recognise the lies I’d built around me. She didn’t do anything directly, but through her honesty, integrity and support I was able to speak my truth and it led me to finally admit my calling in life. I deconstructed the life I’d built bit by bit until I was left with a blank canvas of sorts, a chance to start again. I then began to build it back up in the way I wanted. Growth continued.
The third is the realisation that a great joy of mine – speaking to groups of people and empowering them to follow their dreams – could be a source of income for me, a source of potential financial freedom. Somehow I got the crazy notion in my head that I could not only build businesses to escape the 9-5 of work (thank goodness as I wrote this 3am on Monday morning), but that I could recraft my life to make a living from my passion. This moment came as a culmination of a thousand little things: reading the Alchemist, listening to Les Brown, Lisa Nichols and Tony Robbins and reading the stories of hundreds of entrepreneurs who’d done it: Richard Branson, Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden, Hilary Devey. (Yes, I know they’re mostly ‘Dragons’ but how else did we get introduced to entrepreneurs five years ago?)
At times, I feel like a tortured soul. Just last week I’ve found myself lying on my living room floor at 3pm in the afternoon unable to move. I’ve cried myself to sleep. I’ve observed as I’ve self-sabotaged on so many levels. But each time I am getting quicker and quicker at recognising the systems of the victim and I am becoming more and more honest about the causes, how I’ve brought on the drama and the solution I need.
Just this week, I dug a little deeper to the source of the pain. What is the pattern I keep repeating? I know what it is now: I tell white lies to keep the peace, to make other people happy, to avoid a scene or too much attention. Rather than honour my own preferences I do everything I can to honour other people’s. I go with the flow, I cover up my own needs and I deny what I want. Socially, I am a follower.
Hard to believe isn’t it? Well, if you know me truly you can see how I do this. I fib. I fib about how I feel all the time. I’ve learnt to ‘fake’ a smile so damn well that I convince myself I’m happy most of the time.
I’ve recognised this and I’ve acted on it. I’ve spoken about it, written about it and reached out to friends.
I won’t be putting my needs in second place any longer. I will speak up for what I want and need and in being honest in this way I will strengthen every relationship I have, particularly my most intimate relationships with Alice and with myself.
It’s bizarre that I haven’t recognised this until now. My life is my responsibility and I am committed to working on myself, dealing with every bit of dysfunctional behaviour I recognise the moment I spot it. I will always work on myself and that is the only promise I can ever make to family, friends and Alice.
And here is the only promise I can ever make to myself: I am going to live up to my true potential. I am going to transform the world by transforming the people I touch by transforming myself. I will be the world’s leading transformational speaker and I will touch the lives of millions. I will make it. I am making it. I have greatness within me.
To get there, I am willing to push myself, test myself, meet and exceed my potential time and time again. I will stumble and I will rise. I will ask for help. I will try new things. I will ignore all the limitations placed on me by society and I will break self-limiting belief after self-limiting belief as I form new beliefs about what’s possible for me and for all of us.
And more than all of that, I am willing to face the most painful thing of all in this life: the pains we feel in our hearts, our minds and the very pits of our stomachs as we develop and grow into the person capable of living our dream lives. I will face, seek out and endure the growing pains of life because I want to transform this world by transforming you by transforming myself.
Let the growth continue for all of us.