My Golden Compass
I am not sure if I have ever talked about this yet, my "why statement". Before I get into that, let me share what a why statement is: a sentence that defines your personal (or business) purpose or connection to who you are or as I like to say, how you show up (or how your business shows up to the client).
The meaning of this phrase was coined by someone I have looked up to my whole professional career, Simon Sinek. His work and philosophies used to appear in all my facilitation or projects. I used to quote him all the time:
A culture is not invented, a culture evolves.
Relationships are like seat belts, if they don't fit we'll never feel safe.
The goal is not to be perfect by the end. The goal is to be better by tomorrow.
I used to introduce him as "my husband and he just doesn't know it yet" - stalkerish for sure but because I talked about him so much (not just at work but personally as well) I used it as a way to introduce how much I valued his opinion and philosophies. His TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, is still one of the most viewed on the TED website. He's written numerous books, Leaders Eat Last is my favourite. And, he can be seen all over social media and podcasts helping to shape the world's leaders and ideologies.
He is now just as important to me as a thought leader as he was when I was first introduced to him in 2010.
This is why when I was struggling in 2017 I turned to him to build a compass for when I was feeling so lost and alone. I discovered my why statement. What I didn't realize at the time was how important that statement would be to me to help bring me back home. I knew it would be hard to build my why statement and, I knew I couldn't do it alone. So I asked the one person who I knew would be the strongest to hold the proverbial mirror up while I looked in to discover my why.
See, that's the thing when you build your why - you have to look at the good and the bad to really figure your shit out. There we were in my 400-square-foot apartment, wine and cheese in hand decoding my life. I will admit, when we completed everything and came up with the final product, it didn't really fit. If my memory serves me correctly, which is really hit and miss, we used photography as an example of how my why can be used. I wasn't a huge fan of looking at my photography like that at the moment. I wasn't really feeling the pull there anymore like I had been in previous years. But, the statement still fit there (and still does), it just made gut sense to keep it. It was kind of like a new pair of jeans: I knew they were the right style but questioned the fit. Like something was off, a little too stiff maybe or I needed a different size?
As the years wore on I tried it out in different projects I wanted to pursue, like my photography, but nothing really stuck. I was trying to just "slap it" onto something. Eventually, I stopped trying and I put it down.
And life happened.
Once again I found myself lost and struggling in a bigger way than I was before. I used new tools to navigate myself out of the cave, exiting this space to find myself in a new land and needing to navigate back home, back to me. To be honest, this past year I will admit I have been sitting outside of "the cave". Just feeling so overwhelmed and not really knowing where to start or my next move, watching other parts of this new world already crumble and new pieces of land being created, seeds being planted. I started to draw out a map of where I wanted to go but haven't committed to any plans or course to get there. It wasn't until I did something I haven't done in a really, really, really long time - I finally started, literally, putting pen to paper.
I listened to one of Simon's podcast. This episode was with Brene Brown and Adam Grant - talking about separating exceptional ideas from good ones (really there were so many detours in the conversation it was like sitting in a living room with them). In the beginning, Brene took the time to describe how she finds ideas in patterns and what it means to her. As she wraps up, Adam interjects, "But what's your why?" I replayed that part at least three times. I guess I really needed to hear it because it struck a cord.
I've spent the last 6 or so months after my knee injury pondering the meaning of my life and evaluating relationships. In the last year, I have struggled with my career and wondered what direction I'm going to be taking, and what move I should be making. I did a massive 180 in that department and now the path I had planned in front of me was gone. I have a clean slate. The last two years have been spent sharing my experience and stories. Jotting down thoughts and taking readers along my self-discovery journey, but still feel lost and misdirected in really all of it. I know I've mentioned this a few times in several posts about how I want to change the direction of this blog but I now realize it was me expressing my spinning on these feelings and not knowing how to solve it. I may have even mentioned that a few times as well on those pages.
Now, here I am, outside this cave feeling overwhelmed, spinning and lost with my new map and here comes Adam's voice. Hitting me at gale-level wind force smacking me in the face with my compass - my why statement:
To find the beauty in the ugly so that others may see their brilliance and persevere.
As I write this out it all starts to make sense. It all just feels like things are coming together. My past, present and future all intertwine to create a beautiful brick road leading me to home - back to me.
Finally, five or 6 years later, this statement fits, the jeans have been broken in. So here I am with my map and compass, a plan and direction, my dream combination. I've relied on plans in my adulthood because I always fear that I am going to miss something. That I have missed something and I am searching for it. This map for me is really nothing more than an end goal and the compass is the only set of directions. If what I want to do doesn't have the compass pointing toward it - I'm now ok with letting it go and moving on. There's no more plan, only this goal and compass.
That's the beauty of a why statement I think. A way to enter into a state of flow. Where if it doesn't serve you, don't try to force it to happen and move on. Maybe that's why I was feeling so lost. I tried to force the statement to fit or stick onto something when really it just had to stick on me.
I'm really trying this new thing, this state of flow. Not forcing things - which will be hard for me. I have this habit of really just trying to make things happen in my time when maybe it wasn't the right time or in the right direction. I don't really have a fear of missing out on things anymore either. I've settled into this idea of what is meant for me will find me...as long as I take inspired action towards my goal. Typing all this out is really my commitment to me to stay on this path and use my compass to guide my decisions.
So, I can't really tell you where I'm going, or how I'm going to get there, but I am excited for the journey to begin - or should I say keep going.