Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville, NC

September 2009

"Your writing is getting soft," my friend commented.

"Soft!" I thought. I was coiled and ready to strike. Then something stopped me. "Listen to what he has to say," my best self whispered.

I took a deep breath. "Tell me more."

"Well, to be honest it's pat. Everything is too neat. Life is messy, and you don't have all the answers."

As hard as it was to admit, he had a point. I have a way of wanting to tie everything up in a nice, neat bow.

"Dig deeper," he suggested. "Let more of you come through. That's when you're at your best. That's when you're authentic." His words found their mark.

My friend's comments were hard to hear, but extremely valuable. I thanked him for his candor.

Real friends comfort and confront. They provide a mirror in which we can see aspects of ourselves that may be hidden from our view.

Readers, please hold me accountable. If my writing starts getting soft, let me know. I want to write in a way that connects with you and contributes to your life and career.

I have said before: I don't have all the answers; I am a seeker just like you. Sometimes, I stumble upon an insight, and when I do I'll share it. I'll also share information that may support your career and life. But most of all, I'll share my journey, and I hope that you'll share yours with me as well.

This month, we'll examine the power of balancing being with doing.

The Power of Balancing Being with Doing

I read once that our best spiritual teacher is the life right in front of us. Life is currently teaching me how to become a human being rather, not just a human doing.

I am a student of the Enneagram, a personality system that helps explain how we are wired. As an Enneagram "three," inactivity causes me anxiety, and I have been anxious. My business was slow this summer. Time became heavy and these were my methods of coping. I...

Sped Up. I took on new tasks, some productive, most not. I joined a nonprofit organization's board of directors and found enumerable ways to pass time on the computer.

Numbed Out. I read, watched television, ran errands, and piddled around the house. While there's nothing wrong with these activities, I did them robotically and without joy.

Neither tactic worked. While they offered a temporary respite from anxiety, they also dulled my life. When I disconnect from being, I disconnect from Self. How can I be authentic and live a joyful life when I am not associated with Self? I can't.

For the first half of my life, my career was solely about doing. A friend once observed, "Randy, everything you've accomplished in life you accomplished by sheer force of will."

He was right. I gritted my teeth, rolled up my sleeves, and made things happen, but I did this unconsciously. While I got a lot done, I was in a trance and my accomplishments didn't bring the happiness I so desperately sought.

After a midlife meltdown, I began to understand that happiness comes with awareness, intention, and attention. When I began to "be" rather than just "do," I became energized and more fully engaged in life. As I became more engaged in life, my life purpose began to emerge: "Helping professionals stand in their power by becoming the full expression of all they are."

To become the full expression of all I am requires radical engagement; it requires me to be fully present. I am learning that to become present I must engage the gut, heart, and head.

Gut: I get grounded in my body beginning with my breath. I breathe a little deeper than I would normally, right into my belly. I feel my feet on the floor, and check in with my body. I have a little tension in my right shoulder right now.

Heart: I check in with my emotions. What am I feeling right now? Ahhh. A little sadness. I sit with these feelings, trying not to judge, analyze, or "fix."

Head: I ask myself, "Where am I now?" I find my "inner observer" and I identify with him rather than with the many other aspects of myself such as my idealized self.

As I do these things anxiety may still arise. I commit to accepting this discomfort a little longer than I might normally. I breathe into it; I feel whatever I am feeling without judgment, and become curious about it.

Life is teaching me a great lesson, and I have only begun to scratch the surface. But I know that by bringing "being" and "doing" into balance, I can live an empowered life. Only then can I stand in my power and become the full expression of all I am.