As I travelled through different kinds of difficulty in my life at home, at work, and in my life journey, here’s what I find difficulty really comes down to:
How much power does is suck from your life?
Time only factors in as a side note:
something can be really hard (like a car accident) but only takes a few seconds to happen.
going through a breakup may actually take years, whether its retrospectively noticing the signs years before, or the years it takes to decompress from the breakup.
managing, participating or leading a “death march” project at work, can, well, vary on the size and complexity of the effort.
The common factor is, how much of your power is sucked out? In the examples above, I’d say a lot.
And here’s what I find most people do: They muscle through challenging times with just one component of their human design: Their heads.
The mental capacity drives the will which drives the body, sometimes into the ground, to just keep going. They may psyche themselves out into staying positive or shellac over the issue by superficially dealing with the powerlessness through fleeting self-care moments.
If you’re getting tired of being tired, then consider adding the element of your North Star. You know, stars have a much longer battery source than your lifetime, so think about that as a measuring stick of power.
I know this because I’ve done it all ways from here to the moon.
To give you an idea, here’s two scenarios that had the same amount of power suck but ended up producing two very different outcomes for my life. The difference is, one used my North Star where I ended up in a good place and swept others upward as well and one didn’t where I was left utterly alone and erased.
Scenario 1: Pure Might
We all want to do the right thing. We all hate giving up. But doing both without a North Star amounts to an undercurrent of powerlessness, no options, and isolation.
Imagine doing it for someone who’s life depended on you. OH-MY-GOD. No pressure there.
I was at work, busy coordinating a large travel moment of a movie production for the entertainment company I worked for. More time sucked appeasing the ego’s than the actual work.
Anyway, the phone rang with my dad on the other side: “Your brother is in the hospital and you need to get down here now.,” before hanging up. No information around, “What happened?,” “Is he going to be ok?” “When did this happen?”
So, in the gut wrenching drive in rush hour traffic from Brentwood to Orange County, I was tortured between fear, panic, and anger during that two hour drive.
When I got to the hospital, my dad jumped up and told he he was going home…to feed the dog. When I asked about my brother, he replied, “I don’t know. I was waiting for you to find out.” Then he left.
I rocked between being
pissed at him (Don’t parents usually take care of their kids? My mom would have handled this if she didn’t die last year.),
to panic (what do I do now?),
to fear (how do I do this?),
to feeling utterly immobilized in the realization: “I am going to be the one to lead this. I am all alone.”
And, that last bullet point lasted for 5 years while my brother, who suffered a stroke in his brainstem while driving home from a busy day at work, withered in a coma…and while taking care of my dad who needed help after my mom died and during his progression into Alzheimers…and working 12-14 hours.
I was utterly helpless to doctors’ availability (they’re busy, you know, and don’t have set office hours for phone calls) and my lack of knowledge of how to manage one’s health, finances, and legal concerns.
I never knew what phone call would come in? Would I have to call on the death option in the DNR directive? Would I have to rush to the hospital again at 2AM to admit my brother into the hospital? Would the court approve the meticulous records I kept while copying health claim and receipts at 11PM?
Here’s the undercurrent of that time period:
Fear: Added to the entanglement of the self-preservation "what ifs," not for me, but for my brother. He was completely dependent on me and I was so afraid of messing up.
Not being in control left me vulnerable to the whims of other people’s power.
It dispersed my energy away from my wholeness into the whims of whatever was happening around me.
Inertia: Letting the current state be the only reality. That’s where most people stay - option-less, but for you, remember: You're not going there. But, for me:
I couldn’t ask for help because I saw how patients, who had their care “outsourced” were treated, not because of anyone’s help but the heavy workload that health care providers are under. If you can’t speak up, which he couldn’t, it was easy to be overlooked to the newest emergency.
My life got stuck, just like him, between life and death, unable to move forward with my life on vacations because of the unpredictability of life.
Result: Total exhaustion to the point of being erased because I had no power - it was given all away during the 5 years of this story (and I only had 18 more years to go as I took care of my dad as his condition progressed). I only had myself, my intellect, and huge capacity to keep going, albeit in a zombie state. It jacked me up for years to regain my identity, my energy and power.
Scenario 2: North Star + Action
The second story curiously also took 5 years but had a very different result because by then, I had my North Star In fact, it’s the only way the story began because it directed, then powered me, through the same amount of energy it took to move through it.
It wasn’t a literal life and death situation but rather, involved my survival through having a job in a global, investment management company. And, there were only 8,000 people watching me with millions of end-investors impacted. OH. MY. GOD. No pressure there.
I was pulled forward daily with courage into the unknown to shake the status-quo snowglobe of a very valuable (and territorial) corporate asset, Data, that wasn’t “clean” or sustainable .
As I shopped the idea of cleaning up the data, leaders sat back because it was so daunting and political, asking, “Can’t you pick something easier?”
It involved unwinding the 80 years of a Winchester house of data that had organically grown over the years with little discipline or thought beyond meeting the original need - not due to anyone’s fault of having no way to predict the future impact or the changing marketplace landscape that we eventually evolved into.
For 5 years, I had doors slammed in my face as promises for help were reneged or the changing landscape internally and externally reprioritized where everyone else was going to panic next.
I pivoted, never discourage (although often disappointed) because my North Star of freedom (not just for me, but those around me) led me forward and as stupid as it sounds, I was genuinely filled with love and sympathy for my colleagues who were stuck, no voice of their own, to manually calculate thousands of data points every quarter.
The opposite of freedom is endurance, tolerance, and powerlessness. So, I was on fire.
It ended up getting done, my last project in corporate America, in a death march project I didn’t lead but it did pave a clear path for the future and make it easier for countless associates to carry on.
And the greatest compliment I got having my job deconstructed to find that it would take 5 full-time teams to replace what I did alone.
Here’s the undercurrent of what happened:
Clarity in the Unknown: I had never shifted a data paradigm in my life. I had no idea how to unwind the daunting task that so many leaders had passed on. Most people let the narrow current state provide the only options. Clarity brings choice. You always have that.
But, having your North Star gives you a different lens that sees the past, present, and the future…and the easiest and fastest way to get there, without introducing risk or cutting corners. It always points you in the direction where your integrity has no room to compromise, even if you stand alone. You always know what to do next in the space of the unexpected.
I knew how to stay in my integrity AND help my colleagues, so logically, I found the root cause to remediate and then took action with a clear, peaceful, and BRAVE heart.
Courage: The only driving conviction that is powerful to move mountains is the value that your North Star provides. It’s not about you, often, but what’s right to do for everyone.
It’s about being brave enough to be open to options and let go of the secure, known reality, even if that reality sucks. It takes courage to put on a new lens to see the choices you endlessly have in your favor.
And there is never a wrong choice, despite how that might sound on the surface. Whatever happens always does so for your benefit. Not having the knowledge to interpret the sucky makes pain and slows you down…and sucks your power away.
I found the courage to go towards the way that brought value for all affected teams that ultimately served the end customer. THAT’s what I focused on. Not the self-preservation of fear (I’m gonna get fired cuz I’m going to piss people off) or scarcity (We just had a major recession and I’m going to be homeless because there’s no jobs!
Influence: Leadership only wants more (better, faster & cheaper). And there’s always a way, without cutting corners or introducing risk, when you have the balls to find the root cause…and use compassion when shopping the idea around so that everyone wins by not blaming anyone for the current state, because truth be told, we all contribute to our current state every moment.
Lead: People and sheeple (those not leading including leaders!) just need to know they are moving the company, that they matter, and they are contributing. Then they shut up (i.e., trust) and let us do our jobs without fear.
And, without courage, most don’t communicate when things go awry (they always do). Share the facts of the unexpected immediately (what happened and what the team is doing about it) without shame and blame.
Result: This power suck time ended up being most life fulfilling (so far) time period in my life, despite the challenges, where I was fully empowered so the power suck was minimal. I was in control, I always had hope and i had endless energy to keep going when option fell flat and to be open to the next step. I was pulled forward by the “right” intention for me that aligned to my life purpose and North Star. In fact, after that saga ended, I immediately jumped into ramping up my own business the day following my resignation from the day job. No tarry residue to decompress from because I transmuted challenges the moment they happened.
Physically, I got tired but emotionally, I was refilled everyday and my purpose and integrity every moment because I could feel my courage, my impact, and the humanity I was bringing to the company.
I was living my True Life, lead by my North Star, even if it was an unideal or seemingly unrelated, unsupportive environment for me, my integrity, and my soul gift to thrive. I was gifted every day by the challenges, the associates, and the leadership around me.
We’re all pretty capable, accomplishing a lot in our lives with just our pure might which may be supplemented by external joys or breaks. But, that’s not a true life.How do you muscle through things that are hard? Do you use your full human design capacity?
Contact me and I’ll teach you another way, if you’re feeling tired after all the power suck. For 2018, I’m offering FREE Rapid North Star Sessions - it may be free but it’s all the real deal and same tools offered in the paid sessions. I help you find your North Star and you help me get traction for my North Star of freedom! Let’s help each other make 2019 the best year yet!
#ItDoesntHaveToBeHard when you use your #NorthStar