This post is nothing like the one I began to write for you. Nothing at all.
In fact, I’m not sure that I’m going to be writing the same kind of posts again that I’ve been writing over the last few months. I say “not sure” because I don’t ever like to be definitive about these things. All I can tell you right now is that something has changed and that you’re going to notice it.
See, this year, and indeed since I revamped this website and started writing here instead of over on A Different Kind of Work, I’ve been writing articles in quite a logical way. I got the Livingston Consulting creed down and then I thought – great idea – let’s take the creed’s themes and drill into them. One theme a month. I’ve been doing that. And, when I’m not on holiday, writing an article a week which I send out to my list.
As it turns out, I have been on holiday the last few weeks and so there have been no new articles but today was “writing this week’s article day”, and so I dutifully went back to my schedule to see what I’d planned out to write about.
The theme I’d planned was Truth Clarifies. What, I thought, could I tell you about the truth? Spent a couple of hours surfing the internet for some inspiration, but all I could come up with felt somehow hollow.
Unable to come up with any meaningful, pithy content, I was really sweating it.
What would you think of me if I didn’t keep my commitment to post weekly? And post in accordance with how I said at some prior point I would?
Why is that important? Well, so much of it goes to the thing about integrity I keep going on about. It’s important to me that if I’ve said I’ll do something, I honor my commitment to it. I want to be a Servant Leader to the people who read and work with me. I want to serve.
But today, and after a conversation with John El-Mokadem, I’m seeing it a little differently. What’s changing is some greater insight into the nature of what’s going on for me here.
It was kind of funny. Today I turned up for my session with him with a list of things to talk about. It had to be the first, maybe the second time, that I’ve actually had an agenda. Normally I just turn up and we allow the conversation to take its own shape. Those conversations have been immense. Without fail, something important turns up and bites me on the bum in a way I hadn’t expected.
Consistency vs meaningfulness
But today was right down in the dirt of stuff. On the list: consistency versus meaningfulness. I told him of my thing about doing a post a week, and that, when I’d sat down to keep to my schedule today, I couldn’t get the words to flow.
As John said, “In the moment, the feeling was off.”
I think “off” was the polite way to put it!
Anyway, the way John helped me see it, at some point in time Thought took form – and if you don’t know what I mean by this, go check out this post here – and what that looked like was the idea that I should write weekly; that that was somehow “good”. I’d imagined that I was doing that from a clear, insightful place. And maybe I was. But come earlier today, I was caught up in figuring that getting that post written would somehow make me “okay”.
“If I can get this post out – oh, and let’s make sure it’s a wow post – it’ll mean something amazing about me. And then I can be happy.”
We had some conversation too today about structure generally. What it means if you have to turn up and operate within a structure. I had been holding onto some thinking that structure somehow suffocates me. And sometimes it does. But then it would if I have that belief since life only ever works inside-out.
What happens if I choose not to buy into the “structure suffocates” belief – what happens if I can see that’s just an “off” piece of thought form? Can I write here weekly? Not in some preconceived way, but in a more creative, in the moment way?
If I don’t need my turning up – or not – to mean anything, can I turn up and flow?
I don’t know.
Whatever, what’s clear is that my idea of myself has been looking important. I’d been looking at things in quite an egotistical way and putting shape around some concept of “Christine” believing that I am Christine and that I could self-invent. In fact, I’m not Christine.
Sure, you may think I’m Christine (actually, if you don’t quite get what I’m saying on this, you may also think I’m smoking!), and we may talk of one another as if personality is fixed and our lives very self-determining.
But it’s really not fixed. And we’re really not self-determining. Oh, sure, we can set ourselves what appear to be very me-centred goals – and maybe we’ll achieve them too if we push hard enough. But if we’re not allowing of something bigger of ourselves in the process, we’re going to feel exhausted. And produce little of any enduring value.
What has this got to do with you, your life, your business?
I’ve been out of it for a couple of weeks and coming back in I see it more clearly. So, so much of our lives – whether work or play, and even if we run our own businesses or have quite autonomous leadership roles – is about fitting into some pre-agreed plan. It may or may not look that way. But so much of the time we’re trying to squeeze ourselves into some mold of our own or someone else’s making.
Sometimes that can feel suffocating. We can believe that we have to turn up in a certain way. That only one way of turning up will be acceptable.
We kick against the context but it’s not the context that truly constrains us. It’s our own thinking about our context.
Honestly, when I couldn’t find the words earlier to write, I thought I was going to have to mail my readers and tell them I was having an off day. Or share something I’d written before. Or make some excuse. But when I popped the Thought-bubble that had me in its grip I saw the best place to act from was truth.
Which reminds me of some other words I found recently care of Michael Neill:
“Before learning the truth, the mountains appear as mountain. When one begins to study truth, the mountains seem to disappear. After accepting the truth, the mountains again appear as mountains.”
– Zen proverb
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