Recently I have come to believe that everything really is all about me – not in the way that I wish everyone knew it was all about me, as in lavishing attention on me and catering to my every need. Rather in that damnable, disgusting, infuriating, and preferably avoidable way is it all about me: the way I thrive or dive in the world all starts from my awareness, my center, my perspectives, my beliefs and my ability to remember my SELF.
Even more insidious: it’s not so much about what I do as much as about how I am.
Let me explain.
Much of what I (and you, too, I know) come up against each day is way bigger than anything I can figure out. We all experience this in some way. Most of us have work and life demands that exceed the resources we have to meet those demands – and likely always will. This is true for me and for my beloved clients who work in non-profits. Although we hope things will improve some day, the bottom line is that what I either want to get done or have to get done or what others expect me to get done will always be greater than my resources – time, money, energy, ability to focus, and so on.
It’s fantastic that we have grand dreams, big desires, and people knowing we can step into huge challenges. It’s certainly not so great when we face enormous tasks on our own or without end or not of our choosing. Either way, though, we have to figure out the same thing: How in the world will I handle this?
My standard operating procedure has been to get a plan, figure it out, and work even harder and longer. I’m pretty good with wishful thinking, too. Maybe this will just get done overnight by benevolent fairies or I’ll win the lottery and hire all the help I need. It’s the perfect place, too, for my inner critic to get really loud and sound something like this: “A really capable person would have whipped this out by now. See, you are completely inadequate.”
As a personal example, even without wishful thinking or nasty self judgment, even with all my brilliant thinking and planning and strategies, I eventually realize that there probably isn’t a way to have a beautiful and weed-free, multi-acre herb garden; immaculately clean house; well organized business; 5 times per week blog posts; daily walking and yoga followed by organic, homemade and delicious meals; full client schedule; completely caught up and cleaned out email; regular play time with friends and family; 2 full days per week volunteering to care for birds of prey; 20 hour per week writing schedule; and ongoing creation of new products all right now. (There’s more in this list but I got exhausted just writing these.)
I want more than I can handle!
I can plan and organize all I want to and it’s still just not going to happen (without fairies or winning lotto numbers). So it’s not about what I do. Doing won’t help me all that much here until I get some clarity on how I want to be about all this. My peace and sanity and sense of satisfaction aren’t going to come from working harder or more efficiently. They are much more likely to come from my approach to having more desire or more need than I can handle.
It’s all about me and how I want to be. (Is this a Sesame Street song?)
In relationship coaching we call how we want to be a MetaSkill. It is a philosophy or perspective that is at the foundation of our actions. MetaSkills define our ground of being, our come-from places. For example, as a business owner one of my MetaSkills could be honesty. That’s how I want to be with people in my work world. The doing of “honesty” could look like keeping my commitments, not over promising and under delivering, being square with the IRS, telling difficult truths, and the like.
MetaSkills anchor the big picture before the specific strategies or action plans, because strategies and plans can change – and need to be changeable – as new information is available.
What keeps us from getting lost in the forest of change is our MetaSkills, our come-from places that are the ground of our being.
We really, really, really need strong anchoring in our MetaSkills not just in time of change (which is all the time now), but also when we are facing need that exceeds our resources (which is all the time now, too).
Lately I’ve been working with several MetaSkills in my personal challenge of need exceeding resources. (Ok, there’s a conversation it would be good to have about the distinction between need and desire. And for now what I know is that often our desires feel so much like needs they might as well be.) I came up with the following come-from places, aka MetaSkills, that would help me be with need exceeding resources.
In the face of need exceeding my resources I want to be:
Decisive/aware of timing or rhythm or ripeness
Loving/not fearful/not driven by my inner critic
Sound good, right?
They have been so helpful to me that I haven’t been able to get past the first two.
The moment I shift from despair or panic as I look at my schedule and to-do list to deep gratitude something seriously big changes in me. When, for a moment, I feel in my being a true sense of appreciation for the miracle that is my life in this exquisite place, at this momentous time, doing this luscious work, living this privileged life, my vibration completely changes. When I offer my thanks to my ancestors that lived through famine, wars, plague, horrible personal hygiene, and really bad arch support and other unimaginable difficulties – even with my irreverent and twisted humor – my fears about this day soften considerably. When I can make a heart connection, through appreciation, with the miracle of Nature surrounding me, my gratitude moves me to awe. And awe rocks our beings all the way to our bones and beyond. From this place of deep gratitude I am opened to an entirely new way of looking at things. From gratitude and awe a universe of new possibilities is now available to me.
Just being in gratitude usually does it for me. Gratitude has a mysterious way of prioritizing and distilling that is so much more clear and acceptable to me than what my hamster-wheel brain usually comes up with. But if I still need strategies for accomplishing things I go right to being curious.
When I get curious I ask myself those questions I’d mostly rather not know the answers to, like “What are my motivations for this?” or “Who am I wanting to make happy here?” or “What’s the illusion I’m chasing after in this?” or, one of my favorites (NOT), “How is this a distraction from what I really want?”
For me this MetaSkill of curiosity requires my exploration of myself in a way that is often uncomfortable and always useful. It’s the starting place of gratitude-so-deep-it-moves-me-to-awe that gets me out of habitual, closed-box, business-as-usual thinking long enough for me to be able to get open-heartedly curious. Coming from these two places together provides me with ample resources to face my gargantuan needs.
There’s much more to this exploration of need exceeding resources. Stay tuned and chime in on what you’ve experienced as you’ve grappled with this challenge.