The Path Less Travelled
Strike out on your own path and live every day at choice
What does it mean to go your own way and live your own life? What does it mean to live fully and whole-heartedly every day?
A little spoiler alert here: when I start working with new clients, I ask them to complete some pre-work before the first session. The first question on the pre-work form is: When you reach the end of your life, what needs to have happened for you to take your last breath wholly at peace and fully satisfied with your life?
That's a big question. And pretty much every single client has confessed that they'd never considered it before. Honestly, neither had I until a few years ago, and when I did sit down and reflect on this question, it felt like a sledgehammer to the chest and face. I realised that I was putting off living my life to the full, putting off making my highest possible contribution, putting off taking risks until such time that everything would be sorted and perfect. (Which, of course, basically never happens outside Hollywood chick-flicks.)
This continuous "putting things off" made me miserable, stressed, bitter. I felt like my life was on pause and like I was waiting for it to get started. Which it was, obviously. I knew something needed to change and I kept trying to tweak things in my life, but nothing worked. I felt tired, hounded by time, like I had little choice in what to do and few possibilities to move forward. Then I started reading again. Books have always provided me with the way forward, coming into my hands just when I need them and with just what I need to know. These books led me to coaching and, over time, to Leadership Development.
Living At Choice
“It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”- Invictus by W.E. Henley
There is nothing more powerful and empowering that choosing to live one's life "at choice". We always have a choice, no matter what, although most of the time most of us don't feel that way. Probably the greatest teacher of what that means in the real world is Viktor Frankl, who survived the concentration camps and the Nazi's systematic debasing, dehumanising, and stripping away of human dignity. Dignity and humanity, however, are always available to us to give us strength and resilience. Frankl recognised that and clung to it for dear life.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” - Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.
Dignity and humanity are not things often spoken of in corporate circles. They should be. They are the essence to things like responsibility, diversity, leadership, team work. When we are firm in our dignity and common humanity, we take responsibility, we value diversity, we step into leadership, we co-create and collaborate fluidly. From a place of dignity we are able to recognise our needs and boundaries, and are assertive in stating them. From a place of common humanity we can lean into connection, openess and intimacy, seeing whoever we have before us without judgement.
From that place we can stand up for ourselves and others, listen, contribute, discuss, disagree, innovate, align - all operating from a place of choice rather than a place of knee-jerk reaction, defensiveness or habitual pattern.
From a place of dignity and common humanity we can stand tall together. We can each discover and lean into our own values for guidance, while wholly leaning into each other too.
The freedom and joy of a life fully lived is embracing being fully human, standing on one's own two feet and leaning in. Jump up, dust yourself off, and take the first step to strike out on your own path. We're right here with you.