There is a prevailing view that success requires blood, sweat, and tears. It cannot be easy! I absolutely believe that success does require effort and engagement, but I don’t agree that effort and engagement need to be hard and painful.
In most areas of life, pain is recognized as a healthy feedback mechanism that lets us know something is wrong. We override it at our peril. I learned this in my twenties when I used a garlic poultice to treat a rash on my chest. It hurt like hell, but I persisted because I thought it was working. I pushed through the pain and left it on for the recommended time. I ended up with a second-degree burn on my chest!
I used to be good at ignoring pain and going forward anyway. I did not see it as idiotic and reckless. I learned to not listen to my discomfort. My compass point was working hard and ignoring feedback from my thoughts, feelings, and body telling me to do otherwise. I saw it as strength. It worked until it didn’t. I would be full on until I would crash and need to be fully off for a while. Fortunately, I was always able to recuperate and start again, but my method was not efficient.
Pushing through discomfort took up bandwidth that was not being used to create. I recognize that I get far more done now than I did when I felt like I was busy pushing myself. As I approach my work now and look at what I want to create, relaxation, fun, and enjoyment are the compass points I use to let me know if I am on track. This does not impair my productivity. It improves it.
The difference now is I am better at listening to and trusting my wisdom. Previously, I was more inclined to look outside of myself and follow a formula based on someone else’s success. So, even if my insides were screaming “No!”, I would forge ahead trusting that the outside authority knew better than I. I did not realize success couldn’t be reduced to a generic process. One size certainly does not fit all. What I missed was my capacity to be curious and find enjoyable ways to stay engaged that were in alignment for me. Instead, I followed what other people were inspired to do rather than listening for my own inspiration.
It is easy to give up or burn out when we don’t listen to our inspiration. We conclude that something isn’t for us because we don’t like the process we think it takes to be successful. We don’t see there are infinite ways to get there, and we can each find our own way. I have had numerous conversations with people who decided coaching wasn’t for them because they didn’t like the process of building a practice. They had reasons like: I don’t like the hype, I don’t want to charge high fees, and I don’t like setting up numerous conversations. These were all potentially excellent coaches. They just had not found the business development model that they could get behind. Instead, they thought they didn’t have what it took to be a coach. They took their lack of motivation as a sign that the work was not for them, rather than it being feedback that they needed to find other ways to engage.
It is always exciting to help someone see they can have something they want but have dismissed. It is as simple as pointing out the infinite capacity we all have to come up with new ideas about how to approach our goals. It easy to have an open-minded approach toward engaging when it is aligned with our deeper knowing. There may not be a one size fits all formula for success, but we each have the real-time feedback of our wisdom and inspiration.
If success requires engagement, we are far more likely to engage when something feels right and good to us. I know for myself I enjoy putting effort into my work. It doesn’t feel hard, and it is easy for me to be consistent in this way. It makes sense that people get a lot more done when it doesn’t feel hard.
I am not saying it is possible to always feel good. I know the human emotional experience is variable. I am saying that I don’t think it helps success and productivity to push ourselves harder when we are down or to endure chronic states of stress and anxiety. We are susceptible to this when we try to do something that does not line up inside of us. I might enjoy an adrenaline rush once in a while, but it is not how I want to live my life. It certainly didn’t work for me as a long-term strategy for success. It resulted in burnout and an epic internal destabilization that impacted all areas of my life.
What if success is the result of inspired action that feels good and is informed by our own wisdom — tailor made for us? What if achievement simply requires staying engaged in a way that feels fun and enjoyable? What if progress does not require pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone and forcing ourselves to take action in ways we don’t want to?
I am not talking about living a small life limited by fear and insecurity. I am saying the best way to live beyond our current limitations is to trust our innate wisdom. We don’t need to force ourselves to push beyond our insecurities because we are naturally designed to grow in consciousness and understanding. We can’t make that happen faster by working harder. Just like we don’t grow taller by eating more. There is an innate wisdom unfolding inside of each one of us revealing itself to us in our daily life. This wisdom feels good. It is for us. It is aligned with the heart. Authentic success is simply the result of listening to and acting on our wisdom rather than pushing from the fear and insecurity of the ego.
This is the space that Barb Patterson and I engage from in the Solopreneur Mastermind we co-facilitate. It is an engaged space where participants listen more deeply to their wisdom and act from there. A space where experimentation, exploration, and fun are valued. An environment that nurtures the spark of inspiration rather than letting it be extinguished by reason and logic. What if success is the natural by-product of our own self-realization and divinely guided rather than solely human made?
Regarding my business, my intention is to listen to the calling of my heart and share what comes forward in service to others. I know it can be done in alignment with my wellbeing, and I recognize the timing is not on me. I can’t force myself into an insight and seeing more than I currently do.
I know that greater success comes from greater insight, not the other way around. I do better when I know better. As my understanding goes up, I see more opportunities and ways to act on them that were invisible to me before. Working harder or following someone else’s plan would not have revealed them to me sooner.
So I make the most of what makes sense to me at the moment. I am never at a loss as to how to stay engaged and in the game of creation. I know more will be revealed to me as I go along not because I make it happen, but because I know that as a spiritual being having a human experience I am designed, as we all are, to wake up more fully to the truth of who I am and what is.
We may as well relax and enjoy the ride of our own awakening. The kind of success I am interested in is the by-product of expressing my true nature more fully for the pure joy of it. As Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
If you are looking for more pleasure and fun in your engagement, Barb Patterson and I have found a way to help ourselves and our clients step into our businesses and our lives with more freedom of mind and creativity while tapping into more joy and inspiration. SEEING this for ourselves has transformed our businesses and our lives. We feel so strongly about what this can do for people, that we’ve created a NEW and FREE 3-PART VIDEO SERIES called STOP HESITATING START ENGAGING as an introduction to The Engaged Space: A 30-Day Experiment that starts October 1st.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.