Walking the Heart Path

If life is a journey, I believe each of us must honor the sacred integrity of our own path. We must learn to lead from within, aligning our outer choices with our inner values, callings, and convictions.

But how exactly?

How, for example, do we discern and distinguish our own path from others’? How do we hear our own voice above the noise and courageously honor our own callings in the face of resistance from others?

Sometimes we lack a sense of vision, purpose or the ability to hear our calls. Perhaps we have a limited degree of self-awareness, and in the absence of self-knowledge and respect, look to the external to define our sense of worth. Sometimes our paths are laid out Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 9.26.57 AMbefore us by others, and we blindly follow what we are often unable or afraid to discover for ourselves. Perhaps we internally judge ourselves as unworthy or incapable of making a different choice, choosing powerlessness over self-empowerment. We allow fear to overshadow the gift of authenticity and allow the opinions of others to trample our own. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a different role — judging others, perhaps harshly so, as if our subconscious’ way of defending the fragility of our own choices and ego.

In recent weeks, I’ve been inspired by those whose path have crossed my own; those who are not only daring to dream, but who have challenged themselves to leave the security of convention, convenience, and/or comfort to follow their sense of calling and conviction for their lives. While the stories differ in detail, what they share in common is a sense of daring and the courage to try, regardless of whether their decision to change was by choice or chance. What they share is the belief that when vision and effort are combined with core values and a deep-centered sense of faith and possibility, baby steps taken can begin to propel them toward their dreams and to live a life of purpose.

I’ve also encountered others who have shared their struggle to find their authentic voice and walk their true path, finding comfort instead in the status quo out of fear of what might happen if they dared to make a change. Not surprisingly, instead of projecting a sense of inner peace with their decision, energetically, they project a sense of dis-ease at best, and sometimes even outright anger as their internal discontent morphs into judgment and criticism of others.

Wherever we find ourselves on the continuum of life, if we are to honor and embrace our authentic voice and the essence of all that we have to offer, we must learn to silence the critics, whether our own or others. To realize our leadership potential, we must also own our truths and find the courage to live our convictions however and wherever we choose to live out our leadership in our individual journeys.

Exercising the courage to live in integrity with who you authentically are and to live out your callings and convictions is at the essence of heart-aligned living. In doing so, we not only find our true heart path but help pave a path forward for others, too.

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Yesterday marked the official launch of my new book, Walking the Heart Path: Bite-Sized Bits of Wisdom on Living & Leading from the Inside Out. It was also a day recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day.

As a way of giving back and helping pave a path forward for others, $1 of every book purchased will be donated to the Foundation for Girls. Focused on nurturing the leader in every girl, this Charlotte, NC-based 501(c)3 providing mentoring, financial literacy, STEM, and other skills-based training to at-risk girls in Charlotte. 

On Dreams & Miracles…

The moment we quit dreaming is the moment we quit manifesting miracles in our own life, for when we have no intentional aim, we most assuredly will get lost in the wilderness of life.

I’m curious to know…

Do you take time out to dream on a regular basis? Do you have an intentional aim and larger vision for your own life? Allowing space for miracles and the larger hand that is at play in our lives, do you life your life by design or default? What steps can you take today to help you manifest a miracle? What role does Faith play in that process?

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What is Your Legacy?

Every step of our journey is a series of beginnings and endings.

A continuous stream of movement, each step is an endless series of mini births and deaths – the promise of what’s  to be and the of letting go of what no longer is; the space in between we call the present.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word ‘legacy’ lately… about the imprints we leave in the wake of our past as we move forward into the future.

Though we tend to think of legacy in terms of the past, it is how we love and lead and live in the present that not only influences our future, but defines our legacy – that which we leave behind for others… those moments of time in which our presence made an impact…left a footprint…perhaps now forgotten by us, yet remembered by others.  Traces of our existence, interwoven into the fabric of life itself.

As I reflect on the legacy of those who came before me, whose lives have left an indelible imprint on my heart even in their passing, I’m curious to know and ask…

What does your legacy reveal about your life; about the essence of who you most authentically are?  Does your legacy reflect your values — choices made with deliberation in alignment with your true self, or is your legacy a motley crue of disjointed actions and reactions? Whether you are thinking about the afterlife or just the next phase of your life or career, what actions can you take today to serve and lead others in the way you wish to be remembered? 

The Essence of Purpose

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 9.15.00 AMIn a world that beckons us to find our purpose and pursue our passion, it’s easy to become self-centric in our pursuits. While there is nothing wrong with chasing dreams that align with our core passions, living with purpose is about so much more than the form our work takes. It’s about how we choose to show up, share our talents and serve others, regardless of where we are. It’s defined less by what we do, than the gifts we bring to our work and the spirit with which we do it.

I’m curious to know…

What does living on ‘purpose’ mean to you in your own life? How do you choose to show up for others and share your gifts with the world? What is the relationship between pursuing your personal passions and living out your purpose? 

Leaning Back

 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the pursuit of our dreams, we stop living life in the process. We become so focused on the what, where, how, and with whom, that if we’re not careful, we can lose our deeper sense of why. For those of us deeply committed to our causes or careers, sometimes, even when we’re clear, our sense of purpose can get buried when we fail to set boundaries in our lives and sacrifice self-care in the process.

I know this story well, for I’ve been there myself.

(More than I’m proud to admit.)

Regardless of our path or pursuits, we may justify our choices in any number of ways:

“I’m just doing what I have to do.”

“It’s only for a little while.”

“This is the price of success.”

“But I want to make a difference.”

Even when we defend our work for the love of what we do, if we’re not careful, we can lose perspective and potentially get lost along the way, believing that our purpose can only be lived by following a prescriptive path of achievement.

What happens, for example, when external achievement and what others think becomes more important than how we live, lead, love, and serve others in our everyday lives? At what point does a commitment to what we do become more important that who we are — whether as a colleague, parent or friend? What happens when our work, no matter how worthy the cause, actually becomes a way of avoiding responsibility in other areas of our lives? What happens when we fail to show up fully for those we love and/or abandon self-care in the process?

Recently I ran into a friend and former colleague who knew of my recent work and asked how it was going.

A childhood dream realized after years of effort and overcoming numerous obstacles along the way, it represented the crowning glory of what I had once hoped to achieve, but previously feared was forever out of reach. Without question, I loved my colleagues, expanded my skills, and furthered my knowledge of issues I care deeply about. I made deep and lasting friendships, while connecting with women and men around the world whose commitment to women’s empowerment reflect my own. Significantly, I was privileged to be a part of a collective body of work that continues to elevate women’s voices and generate positive ripples of change. For these gifts and so much more, I will always be grateful.

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But as my contract was nearing its end, I realized something else, too.

I realized fairly quickly that sustainable ‘success’ on that particular path required a degree of commitment beyond what I was willing or able to give in this season of my life and found myself re-examining my own sense of purpose, value, and vision for my life moving forward.

I recalled the wisdom of Secretary Albright whose path once serendipitously crossed mine. Sharing some of her own journey and the years of single motherhood that preceded much of her professional ascent, she emphasized the importance of staying clear on my priorities, true to my values, and patient with life itself.

In an honest moment of self-reflection, I also realized that at any given time and under almost any circumstance, each of us can live out our callings in any one of a number of ways — that the highest and best use of our gifts and talents need not be reflected in something extraordinary, but rather, in the ordinariness of our everyday lives; that the form of our work is less important than how we choose to show up, share our gifts, and serve others each and every day.

In that pause of self-reflection, I made a personal decision.

I chose to lean back, regroup, and realign.

I chose to step away from our culturally influenced narrative to relentlessly be more, do more and have more… to achieve, without regard for the cost, whether to ourselves or to those we love.

I chose to be still long enough to reflect on whether my outer choices truly reflect my inner values and priorities, and if not, to consider what needs to change, reminding myself that living an empowered life is as much about owning outcomes and accepting responsibility for my choices as it is about having the option to pursue them in the first place.

I’m curious to know…

In a culture that promotes ‘leaning-in’ — to our dreams, our callings, and our careers, often regardless of cost, what does it mean to ‘lean back’? What does that look like in your own life and career? Has there ever been a time when you stepped back or away from something in order to show up more fully in your own life, while holding yourself accountable for your life’s outcomes? Has there ever been a time when you realized that living on purpose is more than pursuing a singular passion; that it’s as much about how we show up and serve others as it is about what we do and the form that takes? Is your sense of personal success, identity and worth disproportionately defined by your achievements, or can they stand on their own?

 

 

 

 

 

The Meaning of Work

We can choose to focus on achievement, position, and power as an end game, or we can focus on how our work can inspire, influence and create value for others.

I’m curious to know…

What brings meaning and value to your own work? Are you influenced more by what you can get or what you can give? If you are being driven by, is there an end in sight…a point when you can say I’ve achieved ‘enough’? How might the relentless ‘chase’ rob you of the ability to create true meaning and value in your life and work?

Little Steps. Lasting Change.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Krebs, CC License

Often the first step in making a difference in this world begins with finding the courage to give life to a voice; to both hear and be heard.

Far too often, we sit idly on the sidelines of life, wishing for things to be ‘different’. Sometimes we buy into the belief that it’s someone else’s job to fix what’s broken or believe we are too small to make a difference. Yet nothing could be further from the truth! Each of us has within us a gift, talent, purpose or passion to share with the world. Each of us has within us a voice, that when raised in defense of what we believe in; when united with others who share our core values; can create a ripple effect far bigger that has the potential to create real and lasting change.

I’m curious to know…

What change do you wish to see in the world? What causes are you most passionate about? What small step can you take today to get involved? Remember: big change begins with little steps, and global impact starts with local engagement.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re passionate about women’s economic empowerment and the impact it has made in your own life, consider sharing your story with EmpowerWomen.org’s #iamwoman campaign or register on the platform to connect, engage and learn with others from around the world. There’s a plethora of resources and multiple ways to get involved! If you have a heart for the personal development side of women and girls’ empowerment and believe in the value of developing future leaders from the inside out, check out the Global Girls Project and consider lending your own voice and story to the project. Collectively, we believe in the power of stories to inspire, engage, educate and advance big ideas and we’d love to hear from you!]

Photo Credit: Rebbeca Krebs