As often happens on the spiritual journey, we have arrived at the heart of a paradox: each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is stop pounding on the door that just closed, turn around—which puts the door behind us—and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls. The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what lies before us now is the rest of reality.
~ Excerpt from Let Your Life Speak, by Parker J. Palmer
For Christmas my mother gave each of her seven children the book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer. Each book included a handwritten note about what she thought we may find in Parker Palmer’s search for a vocation that may be relevant to our own personal journey. It is a beautiful book, and I found embracing the no’s in our life to be particularly poignant. How many times are you with a dear friend or family member listening to them process the untenable? There is no way to retell their story with a happy ending and blaming themselves is always completely unsatisfying. Sometimes it is so much more rewarding to look away from the locked or broken door. The entire world opens up in front of you.
At Just In Time Direction we often meet with people that have worked in a career for many years. They have been successful in projects or businesses, and have hit a juncture where they can no longer settle for what their career is offering. We rarely work with someone starting their career with an amazing technology innovation to bring to market.
Our customers are more often successful searchers who believe something more is possible. They are usually financially in good shape and may be in a changing work situation, or they may hear a calling to something more fulfilling and want to explore stepping off the linear path. They are excited and afraid and are often tempted to turn back. It is so exciting when they choose to stay the course.
Aspiring entrepreneurs and new business owners always have limited resources—particularly time. They don’t have the time to figure out what they need to know and what they don’t know. So often taking the leap to business ownership is followed by drowning in unexpected details. What industry will I be in? What structure should I choose? What skills and talents do I have? Where do I need support? What do I think I know that is wrong, and what do I need to know that I have no idea about? The list goes on and on, and wrong or avoided decisions can derail the dream. It is good to remember that there are many that have walked the path before and they are eager to share lessons learned with other seekers. Sometimes the best answer to the daily grind can be “no” in service to a more heartfelt, unique, and personal “yes”.
Things get much better when we internalize 2 truths-
1. Nobody owes you anything (no, not even a thank you)
2. It is actually you who owes the world and its denizens. You take up space (physical and emotional). And you better have something good to show for it.
It is startling to read these points so close to Mother’s Day, and to realize how well they capture the gift of being a mother. Clearly, my three sons were born knowing they did not owe me anything. They learned to walk holding my hand, and I was a cheerleader in their moves towards greater independence. And the way they saw it, I was meant to be that kind of permanent and uncomplaining fixture in their lives.
Kids give you lots of opportunities to think about what you care about, what feeds your soul and what doesn’t. As a mother you let go of all but the most important pieces of your old life, and the most important pieces find a new Petri dish to flourish within. The lessons I learned from my sons helped me to get less concerned about what the world owed me and more focused on what I owed the world—and more importantly, myself. For me, poetry, writing, journaling, social justice, and meaningful work all rose to the surface. I outsourced house cleaning from the beginning of our childbearing years, recognizing that one woman cleaning house for four boys/men was a recipe for resentment.
So, though I part ways with Seth Godin a bit and believe that, like my sons, I do not owe any more than my kids do, I want to thank my amazing sons Devin, Mason, and Harte for unapologetically teaching me that my life and joy are my own responsibility. On the way to that lesson, we have laughed deeply, shared our struggles and accomplishments, and reflected on best options in each of our lives. We have also played together and watched more Sports Center than I EVER would have chosen. Being your mother has been an honor and a privilege and nothing like I thought it would be. As my own mother suggested about my siblings and me, each of you has been an exciting ride to places I would never have had a chance to go to without you. Thank you for the ways you have transformed who I am and how I live my life through travelling this road together.
The safest dreams we experience are dreams with no hope of coming true…Living with the possible takes guts. ~ Seth Godin
I received a book for Christmas this year that I love, entitled What to Do When It’s Your Turn by Seth Godin. It’s a book about living your life on your own terms, which is so inspiring. Seth Godin came up with a new term I really love–Concrete Dreams. It is one thing to daydream about leaving the job you hate, or to play “what if…” about changes you could make that you’ll never initiate. All of us have those friends that are painful to talk to because they focus on what they hate in their lives and never take the steps to do something with their frustration. They are playing it safe, collecting a paycheck, and hoping for a big payoff after years in misery.
The business owners (or aspiring business owners) we work with at Just In Time Direction are seriously considering, or have already taken a leap of faith. They have faith that the net will appear, and they will recognize it when it happens. A new business startup is full of uncertainty, and the best laid plans will no doubt morph into something unexpected. If you are game for it, you’ll be okay with that, and you’ll know the newborn business has a personality and it will get clearer as it interacts with the world. Those of us who have had a few children, know the surprise of having a second child and realizing we haven’t really broken the universal code of child-rearing. This new being is a new adventure that will have to be taken on its own terms. That is what makes being a parent so rewarding–and it is what makes launching a new business so exciting for a business owner, too.
No matter what happens with our business on the skinny branches of concrete dreams, I’ll always be delighted to have taken the leap and buried my hands in the clay of starting a business. The advisors, consultants, and small business experts that have helped us on our way have been invaluable. There is a community of us out there, and we want to help each other succeed. Every one us that lives with the possible and gives their Concrete Dreams legs, helps to forge a trail for those that follow.
If you are standing on the edge of living with the possible, we wish you every success in making the best choice and getting the guidance and support you need to fearlessly consider your options and making the best choice.