When I get into a busy season with my work, I often shut down everything else around me to focus more intensely on what I need to do. One of the first things to be sacrificed on those busy days are the various update emails that I receive.
This pattern tends to emerge especially when I’m struggling with a project or doing deep personal excavation work. Todd Henry’s excellent new book, Louder Than Words, has been opening new avenues of exploration for me, and I’ve been struggling as I attempt to work through his questions and uncover my authentic voice.
On top of that, I’ve been immersed in writing on a level I haven’t been since my college and law school days. I’m trying to keep up with the massive flow of ideas that is streaming through my mind, without getting stuck as my fingers touch the keyboard.
This is the state in which I would typically ignore all but the most urgent and important of emails. Certainly, I have no time or head space to devote to the frivolity of my weekly update email from ThinkUp. Although I enjoy the fun insights into my social media activity, that information is neither urgent nor important.
And, yet. There I was, in Union Square park, trying to finish up a blog post, when I allowed myself to become distracted by a quick “email break.” The message from ThinkUp called to me loudly, and I couldn’t resist.
I listened to the voice that said “open me” and I discovered something new about myself that helped boost my confidence on my journey of self-discovery. In this experience, I learned that taking a break for the seemingly frivolous distractions can serve us, if we are willing to see the lessons.
I don’t know if I can articulate exactly how this happened any better than I did in my stream of consciousness reaction from that moment in the park, and I’m not going to try.
Sometimes, the “in the moment” account says it all. Here it is:
In my insights email from ThinkUp today was a flashback to a very nice complement that Todd Henry paid me exactly one year ago via Twitter, when sharing an article I wrote for Chris Brogan’s Owner Magazine, which I did not remember (the article or the compliment):
— Todd Henry (@toddhenry) August 24, 2014
And suddenly, I found myself in that strange place where I could hear my inner critic say
“this is so good, I wish I could write like this”
while at the same time I could hear my inner cheerleader as she was jumping up and down in her attempts to be seen and heard. She kept shouting:
“You wrote this! YOU wrote this! You wrote this!”
If you’ve ever written something and forgotten about it and then come back to it at another time you probably have had this experience. It’s all a bit surreal.
And here’s the thing: my Inner Critic and Inner Cheerleader are both right. This is really good. It’s resonating for me. It talks about mission and goals and values and emotions and service and how to stay the course and all the things I still believe wholeheartedly.
It references Die Empty, because … of course it does. Because I didn’t stop talking about that book for TWO YEARS. Because it had such an impact on my life. Because it was the best book I’ve read in the past couple of years … until Louder Than Words.
And, honestly, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry because … if you knew how much I’ve been wrestling with some of the soul-searching questions in Louder Than Words … and then this piece finds its way back to me to remind me that I already have many of the answers I’ve been seeking. It’s like I’ve been looking for my glasses while I’m wearing them (which does actually happen to me pretty often..)
I can’t believe that I forgot that I wrote this.
I can’t believe that I forgot the feeling of having someone whose work I admire so much, whose work has impacted me to such a profound degree, deem my work worthy of sharing. For Chris to offer me a platform for my writing when I had two posts on this fledgling little blog and no track record of writing that I exposed to the public is something I still can’t wrap my head around. And to have my work complimented and shared by another mentor, Todd Henry. This was huge. It was a pinnacle moment for me.
I could only imagine that this feeling would have been my Magic Moment on this day last year, or at least recorded in my Daily Wins. And I just checked and it’s not mentioned at all in my Daily Recap. I cannot believe it. How is it even possible that this didn’t make it into my captured moments? For sure, it will be reflected in today’s Daily Recap. This, right now, this discovery, is the Magic Moment today, and at a time when I most needed this boost.
Once again, I am reminded that there are no coincidences. There are myriad ways this piece could have found its way back to me. The fact that it shows up in this moment, through a tweet sent one year ago by the very mentor whose work has catalyzed the biggest changes in how I think about my work… I can’t even.
My Divine clearly does not do subtle; she prefers the “two-by-four to the head” approach. Maybe that’s because I keep ignoring the whispers.
I laughed so hard. Right here in the park. People are probably wondering what’s so funny. They have no idea.
I have cried so much. So much. All the expectations, the digging up all the shit in my foundation to try to discover who I am. All the work to try to find what resonates and for whom and ….
Why do I feel a need to make it so difficult?
I can drive myself crazy sometimes trying to figure everything out, operating in that well-conditioned mindset that the major questions in life are like a test for which I must have all the answers. I can get so lost searching for the answers that I don’t even see when the answers are right in front of me. And even when I see them, I don’t recognize that I wrote them! How is this even possible?
I am so grateful for this moment. For the insights. For the awareness. For the discovery that I have more answers than I give myself credit for. For the ability to laugh about this. My annual subscription for ThinkUp paid for itself in what I gained today.
Thank you, Chris Brogan.
Thank you, Todd Henry.
Thank you, ThinkUp insights.