Truth: I got side-tracked. I started this Blog, "Know Thyself", in May. Let's just say this Blog has been marinating -- as I was living this maxim and coaching friends and clients on this very theme. Yes, my writing got side-tracked by my coaching. While I am a planful person and almost always meet my deadlines, like a monthly Blog, I stayed true to my Purpose -- coaching -- and that is exactly the value of knowing your Purpose. One never has to apologize for living their Purpose -- and that feels good to me.
Then my writing was further side-tracked by my incorrigible tendency to do the research behind the quotes I feature in my Blogs and FB posts. Was "Know Thyself" first written by Plato, or Socrates, or by one of the Greek Seven Sages, including Thales, Solon, Chamaleon and Chilon, or by the legendary Oracle of Delphi, Pythia, dating back to the 8th century B.C.? Or does "Know Thyself" date back even earlier to Egypt? The research I reviewed was both contradictory and inconclusive. One research authority, Asaf Braverman, writes;
"Know Thyself began appearing in cultures and traditions and at different times throughout Asia, Africa and Eastern and Western Europe, from Chinese dynasties to the Hindu teachings, to Islam and the Sufis, and of course, to ancient Rome. All alike placed Know Thyself on a pedestal, acknowledging it as the summit of knowledge and the ultimate challenge."
"Know Thyself" is ancient wisdom -- and we are challenged anew, in this 21st Century.
Is there a process or a framework that supports us in finding our answers? Yes -- and the challenge is there are a lot of processes and frameworks. Is there a "best" one? My pragmatic answer is the "best" one is the process that "best" fits you. Just get started -- and you will figure it out.
One thing I know for sure is that our answers do not lie in a checklist. Rather, the answer to Know Thyself can only be found by the Hero on your journey, YOU. Personally, I believe it is an experiential learning journey that never ends.
Back to the key question: How do we find our Highest Self and discover our Purpose? Based on my personal and professional experience, I will share 3 ideas:
Where and how to find the inspiration to go deeply within.
On May 6th, I was honored and excited to join a panel "Aligning Your Passions to Find Your New Purpose" organized by In Counsel With Women. The hosts were Linda Bluso & Lisa Rose, and the panelists were Virginia Addicott, Geri Presti & myself. We each shared our personal perspectives and ideas. We all came at the subject from different perspectives, which was great!
When challenged by Linda Bluso, our Moderator, to have a word or a sentence to describe my journey, I chose "Know Thyself." Imagine that!
My focus was to give people a few ideas for where to find inspiration and guidance, to go deeply within and discover our Best Self and our Purpose. I believe the answer is already there, within us. Our challenge is the make the time to explore, to take off our outer armor, to unlearn our negative and limiting beliefs, and to tap into our essence, our Best Self, our Highest Self, our Soul, as some might say.
For the participants on the call, I offered 3 options to jump start or accelerate the process of going deeply within:
For the the experiential learning exercise, which took about 5 minutes, we started by taking some deep breaths, closing our eyes, and asking ourselves the question: "What are the 3 words that will now define the best of who I am and that I will use to guide my personal life, including my thoughts and actions, from this day forward." This exercise is based on proprietary concepts from High Performance Institute's High Performance Coach Program TM, which I am certified to deliver.
How often do we make the time to ask ourselves "Who am I when I am at my best? What are my 3 Words?" These are aspirational words -- verbs usually, and/or adjectives -- or phrases. There is an art to coaching this exercise because people can get stuck, or jump to how they relate to others. This is about "Being" rather than "Doing." The feedback is always terrific -- and people feel good about themselves. Many of the participants on the call shared their 3 Words -- which was wonderfully revealing and heartwarming! I have also used this exercise in several board retreats, with great success.
Second, we read a poem from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, The Journey. I invite you to read this poem out loud and feel how it calls to you and resonates with you,
“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations --
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save."
Personally, I always gets goose bumps saying out loud "... as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do -- determined to save the only life you could save."
This is the experience, the feeling of the joy, embarking on the journey of going deeply within. Perhaps you have another favorite poet. Perhaps it is music which deeply inspires you. Or dance. Or prayer. Just find the exercise when you loose track of time and you listen to your Muse.
The third idea I offered was to start a daily meditation practice. Insight Timer has 95,000 free meditations with teachers from around the world, with different voices and style. There is a range of guided meditations, talks, music and more to choose. The key is to find what style and voice resonates with you. This is a short list of selected guided meditations from a few of my favorite teachers.
[Note: It is best to clink on the link from your cell phone. Insight Timer is only supported on mobile devices.]
I understand that meditation does not appeal to everyone. There are also a lot of misconceptions about meditation practices. However, I recommend that you give it a try -- and use these selections to discover a voice and a style that resonates with you. My daily practice continues to transform my outlook on life and help me discover deeper levels of self-awareness.
A Coaching Framework for Your Hero's Journey
In late May, I hosted another Total Immersion Retreat in High Performance Habits at my Lake House overlooking Lake Erie. This is an intensive, 3 1/2 Day Conference where you experience and do the homework from the CHPCTM Program.
The Certified High Performance Coaching TM Program (CHPC) is a world class experiential framework which guides us to focus on the habits that move the needle towards success, to ask the questions we often have not made the time to ask ourselves, and to launch or accelerate our progress on our unique Hero's journey. The CHPCTM framework is distinctive because:
Each of the 12 lessons takes you deeper and deeper into a process of self-reflection and personal action plans. Here are a few specific examples of the work :
This transformational process is a very practical way to start "Knowing Thyself" -- a start to being clear about how we want to show up, how we can ramp up our energy, how we can become more focused and productive, how we can demonstrate bold enthusiasm and influence others, and how we can stay on purpose and serve greatly.
I offer the Total Immersion Retreat in High Performance Habits several times a year. I also offer private one-hour, one-on-one's for each of the 12 Lessons, scheduled at your convenience at my Lake House, via Zoom, your office, or some combination thereof.
For additional detail on the CHPC Program please refer to my April 22, 2021 Blog. A Coaching Framework for Your Hero's Journey
How I Started My Personal Journey: Six Steps to Happiness and Purpose.
I wrote about the start of my journey in Be Happy Now! : From Wall Street Ambition and the Illusion of Success, My Path to Happiness, with coauthor David S. Prudhomme.
In “Be Happy NOW!” I share the process of the Six Steps to Happiness. A word of caution and it may sound counter-intuitive – this list is NOT a check list.
Rather, the Six Steps to Happiness reflect an experiential learning process. Paulo Coelho, world famous author of “The Alchemist,” puts it this way:
“Is it possible to avoid Pain?
Yes, but you'll never learn anything.
Is it possible to know something without
ever having experienced it?
Yes, but it will never be a part of you."
This is experiential learning – you learn by discovering – often what you already knew deep inside yourself. In the process of self-discovery and self-excavation, the lessons you learn become a part of you, the new you.
What did I learn? My top six experiential lessons are:
In Be Happy NOW!, I share some of my journal entries, self-talk, and feelings that came together as I experienced these lessons. David Prudhomme, my guide and mental coach, assists and allows me to share parts of our sessions. There are both instantaneous changes and evolutionary changes, and there are also regressions and the need to learn some lessons over again.
Everyone’s journey is unique. However, as David Prudhomme writes in the Forward: “True positive personal transformation is not only possible, but it also follows this specific path of perception, awareness, and choice."
Eleven years ago, I was so far over on the dark side, guarded with an impenetrable suit of armor, I did not know how to spell the word forgiveness, let alone fathom unconditional love. And I came out on the other side, and if I can do it, I know you can too!
Are you stuck? Is there something missing in your life? What are you afraid of? What have you not been able to let go of? Who are you intrinsically, aside from your name, family, business, and location? Are you aware of how you talk to yourself in private? How many levels of self-awareness have you discovered? How much more do you want to or think you can discover? Do you know your life’s purpose? Are you living your best life?
I did not ask myself these questions when I was caught up achieving, running, and climbing the corporate ladder. There just came a point in my life when I finally heard all the wake-up calls that I had received and heretofore ignored. I share when and how I came to know I needed to do something different—and the something different started with looking inside of me.
What will you do? How will you shape your experiential learning curve?
I hope you will get started or continue on your unique path. Be patient with yourself. Persevere.
Making the time to discover your Best Self and Your Purpose is a beautiful awakening. As Joseph Campbell says: "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls."
Alison Lanza Falls
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