Today I excitedly opened an email from a conference that I really really wanted to attend. I had submitted an abstract called The Art of Storytelling: how to craft stories to change the health care world. I am pretty good at writing abstracts, had a solid creative presentation to pitch and have a decent acceptance rate for abstract submissions. This was a conference I admired, in a city close to my eldest son, so I was crossing my fingers that I’d be accepted for a variety of reasons. I clicked on the email in my inbox, holding my breath:
We regret to inform you that your submission was not chosen…
Well, damn. I know Wayne Gretzky says, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. As a writer, I get rejected a lot (which tends to be radio silence in this digital age, not mailed rejection letters), but damn. It always stings.
I’ve been floating around as of late. I resigned from my paid staff position last month. I’ve had two kids grow up. My youngest son hit puberty last year and is in a push for independence, which of course results in the slow rejection of the mother. I miss hanging out with my daughter and doing girl things. I pine for my mom friends in Edmonton. Everybody here seems so busy – I’ve discovered that the laid-back west coast mentality is only an urban myth. I cannot even occupy myself with shopping for stuff and cleaning my big house – we’ve downsized by half and I have no more big house, no yard and no room (or desire) for more stuff. This week we are in the midst of an odd blizzard and have been stranded up on our mountain. I have time now to think, which is a terrifying concept in a world where we get caught up in the Busy Trap just so we don’t have a moment to ourselves. The whole world is zooming around me so fast and here I am, just quietly sitting on a bench watching it go by.
Before I left my position, I had two wise colleagues separately recommend Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk to me. It is called How Great Leaders Inspire Action, and while by title I’m no great leader, I do have a little sphere of influence, with my family, my company and myself. I’d suggest it is worth 17 minutes and 57 seconds of your time.
If you don’t have the time to spare to watch it, consider this diagram:
(saved from: varchannelmarketing.com)
If you are feeling a bit lost and lonely like me, or if you have the nagging feeling that what you do in life is not in alignment with your values, this approach can give you direction. Sinek’s point (in business, and I’m extracting his message to apply to life) is that the why matters. Why do you do what you do? And that’s not what your position title is, or your quest to make money to buy more and more stuff – I challenge you to dig deeper than that. Why are you on this Earth? If we can all can answer our why, then the how and the what will soon become clear.
So I’ve had the time to think about this a lot (and won’t be wasting time preparing to present to that conference that rejected me, ha) and feel confident in stating:
“I share stories – and create opportunities for others to share their stories – to rekindle compassion in the world.” That’s my why. All my meaningful work has been born from that why. Now I just have to trust that my why is the light I need to shine my own way.