Do you like to get busy and get feeling of achievement from ticking off things from your to-do list yet sometimes feel your life is spinning around and around and you don't seem to get satisfaction from doing things you used to enjoy? Do you feel at times frustrated and exhausted experiencing a lack of direction even when you know you are getting things done?
I am a doer. A doer with a capital D! I naturally gravitate to solving all my problems and setbacks by getting things done. But over the years I have learned that doing only takes me so far. There has been periods in my life where I have managed to make myself extremely busy doing lots of things, yet found myself not fulfilled on emotional, spiritual or financial level.
So when I started my own DrivenWoman journey with the first Lifeworking group many years ago my goal was to find a new way to live. Surely there was a path to success that was less stressful and more in harmony with the forces around me. I wanted to question the ‘work hard, success is a struggle’ formula.
I came across two key influences that dramatically enhanced my thinking and changed my mindset.
In the book ‘Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ Deepak Chopra suggests that you should follow the path of least resistance, the path of joy, to success. What you are naturally good at and what you enjoy doing is where you find your essence, and that will create harmony and fulfilment. Emotional, spiritual and financial success will follow. Life doesn’t have to be a struggle. Surely nature didn’t intend it that way! (You can find this and other inspiring books on our reading list.)
Around the same time I read Perry Marshall’s ‘80/20 for Sales and Marketing’ where he talks about nature’s law of 80/20. 80% of your results coming from 20% of your efforts. This applies to everything on earth, give or take a few percentage points. You must have heard about this principle! 80% of sales come from 20% customers. And, approximately 80% of traffic is on 20% of roads. He takes it even further and divides 20% with 80/20 ending up with equation where 1% of your efforts will yield 50% of your results/ happiness/ fulfilment/ success.
I call this your essence. It is where your most impactful ideas are born.
It’s where you are at your most creative state. It’s where everything flows with ease and joy. It's your talent, your purpose - call it what you will. It’s the thing you were meant to be doing as a part of this great puzzle called The Universe.
So how could I get to this magical 1% of effort and all the abundance that would flow from it? How could I find my essence?
I read about James Patterson, one of the highest paid authors in the world and was intrigued by his working style. He's books have sold over 300 million copies and he has published almost 150 books on his name. Look into his working style and you will discover that he'll only do what he's really good at - storytelling. The ex ad man only writes the outlines to his books and then works with over twenty co-authors to create the final product. He has surely found his essence, and for this reason, is the highest earning author in the world.
As a ‘doer’ I didn’t have to worry that I’d slack it off, I get stuff done all right. But how could I find my essence and with less effort and more satisfaction create abundance around me and for myself?
My essence is who I am. It’s my being. I don’t have to do anything to get it.
I realised that I actually had to stop doing things and to be. It wasn't about the woman I always wanted to be, it was about the woman I already am. I didn’t have to become the best version of myself, I just had to remove the layers that were hiding my essence.
‘Uncovering’ means a combination of 'being' and 'doing'.
I have learned to trust that I am enough even on days when I get nothing done. When I don’t feel the flow I go for a walk in the forest, I don’t try to push things through.
I started mediating regularly. And reading Eckhart Tolle's 'Power Of Now' helps me to access my being at any moment. Most people are completely consumed by their busy mind and in that state you have very little chance of discovering your essence. Your brain is an organ. It's important to learn to use it when you need it, and not letting your mind use you. If you are interested to learn more, read 'The Chimp Paradox' by Steve Peters to understand how your mind is controlling you without you knowing.
3) Go towards discomfort
I now go directly into difficult conversations and situations because I know that I can find my essence on the other side of fear. (I wrote about this 'messy' part of personal growth earlier.) Every time you step aside, every time you fail to put your hand up and ask a question out of feeling ashamed because you might get it wrong is when you lose a chance to get one step closer to your essence.
4) Go towards joy
This one was really tough for me initially because I was brought up in a culture that you have to 'earn' your joy. But in reality you don't need anyone's approval to enjoy life! It's difficult to give up strong mental structures and start doing what excites you if your self worth is linked with how much you 'do'. Watch this video where Brené Brown discusses 'never enough' culture with Oprah.
5) Use doing to get to your being
Paradoxically doing things has lead me to better understand my being, and ultimately closer to my essence. (I'm sure it's a life long discovery and I'll never be finished with it!) First I went in wide. I tried many different avenues, I started all sorts of projects and explored routes that excited me. Most of these avenues resulted in uncovering ego structures, my need to be accepted and approved by others. And one by one, little by little, I have worked to destroy those false identities.
I'm left with more clarity and clear space to be me. I have stopped trying to please everyone and I’m only pleasing myself, my essence.
I have discovered that the key is to apply these two ‘remedies’ one after the other: doing and being. Either one on its own will leave you half way!