One of my favorite quotes of all time is by David Foster Wallace, he says, “True freedom means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to, and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because, if you can not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”
Here’s what I think is true: the more that people are courageous enough to share about themselves, and share the direct experiences they have, the more mindful we become as a collective group of humans. As individuals, the more practiced we become at understanding where we direct our attention, moment to moment, the more fruits will be produced by your labor. This is a free-will planet, which means that at the crux of it, we have the ability to shape and direct the course of our lives. It’s easy to see that in moments where there is an obvious decision to make, like to or not to get divorced, to-or-not-to take your mother off life support, to or not-to take a pay-cut for a dream job - you exercise your innate free-will to choose a course. For most of us, our capacity to exercise free-will is less obvious moment to moment. We make thousands upon thousands of choices everyday - some we make with the utmost level of attention, others, happen on default and in reaction.
There are a whole heck of a lot of people out here in this world who will preach and preach about the human spiritual, logistical, and emotional capacity to make your future, and your whole life, the life of your dreams. I have a deep seeded fear of becoming a glib voice, behind a feel-good good url, or one of the many life-coaches, speakers for hire, and motivationalists who are ready to tell you all about limitless potential and freedom - that you can create anything you want for yourself. Dear human who is after the ra-ra self-expansion package, go pick-up the full collection of Florence Scovel Shinn’s pre-depression era writings and you will be ahead of the curve , and on your way to intellectual proficiency of transformational self-talk.
In my professional experience thus far, not as a life-coach, but as a boss, a recruiter, and a strategist, I have learned that someone who consistently shows up unreactive, unmessable with, unencumbered by the art of making their services look good, not seeking the production of pleasure for others, and without attachment to their desired outcome - is the best illustration of the kind of freedom that I’m after - efficacy in ability to expose your experiences. The work behind the scenes to produce the courage to speak from I, to tell people how you extract meaning, to share the objective and subjective clearly, to produce an impact, to share themselves generously, with gut-wrenching truth, with others.
To know yourself is to know what you want; to know when you show-up for others as your best, as one-hundred-percent; to know what circumstances you thrive in; to know when you occur for others as powerful; to know how you leave people feeling, to know what’s missing from a party when you are not in attendance; to know what your unique gifts are; to know what you want to contribute to the planet - and to live your adult life, without this knowledge, you are about to be totally hosed...