For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
We visionaries can be such black-and-white thinkers, can’t we? We jump to extremes all the time.
It’s either going to work out or it isn’t. We’re either going to be fabulously rich or end up living on the streets. We’re either going to have a great time or a miserable one.
There’s a danger in seeing visions so clearly. We can tend to get really, really excited and build things up in our minds. Imagining the most magnificent unfolding of our greatest hopes.
And reality rarely lives up to that image.
I can’t tell you how many times a program I’m running doesn’t turn out the way I imagined or expected. Maybe not a lot of people sign up. Or maybe people aren’t as engaged as I’d expect. Or maybe I’m having a harder time than I thought teaching. Or any number of issues could come up.
And I immediately want to call it a failure. Or cancel the program. Or cry on the floor and swear I’ll be living on the streets next week.
It’s like if it’s not success, it must be total failure. There’s no room for nuance. There’s no room to stay in the space of the in-between. The more uncomfortable space. The space of growth.
We’ve had really big and really small Circles. We’ve had Masterminds with just one person (I’m not kidding). We’ve had programs go in directions we never expected. And all the while I’m asked, “Am I going to cancel this and run away, or am I going to sit in the uncomfortable space of the in-between.”
The space where things didn’t go totally to plan, but they don’t have to be a failure, either. Really, the space of life.
I was gobsmacked with this lesson on Saturday. A good friend of mine, Kate, was teaching a tapping and kundalini yoga workshop a few towns away. And I wanted to surprise her and sign up to support her.
So I bought tickets the night before. And I knew I’d have to drive Garrett’s car to get there. Now—little known fact about me: I don’t drive. Ever. I drove between the ages of 16 and 18, and haven’t driven more than maybe two or three times a year since.
So, I’m usually pretty anxious when I have to drive somewhere. Especially if I’ve never been there. Especially if there’s no parking lot. Especially if cars might beep at me while I’m parallel parking.
But I was determined to do something out of my comfort zone, thanks to the Unique Genius Experiment.
So, there I was, on my merry little way to this workshop. I had looked into parking options before I left. I was arriving five minutes early. I felt prepared.
When I arrived in the town center, I felt relieved. One street over, and I had made it with time to spare. Only the street was blocked off. I panicked.
I tried to breathe as I drove to the next street. Blocked off.
And the next one. Blocked off.
I drove around for five minutes, now in a full-on panic. Every street and parking lot in the downtown was blocked off.
I called Garrett frantically. He looked into it. Apparently there was a “Town Day” there with carnival rides and outdoor markets all through downtown.
I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Even if I felt comfortable parallel parking in this, there were no spots to be had. And people were cutting each other off for any rare spots that popped up.
I won’t lie—I was screaming into the phone. It was my worst nightmare. I watched the clock tick past noon. I was officially late. I couldn’t just bust into a workshop this late. What if they were in meditation?
Garrett ever so patiently tried to calm me down and advised me to keep driving further and further from the center. It didn’t matter how long it’d take for me to walk. I just needed to find a quiet residential street.
Ten minutes later, I was parked. Sitting in my car, deciding if I should even walk to the yoga studio. I’d already missed the first 15 minutes. What if they wouldn’t let me in?
Everything in me wanted to leave. Just turn around and drive home. I was embarrassed and ashamed.
Success or failure. There were no in-between in my mind. But, fortunately, I thought about the Unique Genius Experiment and what would be the more uncomfortable thing. So I got out and started walking.
I was a 13-minute walk away from the studio. I’d now be about 30 minutes late to class. I rehearsed my embarrassment when I’d inevitably be denied entry. I felt how angry I was at myself for paying for the workshop and not making it. I berated myself about how I should have left earlier or looked into town events that day.
But I kept walking.
When I arrived at the yoga studio, no one was out front. The class had already started. I couldn’t even talk to anyone.
I walked up to the only door where voices where talking and heard my friend Kate’s voice. So I knocked quietly on the door.
I tried to open it to see if it were locked. It felt stuck. And I didn’t want to push hard, bust it open, and potentially wack someone in the head while deep in meditation.
I gave up. Now was the time to go home. It was a two-hour workshop. And I’d missed it.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed. A check-in list on the front desk told me I was the only guy signed up anyway. I felt awkward and creepy just standing by myself outside the door clutching my yoga mat.
In the dichotomy of success or failure, this was a definite, definite failure.
But the more uncomfortable thing would be the in-between. To stay. And sit by myself for the next two hours. And say hi and support my friend when class was over. Especially since I’d driven all that way.
So I decided to stay. I was embarrassed. Even more so when an employee of the studio came in and looked at me wearily, standing by myself.
I wanted to run away. Instead, I chose the more uncomfortable thing, sat down next to her, explained my plight, and struck up a deep and vulnerable conversation.
And, maybe 20 minutes later, I was alone again. And sat with my own uncomfortable feelings until class was over.
Until I saw my friend, and she looked at me—bewildered. But so grateful I showed up. And supported her. And stayed to show her my support. And so impressed that I chose the uncomfortable thing all day.
I wish I could say an absolute external miracle happened after that. But it didn’t. We talked for a bit, and then I drove back home. But an internal miracle did happen. I remembered that I can choose the in-between. That nothing’s really a failure until I decide it is. That I can pick the nuance of the uncomfortable thing.
And growth happens in the uncomfortable thing.
We visionaries see these visions. And they’re so real and alive and visceral. And sometimes we get carried away with hopes and expectations and fantasies. And sometimes those very hopes get dashed by reality.
But it’s not so black or white. This or that. Success or failure. There can be nuance, even if it’s uncomfortable. We can not have our expectations fully met and still stick with it. Still choose ourselves. Not feel like we’re failures just because things didn’t go to plan.
I won’t say there have always been massive external rewards every time I’ve chosen to stick with the in-between. But I will say that I’ve always grown or changed internally because of it. Every single time.
And, for a visionary, that’s gold. That’s the real currency that will change our lives. And change the world.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Do you feel like your visions keep ending up in failure?
— Do you get caught in very black-and-white thinking? That when things aren’t working out or meeting your expectations that they’re complete failures? Would it feel uncomfortable, shameful, or embarrassing to keep choosing the “failed” thing? Is it more comfortable to just call it a failure and leave it?
— Have you ever chosen to continue pursuing something even when it didn’t meet your expectations? How did it feel? Were you embarrassed or ashamed of what people might think? What stories did it bring up inside of you? Did it make you grow at all, even if the ‘outside’ didn’t change?
— What if a major challenge for visionaries is learning to live in the nuanced place between the extremes? What if your greatest growth occurs in choosing the uncomfortable thing? What if your ability to hold that discomfort and continue choosing yourself and your vision is exactly how you deepen into your genius?