This post is a personal reflection and attempt to distill some of the essence and impact of an incredible 6 month journey as a participant in THNK’s Creative Leadersip programme. Writing this in a small cabin by a wild sea, a post-thnk adventure of self-exploration -expression and reflection.
(Photo by Andrew Dodd)
The journey so far… Coming up for air.
A journey of passion and purpose, exploration, visioning, creativity, connection, meeting of minds, transformation…
I went seeking – seeking tools, guidance, and support . Things I thought beyond my reach, outside of myself. New, shiny things that I needed to learn.
But instead it turned out to be something radically different, unexpected.
It became a space where I felt I could give myself permission to be who I am, to own my strengths and realise the gifts I have to give.
It gave me permission to open up more fully to myself and share that more openly and honestly with others.
It became a shedding of old skin, emptying the “ballast water” as Andreas, my Challenge team-mate said.
There was no more ‘should’, or ‘shouldn’t.’
And the slow realisation that what I’m looking for may not exist ‘out there’, but is already possessed within.
The realisation that, “at the centre of your being you have the answer. You know who you are and what you want.” – Lao Tzu.
Slowly discovered by letting opportunity come dropping into my life in the unexpected moments. Allowing space for synchronicity to flourish. Learning to be kinder to myself. Discovering and tapping into the energy of the dance between all the dynamic tensions I hold. Between freedom, flight and focus. Between drive, acceptance and surrender. Between grace and grit.
This deep dive doesn’t easily reveal the essence of who we are. In fact, in the end of it all I was left with a ‘vision quest’, to distill the essence of who I am. It’s hard to recognise ourselves sometimes because we have so many filters switched-on, so many judgements, assumptions, expectations and fears that we rarely give ourseleves permission to simplye Be. Because that means we have to strip oursleves bare…what if we don’t like what we find in the process? Wounds that haven’t healed fully, the shadows of our souls, the tension tightly coiled around our core.
And in seeking the essence of who you are, its possible to lose yourself. But that’s ok, for a while at least. It’s ok because finally there is a safe space, a home and a tribe you belong to who understand and care, who are on the same journey. As much as I’ve learned to lean in – lean into my fears, lean into the wave as I drop down its face, I’ve also learned the power of reaching out. Of asking. It’s ok to ask for help. There is great strength in your vulnerability.
Getting lost, being naked, it’s really not a comfortable feeling, it’s challenging and downright scary. And that’s your cue, your call to to tap into the flow state.
So what’s that supposed to mean?
A state of creative flow happens when you take on an experience just beyond your comfort zone. Like the moment a surfer commits to big wave and taks the drop, that moment of surrendering to a force greater than yourself.
Nothing exists but total awareness in the moment. It is the point of no return, there is no going back and no knowing how the ride will end, what character the wave will morph into… It is exactly how Krishnamurti described being fearless, “There, at that actual moment, there is total attention at the moment of danger, physical or psychological. When there is complete attention there is no fear.”
After an experience like that it can feel like you’re soaring. What is easy to forget is that the most challenging part isn’t actually taking the drop, making the ride, but coming back to shore. How do you land, come back down to earth – without losing the magic of the experience? How do you take that experience and share it with others? Distill the essence of who you are? For that you need to give yourself space to reflect.
It’s been a real leap out of my comfort zone….to give myself space for nothing at all other than the simplicity of a journey into the wild, to a cold, forgotten coast and chasing waves and following the patterns nature dictates and sharing experiences with my pioneering surfer Dad – who is the zen master of ‘Slow it down and be here now, with whatever presents itself in the moment.’
Awakening the senses with the assault of nature and the elements. Feeling alive, doing what we love, playing like seals in the sea, and thinking about nothing at all. Letting the mind grow still. Letting go is harder than you think, slowly the tension I didn’t even realise I’ve been holding is releasing, and my body ached. I hadn’t realised how I had tried to cover up wounds instead of exposing them to the fresh air to heal. Sometimes a fear that I’m losing my way creeps in. That I’m not doing enough, or not doing the right things, that I won’t be able to survive doing what I love, that I’ll fail. I haven’t been responding to emails like I should, I haven’t been hatching any world-changing projects, and I have no idea what happens next. And I kinda like it!
I trust that by getting to know myself better, by just being with myself and not trying to do anything I will already have what I think I need, what I’m looking for, at the moment when I need it. That this period of exploring, being and reflection will fuel me for my next jump into the unknown.
A very wise bear said, “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – Winnie the Pooh
Give that gift to yourself, honour what you’ve just come through and to take a moment before making the next leap of faith across or into the unknown.
Honestly, this last module at THNK hasn’t just been about ‘lifting off’, soaring, but also about coming home,getting grounded back in myself. Realising and owning my own truth and the power in that.
Things are perfectly what they are. It has everything to do with holding the present moment in its fullness without imposing judgement on it.
Flex and flow are my thing…
What I’m looking for I already have and I just need to open up more fully to that, to let it out, let it flow. To listen to and trust myself.
During the past 6 months on this Creative Leadership programme, and with the support of my class, I’ve created my own form of mediation, ‘stillness in movement’, and feel better able to find my zen or what makes me feel alive because I broke the limiting belief and cycle of needing to please, of ‘should.’ I’m more playful in my work and I react a lot less and I’m more aware of pressure points and when is the right moment to apply or release pressure. I’ve found greater belief and confidence in myself. By doing what lights me up, what I’m most passionate about I have greater conviction in my actions.
Don’t be afraid to put it out there, who you are, what you love…
My mission is to not lose any of these insights and to keep applying them as my life accelerates again, knowing that, although I can’t control the speed of the wave, I feel most alive on its edge, that I can choose the lines I want to draw.
And I have my own ‘accountability team’ to help me get there!
I’m a water dancer and a wave maker.
A seeker and explorer.
Freedom and passion are my code.
Grace and gratitude are my compass.
(Photo by Christian McCleod)