“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life." ~Steve Jobs
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.” Those were the tried and truthful words of late Apple founder Steve Jobs in his speech to Stanford University's class of 2005.
He was speaking about the conditioning that blinds all of us to the best of who we really are. Well-meaning people – parents, friends, family members, teachers and coaches – have taught us not to trust ourselves, our gut feelings and the whimsical notions that call to us. Following a traditional path, we become too busy, too intellectual, too sensible, too committed to rules and ideas that, in the end, don’t serve our growth or expand awareness of our authentic self or our purpose. In collusion with our internal "Border Patrol" – the thoughts and feelings that close our minds to what’s actually possible – we limit our self-expression and our access to what is uniquely best and right for us.
Does this sound familiar? Do you hear a voice calling from within? A yearning that repeatedly returns no matter how hard you try to push it away? Have you been silencing that voice since you were young? Answering the call, turning in the direction of that voice is risky. It’s the unknown. Or is it?
The truth is that early on, the knowledge of our real Self – the self that is way more than our personality and habits – is clear to us. We know our particular brand of genius. In later years, if we’re among the fortunate, we rediscover our truth – the reality of our individual uniqueness, purpose and passion. Whenever it comes, such clarity is a gift.
But oh, those middle years – the time when the mind training takes hold and the "Border Patrol" becomes an integrated, self-policing aspect of your mind. The years when you give up a great deal of choice and control. Doing so is in your best interest, or so you’re told.
Do you want to honor the gift that is your true Self but can't figure out how? Take the first step. Have a conversation with yourself – one that will help untangle YOU from the realities of your present. Doing so with a journal or a pen and notepad is a plus.
First, ask your inner self, “What do I long for?”
A word of caution – your inner self is not the incessant chatterer. It is the part of you that notices the chatterer inside your head. Direct your question to the part that notices. Wait patiently, trusting that the answer will come. If it’s buried deeply, it may show up as a feeling, a memory or an image. Or it could ride in on something someone says that stimulates an idea.
Once you get your answer, as long as it causes no harm to you or anyone else, step out of your comfort zone and do it!
Reconnect with your passion and purpose by identifying a skill that feels natural to you. It’s something you’ve loved and been good at since you were a small child. Have you always enjoyed writing? Maybe gardening – communing with nature – is your thing. Or you love building or making things with your own two hands. If it was fun when you were young, it will be even more so now as you apply your expanded knowledge of the world.
Everyday, find a way to use your skill – that inherent gift – even if only briefly, and you’ll feel more positive, productive, satisfied and fulfilled.
You, I and everyone we encounter have the potential to add tremendous value to our own lives, and to the lives of those around us. But, many of us adopt ways of thinking and beliefs that blind us to our potential. We engage in behaviors that hinder our ability to live in a way that feels true to who we really are. We’ve disconnected from our gifts and innate talents at home and at work in order to travel the safe route. The struggle we feel comes from living out of alignment with our head and our heart.
In his Stanford speech, Jobs went on to say, "Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
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