I have learned that there is real momentum that can be found in making the decision to do NOTHING! Yes,yes on some level it does go against everything that I wrote in my earlier post The Power of ParticipAction . The secret I have discovered however, is that life is all about balance and timing (indeed there is a time to sow and a time to reap).
I am an entrepreneur at heart, I honestly believe that people who are passionate about creating new business are wired slightly differently, we always wanna be starting something. I especially felt that way after I had to close down my first business. It was tough not having the business to say that I was doing ‘something’ anymore. So to fill that gap I started many things. None of them resulted in much success which proved difficult for me because for a long time I was busy being the CEO of my own reasonably successful company. Busy doing, creating and learning, then here I was with everything I touch turning to not much at all. When the reality hit and I figured I needed some sort of income the challenge of trying to find a job and being constantly ignored, or rejected,was simply depressing. I disappeared from the world, didn’t talk much to others, I was absolutely disappointed and disheartened. What did that mean for me a person who was always doing something, who always HAD to do something. Eventually though I came to a point where it just didn’t make sense to keep pushing anymore. Why was I sending out applications when I knew that I really did not want to work a 9-5; why was I trying to create new business when I knew deep down I was still mourning the one that had folded? One day I simply stopped; be it from the fatigue of trying or just coming to finally understand that the timing was not right to DO anything in that moment. Though challenging, I finally realized that, at that moment in time when nothing seemed to be working, I was being given a gift, I was being given the opportunity to go through the pain and disappointment of not being able to build the empire that I had imagined and written about on my first try. I was being given the opportunity to see myself.
Now, having grown up in a home of achievers and DO-ers made taking this forced journey through ‘nothing doing’ especially challenging. The need to become something or do something with my life is especially heavy when I think of the sacrifices made on my behalf by the extended family who raised me after the passing of my mom. This pressure was further exacerbated when I would run into people who knew me at the time of success. They looked at me expectantly while asking with enthusiastic smiles ‘SO what are you working on Now?!’ For a while I dreaded having to answer that question; tough because having been in the glare of success it’s very hard when you have to face others in your lowest moments. When you have to look at them knowing that there may only be $2.50 in your bank account and you barely have the energy to do much more than the very basic to survive. At some point though, I became comfortable with saying…’oh I’m doing nothing at the moment.’ It’s funny how uncomfortable we are with the concept of doing nothing. They stared at me, stumped and puzzled, and so to help them along I would change my answer to, ‘I just needed to take a break’. Somehow folks seemed a little more comfortable with that answer.
Being able to say I was doing nothing especially while actually not doing anything proved very powerful. In those moments I came to realize that my career had become this thing that defined me. Somehow without the tag of CEO of my company, or event planner or whatever thing I was doing in the moment, without that title I felt incomplete, uncomfortable in my ’empty’ brain. I realized how much my esteem as a person was so indelibly tied to having a title or a definition of some sort of career. When I had to take the journey through ‘nothing doing’ I came to truly recognize who I was. Doing nothing demanded that I pay attention to my truths, the good, the bad, the ugly truths, and then make a decision about the person I was becoming and wanted to ultimately be. I also learned a lot about others as well. One of the toughest lessons to learn as an entrepreneur is that no matter how wonderful some relationships seem in business, very few are genuine beyond the scope of the business. The shocking discovery of recognizing how quickly one becomes expendable when no longer successful or in business was a brutal sting. On the other hand I learned to recognize the true angels in my life, those friends and family who were always there to lift me up even, when in my despair, I tried to block them from my life.
Doing nothing helped me to recognize and further build up my strength, with a new knowledge and understanding that my career should not and did not define me. I learned that the danger of being defined by any one thing – be it a career, home ownership, a relationship etc – is that when the ‘thing’ no longer exists one may believe that their person is no longer worthy to be; this belief can sometimes lead to heartbreaking results (suicides, drug use etc). This moment of ‘nothing doing’ gave me the time and space to get to know and like me in my darkest moments. It is empowering to be able to really see yourself without all of the trappings, distractions and labels. To be able to see beyond the definitions to the purity and simplicity of the soul. Life indeed is simple, it is we who make it complicated. I believe this dive into my depths helped me to build a more solid core, a more grounded me. Confident that even in my moments of earthly need as long as I have life I am very much worthy indeed.
Have you had a life deepening journey recently? What did you discover? Feel free to share below or submit your story for posting.
Till then I am yours as always
A Traveling Black Chick