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Time For Some Humility & Dialing Down Your Ambition. Seriously. [Day 9 – 28 Days to GYST]

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This is Day 9 of 28 Days to Getting Your Sh*t Together.  Wasn’t Chris Guillebeau‘s post yesterday inspiring? Well take a slow, deep breathe because today Mark Silver creates some sacred space for us. He is so very good at that. 🙂

Time For Some Humility & Dialing Down Your Ambition. Seriously.

By: Mark Silver | @MarkHeartofBiz

Since we’re now 1/3 of the way through this 28 days of getting your act together (forgive me, Sarah, I’m used to writing for a G audience), I think it’s critical to address the need for humility and dialing down your ambition.

How many people have told me they want to be on Oprah, address audiences of thousands, start a world-famous retreat center? And they flounder, and struggle, and push, exhausting themselves.

One of the hallmarks of the get-it-done-now-you’re-awesome industry, or whatever it’s called, is this belief that you can do anything and everything. It’s an extremely painful, limiting, sabotaging belief.

I’m here to bring you some compassion and mercy and tell you straight up: you can’t everything and anything. So don’t try to do it all, or you’ll remain paralyzed.

In some ways getting your act together is actually totally and completely beyond your control. Let me give you an example.

In 1998 Holly and I were engaged, with a date set for May, 1999. Shortly after our engagement she got sick. Badly sick. Miserably sick. And stayed sick for ten years.

During that time we got married, I figured out how to be the sole breadwinner, we learned a whole heckuva lot about various holistic therapies, and she healed slowly, a day, a week, a month at a time.

Of course, with things so challenging on the domestic front, why not bury myself? I decided to go fully self-employed in August, 2001, launching Heart of Business. 9/11 arrived the next month, with my intended launch day of the new website and everything set for 9/12. It was a little bumpy cash-wise in the beginning, let me tell you.

Holly finally reached 95-98% healthy in 2007, but it was impossible for her to bear children, and, not to put too fine a point on it, we’re definitely not thirty-something any more. We wanted family more than anything, so we started the adoption process, and we’ve been with our twins since the day they were born, November 11, 2008.

In other words, the entire time I’ve been running Heart of Business, I’ve either been caretaking a chronically ill wife, going through an emotionally-taxing adoption process, or co-parenting very young twin boys.

Business-wise I’ve been blessed with ten straight years of growth, which considering all that was going on personally I consider nothing short of miraculous. It’s been close to five years now that we’ve unfailingly been generating five figures of revenue every month. Since 2005 I’ve self-published at seven different learning programs, most of them book-sized.

We have amazing boys, a beautiful home that thank God we’ve never missed a mortgage payment even when things were scary-tight, and we’re all healthy, if you don’t count the flu season-small children collision.

Before you think I’m super-human, here are some of the results:

  • We ended up with a fair amount of debt from the illness years, a previous failed business, and the adoption process, some of which we still have, although we’re paying it down in an aggressive manner.
  • I missed opportunities to develop Heart of Business because I just couldn’t leave Holly home sick, or I couldn’t leave Holly alone with the kids, or I was just so overwhelmed emotionally and physically I just couldn’t do it. Conferences I should’ve been at to meet others, joint ventures I didn’t have time for, creativity that was called for when I had no creativity left in me.
  • It’s been at times frustrating to watch some folks rocket forward more quickly than I could, when I know we have powerful material, raving fans. If I could’ve been more strategic Heart of Business could be beyond this admittedly awkward stage of low-to-mid-six figures of revenue. This is not me complaining, just admitting the truth of the situation and how my emotions are affected at times.

Just trying to get this article written for Sarah has been a travesty. She asked for it more than a month ago. Instead, in came the flu over four times since early December (thanks, kids), the latest after I came home from a week-long residential course of study that is part of my Masters of Divinity program.

That’s right, I was at a week-long nourishing spiritual retreat, came home, spent a wonderful weekend with the family, then Monday night went on a date with my wife to a delicious and incredibly healthy restaurant, and was promptly knocked down AGAIN with the flu. I dropped a dozen balls last week, finally getting this written Monday morning, oy gevult.

We’re all in boats on this sea called life, and although we can do our best to steer our little vessels and care for them, we have no control over what the ocean does, where the winds blow us, and what storms, reefs, and hungry sea monsters we encounter.

Look, I’m not trying to scare you, it’s just truth. Life happens. You live it. So, what I’m saying is… dial back your ambition a little bit. Let go of thinking you can do EVERYTHING. Let go of the unconscious assumption that you are in charge of your circumstances.

Let me ask you one question: in your plans to get your act together, how much room do you leave for the chaos factor, as my friend and colleague Sean D’Souza calls it? How much room do you leave for the unexpected? All of the the uncontrollable illness, mess, mistakes, and accidents that fill our lives?
I’m going to suggest that you try accomplishing about 50% of what you think you should. Dial it way down, leaving open space for chaos.

We’re all just servants, expressions of Source (the Divine, God, love, whatever you want to name that which is), which means, thankfully, that you’re not the top boss. With some humility and love you can drop back into your heart, take a nice deep breath, and notice what little thing you can put your hands on and move forward today.

When you ask your heart, which fifty percent gets dropped? And what little thing do you focus on today?

Mark Silver is a business tenderizer and a designated master teacher in his Sufi spiritual lineage. Since 1999 he has worked with thousands of self-employed folks, helping them learn to bring in clients and do good in the world, while at the same time they learn that every act of business can be an act of love. If this resonated with you and you want a hands-on, heart-centered approach on how to move forward, try his free pdf workbook Backwards.

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