There I was, in front of the stage looking out at the audience that looked at me expectantly. Moments before, I had been nervous, though strangely not in my body, but mostly in my head. I became aware of my restless thoughts subsiding and giving way to the words I had prepared for this day’s keynote for an audience of men and women ready for the next step in their careers. Preparing for this talk I think of the challenges so many clients face when they find themselves in the same transition.
“Who are you?” asked the little prince, and added, “You are very pretty to look at.”
“I am a fox,” the fox said.
“Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”
“I cannot play with you,” the fox said. “I am not tamed.”
“Ah! Please excuse me,” said the little prince.
But, after some thought, he added:
“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….” ( Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince)
We Crave Connection
The fox touches on the nature of connection. As much as we are individuals walking our own path, we crave connection in our lives. We are wired for connection, we feel safe in groups, we are stronger together. Studies have even shown that people show more resilience, ability to deal with life’s disappointments when they feel connected to others. The need for human connection is ranked as the third human need in Maslow’s pyramid which is why loneliness is detrimental.
Equally important is the connection with ourselves and it is easy to neglect. We come to a crossroads in our lives many times, sometimes with out even being aware it. When we take on new professional responsibilities, move to a new neighbourhood, start a new relationship we are also in transition. we make unconscious choices when we engage with others in our new situation. Sometimes a new situation brings discomfort or questions. Requires us to do things differently, view the world differently. it can be painful or puzzling and can bring us to a standstill. How do you take the first step? How do you even know which step to take?
I fumbled with my notes and became acutely aware of having lost something. I could sense my thoughts racing :” I’ve lost my train of thought”. I feel judgement kicking in “I should not have been turning back to look at the presentation slide behind me”. I take a deep breath, tell myself it’s okay, check my notes, look in to the audience and sense a friendly vibe. It helps. I continue, remembering we are here to inspire and be inspired at this crossroads we have arrived. There is a purpose that is bigger than me.
The rational approach
The connection with self is important when when considering the next step in a career, employment or entrepreneurship. The rational approach to any decision is to consider the pros and cons and weigh our chances for success. But chances are, they will not yield the ultimate answer when your happiness is at stake.
The ultimate human need as described in Maslow’s pyramid is to achieve one’s full potential. If you want to realize this full potential through work, then it will help to go a little deeper with yourself than you may be comfortable doing. Because knowing what is really important in your life, who you are and what your uniques gifts are will point you in the right direction. Before you make your next choice, ask yourself:
- What matters most in your life?
- What is so fulfilling you would do it for free?
- What are your values you want to honour in you life and work?
- Who and how do you want to serve?
- What motivates you?
- What is your unique gift?
- What do you want to create in the world?
If we are not in the right place, if we cannot be ourselves we lose the connection with our environment and with ourselves. Build up your energy and stay connected with who you really are. When you are in the right place, when you do what resonates with you, when you know where you’re headed and you are in connection with your environment, with yourself, you are fulfilling your purpose. Start from the inside and everything else will follow. All you need to do is listen, for what you need is already there inside of you waiting to be acknowledged. What of you could grow from a place of being complete? All it takes is a tiny step forward. You are what the world needs.