You’re here for a reason. It’s not a mistake.
You have to work to do. You have things to create, wisdom to convey, gifts to offer. Your work is just that. It is your Work. It is unique. And if you don’t create it, the world will never have it.
Your work is something you did not ultimately choose. But it is something that if you commit to uncover and give it, will transform reality in ways you can’t imagine.
Your work is to create the Work you were made for.
And yet as we follow the path of living our work, reality tests us. God challenges us. We doubt it. We doubt ourselves. It’s inevitable.
There are stories we so often tell ourselves, that stop us from offering our true work to the world. They’re stories I’ve told myself, they’re stories my clients tell themselves, they’re stories my friends have told themselves.
The stories will always spin. But when you mistake them for the truth, the world is robbed of your genius, and you are robbed of your destiny.
Here are 6 such stories. And how to re-frame them.
1. Who am I to…
Who am I to write about the spiritual nature of business? Who am I to coach people on business success? Who the fuck am I to call my brand The Realized Entrepreneur!?
I doubted it all. I was terrified of arrogance. Of pretending a level of authority that I neither felt nor deserved.
There’s a myth that we need to have mastered something in order to teach it. You train to become qualified, and then you teach.
I train for 5 years to become an engineer, then I start engineering. I spend $12,000 on coach training, then I start being a coach.
This myth relies on the notion of expertise; that I need a certain amount of knowledge to qualify as someone who can then practice. It’s a two-step process. Novice, expert. Student, teacher.
On the deepest level however, we are each asked to teach that which we most need to learn. The very thing that we are afraid of, yet are attracted to, is our teaching. The very thing that we struggle with, yet are captivated by is our lesson.
Do not wait until you feel qualified to teach it. Do not wait until it feels safe to give it.
The journey into the unknown is anything but safe. The winding cosmic pathway toward expressing your God-given essence is littered with discomfort.
But it is also imbued with light. Follow the light. It’s in you.
It is you.
2. I’ll be Judged
They’ll say I’m arrogant, or delusional. They’ll condemn me, as worthless, or worse. They’ll dismiss me as a naïve narcissist. I’ll be judged.
Yes. You will.
People will judge you. They’ll judge you for sticking your head up above the safety line. They’ll dismiss you. They’ll attack you. They’ll ignore you. They’ll bad-mouth you.
You can’t escape it.
As Seth Godin says: “You can’t both fit in, and stand out.”
If you offer your true work, you’ll stand out. And you’ll indirectly illuminate the fact that there are people who are scared, and who are hiding, and not giving their work, and they know it.
When you shine, they’ll squirm. And the more they squirm, the more they’ll look for a source of the pain and discomfort. And if they don’t look at themselves, they might look at you.
Your enlightened offerings, have illuminated their shadowed ambitions. Your piercing brilliance, has highlighted their dark desires.
And if they aren’t vulnerable enough to burn in that discomfort, they’ll disperse the energy.
The more you offer your true work, the more those who aren’t, will assess and judge you. It’s not a sign that you’re getting it wrong, it’s a sign that you’re getting it right.
It’s nothing to do with you, or even them. It’s just God inviting us all deeper.
3. This will ruin my reputation
My family will never look at me the same way. I have a carefully created reputation with my community and customers, I don’t want to risk that by putting out this risky stuff. No-one will take me seriously if I say what I really think.
When a relatively little known researcher on vulnerability decided to see what would happen if she presented her study findings while actually showing her own vulnerability, she was terrified it would ruin her professional reputation. 20 million video views later, and Brene Brown’s reputation as a global leader in vulnerability is well established.
A reputation that is not based on your true work, is a reputation that insulates you from what you’re called to create.
Something old needs to be broken down, before something new can be created.
What is the box you have created for yourself? What is the label you’ve carefully applied to you and your work? Is it truly you? Truly you?
4. I don’t know if it’s good enough
I don’t know if it works. I don’t know if I like it, or if anyone else will like it. I don’t know if it’s good enough.
Doubting quality means you’re in true creativity. Creativity comes from the frothy space of tension between success and failure. If it’s sure to work, it’s not creative.
It is not your role to judge the value of what you create. That privilege lies with your tribe, those you’re serving.
It’s not about perfecting it, then giving it. It’s about experimenting and then experimenting. It’s about the never ending dance, at the edges of your lived expression, as you offer what seems to be in your soul, and the world around you responds with peculiar originality.
It’s about never knowing if it’s good enough. Because it’s not about good enough anymore, it’s about brave enough, or surrendered enough.
I wrote a piece recently. I didn’t like it. I wanted to bin it and write something else, but I didn’t have time. So I threw it out, and people loved it. They wouldn’t have, if I’d have listened to my own judgement.
Are you brave enough to share the work that you literally don’t know the quality of?
Are you surrendered enough to discover who you are, and what your work is, as you continually give it, and the world continually responds, and you continually pivot and weave, and the world continues in its immeasurably beautiful dance?
5. I don’t want to be seen
A couple of months ago someone plagiarized one of my articles. And I don’t mean ripping off a few lines here and there, I mean the whole 1800 word thing, copied and pasted, under his own name.
I swapped emails with the guy. I assumed good intent. He gave me some pseudo-spiritual justification for the deception. I asked him to attribute it to me. He refused. I decided to share about the episode on Facebook, as it was happening.
The thread went crazy. My website traffic sky-rocketed. I felt delighted. I felt uncomfortable.
The next morning, I sat down to journal about the experience. And I realized that the uncomfortable feeling was one of not wanting to be seen.
I felt exposed. I felt illuminated. I felt witnessed. I wanted crawl back under the cover of obscurity.
I knew this wouldn’t be the last time. It felt like a watershed moment. I knew I couldn’t go back. People were starting to see me. I was scared. And it was exactly what I wanted.
I do want to be seen. I want my work to be seen. By thousands of people. Maybe millions. And I’m scared. And so are you.
6. What if it’s not my true work?
I’m just not sure this is my true calling. I’m just not sure that this is what I’m here to do. What if this isn’t my purpose? What if I’ve got the wrong thing?
Your true work is not a thing. It’s an ever evolving expression. It’s not something you discover once, and then spend your life making. It’s something you continually deepen into, finding new edges, new delights and new expressions.
Your true work is discovered by continually creating what you believe your true work to be, and weaving as you go, reflecting, adjusting, pivoting, embracing.
To try and clarify and define it before you start creating it, is futile at best.
If you don’t know what your true work is, then you have a huge open space within which to go and explore. Don’t deliberate. Create.
A wonderful man taught me something recently. He said: “Ewan, just jam a stake in the ground and then fucking go at it. And if things change? Move the stake, and then fucking go at it.”
It’s not about getting it right. It’s about going at it, and getting it wrong. It’s about the going, not the getting.
Go create your work.
Releasing yourself from story
Stories are like old soundtracks that you used to like listening to, but forgot to turn off. Can you hear them? They’re humming along in the background, drowning out the voice of your creative expression.
Don’t shout louder. Get quieter. And when you really hear them, you can find the off switch.
The world wants your work. And I know you want to give it.
It begins with the smallest step imaginable.
“Yes. I want to create my true work.”