Three Essentials to Success

Someone asked me recently what three ingredients are essential to realizing a dream or manifesting a project. My first reaction was resistance. Favorites and lists can limit the scope of our capacity, causing us to focus too concentratedly on one thing and miss something else.  And no one thing works for everyone. However, this thought, in and of itself sort of nudged me towards a sense that, as long as I could revise it, I might actually have some fun and gain some insight by trying.

So here goes. Three essential practices to help you realize a dream or vision: Surrender, Trust, and the capacity to listen to (& study) your self, those around you, those doing similar work, and those you don’t agree with. Maybe that last one is more than one, but I am sticking with it none the less.

Surrender enables trust, trust enables you to create space to hear and observe the resources and wisdom around you in everything. So the three are intimately woven together.¬† Rainer Marie Rilke is one of my favorite poets, and the Duino Elegies is a text I return to again and again. In it, Rilke has a line that speaks to surrender. He writes “don’t you know yet? Fling the emptiness out of your arms into the spaces we breathe; perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.”

Do this: lift your arms up and spread them wide, exhale, and let go of all of the “I can’ts”; what’ if’s” and stretch your arms wider. This is the poetic and visual representation of that quality of letting go. If you are holding too tight, there is no space for supportive people or movements to enter the stage and support you. So, number one, let go! And be forewarned, this is not easy. This is a life time work.

Number two: trust your vision, trust yourself, your capacity, and your dream. Establish a practice in your life that utilizes your voice, your talent, your body. Dance, write, draw, sing, do yoga, meditate, walk. This will keep you in touch with that deep well of knowledge and passion that is uniquely yours. If you don’t carve our space for this, you’ll find yourself starting to belief the unlimited other voices and messages you encounter each day — at home, at work, in the media, in your own mental noise. So create a way to bear witness to your deeper self each day and over time, you’ll learn to trust the voice/ the space you find there.

Number three: listen to (& study) yourself, those around you, those doing similar work, and those you don’t agree with. Now dig in. First, understand your own motives completely. Often we move forward with a large vision and imagine that the realization of that vision should be at the expense of our own sustainability. When you look at this more closely, it often relates to a sort of martyr mentality. If you find this, own it and understand it. Realizing your dream should support you. Dreams are often awoken by the presence of a need not being met in our lives. I, for example, needed to get out of a 9-5 desk job because I wanted the freedom to be with my family. This fueled my vision of becoming a consultant and starting some national projects that I now, with a different work structure, have the space to do. Let your needs and desires be an explicit part of your understanding. Check in about this regularly. Know why you are seeking to do what you are doing. Demand clarity of yourself regularly.

And, as you study this, also study what is working in the world in a way you can learn from. What can you read? Who can you talk to? Don’t look for the obvious alone. If you want to start a yoga studio, talk to yoga studio owners– call national owners of well known studios, see if they’ll advise you. Ask the critics in your life (only once you’re feeling strong in your own vision) to tell you explicitly and concretely what their concern is; demand specifics¬† because they will be more helpful. And then broaden your scope. Let’s stick with the yoga studio; look around: what other community or spiritual organizations around you are functioning well? A church, an afterschool program, a dance studio, an art center. Ask them what they do as well. Ask people motivated by similar needs in their lives (see number two) what they dream of, what they have done. Study every possible angle of your dream.

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