American talk show host and personality, Oprah Winfrey says: “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” I love that. Without hope we are lost. My self-leadership journey began in total frustration, feeling lost and with help from an unexpected and unknown mentor. I was lost but, thanks to mentors, I found my way. You can too.
One day a childhood memory appeared to me while I drove down the main street of Melbourne, Australia. A woman’s name flapped around me, on the dozens of colourful flags promoting a special live theatre production. I couldn’t believe it. I had first become aware of this woman when I was a child. My mother took me to the cinema where for Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks. This woman played a leading role. Years later, my family and I had snuggled down together and watched her, as Jessica Fletcher, solve crimes in Cabot Cove, Maine. Yes, my unexpected, unknown, and unknowing mentor, was Irish-American leading actor and performer, Angela Lansbury.
When I saw her name on the Melbourne flags, my first thought was it must be someone else. The Angela Lansbury I knew of must be 100! I went home and searched about her and the stage production. Yes, it was the same Angela Lansbury I knew. And no, she wasn’t 100, she was eighty nine and acting the title role in Driving Miss Daisy! Eighty nine, and someone was paying her to come to Australia, to do what she loved and excelled at doing, which brought joy to many.
I GOT THINKING
What would someone pay me me well to do when I was eighty nine? This idea got under my skin. Angela Lansbury showed me what was possible. Her example created a heartfelt desire in me, that led to me dig deep, and start asking myself questions. What changes did I need to make? Ms. Lansbury’s example made my excuses seem lame. I have not met Ms. Lansbury, but she is part of my story, so I wrote a letter to thank her. By living her life, just being her, Angela Lansbury set an example and changed my life forever. You can do the same. You never know who is watching you. I am so thankful she came into my life and showed me what was possible.
It is now several years, much training and growth later. My job, that was slowly killing me, is a distant memory. Training and writing on leadership, for self and for others, is an everyday part of my life. But my journey wasn’t a straight or fast road. I discovered knowing yourself and leading yourself is the foundation to finding meaning, purpose, contribution, joy, and success in your life. I encourage you, always take the next step and continue the journey. Choose to lead your life.
My self-leadership journey has become an exciting adventure that I could not have imagined when I started. The journey has impacted, not only my life, but the lives of all around me, especially those I care for most deeply – my closest family. At times it has been harder than I expected.
Do you feel lost or trapped? A stirring of restlessness may be the your beginning of freedom. It can help you leave behind your uncomfortable comfort zone, the dull fog of a settled for life, in search of greater adventures and meaning.
Arianna Huffington, Author, CEO of Huffington Post, encourages you to live a life where you can thrive. Author, Brendon Burchard describes his journey: from: “Caged,” through “Comfortable” to “Charged.” I describe the journey as from lost to found, from moving from the darkness of your black hole, through the dullness of a settled for life, to where you shine, from the inside out!
As humans, we live life in a tight box of beliefs about what is possible for us. We limit ourselves. When we don’t recognise we are trapped in a box, we will never climb outside it. Does that fit you? It sure used to fit me.
- Where you are allowing your past and others expectations to define you and how you live?
MOVING OUTSIDE YOUR ‘UNCOMFORTABLE’ COMFORT ZONE
My life was a mix and a muddle. Part trapped by convention and the expectations of others. Part comfortable. Not great, just comfortable. Places where the fear of going backwards stopped me going forwards. A few years ago I caught myself thinking, “Wendy, you have come so far. You have a loving spouse, great family, a nice home, a well-paying job. Life is good. Be thankful.” Life was good – so why was I so restless? Why so aimless?
I came to realise, now that I had something to lose, I was living the dull, ‘settled for’ life, ruled by others standards of what was “as good as I could expect.” I was no longer challenging myself, tackling my mountains, nor creating adventure in my life. I found myself saying to myself things like, “You don’t know how good you’ve got it. You should feel more grateful, happier. Why can’t you be satisfied?”
Then I came across the idea of living a high energy life, full of joy and meaning. Where the energy keeps recharging! For me that life sounded like freedom. I glimpsed that freedom life when I first visited NASA, Cape Canaveral, USA. There were huge eagles flying everywhere. They were beautiful and inspiring. They reminded me of a verse: “They shall rise up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary…” This was the life I knew I longed for, my ‘freedom life.’ Fully me, fully alive. But how could I do that?
To move to my freedom life, I first had to find where I was and start from there. I needed to imagine what each change looked like before I could achieve it. I needed to learn, to change and grow to be the person who could live the freedom life I so desired.
To find my starting point I took inventory or in navigation terms took a reckoning: where was I lost, in darkness, or trapped, where I was comfortable but stuck, feeling life was grey and where did I know true freedom, fully energised and fully alive.
To find your freedom life, take your life inventory:
- Where do you feel trapped, in darkness?
- Where are you settling for life, comfortable but restless?
- Where do you feel free, energised?
As we finish up here, one more suggestion. Have fun as you grow. I will share important ideas and questions in the forthcoming blogs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them from day one. Join us in next weeks’ blog where we look at moving forward in the power of hope, coming from my new book, soon to be released. You get a sneak preview.