Last week, I shared with you the first half of my capstone speech. Before I share the second half with you, I want to take a deep breath and celebrate how good it feels to complete this epic journey (three years in the making!).

The gratitude I feel for the friendships I’ve cultivated over these past few years is beyond measure, and this is a perfect segue to phase two of the journey I shared in my speech— The Allies.

Here ‘tis!

Phase Two: The Allies

For years, my new clients had told me things like, “I know I’m crazy to feel this way…” or “I know what I’m thinking is ridiculous…” They think everyone else has it all figured out.

I tell them that they’re not alone. But sometimes, they don’t quite believe me.

For years, I’d wished that my clients could be like flies on the wall for each other, bearing witness to each other’s struggles.

To help meet my clients’ need for additional allies and to also make my services more accessible to more people, in September, I launched two small coaching groups.

We meet on zoom so that everyone can see everyone else, and while I coach individuals one-to-one, everyone else listens and holds space.

Even though I’ve wanted this for my clients for years, it’s still surprised me to witness my clients witnessing each other, nodding and smiling along, showing how much they can relate.

This deep sense of knowing they’re not alone is like medicine for my clients.

The problem is, outside of spaces like this, most people think that they’re supposed to get clear on where they’re headed in their careers on their own.

Or, they don’t reach out for support because they think they’re the only one who’s struggling and it’s scary to feel vulnerable.

In a culture that worships the mythical “self-made man,” asking for help can feel dangerous.

And, this can create a feedback loop of stuckness in which people don’t ask for help, so they don’t get the support they need, so they’re not as successful as they want to be, so they’re even more embarrassed and even less likely to ask for help.

Here’s the thing—

In any great story, the hero never goes it alone.

They are always aided by fairy godmothers, secret agents, or magical amulets.

And, besides, I’ve found that it’s impossible to get clear on your career path alone. Following a calling is about being of service, and you can only really be of service if you’re in conversation with the people you want to serve.

Yet, even with all the support in the world, journeying into the unknown can still feel pretty scary, which brings us to our third and final phase today— The Gates.

Phase Three: The Gates

To tell you about the Gates, I want to first introduce to you to my former client, Michele.

When she first came to me, Michele had spent 18 years climbing the corporate ladder in the finance industry, and she also owned a yoga studio. She was frantically dividing her time between her day job and the studio, working round the clock. She longed to leave her well-paid, corporate job and teach yoga full-time, but she felt stuck.

I taught Michele how to quiet her inner Voice of Doubt said, “Yeah, that yoga stuff’s all nice and all, but what if you end up broke? What if your parents hate you for giving up everything? Who do you think you are?” I taught her how to let go of her “People Pleaser” and speak her truth with her parents and— now former— boss.

Michele went back and forth about whether or not to leave her job for many months. Finally, she took the leap to give her dream her all.

This was just over two years ago. Michele recently wrote to tell me that the studio is thriving so much that she’s expanding into a much bigger space, a vision that we crafted when we were working together.

The thing is, though, when Michele took the leap into the unknown, she couldn’t predict how things would turn out.

As her coach, I couldn’t predict her future, either.

The fact is, you can never know how things will turn out, but the only way to find out is to give it your all.

Any especially poignant example is the recent elections.

So, let’s go to halfway through this past trimester. I was writing furiously and needed every moment I could get to complete my book by the end of the trimester. And, then, I started getting calls to action to get out the vote.

I was faced with the question— Do I write? Or do I go get out the vote?

I decided to spend a few weekends canvassing in New York.

On election day, I was in Long Island, knocking on door after door. It was rainy and cold, and we had no idea if our candidate would win. But the words, “I pray with my feet” kept repeating in my head.

That night, watching the election results, my heart hurt to discover that our candidate in Long Island had lost, as had candidates I was rooting for like Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Gillem. And, yet, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I’d done my small part.

Just like in an election, we cannot predict the future. We may end up like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and have an incredible victory. We may end up like our candidate on Long Island and lose the battle. But, if we keep showing up, we can sleep well at night knowing we gave it our all. And, we can pick ourselves up and get back on our horse, knowing that we’re in it for the long haul.

You know the old American story that the only thing to fear is fear itself?

Well, I’ve found, that it’s not true. The truth is that on any great journey, fear is usually a sign that you’re moving in the right direction.

In fact, fear is such a normal response to the unknown that before leaving home, the hero goes through a phase that Joseph Campbell called the Refusal of the Call.

The Refusal of the Call is often marked by a locked gate. You know you’ve reached a gate when you’re facing a difficult decision, and you keep going back and forth about what to do, or your inner Voice of Doubt shows up, warning against making the necessary sacrifices.

And, the truth is, you will need to make sacrifices. To continue on their journey, the hero always had to pay a price. To live your calling, you’ll also need to pay a price. Maybe it’s money, time, or energy. Almost always, you’ll need to let go of something more internal—  a limiting belief or behavior pattern or relationship dynamics that hold you back.

Many people stay home their entire lives, developing what Joseph Campbell called, “a dull case of the call unanswered.”

The hero decides to accept the call when they realize that the cost of staying home is greater than the cost of moving forward.

Here’s what I’ve found—

When you take the time to reflect on what you’re longing for and who you’re called to become in the next phase of your life, when you take bold action, even in the face of fear and uncertainty, and when you reach out for support and listen closely to the people you’re called to serve… you can become very clear and very confident about your next level calling.

So what’s next for me?

As I look out on to my next horizon, I’m so excited. In about two months, I’ll complete the first draft of my book. Then, I’ll be looking for people who want to be first readers and to give me their feedback.

After that, I’ll shape the book into an online course, and I’ll integrate the feedback from course participants into the book. That way, I can be confident about the content before publishing in about two years.

In the meantime, I’m rebranding my business as the Center for Callings & Courage.

When I started my capstone, I longed to be able to serve more than fifteen people at a time. Now, with the book and the course, I’ll reach so many more.

As I face this gate of graduation, I am so incredibly grateful for the support of my cohort, my professors, my advisor, my partner, and my kiddo, Kai, allies who I know will be by my side long into the future.

Thank you.

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