One of the other major things I took from the Brigadier General´s presentation was this story she told about reconnecting with one of her classmates from West Point a few years ago. They were exchanging emails and this woman had told her that there were three things that she focused on during her four years at West Point that allowed her to get through that difficult time. Survival, Survival, Survival. Reflecting upon her classmate´s words, she thought of Maslow´s hierarchy of needs (I included a copy from Wikipedia below). That when you are focused on your physiological and safety needs – essentially your survival, there is no way to step into the higher levels of thought to truly make a difference for yourself, an organization or even the world. You don´t get to the love/belonging level or achieve confidence in esteem or self-actualization.
I know that I have been stuck in that cycle of focusing on that worry, the "what ifs", the "what are we going to do ifs", etc. And all it´s really done is keep me present in the idea of scarcity and of not enough. This cycle of fear is very powerful and one that I think the whole world is experiencing right now which ultimately does not serve the greater good.
And related to this idea, for those of you who might be like me in a sort of "what is my purpose" state – the second speaker at this event I went to was full of energy – Lily Winsaft – and she described this time in her life when she was searching and searching for her purpose and after months of actively searching, she woke up in a cold sweat with the possibility that maybe, just maybe she didn´t have a purpose and then what has all this searching been for?! And after the shock of that idea washed over her, she felt a sort of freedom – that if there wasn´t some divine purpose set out for her, well then why couldn´t she simply take matters into her own hands and make one up! And so she decided that her purpose would be to inspire others to see the greatness in themselves.
Jack Canfield has an exercise to get to our own inner purpose or mission statement. List three times in your life that you had the greatest experience of joy. What did you experience at that time? (freedom, love, compassion, passion…) And to take note that our emotions are a good gauge for when we are on track – if we have goosebumps or are feeling passionate, etc. we are generally on course. If we´re bored or resentful, we´re off course. And that out of this, you can come up with your own mission statement or own purpose for your life. In working with a heart surgeon and going through this exercise with him, he listed his three times in his life when he experienced freedom and they were all in his personal life (playing with his grandchildren, etc.) Jack asked him if there were any times that he felt that at work, and he listed two times – once when he operated on a man who couldn´t afford to pay him (but was reproached by his partners) and when his skills allowed him to save someone. Both of these people would most certainly be dead without him. Other than that, he felt a lot of pressure – that there would always be a need for his services, but he couldn´t possibly help everyone. Jack asked him a question – If you were faced with a patient who would die if you did not operate on him, but that you would die if you did what would you choose? He said, of course, I would not operate on him. Well, you need to get that sometimes by not doing, you end up taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to be fully present to more people than if you simply gave and gave and gave. And what he came up with as a mission/purpose was "to bring joy, compassion, happiness and freedom to people in the world and experience it myself in the process."
And remember…"sometimes the shepherds need caring for too." Another gift of insight from the Brigadier General.
Love to you my shepherds.