Every Thanksgiving, I take a Gratitude Walk.
Usually through Forest Park in St. Louis. It’s spectacularly crunchy and colorful in the fall.
This past year, I took a break about halfway through my walk for a brief sitting meditation on a nearby park bench. As I sat down, I noticed a gold plate fastened to the top. It read the following:
“In memory of Benjamin Harris Wells. The world will not see his equal.”
Don’t you just want to meet that guy? Just to see what he was like?
I even googled him, but couldn’t track anyone down. Oh well.
STILL, HERE’S THE QUESTION: Will the world ever see YOUR equal?
While you’re alive, after you’re dead? Will another person come along that does what you do?
Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea. And after a great deal of reflection upon the people I’ve encounterd in my life that I’d consider to be “unequalable individuals,” I’ve written a collection of practices to help you become utterly unequalable yourself.
1. Allow yourself to be known. To become unequalable, you absolutely CANNOT be afraid of bigness. Otherwise the selfhood on which you stand will not support the platform that being known requires. What are three places in your life that you are playing small instead of playing big?
2. Be circumferenceless in your compassionate with yourself. Give yourself a fighting chance. Remember: You are an ongoing do-it-yourself project. Are you listening to the way you speak to yourself when you make mistakes?
3. Be enough now. Because nothing will ever make you happy in the future. As I learned from Anthony DeMello, “There is not a single moment in your life when you do not have everything you need to be happy.” Try this: Once a day, recite the following mantra as you breathe deeply, “I am enough, I have enough and I do enough.”
Sound cheesy? You’re right – it is. And the reason I’ve been reciting that meditation every morning for five years is simple: Because it works. After all, you can’t be unequalable if you’re not “enough.” What do you say to yourself every day?
4. Be not become perpendicular of your Personal Constitution. The word “constitution” derives from the Latin constitutio, or, “ordinance.” Therefore: Your constitution is the composition and condition of your character. Your constitution is the established arrangement of your non-negotiables. Your constitution is the system of fundamental values governing your behavior.
And, your constitution is the aggregate of personal characteristics comprising your foundation. The best part is: It’s a living document. It’s amenable. And as you grow and develop personally and professionally, various elements of your Personal Constitution reserve the right to modify. Have you found a good place to practice your values?
5. Being honest isn’t enough. The other half of the equation is being courageous and vulnerable enough to admit when you’re full of shit. Remember: Being true rarely means being comfortable. Take your pick. Comfort is rarely a constant in the equation for success. How many times you step out of your comfort zone this week?
6. Choose wisely whom you allow to influence you. There are certain people whose energies you DO NOT want to infiltrate your reality. My mind will not be invaded, you say to yourself. Keep your distance from people whose sole function is to bring noise to your head.
Release those who impede you, drag you downward or take away from what you could have been. Instead, make room for the relationships that matter. Remember: Saying no strengthens character. Are you being fair to yourself by continuing this relationship?
7. Don’t become locked in your posture. Rigidity is the great ruiner. Instead, exert flexibility when the unexpected enters and focus on the fulcrum of the possible. That’s what my yoga instructor constantly reminds us, “Focus on your best effort for today – whatever that feels and looks like to you.” How flexible are you?
8. Make sense of the world in ways others cannot. This was a key ingredient to achieving success, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Putting orderliness to the chaos that surrounds you. Refining your ability to see on subtler levels, then translate what you’ve absorbed.
And, jolting people out of their assumptions, thus becoming the alarm clock they don’t realize they desperately need. That’s how you turn ordinary encounters into moments of instant reeducation. Do you refuse to lead an unexamined life?
9. Televise the indestructible fidelity of your character. Channel surfing will become non-existent. People won’t be able to take their eyes off you. You will become the example that penetrates the whole world. Are you spending time increasing your talent or increasing your character?
10. Find out what doesn’t look good on you so you know what NOT to wear. After all, success is just as much about knowing who you AREN’T and what you DON’T want. How are you defining the whitespace around yourself?
11. Use every challenge as a growth spurt. As long as you ask yourself questions like: “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” “What is the opportunity for growth in this loss?” and “What universal principles of growth or change can you distill from this experience that can be passed on to others?”
Remember: Use every situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve, not to beat yourself up. Ultimately, the goal is create the best possible circumstance in which your growth will be supported, enhanced and fulfilled. Regardless of the challenge. Now that you’ve experienced this challenge, what else does this make possible?
12. Commit yourself to a path you believe in. Especially the path that chose YOU, not the other way around. That’s how it works: Paths choose walkers. The next step is to create a mental picture of the life you want to live while navigating that path. Literally. Become a master of creative visualization. (I suggest you read everything ever written by Shakti Gawain.)
Also, to reinforce your commitment to that path, consider making a vision board. Post images of the people, experiences, things and realities you would like to experience along this path. Look at it everyday. You’ll discover that like a camera, your life develops that which is focused upon. What path has your soul chosen for your learning process?
REMEMBER: You are the agent of your own future.
Within reason, ability and the laws of thermodynamics, you can achieve (pretty much) anything you’re willing to pay the price for.
So, if you’re wondering how long it will take to become an unequalable person, it’s hard to tell.
If I had to guess, I’d say, approximately, the rest of your life.
But who knows?
Maybe someday a park will dedicate a bench to you.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
When you’re gone, will the world ever see YOUR equal?
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Friday, December 18, 2009
Every Thanksgiving, I take a Gratitude Walk.