What are you doing in your life that inspires you? Are you hesitating at that question because it feels arrogant to claim yourself as a source of inspiration? Do you use some version of the I am not good enough tape as an excuse? That thinking paralyzed me for a long time.
It’s easier than ever to stay plugged into inspiration, thanks to the surplus of podcasts, books and social media accounts offering it at low or no cost. With such easy access, we no longer need to trek into the jungle and hunt ourselves. Why get dirty and risk a snake bite if you can hang out on a boulder and receive an airdrop? It’s all harmless until ten years roll by and we are still discussing the latest Tim Ferriss podcast over a green juice after hot yoga. Consistently absorbing meaningful material can create a false sense that we are leading inspiring lives as we shop for face cream. Information only becomes useful when it moves us into action.
In 2013, after a year of drastic growth from my participation in The Evolutionary Collective, Landmark and working with Jeff Carreira, I felt alive in a way that I had never experienced. I loved feeling inspired. Experiencing ah-ha moments flooded me with energy and sharing these moments with others lit me up. Craving more, I spoke to a friend I had made in the EC about other workshops that I could enroll in.
On my weekly call with Jeff, I ran through some ideas for my next step. Jeff listened patiently as I rambled on about finding more inspiration. When I was done, he said, “What if you became the source of your own inspiration?” I didn’t know how to respond to this, it was a radical concept. Jeff continued, “Breakthroughs only last when you create new habits to support the possibility that becomes available at that moment. You must step through the doorway that temporarily opens and take massive action.”
That hit me hard. I loved talking about the internal work I was doing, but nothing in my daily life reflected my growth. There were no measurable results and more importantly, what good was all this growth if I didn’t use it in the world?
Jeff continued, “Maybe it’s time to integrate the work you have been doing before signing up for more. Let’s create something together in your life that will excite you regularly.” Out of this conversation, Change Your Story, Create Your Life was born.
CYS, as we referred to it, began as an idea on a phone call at 9:30pm. The morning after, I approached Sheltering Arms, a charity that I had been volunteering at, and asked if they had a mentorship program. They did not but mentioned the juvenile justice homes they ran in the Bronx. A week later after a lunch meeting, they agreed that I could visit one of their female, teenage homes with a few friends. Over the moon, I emailed a hundred women, and ten came for coffee in my living room. Out of that ten, four wanted to throw the event at the Bronx home with me.
The first visit changed our lives. After an hour of art projects and snacks, we were in love with the bright, bold young women who lived there. We promised to come back as they hugged us tightly.
The Sheltering Arms administration didn’t anticipate our ongoing interest, but after a firm annual commitment, training and fingerprinting we were approved for regular visits. We quickly realized that art projects and snacks were fun, but wouldn’t make a long-term difference in the girl’s lives. Shaping a simple program based on concepts that I learned in my workshops, we arrived every Tuesday night excited to share the best part of ourselves. Something more powerful than my personality flowed through me when I delivered the weekly lesson to the girls. The next morning, I couldn’t imagine being the woman the night before- she became my inspiration.
CYS ended after two years because three of my friends relocated and the leadership of the home changed. Other volunteers could have been found and trained, but I was clear that the magic was due to the organic energy of our group. I am still in touch with many of the girls we worked with, and they vividly recall our visits as a highlight in their lives; I know it will always be one in mine.
CYS was the first time I acknowledged myself as being a source of inspiration. After that time, I have never blamed my surroundings again for lacking stimulation. I also began noticing other areas of my life where I was already shining my light- my family and AA service work.
You are probably doing something inspiring already, and don’t even realize it. Rarely do we give ourselves proper credit. We are all masterpieces, and it’s a tragedy not to share what life has been preparing us to do since the day we were born. Getting started requires accepting that we will never feel ready.
What are you doing today to be the source of your inspiration?