Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Our heater doesn’t work. It is 33°F outside, it storms and rains, and our heater decided to quit. Fortunately, we can go up the attic, and repair it. You can do that with heaters. It made me think. You can do that with people too. But you can only force compliance, never collaboration out of the joy of their heart.

Inspiration, admiration, sleep, empty mind are all examples of “states that are essentially by-products”. Jon Elster writes about them in Sour Grapes. These states arise as a result of something else. They cannot be created intentionally. The sheer attempt to fall asleep is counterproductive, as the effort itself will keep you awake. Sitting in meditation only brings calmness if you accept the busy, repetitive thoughts. If you strive for empty mind, your focus conflicts with the state you’re trying to attain. The effort to inspire someone is self-defeating, as it prohibits the spontaneity crucial for inspiration.

Ah! You cannot intentionally inspire someone…?! That explains why none of my efforts to inspire people have ever been fruitful. Not that I didn’t try. I died to be inspirational. Being inspirational seemed to give meaning to my life. But the more I strove for it, the less I got it. I only got it at moments that I couldn’t care less. A friend told me once how appreciative she was that I helped her surrender to the idea of staying home. All I had done was sit at the porch, enjoy the sunshine and listen to the birds. And giggle at her efforts to try to find something interesting and important to do. Just sitting there, doing nothing. That was inspiring to her. Being me and doing my me-thing apparently inspires, trying to be inspirational not.

Maybe that’s why I am tired of trying to figure out my ideal client, my ideal reader and how I can uniquely serve their needs. The truth is: I have no bloody clue. I don’t know what they need, and how I differ from all the other fantastic writers, trainers and coaches out there. I lost all interest coming up with yet another enrolling, inspirational elevator pitch to match my services with my ideal client.

The best advice I ever received was “When you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Wait. Breathe. And let the life within you show you your next step.” I don’t know what my ideal client wants. I don’t know my grand purpose in life. All I know is what I love to do, where my passion and my heart is. And maybe that’s enough. To do what I am most jazzed about. Not to achieve anything, but to enjoy the brief moment that I walk this earth.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Harold Whitman

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