How did Moses get the gig to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and on to freedom? How did the Virgin Mary not freak out about giving birth to a Messiah? How did Martin Luther King recite the most breathtaking speeches, which continue to inspire us today? And how did your child learn his ABC’s and move on to graduate from school?
What common elements made these achievements possible?
Receptivity and willingness…
Great things with a lasting impact have not been accomplished by sheer willpower alone, nor by knowing all the answers ahead of time. I believe most world-changing thoughts and actions have come about through a humble openness to inspiration, and a childlike trust in the guidance being received.
Remember what it was like to be a child? Remember being curious and uncertain, but ready (and eager!) to ask questions and to hear AND believe the answers? And to keep on asking until all was clear, without judging the new information? Without remaining stubbornly fixed on your own ego and its imagined rightness and importance?
Of course, there are times to motivate ourselves (and others) by summoning up personal strength and devotion to an idea or goal. But, unless that idea or goal has been received from a place of truth and inner certainty, it may not be worth our pushing and whip-cracking. Upon further reflection, we may see that it’s imposed by:
Someone else’s ideas…
A sense of what we should do…
And not what’s most genuinely right for us to do, at the time that we’re doing it…
Cultivating receptivity requires learning to listen.
It means actually cherishing a real joy, as a child, in NOT knowing—without pride sticking its nose into things—and being honestly excited to be instructed in a new idea, a fresh opportunity, and an alternate perspective. This is where the magic happens. The ego is limited and limiting. A mind that’s free of preconceptions and open to the “limitless mind,” has majestic possibilities and a power that only “truth” can truly generate.
We will likely hear unexpected things as we do this, and yet they will shimmer with promise. And then our joyous job is to hang on to those precious angel ideas and pursue them, discover where they want to take us, and not come back down to earth too soon by second-guessing, nor challenging these new thoughts with disbelief and arguments.
Pretty much every good and empowering life decision that I’ve made, has been both unexpected and at the same time, very clearly RIGHT. Each has emerged from receptivity and a willingness to allow the idea to germinate, clarify, and then take me where it wanted to take me — one day at a time. Many of my choices were made at a time when receptivity was pretty much a last resort! I had no answers. I felt helpless and desperate. And so, I felt like a child in that I had no choice but to shut up and listen.
Having blind faith in the unknown…
Going back to college in the unknown state of Texas and studying broadcast journalism was not something I would ever have pictured. But, it was where inspiration and willingness led me. It changed my life at that time. Later on, I would meet my husband in Austin, the place I now call home.
At another pivotal time, an inner voice told me to leave a job for a sabbatical and visit New York City. This sent me on a journey in a new direction—a calling to spiritual healing which eventually led to writing a book and to my current coaching practice.
An ongoing love of poetry and singing announced its urgency as well, only to pull together a little concert with my sister. In our mid-40s, we established an original folk-rock band writing and singing with abandon and joy, and listening for further direction on this satisfying avocation.
I can look back at times I pushed and forced and tried to prove something, and the results were not nearly as pleasing or progressive. I certainly don’t advocate regrets which are so unfruitful, but I have come to a new wisdom going forward.
I’m using this mantra as a guide:
Willfulness is force, willingness is power.
Willfulness pushes, willingness allows.
Willfulness has an agenda, willingness has infinite possibilities.
Give yourself permission NOT to know.
Pause and reflect. Be open-minded and expectant. Choose to be an empty vessel, with no preconceived plan or picture.
You may not lead a civil rights movement, give birth to a messiah, or guide an enslaved people into the promised land. But, then again, who knows? You just might do even greater things!