This blog post is inspired by the fabulous poem of Mark Nepo titled "Breaking Surface". I believe it is such a strong call to action for all of us to stop playing small. To be brave and bold and to take those courageous steps into the unknown, where the magic lies.
Breaking Surface by Mark Nepo
Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won't let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can't be done.
Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.
You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.
— Mark Nepo
You're not the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if trainers, facilitators and speakers stopped regurgitating this old rhetoric in an effort to sell you on their latest 'you need this in your life' program.
In a world that is increasingly diverse and far-reaching when it comes to our connections, this quote attributed to Jim Rohn is in need of a rethink. It may have been true in its time, however it's also time to bring it into the 21st Century. I believe it's a very one-dimensional approach and doesn't take into account anyone who is a leader or influencer. Or, for that matter, the now increasingly global nature of our personal connectedness.
In addition, the audiences of today are much more aware, and more alert to hyperbole and fear-based marketing than ever before. Selling me on my perceived inadequacies because I don't have the 'right' people around me, is not going to cut it.
Be intentional about your connections
As an entrepreneur, I spend a lot of my working time on my own and have become very intentional about my connections, networking and 'coffee time'. I choose to hang out with some people because they make me laugh, others invite me into a deeper sense of possibility through their unique capacity of asking just the right question. Still others are speaking, theatre or movie buddies - connected through shared passions.
And with all of these people (and there are a lot more than five) there is an underlying theme that connects us all. A theme of shared values.
Circle of Five
I'd like to suggest that rather than the 5 people, why not take a look at the 5 values that you want to spend the most time with and, by association, the people, the places, the programs and the lasting relationships will be built on the foundation of those connected values.
Values such as authenticity, integrity, empathy, creativity and compassion. They are my top values. What I call my "Circle of Five". They inform my leadership, my communication and my ability to be a catalyst for change. Being a multi-creative introvert, I love to spend time on my own, so these values keep me aligned with my being, and inspire my connection and contribution to the world.
Congruency creates consonance
I believe that it's not the people you hang out with that impacts you or your success, it's the VALUES you live by that creates consonance* (from the latin 'consonare': sounding together). When we are congruent, when we express and live our values, we create a harmonic frequency that draws to us the people, opportunities, experiences, environments and learnings that will make the biggest contribution to our lives.
I invite you to pay attention to your personal circle of influence - your "Circle of Five". Are they consonant with you and your vision? Are they in harmonic alignment with your authentic purpose? Do they inspire you to greater? And do the people you invite into your life demonstrate consonance with those values? And if not, maybe it's time to make room for those that do.
What's your "Circle of Five"? I'd love you to share in the comments below.
During my recent live TV chat show Simone & Friends, I interviewed a group of women on the subject of finding their passion and living their purpose. The eldest of my guests was a wonderful woman, ninety-five years young. Articulate, engaging, funny and with a breadth of understanding and wisdom that she was delighted to share with the live audience. Her passion for music, which has been an accompaniment throughout her life. Discovering the joys of singing on stage in her fifties and going on to play supporting roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas because ‘they were always guaranteed to have a role for a middle-aged woman.” She absolutely rocked the interview and was the highlight of the evening.
This wonderful woman and I met on stage forty years ago and her passion is unabated. And not just for all things musical. For life itself. She is an incredible role model.
At a recent international conference where I presented to a global audience of over 250 speakers from 27 different countries, I too had the opportunity to articulate my passion. And it was after this event that a chance, and unconscious, comment, prompted this reflection. The comment by one of the attendees, who had complimented me on my presentation, was simply “It’s good to see that you're still so passionate.” I was surprised.
STILL…So passionate. I had to ask… “Why…. Still?” Surely passion doesn't have a use-by date?
Surely our driving force, our life energy, our deep connection to what motivates us doesn't have to diminish because we've reached a pre-determined number of years. Yet perhaps that is what society has created as the new norm with its ever present focus on youthfulness. An unconscious bias to anyone who is obviously not of that norm.
I believe it’s definitely time to shift the status quo, and to recognise the brilliance of experience. Of a life well-lived, fuelled by passion. Without qualifiers.
I wouldn't trade any of my experience of over thirty-five years as a Theatre professional… it's been hard-earned and I've created a career and business around my passion. It has, in fact, defined my purpose. And it’s what keeps me energised and alive to opportunities.
I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I don’t plan to ‘retire’ (even the word suggests being tired of life and lacking enthusiasm). Why should I be any less dynamic, focussed or passionate about everything I embody just because I’ve had the gift of more years on planet earth?
In fact, like my wonderful friend, I want someone to interview me when I'm 95, about my passion. I expect there will be plenty to share, and I hope that I too will be an inspiration and role model.
My dear guest shared her thoughts with me after the interview… “Who would have thought that I'd get to do this at 95? What a treat.”
I added to the treat by driving her home in a classic MX5. It’s a soft-top and she wanted to drive with the top down.
Not STILL so passionate… ALWAYS so passionate.
Yours, purposefully passionate
If you'd like to find out more about my TV show Simone & Friends please check out the link here.
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And if you'd like to know about my work or invite me to speak at your event, you can check out my speaker profile here.
There is an interesting phenomenon that happens when we attend or participate in events – particularly professional development seminars and conventions.
We come away infused and enthused. Filled to the brim with new ways of thinking, or listening, or connecting. We have new music to download, new apps to try, new websites to check out, new productivity hacks to adopt, new friends to follow up.
A host of different ideas awakening a different way of thinking.
And then we come home. We get back into our daily routine, to business as usual.
And suddenly it doesn’t feel quite so easy or so much fun to make these changes. Bit by bit we stop taking action on the things we promised ourselves we would change.
We find ourselves slowly drifting back to the habits and patterns of our every day because that new piece of information, or idea, is just not creating enough of a shift for us. We put aside the new thinking, and go back to the way we always did things.
We diminish our great intentions to practice, to write, to connect, to be more of what we want to be. To shine more of our light into the world…
We go back to before. Or do we?
I believe, that in spite of ourselves, we do change.
I believe that, in spite of ourselves, we DO change. In micro-increments. In micro-choices. We make a slightly different choice because of that event, that sense of awakening to possibilities.
Like the grain of sand that creates the pearl, this tiny thought-provoking irritant becomes the one thing that doesn't allow us to go 'back to before.' It insinuates itself into our patterns, disrupting our thinking, endlessly reminding us that there is another way. It doesn't even have to be better - just, different. A difference that has the potential to bring us more joy, to connect us more deeply to our passion and our purpose and to our being fully alive to our brilliance.
Personal development is inherently circular in nature.
Personal development is inherently circular in nature. It takes a few 'rounds' before we finally begin to understand the pros and cons of particular behaviours and choices.
How often do we get that sense of 'deja vu' - "I've been here before…" - and I'm not just talking about time and place, but also about our habits and patterns of thinking.
I believe each time we travel yet another round, a tiny piece of us shifts. Shifts into greater alignment with who we are, and who we choose to be. A micro-incremental shift to a new paradigm. A greater awareness of our interconnectedness. A subtle reframing of our worldview. And therefore, we are no longer who we were 'before'.
The general consensus at most professional development events is to choose one thing - and then to implement the learning.
What if the implementation is, in fact, nothing that you need to DO, but rather who you need to BE in order for your world to shift?
What would that look like?
What would that feel like?
What could you achieve if you were truly BEing the brilliance of you?
I'd love to know what you think?