How do you decide what work you will say ‘yes’ to?

Last week I posted a blog focused on knowing your story, but don’t let it own you.  The intention of that article was to explore how the very essence being human beings – the stories we hold about who we are, and what we most want to become – can both have us play with the Universe, or burden us to a point of despair.

So, it was with some inner amusement during the week that a potential new client asked me, “tell me about yourself and how you arrived at doing what you do?

Where to begin!

Although the details of how I responded to this question is not the focus of this post, the underlying threads of how I responded are. Upon reflection afterwards the stories I chose to tell focused on three significant life transitions I feel define how I now show up in the work that I do with individuals, organisations and communities. They are likely life transitions many of us have also experienced.

  1. Dependence – not knowing my place in the world and having no ‘inner place’ through which to ground my experiences;
  2. Independence – fiercely defending my place in the world and placing a large barbed-wire fence around that ‘inner place’ for fear that others might take it from me; and
  3. Interdependence – being my place in the world and opening up my heart to others as we co-creatively and co-actively explore our collective ‘inner place’.

According to qualitative researcher, Brene Brown, it is from a place of courageous vulnerability that the very best of who a person is (and is becoming) is able to show up. I feel this is true for me – it is by embracing whole-heartedly the many life experiences that I am able to fully show up in service of the people I am with. As I have written previously (Allowing your purpose to flow through you in the here-and-now):

“… the acknowledgement that my purpose is working through me in this moment allows me to experience what I am undertaking as effortless … to fully be my True Nature for the world, I need to have clarity of purpose and the absence of resistance around that purpose. Magic happens when I allow my purpose to flow through me in the way of lead others and myself for the world.”

Anyway, I digress. As the conversation unfolded they asked me a second question, “tell me about the type of work you really love to do and how you go about doing this work?

Another question that is did not allow for a simple response!

I know that, for me, it is the novelty of experiencing the ‘newness’ in the moment that really brings me alive.  I love to operate in an emergent space where I am not really sure what is going to occur next, but knowing deep within me that it will be magical and that I have within me and around me all that I need to with its unfolding. So, I can answer the second part of this question more readily: I go about my work in partnership with the moment.

I know that this may sound esoteric and somewhat ‘flaky’ to some, but I am learning that to truly release the magic of the moment – and there is magic in every moment – I need remain fully awake to what wants to emerge, rather than having a pre-ordained agenda for what I want to occur. I guess that this approach also speaks to my earlier post on allowing purpose to flow through you in the here-and-now.

And as our conversation started to draw to its conclusion, a final question was posed, “how do you decide what work you will say ‘yes’ to, and what work you say ‘no’ to?

I was able to respond to this question quickly as I have learnt what work brings out the best in me and what work does not. In having made some unfortunate choices along the way, I have learnt to ask myself four simple questions when invited to become involved in a new project, initiative or opportunity:

  1. Is this opportunity aligned with my life and career purpose?
  2. Does this project/initiative offer me the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally?
  3. Is there a sense and experience of flow to this opportunity?
  4. For the people and contexts involved, does this project/initiative have a mindset of abundance and positive energy around it?

Whatever the invitation, if I am able to respond in the affirmative to these four questions then my bags are packed and ready to travel to wherever that invitation takes me. And as it relates to the invitation this prospective new client was extending to me, the answer to these four questions is a resounding ‘YES’. I am on my way.