Are You Self-Made?

From Horatio Algers to some of our recent presidents, the idea of starting life in adversity and reaching the heights of success is at the core of American mythology.

So what do you do if you grew up in a stable home with parents who had a successful life?

I was thinking about it recently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s chapter on fear in  Big Magic.  I realized that I’ve met fear with courage at many turns in my life.  Going to business school, realizing marketing was not for me and shifting to sales in my 30’s, working hard to meet my husband and create a family when I could have given up, then shifting from my corporate job to having my own business.  

And this last turn has required courage every day, for over 12 years.

None of these choices might seem especially hard.  What’s hard is defying the external expectations from parents, teachers, community, the media, that we’ve internalized over time.  Then we have two voices:  One voice that’s telling us what’s right for us from a place of wisdom.  Another voice that’s telling us we can’t or shouldn’t, from a place of fear.

Maybe you work a corporate job and don’t see yourself as a creative person.

Maybe you’d love more from career but struggle with feeling behind the 8-ball all the time.

Maybe you want to feel more like a mentor to your team but have given up because herding bunnies is just too hard.

What if being self-made is really about showing up with the courage and freedom to share the best of your talents with everyone around you?  It’s about all the courageous decisions, big and small, that let you lean into the gifts the universe gave you and have the impact you are meant to have.

From that perspective, becoming a surfing instructor in an exotic country is not the only solution that will let you find fulfillment.  

In fact, you can do a lot to become self-made right where you are.

  1. Take a look back and write down the choices you’ve made that honored what you wanted and brought you closer to what energizes you.
  2. What would things look like if you could be doing more of what energizes you?
  3. What is blocking you from doing more of what brings you joy, especially at work.  
  4. How can you express what you want, not by complaining, but by sharing how you could have more positive impact if circumstances shifted a little

So:  Give yourself credit for what you’ve already done, think about what you want and what’s in the way, and consider how you can shift how you talk about yourself and what you want.  You are truly worth it.

All my best,

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