I haven’t “worked” since 30th November 2010. I took a gap year in 2011 and then it extended a bit because I had no idea how I wanted – or even if I wanted – to return to the world of work again – ever. Recently I confided in those who would listen that if I ever again had to work for a living, I had absolutely no idea what I would do. And that was true only a couple of weeks ago.
My definition of working for a living, by the way, is exchanging time for money. As an accountant and then as a coach, all I’d ever really known (in those businesses) was exchanging time for an hourly rate and I’m not complaining, it was a great living, but I just knew I didn’t want to get back into those sorts of relationships with people. It’s my fault, it always is, it’s all to do with deficiencies in my own operating system, not to do with the clients whom I love or the businesses which I also love. I give too much. I feel drained. I need a year or five off to recover and I was unwilling to repeat the sequence a third time.
So, there I was in what I’ve come to call The Fertile Void. It’s void in that its empty and arid and lonely and barren and – er, voidy; not a good place for a Creator. And it’s fertile because you always, 100% guaranteed, no word of a lie, always come out of TFV in a better place, provided you are prepared to sit with the discomfort and wait. And learn to trust, learn even to quite like it there. And not make the mistake of emerging too soon. If you do, life just nudges you back in there sooner or later, so you can’t fake your readiness to graduate from The Fertile Void.
I had my woo woo friends sit in silence and ask for guidance for me. I took an appointment with the fabulous intuitive Lynn Robinson in the USA. And I had a creative exchange one Saturday morning with a virtual pal. And eventually – after more than 18 months “off”, it came to me how I would really like to be next. lt was obvious and it had been there all along. I didn’t have to work hard to find it, it found me in a blinding flash. In a quiet moment, I heard the whisper of my inner wisdom.
While you are in The Fertile Void, there is work to be done and there’s no room for slacking. And the work is what I call Intense Personal Development (IPD), in as much as that becomes your new day job. I remember being unemployed for a couple of months way back in mid-Nineties and discovering that being unemployed was a full-time job.
Well my IPD became a full-time activity too: meditation, sitting quietly, yoga exercises, breathing with my EmWave machine, listing my gratitudes, journalling, tapping (EFT), affirmations, watching and reading inspirational material and participating in various abundance and gratitude programmes, feeling the breeze on my face, deciding to be happy now exactly where I am with exactly what I have, visualising, making ever more spiritual choices in my life, getting rid of clutter and doing a spot of gardening, well dead-heading at least! It know it sounds like I’m keeping busy to keep my mind off the central dilemma and yet it is, in some ways, the very antithesis of busyness. And there’s very little noise and few distractions either.
One of my heroes James Altucher has a formula for this too which involves early to bed, early to rise, exercise, the right food at the right time of the day (not too close to bedtime), writing down hundreds of ideas every day to keep brain working creatively. Its a 4-step process of the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual which leads to his being The Luckiest Guy on The Planet. Do yourself a favour and check out his blog.
So here’s the thing.
I had a way of being successful in the world which worked for me for more than thirty years – it’s called Hard Work. But my system is broken now and it can never be mended. There are various reasons for this, all of them woo woo so if you are of a nervous disposition, I’d click away now. Hard Work works. It gets you clients, it gets the work done, it makes you successful but at a terrible human cost. Its draining and exhausting and depleting and I’d got to the point where I simply could not force myself to do it one more time – alone. But if you’ve never done it and you want to and you could use some of that yang energy in your world, let me know – I’ll give you a few pointers ‘cos I know better than most all about Hard Work. But it’s not for me now. Not now and not ever. It’s rather 20th century too, to be honest. It harks back to the times in which I was brought up, to the years of Competition whereas we are now in the Age of Collaboration. We want to be pulling together as a team and helping each other.
And the more aware I became of that, the more I couldn’t face Facebook. I unjoined over a year ago. And Twitter just appeared to me increasingly as a marketplace full of desperate people pushing and pushing and pushing uphill to flog their stuff, to push it onto me. The feelings I felt were in my body and they were real. I wasn’t making a judgement involving my brain; it was all becoming a terrible turn off for me. All my instincts were crying “NO!” I’ve always been one to go against the grain; I make no apologies for that, it’s just who I am.
After having started Entrepreneur Soul earlier in the year with the wondrous Marion Ryan, I began to go even deeper with excavating my own entrepreneurial soul. There’s a clue in the title and big thanks and love to Marion for putting a name to our project. I drew inspiration from The Creation Experiment, a London-based woo woo group I have been co-leading for three years. I wrote about this group a while back on Entrepreneur Soul. In my view it’s become a (women’s) empowerment group, a mastermind team where we could each explore who we are and get closer to our dream lives.
And that was the moment my inspiration was born, as I began to draw all these precious threads together. I “remembered” what I want to do. I want to combine what I’ve learned with all my navel-gazing, my gap years and the experimenting with the women’s group into something which encourages entrepreneurs to get into closer connection with their souls, to stop pushing and start allowing, to find out what is their heart’s desire and to (re)discover their authentic selves. I want to be with entrepreneurial souls while they are uncovering who they really are and what they really want and to facilitate that by sharing my learning during my twenty years of spiritual work and personal development.
Having been a big fan of The Minimalists for a while now and having de-cluttered more than anyone would think humanly possible except perhaps The Minimalists themselves, now you see it round here, now you don’t; if it’s not nailed down it’s freecycled. And having journalled and sat quietly and listened to my inner voice, I know I want to share that with like minds. Like hearts is probably a better way of describing it. And I want to encourage people to unplug from everything for one day a month and cut that addiction to our emails and our iPhones and it is an addiction; I know whereof I speak.
I propose to start Soul Groups Unplugged for the members of Entrepreneur Soul, virtual day spas, an E-Retreat if you will. And to share with people who feel drawn to this message how to do it. Excavating takes a while, we are three years into it at The Creation Experiment but all the time we’ve been emerging as happier in a way which has an impact in every area of our lives and businesses; new babies, new businesses, new ideas and new ways of being in the world. We are happier and lighter and smiley-er. Is that a word? If not, it should be.
I’ll start with groups of up to 10 entrepreneurs, adding folks one at a time if necessary as they feel ready to join my new soul excavation project.
As I write this, I have a song in mind. It goes like this:
“You are my heart’s delight and where you are, I long to be.
You make my darkness bright when like a star, you shine on me.”
And this is what it will be like to be a member of one of my Soul Days Unplugged. We will be unplugged (no email, no telephones, not gadgetry, no childcare, no distractions) just you and the space and us. Take one day out a month to rest and recuperate and access your inner wisdom. Sit in the stillness and hear your gut instinct guiding you to a gentler life. Stop pushing and open up a space of allowing. Create a unique daily spiritual practice which works for you and ultimately changes you into a new person. The real you, your one true self.
That song, by the way, comes from Franz Lehar’s Land of Smiles. And with the new Soul Days Unplugged, that’s where we’re headed – to our hearts’ delight and to our brightness. Will you join us?
PS Re unplugging, can I recommend Susan Maushart’s The Winter of Our Disconnect?