File:TCU Campus.jpg

This week I was invited to speak to grad students at an area university about the enneagram and spiritual entrepreneurship. I was so enjoying the sites and sounds of a college campus on a beautiful fall day that I totally neglected to capture any photos. Just trust me that TCU has come along way from the early image of the campus above.

As part of my presentation I shared with the students some of the best advice I’ve ever been given. I think of it as the human job description:

Show up. Love. Tell the Truth. Let Go of Desired Outcome

Now there is a way which that formula can read as if it is all work we do toward the outside: loving other people, telling the truth to others. But the most vital and essential bit is actually to extend compassion to our own hearts, and also to be truth-tellers to ourselves.

Even when the truth doesn’t match who we like to think of ourselves as being.

And often the disconnect comes in allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to be in need of care and support, to be afraid.

We live in a culture where we are taught to appear in control and powerful and we get so good at denying this more tender side that we sometimes forget it is even there. And of course, letting go of desired outcome is probably the trickiest bit.

So how to do this practice in everyday life?

Right now notice any piece of your life where you are holding responsibility for something turning out in a certain way: a successful launch to a new project, a perfectly organized calendar or home, a presentation where everyone loves your ideas. While it is our responsibility to show up (and love and tell the truth) there is simply too much that is beyond our control to hold ourselves responsible for creating a particular experience for ourselves or others. Not only that, but holding so tightly to a desire makes us stiff and unable to recalibrate to changes as they unfold. In a way it makes us less likely to create the “success” we most want.

Take note of this sense of responsibility: where do you feel it in your body?

Does it cause your shoulders to creep up to your ears?

Your heart to feel like it is in a vice? Your head to hurt?

Even as you make space for what you find… consider how it would feel to lay down that expectation. To release yourself from this illusion of control.

I realize this is a rather counter cultural practice. Doesn’t every job list out responsibilities and requirements and then in fact measure your success based on them? (not to mention grad school.) And if we work at home or for ourselves… don’t we hold ourselves to a very high standard?

Well yes– and those external standards are important.

But how we hold them can make all the difference. Do we hinge our self worth on every goal? Do we spend our lives waiting to feel good after the next “win”?

Practicing “letting go of desired outcome” while counter instinctual for most of us can actually help us stay centered within our innate value as beings, not on our outer accomplishments. And it is when standing in this deep place of inner knowing that we are our most resilient, most loving, most capable and most able to share our gifts with the world. Try on the practice and let me know how it goes…

I’d love to hear your comments by clicking the “reply” button below.