Listen or Fail

My Journey

The 10 Reasons Why We Fail

By David DiSalvo, Forbes Contributor

Every single one of the 10 reasons David DiSalvo offers in this piece speak to all the things that have played a role in some way or another in holding me back.  I’ve taken the liberty and transformed each into action steps:

1. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you.
2. You are not what others say you are.
3. Rock the boat.
4. Life is short. Take risks.
5. Choose based on what you want to be remembered for.
6. You alone determine what role you let yourself play.
7. Accept that certainty is an illusion.
8. Don’t wait.  Go after what your heart desires.  Playing it safe doesn’t guarantee anything.
9. There’s always more to learn and ways to grow.
10. Learning to adapt and sit with uncertainty is imperative to living the life you seek to live.

The main takeaway:  Nothing is certain.  It’s more risky not to risk.  That is, if you want to live a life worth remembering.

Last week, I took a leap.  I quit my job.  The courage to do so came from knowing I could no longer not live the life I was seeking to live.  And it is taking every ounce of energy to not do all the things that DiSalvo lists.  To even sit with the question, “what do I want?” has been an excruciating task.  Why?  Because as soon I name it, what’s next is owning it and taking responsibility for all that follows.  Growing up is what some might call it.  And as Harry Spence has shown me, growing up is what I hope I always do for as long as I have in this life.

So, I don’t know what it means for you, but for me the challenge I sit with at the moment: To listen.  To listen to what my heart is telling me.  To really listen.  And to start to own what it is I hear in small ways to start.  Then hopefully in larger ways.  Quitting my job was hard as hell, but that was just step 1.  Hopefully, starting with a bit of believing in myself, I’ll make it to step 2 and 3, and so on and so forth, without giving up.

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Bunker Roy and the Barefoot Movement:

Links To Stories

751px-Sanjit_Bunker_Roy_at_Time_2010

(Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27865228@N06/4607852492/)

Bunker Roy: Learning from the Barefoot Movement
Speaker: Sanjit “Bunker” Roy
TED.com

Barefoot engineers and architects, primary school educated solar experts, a grandmother dentist who is illiterate, puppets as teachers – these are just some of the perspective shifting characteristics of “Barefoot College”.  The women of the village have gone on to train other women in Africa and Afghanistan on solar engineering, using only body language to communicate.  The result:  the first solar powered village in Sierra Leone and Ghana.

For me, Barefoot College is living proof of the following concept that Roy speaks to at the end of the talk:  What is possible when you look inside for solutions and listen to the people you are trying to “serve”.  The college is a perfect example of proof of what is possible when you listen instead of thinking that you possess the answer to a problem you are trying to solve to “serve” others.

http://www.barefootcollege.org/

James Ward’s Incredible Story

Links To Stories

James Ward’s Incredible Story

Meet James Ward.  He went from being homeless and living in a mission, to attending Howard University. His story and the above Tumblr page created to raise funds to pay for his tuition, has gone viral.

It’s a moving story, and I could not be happier for James.

But what sticks out in this story is the role that Jessica Sutherland played.  Although she does not take credit, and recognizes that James is the one that has done all the hard work, I cannot help but wonder how different his story would have been had he not met Jessica.  Given his clear intelligence, I do not doubt he would have made something of himself somehow.  But I do wonder…

I know that I do not know the whole story, and I do not know Jessica, but I do have to ask — was Jessica, James’ living proof?  There’s something there. I know there is.  And I plan to try to find out.

Inaugural Interview: Lewis Harry Spence

Video Project

I am honored to introduce to you, Lewis Harry Spence.

Harry, who I’ve known for a little over a year now, is a large part of the reason why this site exists. He was the first person I officially considered to be “living proof”.   After every cup of coffee I had with Harry, and the more I learned about him, the more I wanted to share his story with people I knew would benefit from knowing him.  And I am beside myself to be able to do that with this project.

For me, Harry is living proof that it’s not about what you do, it’s about how you approach what you do – the principles and values that you live by.

Some highlights that still speak to me:

  • “there’s sort of a notion that by 25 you’re grown up, and I deeply believe that is a terribly stilted notion about development. I hope I have grown dramatically over the course of my 30s and 40s and 50s. And I do believe I am a very different person that I was 25 or 30 years ago. That there is a continuous process of social learning that is profound and powerful.”
  • “it’s so easy to fool yourself.  It’s so easy for your ego to fool you into believing you’re doing the righteous thing. When in fact it’s more about you than it’s about the task and about the needs of others.”
  • “I can now say, in many ways, my work is itself a spiritual discipline.”
  • “Even between 56 and 66, the sense of sustained equanimity keeps increasing. But it constantly requires lots of discipline and lots of learning.”
  • “It’s all about where my focus is.  Is it on my well being or is it external – on trying to bring myself in support of the needs of the world? And if I can stay in that space…and it’s a struggle…if I can stay in that space, then that’s  a space in within which great and immense satisfaction and sense of meaning arises.”

I hope you’ll take the time to watch the video. I assure you it will be worth your while.

No words suffice in expressing my gratitude to Harry for making his story so accessible to me, and now to you… and any one who has the pleasure of stumbling upon this video.