When you don’t feel inspired to do anything: Sisyphus, FOMO and the great unknown.
It’s a medium one.
Do you feel guilty or anxious when you’re not doing anything? Do you worry you’re wasting time or not making the most of what you have (aka FOMO - Fear of Missing Out)?
It’s a glorious and torturous feeling.
If recognised for what it is, the impulse of life coursing through you and asking to be channelled in a creative way – great.
If you treat it like a problem to be solved, you may find yourself suffering a lot and returning to this feeling more often than you’d like.
I guess it’s a glass half-full or half-empty situation – how do you choose to perceive the feeling?
More importantly, are you willing to sit with it fully and wholeheartedly until you understand the message it carries or would you rather fight it, resist it, try and get rid of it?...
On a day with news of another life lost to suicide (young athlete Ellie Soutter whose father believes the pressure to perform was a factor), it's worth pausing for thought.
Sisyphus was condemned to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity.
Apparently, he’d angered the gods by thinking too much of himself.
But he probably just had FOMO: if I don’t roll it up the hill this time, maybe I’ll miss out on something…
It’s the approach we take with our lives. We don’t like being at the bottom of the hill with nothing to do. We pathologise quiescence, dormancy, latency. We’ve gone from human beings to human doings.
Once a thing is done, we move on to the next. The section in between is almost unbearable. When we run out of things to do we feel confused, stressed, directionless.
Yet…the gold is in the quiet.
Creative cycles require a period of rest, reflection and openness to inspiration. Top performers in the arts, sports or sciences know they need periods when their wilful, concentrated effort is switched off. That’s when the brilliant insights and ideas come. Newton’s apple changed the world. He wasn’t doing much when inspiration struck him.
Legend in the making: Dr L, a new client who is an expert on sleep is in the process of reclaiming her knowledge capital from an organisation that didn’t honour her or what she brought to the table, and reenergising that fantastic entrepreneurial spirit within. She specialises in helping her clients optimise their wellbeing and performance in all aspects of life by improving their sleeping habits. The key thing is poor sleep is linked to anxious thinking, so by improving their sleep she also improves their ability to think, feel and be happy and effective and who wouldn’t want that? Her commitment to coaching and transformation means she’s open to slowing down and reflecting so she can break dynamics that no longer serve her and her mission, and to making space for new supportive ones. The clarity she is gaining focuses her creative genius into developing her own practice and amplifying the reach of her life transforming service.
I went through a phase of quietude during my PhD when I was starting to tune more deeply into my inner-experience. I remember having lunch with a university friend who I respected and admired for his industriousness, resourcefulness and achievements as a scientist and surgeon. For the first time, I felt a chasm between us. I was suddenly at the opposite end of the spectrum of wilfulness. The hunger for success had left me…
Shortly afterwards, I left academia even though I’d been head hunted for a lectureship at Cambridge University and shortlisted for a Wellcome Trust grant. I learned that just because I could do something impressive, it didn’t mean I should do it. Until then, work had been about forging ahead, knowing exactly where I wanted to go. Now, I had a choice. I could get off the treadmill…
For a while I was confused, wondering where my motivation would come from and what it all meant for my career and life. It was the great unknown. The awesome mystery of life when we accept that it can’t be controlled.
I learned that I didn’t have to worry so much. My job was to listen deeply, stay curious and take action on the inspired ideas and opportunities that would come, sometimes out of nowhere.
The greatest leaps in my career came from moments that I could not have engineered through problem solving. They came because I was paying attention and taking action on the right things, consistently - being patient and not panicking in the quiet periods. I trusted life more and struggled less. I didn’t need to control things as much, so I was able to jump into the right current at the right moment and have the ride of a lifetime. I guess it’s not about the destination, or even about the journey, but about knowing how to travel whilst being still.
(-> See below for a past Wise Wednesdays video on dealing with uncertainty like an entrepreneur)
What if you knew that you were always inspired, that you always had access to inspiration and that being anxious is what cut you off from it?
How can we free our inner-Sisyphus? You have at least two options:
1. Choose to enjoy the process of rolling the boulder and see the magic in it. As Albert Camus put it:
“This universe henceforth […] seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
2. Choose to let go of the boulder and see what happens…
Have a good week,
This month's announcements:
The Circle: Meaningful Conversations on Careers, Life and Freedom
- This month’s theme: addressing imposter syndrome
1. Online webinar version (60 minutes): 15th of August at 6pm (Free). Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/dCNwBf
2. Live version at Harley Street (2 hours): 23rd of August at 6.30pm. Get your ticket here:
Do you ever wonder whether you're doing well enough in your job and compare yourself to others unfavourably?
Building on themes from previous circles we'll dive into imposter syndrome and use coaching tools to address the root causes.
Join this Leaders Circle at the sumptuous Harley Street to grow in self-awareness and develop strategies for a healthy relationship to performance at work.
You'll learn about:
* what imposter is and the mechanism at its core * the role that organisations have in the imposter syndrome epidemic * develop tailor-made strategies that work for your specific situation
This is an interactive event in which you gain as much as you give. We'll practise the non-violent communication framework to create a safe, supportive space that facilitates powerful inner-transformation. The framework will be explained a the start of the event.
You’ll also find out how other service-driven, high achievers like you have overcome the challenges you’re facing to develop their career and impact.
There’ll be an opportunity to be coached by me on an individual situation.
At the end, there’ll be a chance to talk about how Transformational Coaching can help you fulfil your highest potential with confidence, joy and ease.
* Email me if you have any questions firstname.lastname@example.org