There are often situations or even words that hold certain meanings for us when we run across them. The word, “lucky,” definitely stirs a bevy of emotions within me whenever I consider using it. In fact, it took me a long time to reintroduce myself to the idea of “luck” ever being possible for me.
I can remember the unluckiest day of my life. I was about twelve years old smashing my tiny hand against my younger sister’s face as I attempted to cover her eyes to block her from seeing the gun that was pointed towards us. My mother, who was battling Schizophrenia at the time, had angered a very dangerous person who’d decided to enter our home. Before I could make too much sense of what was occurring between them, I was suddenly staring at a firearm that was pointed right at me.
Here’s the thing: I wasn’t afraid to die. I didn’t care about dying. No one’s afraid to die. You are not afraid to die. None of us actually fear dying.
What we fear is that we’ll leave this Earth before people have a chance to see who we really are. And that’s where the real luck comes in. The luck that I’m comfortable with and that actually exists. Luck is merely what we call an action we’ve taken, when we’re ready to celebrate it.
So how does one create as much luck as possible to truly be seen in the world, you may ask? The thing is, with each level of growth or success that you reach, there will be times when you feel that you plateau or get stuck. There’s a discomfort that takes place when your ego will want you to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor, but your ambition will urge you to keep going. This discomfort causes confusion. The confusion stifles movement and momentum. You are officially stuck.
The first time I felt truly “stuck” career-wise was right when it was time for me to graduate from university. I was preparing to be a doctor. I loved health care, science, and helping others, yet I felt this uneasiness every time I thought about attending medical school. So, I decided to take a year off to volunteer in a village in Turkmenistan as a partner to the village physicians. The thing is, once I’d reached Turkmenistan, I was told that people rarely visited the hospitals. I sat in an empty clinic for a month before being approached by about 100 students who’d walked for miles to ask me to teach them English.
I turned them away because, from my knowledge, I wasn’t an English teacher. I didn’t have any experience within the education field and I was sure that my skills would be better utilized in the hospital doing something health related. The next day, the students approached me again. So, I decided to try to teach them by using a stick and moving it around in the dirt, which served as my chalkboard.
Little did I know, that because the students were learning so quickly, my teaching had caught the attention of the secret police. It was too much empowerment! Soon enough, I’d taught so many students English that my classes were shut down and the families of my students were threatened by the local KGB, secret police. My English courses were considered a threat. I would eventually help many students learn enough English to study abroad to receive better jobs before leaving Turkmenistan to design education curricula that is used by thousands of students in academies and villages across Asia, and being selected to join some of the greatest minds in our society today to create a new modern approach to learning for all of our students. But, all of this happened once I’d taken time to reevaluate my “no(s).” I’d told myself for so long that I was a doctor that I’d almost missed out on my true calling and purpose as an educator.
In life, we are often told to follow the YESes and the wins. But, if you really want to know why you are stuck and aren’t gaining the momentum in life that you feel you should, consider the things that you say “no” to. If there’s a reoccurring theme, it’s probably a key that will unlock the door that is blocking you from your next path.
Therefore, the first rule of becoming unstuck and building momentum is to avoid putting yourself in a box based on who you think you are and what you think you do now.
Even now, to evolve as an educator, I studied sales, how to code and create animations, and even learned to focus through martial arts. I initially avoided learning these skills because I didn’t think that they were in alignment with my passion. However, each new skill has helped me to be even more effective both in the classroom and out in the community.
Every time we evolve or choose to play a larger game, we move beyond previous limitations, or our “limit lines.” You can live a life without limits. One way to do this is by forcing yourself to step beyond the confines of a particular goal or skill once you’ve mastered it. Push yourself. Live life as a continuous leap. This leap will become your dance and that dance begins to feel really good!
I remember how great it felt once I’d finally acknowledged that I had this amazing talent to educate inside of me. I was flexing my momentum muscle on a regular basis! Suddenly, it felt as if everything was working in my favor! I was being placed in movies, on television shows in South Korea, and even referred to as The Steve Jobs of Education in the circles I admired most. Yet, although I knew that to those around me, I appeared to be going at life full out at 100%, I wasn’t. Because I have a comfort zone just like you do. A comfort zone of people who I may have known for several years who I don’t want to shine too much around because it feels good when we’re just the same. We’ve all experienced this in some way.
If you’re reading this, you’re more likely than not, a change maker in your own right. But, you know that you could always do more. You’re giving your goals about 60%, but to those around you- that looks like 160%, so it looks good enough. But that isn’t good enough… for you. And you know it.
The amazing speaker, Lisa Nichols, says that we all have a giant inside of us that’s trapped waiting to come out like King Kong in an apartment building. But, to let that giant out, you have to take your layer of comfort off that may make your closest friends feel comfortable, but is limiting your growth. When you take it off, you’re going to feel a bit naked because you’re going to stand out in ways that you haven’t before. Every now and then, you’re going to want to run, grab that coat of comfortable, kick back with your buddies, and play at 60% again.
However, the second way to truly get unstuck and create momentum and success in your life is to be willing to live life feeling 100% rather than just looking it. You’re going to have to be willing to shed some comfort, because your next level is on the other side of it.
You’ve pushed your limit line, yet again.
And when you get to the other side and you’re giant is fully out sharing your gifts with the world, and you’ve built the momentum needed to keep you going… there will more than likely be yet another plateau. One month ago, I was in South Korea running my business and working as a top educator. I was given film roles and book deal offers that I didn’t even apply for-but, uh oh, yet again, I felt an internal disruption. I took a trip to Greece and upon visiting a refugee camp, was immediately aware of why the disruption had taken place. The universe was calling me to serve.
See…I truly believe that there is a divine calling on each and every one of our lives. The breath in your body didn’t come for free. It is so important to find out what our passions are to live on purpose. But, that’s only the beginning. Once you find your purpose and you let your giant fully loose to play full out in the world…another thing happens. There are signals that the world sends to you calling you to share your gift.
Your particular gift isn’t a gift, just like love isn’t love unless it’s shared. But, do you know what it looks like when signals are being sent to you to move your limit line, yet again and serve your highest potential?
I spent some time with some religious leaders in the United States who are in full service now attempting to assuage racial tensions. and I asked them how they would know on a typical day just walking down the street, if they needed to turn around and instantly act.
All of them said, “I know what it looks like when I’m needed. I’m emotionally triggered.”
When I was at the first refugee camp in Greece, seeing idle children and a lack of opportunities for learning were instant triggers for me. I knew immediately that I would have to stay.
But, this is also because I took some time to identify what my true gift was – facilitating learning for children around the world. Then, to identify in what ways I would actually use these gifts:
1.) To build curricula for schools and parents around the world.
2.) Travel to different countries to hack and improve their learning spaces.
3.) transform education for as many children that I can.
Then, finally- I created emotional triggers for myself by identifying how I would know when my gifts were needed even without being told –
1. ) Any school without a proper program or educators.
2.) Children who are not being taught to their potential or who are unhappy.
3.) Lack of learning taking place in a place full of teachable moments and information.
The refugee camp had all of these triggers…I was an emotional wreck! Synapses were firing off everywhere…but I was immediately called into action.
There are artists who use their skills to design refugee camps to make them more positive living environments. These artists also transform villages into tourist destinations by designing them to look cool and interesting. Then, more money and opportunities to work is brought to each village. This is using your purpose to serve.
If you are wondering what this may look like for you, take some time to consider the following three things.
1. Identify what you feel your gift is.
2. Consider the ways that you will use this gift as a service to the world.
3. Define what your emotional triggers will be to identify how you will know when your gifts are needed without being told.
Be sure to say them aloud and, if you can, have someone repeat your triggers back to you. It’s amazing how having things repeated to us provides a sense of neurolinguistic programing that stays with us when we begin to doubt ourselves.
Which leads us to the third way to become unstuck.
You must up-level from passion to service. When you’re fully in service to the world and playing full out, you have truly moved your limit line even further to provide you with momentum that will fuel you on the inside as the world benefits from what you offer.
There will always be challenges. But, I also want to say that there are no mistakes or wrong turns. Every problem or obstacle is only that if you label them so. But, they truly redirect you and give you a little nudge to kick that limit line a bit, let that giant out a bit more, and serve a little further.