“All this time I was finding myself and I didn’t know I was lost.”
—Avicii, “Wake Me Up”
How do you find and stay on your path?
This is the question often pondered by self-actualizers for which I have acquired five personal tenets:
- You finding your path may have very little in common with me finding mine. Each path is unique unto itself and must ultimately be discovered alone. You can only give so much advice to another about path finding.
- Wherever you are right now is, by definition, part of your journey and it’s on your path. Discomfort is part of it, so don’t discount the pain. It’s inviting you to go somewhere. You are never off your path.
- Seeking is the biggest part of finding. Embrace the search process; there is no finish line. The path always keeps going.
- I calculate that it’s about one and a half feet from my forehead to my heart. That eighteen-inch journey is the physical distance that must be covered to become a path finder. Only your heart, not your head, knows your path.
- When you do land on your path, you’ll know it. It’s the place where the weight of the world releases and time loses its meaning.
* * *
So how do you listen to your heart?
One simple strategy is to begin by observing your mind, which is easier than you might think. All that is required is the recognition that the voice in your head is not you, and as such, you can detach yourself from it.
Be playful along the way. Path finding need not always be mystifying. To that end, one approach I enjoy is the process of elimination. To play this game, you just pick something you’re sure you do not want to do, manifest, or become, and then you simply rule it out.
Here’s one I recently ruled out: caving. I am not going to be someone who goes caving.
Yes, caving. You know—the adventure sport where people tie themselves to ropes and explore uncharted corners of underground caverns. That’s caving, and I have zero interest in doing it, so I’ve ruled it out of my path.
- I don’t really like rocks. I don’t like hiking on them or climbing around them. I prefer dirt, grass, and sand under my feet.
- At the age of fifty-five, I don’t like crawling anymore. My knees, back, and hands all hurt when I crawl.
- I’m claustrophobic. I don’t like being in small, tight spaces.
- I’m afraid of small animals. Mice, snakes, and bats scare me. When our youngest daughter Sydney was a small child, a bat got into her room. When my wife Alison asked me what I was going to do about it, I replied that we were going to sell the house and move.
- I don’t like being tied and roped to anyone or anything. I like freedom of movement.
- I don’t really like the dark. I sleep with a little light on.
There. I just narrowed down my path. It’s not going to include caving.
Yet there are other unexpected and seemingly impulsive adventures that I have jumped right into without any clear context as to why.
In August of 2012 I picked up a copy of National Geographic magazine and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was the cover story. IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE: THE REBIRTH OF A SIOUX NATION read the headline, above a picture of a teenage boy riding a horse bareback across a rolling plain.
“I’m going to go there,” I said to Alison as soon as I finished the article. Ninety days later, I was on the Rez.
I’ve now been there over twenty times. What I experienced there changed my life. It came from the heart. That’s path—something you’ll follow without knowing the full answers as to why.
Remote western Indian Reservations, yes.
Guideposts for my path.
In summary, here’s the moral of this story: If your path takes you into a cave, I won’t be there.
Happy trails to you!
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
—J. R. R. Tolkien
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.
This is the forty-fourth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!