Tap Your Wellspring

photoThe winning phrase of the week is “Wellspring of jubilation.” It came as a wish, “May you always drink from the wellspring of jubilation.” What a great image!

A wellspring is no ordinary spring. It is a source, a beginning point. The phrase made me ask more than a few good questions. For instance, how would I live my life if I was sourced from a wellspring of jubilation? Or, a more useful question: what is my wellspring? Where do I draw inspiration?

Last night on our back deck we held ukulele band practice. We are rank beginners but we played our notes with gusto whether they were right or wrong. We laughed. We sang so loud that a neighbor down the street got on her bike to seek the source of the music. What is the source of the music?

Jay brought a travel guitar to the ukulele practice to lend to Helen. Helen is petite and wants to play the guitar but is having a hard time finding one small enough for her hands. After the ukulele practice, Kerri held the guitar and played a few chords for Helen and the chords morphed into an old John Denver song. All the women began to sing. The sun was setting, the women were softly singing, and Helen’s face was beaming. She’d found a guitar that she could play. The moment was pure and stopped me in my tracks. It is a gorgeous moment when desire meets potential and possibility is born. This moment was a drink from the wellspring of jubilation. It filled me.

Jubilation is rejoicing. It is celebration and sometimes celebration is quiet. Sometimes rejoicing is a song whispered with friends as the light of day passes from pastel to gray. As I listened to their song, as I watched the faces of the singers, I decided that the wellspring of jubilation is everywhere. I am capable of being in my wellspring all the time. It is not location specific. The source of all things that inspire me is not a place: it is an orientation to my life. It is the simple act of paying attention; seeing the moment, participating in the ordinary that is extraordinary and knowing beyond doubt that the extraordinary is everywhere.

The extraordinary is happening all of the time. The question is not, “Where is it?” The question is, “Can you see it?”

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Tap Into It

775. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

What is the original “why?” What is your reason for doing what you do? During a break in the Design for Demand class I eavesdropped on a conversation between Skip and one of his students. The student asked, “Isn’t making money the reason “why.” It can be a reason. It’s not the reason.

Before the break the students were doing business pitches followed by a discussion about their reasons for creating the business. Skip showed them Simon Sinek’s terrific TED talk explaining what distinguishes a great business from a mediocre business. In the talk Simon explains his golden target with the reason “why” occupying the center. A great business operates from why. How and what occupy the middle and outer rings of the target. Mediocre businesses confuse their what and how with why. This might seem obvious but it’s not.

In another class, I recognized that the MBA students think the single reason they are getting a degree is to get a better job. They’ve confused their why with the what. Getting a better job can be a reason. It’s not the reason. K-12 education believes that the purpose of education is to raise test scores. They’ve confused why with how – and it is debatable whether raising test scores is a viable how. In our lives we have an abundance of “how and “what” reinforcement. It is no wonder we sometimes misplace our why.

In the modern age, people without a clear understanding of their “why” will generally buy something to fill the void. It is a temporary hit but delays the recognition that there is nothing substantial driving their life. Or, they’ll numb themselves, distract themselves or sabotage themselves. Either way, the “why” gets lost in the “what.”

Everyone has a why. Sometimes you have to wipe off a layer of dust or muster enough courage to look beyond the purchases. It is there. It’s waiting to be sourced. If your current answer to the question, “What’s the point?” is to raise your test score or to get a better job, stop and ask yourself, “What else is true?” Look beneath the superficial and you will find a spring that will rejuvenate you and keep you nourished for the arc of your life. Tap into it.

Be The Source

660. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

While preparing a new curriculum this morning, I reviewed work from the past and came across this phrase, something I wrote 4 years ago: In our language usage we often say, “_______ gives me joy.” So, for instance, “Painting gives me joy.” This phrasing leads us to believe that the joy is in the painting and you are the recipient of the joy. It leads us to believe that these “things” like joy, happiness, and contentment are external gems, separate from us, something we must seek to find.

Joy, happiness, and contentment are not things, not nouns. The painting does not give you joy, you bring the joy to the experience of painting. The capacity for joy is in you and ignites within you when you put yourself into a generative relationship. As I too often quote Viktor Frankel, “Happiness ensues.” Happiness and joy are not something you seek (separate from you), they are qualities that follow (originating from within you); joy is movement; a feeling is a verb. You are the source not the recipient.

I realize that I am writing a lot lately about the power of language to shape our perception. At present I am in a coffee shop and I just heard the barista tell her coworker that this upcoming year she will learn to say “no.” The couple at the table next to me are having an intense conversation and I just heard, “That’s just the way I am!” followed by, “Why can’t you be happy?” These are stories and the language is not incidental. It matters if you define yourself as separate from you joy. It matters if you believe that you are separate from your creativity or that you must do something to “deserve” happiness. If you define yourself as separate you will live separate from your powers of happiness, joy and contentment. You will think you need to seek them from others. You will define yourself as fundamentally powerless because you will orient yourself toward what you get from experiences instead of recognizing your infinite capacity to bring power to your life, to be power and vibrantly alive. Be the source of dynamic movement instead of a chaser of nouns. It matters.