We were all moved, and many of us shaken, by the loss of Steve Jobs last week. He inspired us with his vision, his passion for his work and his creative genius. We cheered him when he battled back from being fired at Apple. We so badly wanted him to win his ultimate battle with his unrelenting foe.
In reflecting on his life and his beliefs, many of us watched the 2005 Commencement Speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University. What stood out most to me are two, beautiful messages:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads off the well-worn path. And that will make all the difference.
Steve Jobs is imploring these graduates to discover their True Path in life. It’s a quest I’ve been on myself, lately, and I’ve discovered twelve critical lessons that I’ve decided to share in the hope they will prove valuable to you…
1. Look within yourself
This was the biggest surprise of all and the most valuable lesson. All the answers to the questions of who you are meant to be in this world - and what you are meant to bring to this world – lie within you. You simply have to know where to look and be open to listening to your own guidance from within.
I have learned the critical importance of spending quiet time each morning being still, quieting my mind, and being open to what my heart wants to tell me. It’s how I connect to my True Self, and it enables me to lead from within as I move through each day.
Connecting with your inner self, your True Self, is the first and most important step to finding your True Path in life.
When we leave childhood behind we often leave behind our own sense of self. We become sensitive to what other people think and to what they want us to be. We may lose our own sense of self-expression, playfulness, and our ability to “let go” and feel a real sense of freedom. In doing so we slip off our True Path without even knowing it.
Reconnecting with who we are within – who we are in our central core, in our soul – is the only way back to our True Path.
2. Ask courageously for what you need and want in your life
I know how difficult this can be. You see, I had to ask for a kidney. When I opened up my heart to believing in my own worthiness to make such a bold request of the universe, and to the possibility of actually receiving a kidney, a woman whom I had never met called me on the phone. She told me she knew in her heart that if she was a match, she was meant to give me hers.
The courage to ask for what you need, and the sense of worthiness to ask for what you most desire, are critical ingredients to finding your True Path.
3. Accept that there is an inner light within you with power beyond your understanding
We all have a life force within us. You alone have the power to take this brilliant life force to the world. As a leader, this is a true gift. It should be used wisely and to its greatest potential for the good of the world, and for the benefit of those you lead.
This was truly one of the most important and inherently powerful realizations on my journey.
4. Connect with and accept the beauty of your physical body
We humans spend a lot of time telling ourselves what’s wrong with our physical bodies, sometimes to the point of feeling disdain. When we do this, we completely disconnect from our true selves and deny the most essential life gift we’ve received. Discovering your True Path involves accepting and loving everything about your True Self, including the body through which you travel your path.
5. Let go of everything that is holding you back
Letting go can be so difficult, even as it seems so obvious. We hold onto our walls and our fears, sometimes because they’ve simply become comfortable. We’re not quite sure how we’ll function without them.
You hear this often in regard to people who need to lose weight; they lose the weight only to find themselves uncomfortable psychologically because they have grown accustomed to their mindset of being overweight. They haven’t closed the door on their old mindset in order to open a new door to the new path they are traveling.
You have to let go of what holds you back to create the freedom to move forward toward your True Path.
6. Stop lamenting and choose to move forward
Again, this may seem so obvious yet it’s easy to spend years and even decades lamenting the past rather than choosing to move forward. There is a time and place to lament, but to find and travel your True Path you must consciously choose to begin moving forward.
Have you chosen to do so?
7. Observe, don’t absorb
I wrote an entire post on the power of these three words to change your whole outlook, but the gist is this:
We are faced with so much uncertainty, fear and stress in our world today. Our success, and to a great degree our well-being, depend on being observers rather than absorbers.
If we absorb the uncertainty, fear and stress – particularly the fear and stress of other people – we lose our own sense of self, and we get easily knocked off of our True Path.
Although this is one of the most difficult steps in the True Path journey, it is one of the most critical. Why? Because we will always be around people and situations that have negative energy. Always. It is just a reality of our lives and of the world.
Those who live their True Path learn how not to take the uncertainty, fear and stress of others along with them…
8. Let go of what’s not on your path
Just as you don’t want to take the negative energy of others and of the world with you on your True Path, you have to come to terms with what you personally have to leave behind as well.
This was horribly difficult for me. I had to finally accept that because of my kidney transplant and other factors in my life, I had to let go of the idea that some things I wanted were still ahead of me. They aren’t. They are simply not on my True Path. A part of me already knew this, but I hadn’t accepted it or worked through it until my recent journey.
Taking the time to mourn what’s not on your True Path with you is critical to moving confidently forward down the path.
9. Remember Abundance Comes From Within
Abundance lives within you and has expansive energy.
Remember as you come face-to-face with “lack” on your journey that it comes from “without” and is not nearly as powerful.
It is the fear of lack that fuels the lack, gives it energy and power, and creates a psychologically debilitating cycle. When you are in fear it is very difficult to feel balanced, and virtually impossible to travel your True Path.
10. Open yourself up to receiving abundance
It may surprise you, but many of us block abundance from coming into our lives by surrounding ourselves with a fear of “lack.” That fear serves as a wall that actually keeps the abundance at bay. Read that sentence again because it can literally change your life if you genuinely acknowledge it.
You have to let go of the fear, and you have to let go of the ways you hold onto that fear, in order to fully open yourself up to abundance!
11. Commit to staying in the present moment
You probably never thought of it this way but it is in the present moment that you hold and can wield all of your power. You have absolutely no power over the past and the only power you have over the future is to affect it in the present.
The present is where your power exists, where doors open, and where your True Path unfurls.
Only in the present moment can you “be the change you want to see in the world,” as Gandhi instructed. If you are not living immersed in the present moment, then you are not living from your own strength and power.
When you are thoughtfully and energetically present with those around you, and when you give the gift of your presence and your energy that come from your inner self, you become more highly attuned to the moments when you stray from – or move closer to – your True Path.
12. Honor yourself
Ultimately, everything about the journey to discover your True Path comes back to honoring yourself.
Honor who you are in every moment, every single time.
Be mindful of the words you use. When you put words out into the universe you give them power to be true. Honor yourself by speaking and thinking in ways that are true to who you are and to the brilliant light and power within you.
Honor yourself by doing the work to free yourself of what’s holding you back, by starting anew connected to your True Self, and by living on your True Path!
Wishing you all the best of life as you travel your own True Path…
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Photo is Dune Walkway to Beach by rockmixer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockmixer/2917386736/