It doesn’t have to be this way…

I recently spent some time at a much-needed retreat. The group was led by facilitators who have trained with the Center for Courage and Renewal. Some of our time was spent sharing with the group as well as moments of silence as we each reflected on a series of thought-provoking questions. We also practiced the skill of deep listening with open and honest questions in smaller more intimate groups. It was such a gift to be able to share this experience with people who were previously strangers.

At one point we were asked to identify a word or phrase that had surfaced for us during our time together and then to write that word or phrase on a rock. The phrase that kept coming to mind for me was, “it doesn’t have to be this way.” On the surface, these words might sound negative, but for me, they are complete joy. Six months ago I made the decision to leave my career and start my own business and in the process, I have gained a deep appreciation for our own ability to make changes in life.

Today these words are associated with freedom and they only have a positive connotation for me. These words feel more like a rallying cry, something I wanted to put on a t-shirt and share with the world, “Hey everybody, it doesn’t have to be this way! Whatever it is, change is an option. No matter how hard it seems, you really can do it!”

The reality is as leaders we often fail to remember that we must lead ourselves first and in our ever loving complex relationship with verbs we often forget that we can embrace verbs for ourselves too. When our lives speak to us saying, “it doesn’t have to be this way” we need to pause, listen and act.

Maybe it’s a business decision, a relationship, a financial matter or hundreds upon hundreds of other things that are no longer working for us. Maybe this is something that served a healthy purpose or a positive role at one point in your life, but it is now passed it’s prime. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can make a change, I am living proof of that.

If you want to make a change repeat after me, “it doesn’t have to be this way.”  So wrestle with your demons. Listen to your inner voice. Ask questions. Struggle to formulate answers. Sit in silence. Share your thoughts with those you trust. Say yes. Say no. Quit your job. Reprioritize. Stand up. Sit down. Take small steps. Take giant quantum leaps. End a relationship. Start a relationship. Change your diet. Draw new boundaries. Workout. Chase your passions. Rest more. Travel. Make new friends. Take a class. Trust your heart. Ask for forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Be still. Move forward. Speak your truth. Act. Grow. Change. Breathe. Reclaim. Lead. Love. Remember who you are while becoming you.

It doesn’t have to be this way….but you are the only path out, and everything you need is within….