1. The First Calling
The voice came out of the blue. Or did it? One morning on the way to her job at Intel, Pam Didner had everything she’d asked for, almost – a fantastic position at an innovative corporation (global marketing consultant at Intel), two happy kids, a smart and loving husband, a beautiful house in a dynamic city (Portland, OR), opportunities for travel.
Then, not ten minutes from Intel headquarters, the voice: “What are you doing with your life?” Pam did what most of us would do. She tried to ignore it and move on.
But a few months later, she visited a friend, the refreshing creative money maven Luna Jaffe. Luna – founder of Lunaria Financial – also has a studio devoted to her art work and writing projects. When Pam saw what Luna had created for herself, something awoke that voice again.
“I want that!” it said.
“That” meaning an authentic vehicle for pursuing Pam’s creative self.
What happened thereafter is another story that might be unconventional in its convention just as is the story of author Kay Larson and her first book, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen, and the Inner Life of Artists with Penguin Press.
I tell this story because many of you wrestle with nagging and nudging voices. And some of you wonder about purpose and that heavy word “calling.” And many, many of you contemplate, “What’s next for me in this life?” It’s the sort of question I relish tracking with clients. My friend Tara Mohr is spot-on when she says it’s a myth that each of us only gets one heroic calling in a lifetime.
Pam’s story brings to light this and other insights about following your calling.
2. The Choice of Creativity Over Reactivity
Luna Jaffe and I had been working on a project, and she recommended Pam call me. She did.
“I want to write a screenplay,” Pam said.
“Fine,” I said. She had the nugget of a good idea. And I knew she had the intelligence and spirit to learn and persevere. For several months, we worked on shaping a screenplay treatment.
Working on a screenplay, I’m convinced, benefited Pam’s mind in many ways. It tilled her unconscious. And in doing so, other parts of her mind, perhaps dormant for a few years, woke up and came out to play. These parts of her mind – the association-making part, the pattern-seeking part, the story-telling part, the image-driven part – played not only on behalf of her screenplay.
The choice to be creative instead of reactive in times of fertile confusion also prepares us for other opportunities.
Something else – or many other things – began to happen for Pam. As is often the case with people who launch a creative journey on one project, other opportunities serendipitously arise.
Within months of our working together, Pam began receiving solicitations for becoming a a regular columnist on major marketing websites – which demanded a whole other level of creative output – and her blogs were so compelling she received invitations to speak at major marketing conferences – which also demanded another level of captivating creative output.
Pam, of course, shone.
People who captivate their own creative flow heed and respond to right opportunities – even if they don’t know the immediate logical outcome.
3. The Rash Leap is an Option, not a Requirement
We continued working on the screenplay treatment – Pam learning at impressive speed. But then something else happened. She attended a silent meditation retreat. And in silence, that inner voice can grow loud.
“What are you doing with your life?” (as if her inner voice were channeling Mary Oliver)
It is the question of questions, isn’t it?, that too few of us heed because the answer can be disturbing.
At this point in the story, some of us might say that the heroic, the authentic thing to do is to leap. “Leap!” we might yell from the audience’s seat, meaning “Leave the corporate job and venture out on your own!”
But here’s where heroes and s/heroes (thanks to my friend Jen Louden for that tag) can question our collective cultural stories.
In this case, it’s The Story of the Rash Leap we’re questioning. The Rash Leap is what some of us take when we radically leave behind an old job, an old relationship, an old situation that had brought us comfort and safety but not fulfillment. I’ve taken the Rash Leap. It does feel triumphant.
But when the voice of doubt insists upon being heard, the Rash Leap is an option. It’s not the only route to authenticity.
Pam listened. She came back to me with a complementary but different project: a creative journey that would launch her authentic self into the world and in service to others.
The creative self and the marketer self would combine forces. Pam’s own dynamic duo united on behalf of her true self. She didn’t have to leave her lucrative and fulfilling job to walk the path to authenticity.
The journey for both of us has been exhilarating. She laid out goals and strategies, crafted the branding, reviewed models, conducted field work, performed deep writing, and more. We envisioned the metaphorical architecture for a website that reflected Pam’s warm spirit, marketing brilliance, and storytelling acumen.
Pam makes “global marketing” scalable to everyone. Plus she gathers stories of audacious women who relentlessly pursue their authentic selves.
We found the team that could “get” Pam’s spirit and execute the site with the grace and beauty she deserved plus with the smart SEO functionality a global marketer at Intel merits.
And we’ve had fun along the way!
4. Your Recipe to Pursue Your True Self
The result is PURSUE, LLC and pamdidner.com.
One outgrowth of Pam’s authentic work is the Recipe to Pursue Your True Self Project.
Here’s Pam’s example:
Cooking instructions: Add self-doubt and pain, you’ll want a mentor/coach. With passion, yearning and discipline, you’ll experience trials and errors. Add mentor/coach and to distilled trial and errors, and you’ll have a yummy dish of self-discovery.
If you have inadvertently added extra portions of Pain and Yearnings, increase the Discipline and Passion in the same proportions.
You can add your own recipe for self-discovery or creative yearning here: CREATE YOUR RECIPE >
And here’s mine:
You Astonish Dish
I’m not kidding about the necessary ingredients to pursue your creative yearning.
Pam has traveled the world in pursuit of what works best for Intel and other businesses to scale their global marketing to the local.
Pam’s returned home recognizing all the more that her true creative self and creative work matter.
If you’re curious about pursuing your own path to authenticity, make room for silence. Listen. Create more than react. Be patient, patient, patient. Gather your Wild Pack. Then, act upon the voice of your own authority. And “one who acts upon the voice of her own authority” is the definition of authentes, the Greek root of “authentic.” (Word Geek warning!)
DROP IN THE HUT
What’s your recipe for pursuing your true self? Share your Pursuit Recipe here and let Pam know here at pamdidner.com.
See you in the woods,