My last couple of posts (A Story about Signs, Synchronicity & Meaningful Coincidences and Another Story about Signs, Synchronicity & Meaningful Coincidences) featured videos about experiences I had that gave me the courage I needed to take action toward something that I was excited about and a little scared of. The signs were clear and empowering. But sometimes we get signs or have experiences that are not so supportive or uplifting. And other times the signs we get are conflicting. What do you make of THAT?
Well, on that note, I have another story to tell you. Shortly after I gave my notice six years ago to leave my cushy job and start my own business, I met some friends/colleagues for dinner and was excited to tell them the news of my recent decision. I was still reeling from the sudden turn of events and though I was thrilled about the leap I had just taken, I was also feeling a bit nervous and vulnerable (as most people do when they move out of their comfort zones). I was hoping that they would give me added encouragement and support.
Unfortunately, they did not. In fact, they were quite adamant with their cautionary tales about several people they knew who had left their stable jobs only to find themselves barely scraping by and lamenting their decisions. GREAT. This is NOT what I wanted to hear. And it bothered me that two people I respected and admired — who were in fact successful independent consultants in their own right — were chastising me for my decision instead of congratulating me. (Yes, there was a little ego in there too.)
I left the restaurant feeling beaten and discouraged. I began to question myself and doubt my abilities. I worried that I had made a costly mistake. Was this a sign?
The next day I went running on a canal bank near my house, which I frequently do to clear my head and tune in to something bigger than myself. I reflected on the previous evening’s conversation. I felt the worry well up inside of me and ran harder and faster as though I could possibly outrun it. Did I make the right decision?
In the next moment, a sign caught my eye. It was a mile marker placed on the side of the canal by a running club for people who were training for an upcoming 10K. Beneath the number on the sign, there was a quote. It said “Those who believe it cannot be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.”
I felt the hair on my arms stand up. The worry gave way to relief and then laughter. I knew this little sign was for me.
Here’s what I learned from that. When it is really a sign that has significance, it will resonate with your inner wisdom – not your inner critic. It will make you feel strong, at peace, and calm. The sign or experience itself isn’t as important as the feeling it evokes and the messages we intuit.
There have been times when I was considering a course of action that wasn’t right for me. As I reflect on what might have been signs that confirmed an inner knowing that I should not proceed, those signs were never shameful or disparaging. Rather, they simply heightened my awareness of an incongruence I was already experiencing on some level – kind of like the way I’ve felt after trying something on that I really wanted to wear, but just didn’t fit right, or playing the piano and landing on a note that was in the wrong key.
Sometimes I paid attention to those little signs, and sometimes I didn’t — perhaps a story for another post. Suffice it to say that when I paused long enough to ask, listen, and really discern what was going on, it made all the difference in the world.
For more information on Signs, Synchronicity and Meaningful Coincidences:
This week’s post features a video of an even more unbelievable story than the last one I shared with you — about a series of seemingly random and recurring events that had a profound impact on me. These experiences provided the courage and the nudge I needed to take action on something that simultaneously excited and terrified me — leaving my stable, well paid job to launch my dream of having my own business. Below is a written version of the story (as it appears in my new book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be), minus a few details I added in the above video version.
For years I worked as an internal consultant and executive coach for a large corporation in a job I loved. Gradually, I began to recognize my longing to break out to start my own business and have more flexibility and time to spend with my family. Initially, I dismissed these yearnings as something everyone encounters. Then I began looking into what it would take to actually start a corporation. Though I daydreamed of the possibilities, the thought of leaving my job altogether seemed impractical since I was enjoying my work and had wonderful working conditions. I reasoned that I would stay there unless things changed to the point that I didn’t enjoy it anymore.
I kept waiting for things to take a turn for the worse — for someone to tell me I couldn’t do the work I was passionate about anymore, or for the organization to be restructured in such a way that was no longer optimal for me. None of that happened. In fact, things just seemed to get better and better there. Still, these visions and dreams continued to beckon. They became more and more pronounced, until finally I began to seriously entertain the notion of taking action on them.
I began to find screws everywhere I went. I walked across the kitchen floor and stepped on one. An elevator opened up and I saw another one on the floor in front of me. They were turning up when I cleaned my kids’ rooms, and in other odd places. In a meeting, a co-worker and I were pouring over some documents when a tiny screw popped out of her reading glasses and landed on the papers in front of us. Initially, I didn’t think anything of finding these screws. But after several occurrences, I became curious as to whether there could be significance.
One day while on the phone with a very good friend, I related my experiences. “Maybe you’re screwed,” she joked. “Or I have a few screws loose?” I retorted. She suggested we look up the definition of a screw in the dictionary. As she went to get her dictionary, I wandered around the house, phone in hand, straightening things up. When she came back to the phone, among the many definitions she read was one that said “something that must be turned or acted upon in some manner.” As she said the words, I reached into the small drawer of a sewing table in our living room and felt my hand wrap around a zip-lock bag. I lifted the bag out of the drawer to find — you guessed it — a bag of screws in assorted sizes.
This act held profound meaning for me, as it seemed to be the crowning event of a series of seemingly coincidental incidents that became more and more pronounced until they finally got my attention. Whether it was my subconscious mind, the screws, or both, I felt sure there was a message for me. The following week, I gave my notice at work (and didn’t encounter any more screws after that).
For more information on Signs, Synchronicity and Meaningful Coincidences:
A Story About Signs, Synchronicity and Meaningful Coincidences (the first one)
My last post, A Story About Signs, Synchronicities and Meaningful Coincidences, featured a video about a series of seemingly random events that gave me needed encouragement while I was writing my book, The Pinocchio Principle. If you didn’t catch the video, you can watch it below or click here for the last post. I know it seems somewhat unlikely that these things actually happened, but they did. And after talking with many others about their own experiences of this sort, I have come to believe that signs and synchronicities such as these are not all that uncommon.
Many of us simply dismiss them as random and insignificant coincidences, which is completely understandable. It’s not all that different than having bought a car only to finally notice other cars on the road just like yours. They were always there, but you didn’t really notice them before. Is that a meaningful coincidence? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Those cars hold meaning for you after you’ve bought yours because now you identify with them. They are no longer just other cars on the road; they are cars that are identical to the one that you most likely went through a very long process to procure for yourself. And after buying that same model, you now have an affinity for it. It jumps out at you because it feels good.
So when other things repeatedly catch our attention, they probably hold some kind of meaning for us as well. We just may not realize what that meaning is. Like my experience with finding Pinocchio memorabilia, what repeatedly catches your attention could be an object. But it could also be a person, or a phrase. It might be an image, or a song or even a movie that recurs. What is most important is not so much the objects or experiences but rather what we associate with them and how these things make us feel.
Often we are so busy or preoccupied that we don’t slow down long enough to realize what these things are trying to tell us. But when we do, we are often surprised and delighted to discover that they give credence to our deepest longings, most inspiring visions and grandest dreams — you know, the ones that beckon to us and attempt to break through all our doubt and mental chatter to show us a whole new field of possibility. Every time I see a sign like that, I like to think of it as something or someone gently encouraging me to go stop questioning my ability and instead begin to question and move beyond my doubts.
In the next few days, pay attention to what jumps out at you. See if there are recurring themes. Slow down long enough to inquire into what these experiences are trying to tell you. Move into it. Feel it. Even if you don’t immediately know the answer, the act of paying attention and asking the question will get you closer to finding it. And it could be the beginning of something really big and wonderful.
Here’s that video, in case you missed it: (if you don’t see it below, click here)
In my next post, I’ll share another series of signs, synchronicities and meaningful coincidences I had that gave me the courage to finally take action toward my lifelong dream of having my own business. If you’d like to read more on deciphering signs, synchronicities and meaningful coincidences, I’ve written a whole chapter called Navigational Tools in my new book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, now available on Amazon. You can find out more at http://www.PinocchioPrinciple.com.