I am excited beyond words about the trip I will take to Halifax next week to attend Authentic Leadership in Action. I have been to a lot of conferences, retreats, and workshops before – some good, some bad, and some indifferent. This one, in addition to the fact that it feels like conference/retreat/workshop all beautifully intertwined into one entity, feels like it just might have the capacity to blow the lid off “good” and plop itself comfortably into the rare category of “very good”.
I know it’s not right to judge a book by its cover (or count your chickens before they’re hatched), but there is something about this one that feels uniquely like “going home”. All of those other conferences/workshops/retreats felt like they intersected with one part of my brain or responded to one part of my “professional development plan”, but this one… well, it feels like it’s something new. Something that’s willing to spread its arms out to me and wrap every part of me – body, mind, and soul – into a comfortable embrace.
How do I know this already? Well, for starters, they speak my language. They talk about things that matter deeply to me – leadership, transformation, authenticity, compassion, justice, and creativity. For another thing, they don’t just TALK about these things, they embody them. Imagine going to a leadership conference that starts every day with mindfulness meditation? Or one that offers a sea-kayaking trip as an option? Or one that includes art and theatre and aikido?
It’s brilliant, and it makes SO MUCH SENSE, but it’s OH SO RARE. There are still so few conference organizers who have figured out that they should do anything more than offer you a bunch of academic talking heads (with perhaps a networking event or two thrown in for good measure).
I am excited, but you want to know a little secret? I’m nervous. Even a little bit scared. It’s not that I’m worried I won’t enjoy it – it’s just that I’m pretty sure that it will challenge me, shake me up, and call me to something BIGGER.
Recently I talked about the Pheonix Process that Elizabeth Lesser describes in Broken Open. Well, the little person inside of me – my scared little ego – is terrified that this conference is going to call me to BLAST OUT of the flame, with my colourful wings flashing toward the sky and RISE UP into something new. Something bigger. And something freakin’ scary.
I don’t know what that is yet. And here’s the bottom line. Here’s the little question that keeps niggling at me.
Am I worthy?
Am I really worthy of a bigger calling? Am I really ready to do something more bold? Am I willing to give up things (and possibly relationships) and risk the life I have for something scary and unsure? Am I willing to be authentic to my calling, make myself vulnerable, open myself up to the world, and then take the slings and arrows that will probably come with that?
What if I AM called to that, and people think I’m showing off? What if I stumble and fail and people say “well, if you didn’t think you were such a big shot and you’d just stuck with the old wings that were perfectly serviceable without being all flashy, maybe you wouldn’t have come crashing to the ground?” What if the naysayers say “well, we never thought you were that bright to begin with, and now you’re just making a food of yourself?”
Like Pema Chodron says (in The Places that Scare You), it all boils down to fear. Fear of who we are. Fear of what we’ve been called to become. Fear of what people will say of us.
Last year, I made a video about fear. Some of you will remember it. I think it’s time to watch it again. I think it’s time to add a new chapter.
“When I am fearless, I will believe that I am worthy of what the Creator is calling me toward.”
(Oh, this is a little bit freaky… I just realized that the kite that my daughters are flying toward the end, where it says “I will soar…” looks like a Phoenix!)