What no one tells us is that life is for living, and when we are grounded in reality, we can explore our own path into the unknown. It’s up to each of us to customize and tailor our journey as we take out our personal compass and start navigating the intricate pathways of our lives.
Some people may want to share with us the secret success tips for people like Elon Musk or Richard Branson, but what worked for them is not necessarily going to work for us. What happens when we discover there is no secret formula, framework, or method that can guarantee our success?
Far too often we are disappointed when the easy path is not handed to us, but another person’s story is not our own. While there are universal principles that can guide us, those principles apply uniquely to each of us. It is difficult to extract ourselves from society and meditate in isolation in a cave, but it is even more difficult to live an authentic life aspiring to our highest potential while being immersed in the world.
We may feel compassion when sitting alone, but it is a far greater challenge to continue feeling that compassion while riding an overcrowded subway to work every day.
So long as we worship the same type of business heroes, the more likely we are to bring forth another generation of command central leaders. When we choose to break the culture of sameness, we might find an opportunity to truly unleash our own art and voice.
When we listen to our own heart, we will often be surprised at what it is telling us. Many of us have been conditioned to turn the volume on our intuition down to the lowest setting. We often do not listen to that voice inside of us that tells us to do something simply because our friends and family would think we were crazy.
My friend Mei Xu lived through the chaotic Chinese Cultural Revolution, and at the age of 17 she was inducted into the People’s Liberation Army, where she was assigned to spy on a visiting American professor. Her story is captured in the best-selling book, Daughter of China: A True Story of Love and Betrayal (1999).
Mei witnessed much in her life when it comes to conflict. She escaped to America where she had a new start as a successful tech executive and venture capitalist. Over lunch a few years ago, she shared that she started taking a Tai Chi class as a form of meditative practice. The teacher had her stand against her classmate and asked her to physically take down her opponent.
At that moment, Mei realized that while this type of practice can help her build a certain kind of strength, she did not want to take anyone down as part of her own personal practice. She felt she had witnessed enough war, division and conflict in her lifetime, and that she was ready for a new renaissance of peace and healing. She decided to leave the class instead. That is what her intuition told her.
So much shifts when we start listening to ourselves and knowing how it makes us feel. Being told to take down an opponent was not aligned with Mei’s own path at that moment.
That doesn’t mean that no one should study martial arts or learn combat practices, but it does show that she had the courage to follow her own inner voice, which was leading her to other opportunities that she was ready to experience.
Trekking into the unknown is not just a physical journey—it’s about getting in touch with our courage and humility and discovering our path. This means addressing some of our biggest fears, wounds, and subconscious programming—as well as our unrealized potential.
According to poet David Whyte, “Some things cannot be spoken or discovered until we have been stuck, incapacitated, or blown off course for awhile. Plain sailing is pleasant, but you are not going to explore many unknown realms that way.”