My Big Hairy Audacious Tiny, Sweet Thing

Baby Sumatran Orangutan with arms rased

You know it’s funny, how sometimes our lives seem to go in circles.

Except sometimes, the circles are really spirals, they bring us to a higher level of whatever it is.

This is something that came out very powerfully for me tonight as I thought about an idea that I’d been fantasizing about for many years, except this time I wasn’t just thinking about it as a dream, but rather as a goal. A gigantic, hairy, audacious goal, but a goal nonetheless. About a week ago in the first session of the Cash and Joy Provocateurs, Catherine Caine asked me to do just that. She asked each of us in the group to share our Big Harry Audacious Goal. It wasn’t something I had thought much about, but after just a moment I realized that there is one thing that kept coming up in different ways almost for as long as I can remember, and I knew that this was my BHAG.

I want to share it with you, but I also need to understand that while this goal is tremendous at the moment it’s very much what Havi calls “a tiny, sweet thing.” So it needs to be handled with care, and that’s what I’m doing here.

So what is this thing?

It’s an event, actually a series of events, each one with over 10,000 people in attendance. A sort of rally of transformation, alchemy, wonder, spirit and outright magic.

I can feel how my whole life is leading to this point, for me to be standing on the stage telling stories, weaving processes of spiritual alchemy, as we gently but powerfully allow the shifts within each of us to take the next steps becoming even more ourselves.

This isn’t just a speech, or a workshop. It’s a fully immersive experience. We use lighting, projections, sound and other tools of the theater to create an environment which envelops everyone who attends, and completely surrounds them. This environment can change and morph from one moment to the next as the stories and dreams unfold.

I could go on and on, I think I have shared what wants to be shared at the moment about this.

Let me answer some questions that you might be thinking before I go:

When will this happen?

I don’t know, it will happen when it’s ready, and I’m ready.

Where will it be? How much will it cost? Where do I sign up?

I’m thrilled that you’re interested, but I don’t really know that either.

Don’t you realize that this will never work? That events like this are too expensive, too hard, crazy, or whatever?

I truly appreciate your concern, and I’m not trying to do this next week. I know that there’s a lot to it, and that there are probably lots of places where things can go wrong (there are in every endeavor, large or small.) But please understand that the biggest mistake I could make is to not do this, it is the calling of my heart.

Can I help?

Maybe? Probably? I’m not in a place yet to look for partners, or people to help, or even know what kind of help I would be looking for. However, that will change, when the time comes, so watch this space. If you like, leave a note in the comments about your interest, and I’ll keep you in mind.

Today I want to be very specific about what kind of comments I’m looking for. As I said, this is a tiny, sweet thing, which needs to be protected and cared for as it grows and solidifies. I would love your support, and if reading this sparks something super exciting in you, I’d love to hear about that too. If you think I’m nuts, you’re probably right, but please, keep it to yourself for the moment. I’m not looking for advice, criticism, or even really suggestions, I most love to hear how this resonates with you, in your heart, if there’s something you truly feel moved to share.

Thank you for letting me share my Big Hairy Audacious Goal with you. Don’t be surprised if I don’t talk about this much for a while, then again don’t be surprised if I do. I’m just excited to see how my tiny, sweet thing grows.

Is an “adult” what I want to be?

I had a major realization today. I realized that since I was a small child, all I’ve wanted to be is an adult. I had very little interest in most of the things that “children” did: sports, playing with other children my age and so forth. I always felt like I related better to the adults around me than to those who were supposed to be my peers. I never really felt they were my peers. As a second grader, I didn’t want to learn soccer, I learned computer programming.

Being Adult
Creative Commons License photo credit: young_einstein

Some aspects of this have been a wonderful gift to me throughout my life, I’ve developed my technical and creative skills, and had the opportunity to do some really wonderful things at a remarkably young age.

But this is all familiar territory for me, today was something new.

Today I realized that maybe being a “responsible adult” was not really what I wanted. It had never occurred to me to consider any other possibility, and even as I write these words my monsters (to use Havi’s term) are going crazy yelling at me: “how could you want to be anything but a responsible adult, what else is there that it would be reasonable to be?”

Today I unpacked the meaning of the words “responsible adult” to me.

I came to understand something really powerful in the process of doing this. I realized that in my mind “responsible adult” was nothing more than societal programming, the set of rules that I absorbed unconsciously from the time I was a tiny baby I’m watching the people around me and drawing conclusions about the rules that they operated by based on what I saw. One of the things that’s interesting to note, is that at the time that I was receiving this programming unknowingly I was not in a position to really understand or analyze what was happening. My two or three or four-year-old brain didn’t understand why people were doing what they did, and some of the conclusions it came to are really not useful to me.

For instance:

Urgency should be the key driver of my decision-making. If the phone rings, it needs to be answered immediately. If an e-mail comes in, it needs to be responded to immediately. If someone needs something from me it’s my responsibility to deliver it instantaneously regardless of what else is going on. This is not useful, at least not to me.

Another example:

The only way to be even remotely okay is to be perfect. Less-than-perfect is completely unacceptable. Once again, this is something which is so limiting since perfection, in the sense I’m referring to it here, is not something that I can ever reasonably expect to reach.

Here’s one that really hit home:

When I’m not able to do something easily and naturally, it means that I’m bad, I’m not good enough. Not only should I be doing things easily and naturally, I should be doing them in a way which is unique, but not too different from how other people do them, because that’s not okay either.

All of a sudden I started to understand why I felt painted into a corner so much of the time.

So what now?

Think the most important thing is to recognize that these things which have been part of my worldview till now don’t have to stay a part of my worldview. I find it hard to put into words, but just identifying and articulating is already changing them even as I write this post.

I’ve also become aware, that it would be helpful to encourage myself to be willing to do things in a more childlike way, at least some of the time. This is something I’ve known before, even something I’ve taught when I’ve worked with other people, but I’ve never really given myself permission to do it myself.

Wow, that feels really big. I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

Come play with me?

This is big stuff, when we talk about programming, and change work, and particularly our own internal process, it often brings up things both for ourselves and other people. If my processing my stuff has triggered you in a way that’s uncomfortable, I’m truly sorry and that is not my intention. This is also not advice, sometimes I do give advice here–talking about how to integrate storytelling into life and business, or maybe about how to make technical things work better, for example–but this is not advice. This is nothing more, and nothing less than me sharing my process.

I would love to hear your responses, or any parts of your process you want to share that were sparked by this in the comments below. So come play with me.