A Straight Line or a Wandering Path? Mapping the story of your life so far

I wonder if we are still giving children and young people the message that a “successful” life is and should be a straight line? 
I know I certainly got that message when I was growing up. And for a very long time, right into my early 30’s, I defined myself as a failure. By the time I finished high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I just knew I hated school and would never go to school again.
So I started working full time in an office. It was an entry level job with a good company. All I had to do was work hard and apply myself and I would get a chance to change roles, get promoted and even go to day-release college, paid for by the company. I hated it.
What I learned was, I couldn’t do work I didn’t care about, regardless of the pay cheque or opportunities. So I went back school to finish Grade 13 (prerequisite for university at the time). I still had no idea what I wanted to do. My sister pointed me in the direction of a program that focused on the outdoors. Since I loved being outside in nature, I enrolled.
By the 3rd year of a 4 year program, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I had a work term coming up. All I knew was that I wanted to spend it outside of Canada. I was dreaming of Australia, New Zealand or Europe. Turned out to be the U.S. It was closer to home than I had wanted but it was outside of Canada, so I accepted a teaching internship at an environmental learning centre. And everything clicked. Literally, I felt my inner world click into place.
Every element of my life that meant anything to me, that I cared deeply about and filled me with joy, suddenly turned on. All of a sudden I had a deep, burning passion. I found my bliss. I found my career. I became an environmental educator.
My university program prepared me perfectly for what I was learning in this teaching internship. That 4 month internship led directly to a 4 month summer contract, which included program design and implementation. All of this prepared me for my 4th and final year of the undergrad program. I came out of university with an outstanding CV and within months of graduating, I was working in my chosen field.
But I still felt like a failure because it took me so long to get to where I was and I hadn’t walked a straight line path. I felt I should have been able to do this faster and better if only I was smarter, worked harder or learned faster.
I started teaching at a leadership centre in the summer months between school years. There, I got introduced to story mapping. This is the process of looking back in time and mapping the journey that got you to where you are in the current moment.
The first time I did this, I mapped the story of my whole life, from the time I was born to the day I did this exercise. It was a revelation. While I had lived my life up to this point with little to no clarity and no plan whatsoever, I had actually been on a journey that prepared me for the life I was living and the work I passionately loved. The journey was beautiful. It looked like I had actually thought carefully and planned out the whole thing to get me to where I was in that moment.
In reflecting on my story map, I had an instant, deep and unshakable knowing I was in exactly the right place, living the right life, being my authentic self in the world. I stopped defining myself as a failure. I started accepting that some lives, mine in particular, are successful when they follow a wandering path, rather than a straight line. I looked in the mirror and saw success.
That deep sense of knowing has supported me in the 3 decades since as I continue on the hero’s journey that is my life. My path continues to wander. I have taken many extremely unexpected turns. I have navigated two major phases of transformation. And I have returned to the story map exercise to help me gain clarity, make meaning of my experiences and most importantly, to anchor the knowing that I am in the right place, at the right time, experiencing the right things for my authentic hero’s journey. In the end, all will be well.
The global pandemic has disrupted pretty much all of our lives. For some, that disruption is huge and may even feel catastrophic. If you are in a place where you can’t make sense of what is happening, you don’t know what to do next, you may even feel like you’ve wasted your life up to this point, I strongly suggest you map your story. To help you, we created a module called, “Answering the Call”. It’s Chapter One of our Hero’s Journey program.
I am positive when you step back and look at your story map, you will gain perspective, you’ll see connected dots you didn’t know were there and I hope you feel that deep sense of knowing that you are in exactly the right place at the right time. You are perfectly prepared for whatever life is presenting you. In the end, all will be well.
And when you do this, let me know how the experience was for you. You’ll find me and others who are living their lives on purpose, the hero’s of their own journeys, in the Flow Network Community on Facebook.
Keep shining. The world needs all the light we can generate.
#livinglifeonpurpose #herosjourney #flownetwork #ubu #consciousleadership #selfreflection #buidlingfromtheinsideout
Post first published on Sharon’s web site. 

Wealth or Wellbeing? Which Matters Most?

When we named these resources, created for consultants, coaches and trainers to use with their own clients, the Mechanics of FLOW2, we thought it was the absolute perfect name. We were confident the name would make perfect sense to everyone.

So we were a little surprised when people asked, “Why wealth and wellbeing? What does wellbeing have to do with building a business? How do these resources deliver on both?” And most importantly, “Where am I in this?”

Which comes first?

The more we thought about this feedback, the more we realised these are really relevant and powerful questions that we all need to ask ourselves. Which is most important? Wealth or Wellbeing? Which comes first? Which do I prioritise?

At first glance, it’s easy to assume that obviously, wealth feeds wellbeing. If I don’t have enough money, I am not going have any wellbeing because I will be too busy trying to survive.

Even if you are reading this and thinking that isn’t what you believe, pause and really look at where you’re spending your time and money. We have had many, many clients who deeply believe that taking care of their health, spending time with family and friends, wellbeing, is most important.

And yet, when they take the time to really look at where they spend their time, money and attention, they prioritise making money over wellbeing. Because they have a deep-seated, unconscious belief that wellbeing follows wealth.

You can’t sustain one without the other

Wealth and wellbeing go together. Each person defines wealth and wellbeing differently. There is not one universal dollar amount, span of time or set of activities that every human defines as wealth and that delivers wellbeing.

What is universal is this:

Wealth cannot be generated and business success cannot be sustained without a foundation of wellbeing for the business and the people working in it. Without a deep well of resilience, of wellbeing, when challenges hit the business and resources, money, time, energy and passion begin to run dry, people collapse. When people collapse, businesses collapse.

Your turn

How do you define wealth? How do you define wellbeing? Most importantly, which are you prioritising in your life and your business? If you are driven to build a business, if you have a strong passion leading you and a desire to make impact, you need both, wellbeing and wealth, to realise your dream.

Get started!

Begin by investing 10 minutes in you and work through this free module. By the end you will have defined wellbeing and wealth for yourself and created a simple and powerful action plan that will get you moving towards your vision of flow and sustained success.

If you want more, download our complimentary magazine and check out the video resources in our module library.

The world needs you

We are living through exciting and challenging times. The world needs as many conscious, awake people living on purpose, in flow as possible. Your vision, your passion, you, will make a difference when you are living them in the world. Here’s to your continued success.

Sharon Gilmour-Glover is a consultant, educator and speaker. Her greatest passion is helping leaders with a vision bigger than themselves expand their capacity for success. Visit Sharon to learn more.