How to take a leap (of faith)
My favorite month of the year is here! September has arrived once again, and with it, a fresh start. Children are heading back to school, the season is shifting, and if you’re like me, you may be feeling your inner call to create something new, make some changes before the last leaf hits the ground and everything goes into hibernation mode. September always marks a brand new year in my calendar.
Taking a leap of faith is a topic that’s always in my heart at this time of year, probably because fresh starts mean committing to brand new and exciting things. A leap of faith means deciding to do something (different) where you cannot know the outcome... and for that reason it can feel impossible to make.
So many of us stand on the edge of the cliff squinting through the clouds below, waiting for clarity that will only come after you leap. It is our natural state (in fact an primal need) to establish security... and let’s not forget that comfort is way easier than discomfort. A leap of faith, the kind we are talking about here, can only be met by the depth of your desire. A mere goal is not going to make you leap (sorry, spoiler alert).
So what have you been aching for? What runs so deep into your core that you actually shuffled your feet to the edge of that cliff? What will it take for you to leap?
I recently went on a late summer hike with my copywriter Brittany, and she told me this story that really set this whole conversion in motion. (That’s what happens when you get out in nature with your favorite people and have deep conversations). She has a relative who works on private jets, and he agreed to give her and a few friends a tour of the hangar where he worked, among them an entrepreneurial friend she had collaborated with on projects in the past.
As they were walking around this magnificent display of expensive planes, her friend gushed about how amazing it would be to have a private jet. He posited different scenarios to her: Imagine he could fly her halfway across the country just for a meeting? Private jets weren’t really her thing, but she had fun entertaining the idea. However, she noticed how serious he was about this lifestyle, even as he was joking… he wanted the wealth, the parties, the drinks, the high life.
As they wandered around on the buffered concrete floor, he suddenly turned to her and asked: “Do you like your clients?” She knew he’d been struggling with some of his clients, and she answered him honestly: Yes, she loved all her clients. “What makes them so likeable?” he asked. She said she enjoyed working with them to bring their visions to life through writing. She loved coming up with words to describe what was on their hearts and seeing the results. She had carefully chosen to work with people she resonated with, because she knew this is where she would do her best work. After all, she had also worked with some difficult people in the past and had spent a lot of time figuring out who she most enjoyed working with and where her gifts really flourished.
She turned his question back to him. He hesitated and answered that his clients were ok… after all, he added with a wink, they paid him a lot. She didn’t buy his smile, knowing how stressful his work life must be. Who would want to wake up every morning and work on projects they didn’t like, and answer to people who were anxiety-inducing? She asked him why he did what he did for a living. He responded that he had developed a service he could offer at a high rate. It was his goal to eventually make a lot of passive money, and maybe, he added, one day even buy a private jet. After all, his aspirations were high. When she told me this story, she mentioned how strange it felt to find herself in this plane hangar, talking about passion versus money.
This is where the leap of faith comes in. When you’re deciding whether to do something big, like start a business, it is your passion and intuition that drive you to say YES and jump. It is logic, in the form of money, that tethers you to the ground. This is why most of us begin our entrepreneurial journey with a single question that I’ve come to recognize as harmful: “Can I make a living doing this?”
Even if you crunch some numbers and answer yes to this question, it marks the difference between going for what you really want and settling for something you don't want at all. It’s the distinction between seeking fulfillment and seeking success. Success is a word I avoid when speaking about my services, because to me, promising success is too tangled up with profits.
Don’t get me wrong, profits are important, but I would consider it a failure if I helped you get more money at the expense of your fulfillment. In my opinion, the best journey you can have is one where you lead with fulfillment, which means standing inside your purpose and commitment every day, and living the beautiful reality you have crafted by listening to your heart, not your head.
When you find yourself unable to make a leap of faith, it’s likely because the voice of money in our culture is drowning out what really matters– your vision, your passion, your dedication to a cause, and the natural gift you have to make this happen. We all feel the pressure to prove we are logical and money-savvy; however, women feel this especially sharply, because we are naturally more intuitive and emotion-driven, which isn’t widely considered in line with good business practice.
I watch women go out of their way to inject so much logic into a situation that they risk blocking themselves from ever taking a leap of faith, which I think is a shame. Women in a state of flow with their own abundance and creative power have so much to teach the world.
Let me stand on my soapbox and declare that it’s my purpose to encourage more purpose, more passion, and more leaps of faith, because I see that leading with money as the sole method of calculating success has created a lot of problems in our world, including money-making for the sake of money-making, environmental disaster, mindless living, and a lot of depression and despondency.
Back to the story above. I find it interesting to see the differences between my copywriter and her friend in the way they choose clients, and how that seems to influence and be influenced by their values and focus. Brittany began with the question: “Why do I want to do this?” She committed to finding clarity in this area before anything else. She experimented by working with a few different people, and, because she was fully committed to discovery and following her unique gifts she was able to narrow her focus and now works with people she loves. Her clients also love her, and trust her with their message because her sense of purpose is so strong. Because of these strong relationships, she will always be able to attract more clients. She is living in fulfillment, and she feels more confident with each leap of faith she takes.
On the other hand, her friend led with the question: “Can I make a living doing this?” He answered that yes, he could, and immediately moved onto to the next step: “How can I make even more money?” His leap of faith never happened because he had no faith– he didn’t trust that his vision was enough. The choice he made was based on fear of scarcity and failure. Because of this, his single-minded focus on profits has led him to accept clients he struggles to work with, as well as projects he doesn’t love. However, he feels like he can’t let them go because of the price tag attached to that work. He has felt overworked and lost for a while now. In our society, however, his choice to continue down this road is not only seen as reasonable but admirable.
The bottom line is this: it’s not about the money! When we stand inside our commitment and trust our intuition, the money will come. This is what a real leap of faith looks like: tossing aside the calculator and believing that everything will work out when you focus on serving the world with your unique gifts, being you just the way you are. I often say to my clients that more money may not come in expected ways– it might come in the form of getting a really great deal on a new car or house, developing environmental values that lead to buying less junk, stumbling across a great opportunity through word of mouth, or finding a deal through your work that allows you to get funding for things like travel.
Leaps of faith are not so rare. A good example of a leap of faith many of us take is travelling! Think about it– to travel means to leave comfort and routine behind and exchange it for novelty, brand new experiences, and the unknown. Travelling is not a great investment logically… you spend money and bring back nothing. So what makes you fork out your hard-earned cash for an experience? It’s your intuition, your passion, that knows how much you will gain from travel.
I decided to go backpacking by myself years ago, and it changed my life. I realized that how I feel is entirely up to me and my mindset. I didn’t want to rely on the external world for my sense of achievement or happiness anymore. It’s up to me whether I feel abundant or resource-poor, excited about the future or bitter about the past, courageous or trapped, mindful or distracted. When I left the country with only a bit of cash, I placed all my trust in the knowledge that it was going to be fine– no, it was going to be wonderful– and that even if I didn’t know what was to come, I knew that all was well.
I urge you to set aside your calculator and focus your energy on what you want more of and what you want to give. Maybe you want freedom of time and space. Maybe you want to work in a different industry, with different people, and a hone a craft that up until now has been a hobby. What difference do you want to make in someone’s life? What quality can you bring to them that will improve their world? Start there, and leap!
Check out my 90 day online experience with a community of like minded women discovering your gifts and purpose and designing a life serving your tribe. It’s appropriately labeled the LEEP :) bit.ly/taketheleep. Enrollment closes September 15 2018.