Every year, about this time, I select a set of words to represent my intentions for the next twelve months. For 2014, I chose three: sufficiency, service, and invitation. Before I leave this year behind and select a new set of intention words, I wanted to share how navigating a year by these three words affected me.
I selected the word ‘sufficiency’ as a way of expressing the concept of enough. “Sufficiency isn’t an amount,” writes Lynne Twist, “It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough and that we are enough.” I wanted to experience sufficiency as a context in every aspect of my life: financially, spiritually, psychologically, physically.
Paradoxically, one of the ways I went about pursuing my financial experience of sufficiency was to do something really crazy: I stopped charging for my services. Instead, in January 2014, I started giving all my services to my clients as gifts. In return, if they wished, my clients were free to reward my services based on their satisfaction, gratitude, and means. I call this approach The Gratitude Model. Long story short: I’ve been very happy with the results. Some clients pay me more than I used to charge and others pay me a lot less. My business grew by leaps and bounds in 2014 and I’ve been blessed with many new clients as well as a number of organizations—all without any real marketing effort on my part. In fact, this is the first time I’ve made my unconventional business model public.
As I’ve worked with sufficiency, I’ve come to realize that I have too many possessions. More-than-enough has come to feel bloated and uncomfortable to me. As a result, I’ve started seeking ways to share what I have with others by giving away items I no longer need or use. After reading The Parable of the Iron Pan, I was inspired to learn more about the New Economy and to think about how I can make my own small contributions to a more just and fair economic system. I’m looking into Wonolo and other skills sharing hubs to hire help for my growing business.
My life of service flows directly out of sufficiency. Because I have enough, I’m free to serve—to give of myself generously and wholeheartedly. Although I understood at the outset that sufficiency and service were strongly intertwined, I underestimated their capacity for synergy.
Sufficiency, especially as expressed by the Gratitude Model, gave me the freedom to openly pursue opportunities for service. In the past, I felt reluctant to approach organizations with the offers of my gifts but not any more! By embracing sufficiency, I lost the need for recognition, praise, or approval for my service; it simply became part of how I live my life. As a result, I became more engaged, more joyful, and more generous in sharing myself with others.
I chose the word ‘invitation’ because I wanted to cultivate an awareness of being invited as well as my ability to invite others. Invitation seemed like a natural companion to service. As it turned out, sufficiency granted me the freedom to turn down invitations that weren’t right for me even as I was issuing invitations to those I wanted to serve. Not only that, but when my invitations were rebuffed, I was much less hurt by that.
I didn’t leave my equanimity about invitations—getting and giving, being accepted or rejected—to chance. One of my affirmations was, “When I am rejected or passed over, I know that it isn’t because I’m not good enough or not successful.” By reiterating my trust in sufficiency, I was able to keep failure in perspective. This was a great victory for me because in the past, I would use failure as an excuse to beat myself up and feed my self-doubt.
Not that I make New Year’s resolutions, but when anyone asked me what mine were for 2014, I said: “Overcome self-doubt.” I’ve come to realize that I can’t completely get rid of self-doubt but I can be more “self-doubt resilient.” By improving my awareness of what self-doubt feels like, I am able to intervene more quickly and stop the cycle of emotional self-abuse before it gains momentum. Of all the obstacles I’ve encountered in my life and career, self-doubt has been, by far, the most destructive.I didn’t anticipate how effective these three words—sufficiency, service, and invitation—were going to be in my battle against self-doubt.
As a new year dawns, why not choose a set of words to express your intentions for 2015? You are invited to enjoy a 30-minute coaching session by phone and I’ll guide you through a reflection and review aimed at inspiring your thoughts about your intentions for the coming year. While 2014 will be left behind, my commitment to sufficiency, service, and invitation are on-going. Let me know how I can serve you!