May 2010

“The only thing standing between Greatness and me is me.”

–Woody Allen

Leave it to Woody to state the obvious. But I bet you don’t realize the insidious way countless women (me included) have been keeping ourselves from Achieving Greatness? I call it ATBS–Addicted to Busyness Syndrome.

We women stuff every cranny of our lives with so much activity that we’ve lost touch with what’s really essential and what’s truly irrelevant.

But ask us to lighten our load, actually say no to a task, and we start to panic. As if our world would shatter if we slowed down.  The truth is, we’ve become so controlled by shoulds, oughts, musts, have-tos that we’ve lost sight of what’s honestly important.

As you may know, I’ve spent the last 6 month clearing the clutter from my life. And I’m the first to admit—busyness is a bitch to give up!  Do you know why?  Busyness is the drug of choice for most women.

Without endless activity, we’re left with empty space. And empty space gives rise to painful feelings.  (For me, I felt unproductive, like a failure and a fraud)  Rather than experience the pain, we fill up the spaces. But, as I’ve learned from the last few months, when you stop running from the truth, you start recognizing your power. When you face what you fear, you realize it no longer controls you. When you eliminate the unnecessary, you begin to notice what really matters.

So I ask you….What could you slowly start cutting out of your day?  I’m not telling you to go cold turkey. But I invite you to observe all the needless activities you cram into your life– from constant emailing to extraneous chores.

What if you didn’t load the wash until later in the afternoon? What if you responded to emails only once a day? What if you didn’t answer the phone and instead stared out the window.

Maybe you’ll find what I did. It’s only in stillness that you’ll begin to hear the secrets your soul yearns to share. It’s only in the quiet that you’ll discover the path to Sacred Success™.

This one had me stumped.  I liked the sound of those words: “The Primary Goal for Sacred Success is Achieving Greatness” (see my last blog entry).  But admittedly, I was also intimidated by them.  

I thought of women I considered models of Greatness: Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt,  Betty Friedan.  But I also thought of my daughters—one an organic farmer, another a nursery school teacher, and the oldest a stay-at-home mom. I may be a bit biased, but I honestly see my girls going for Greatness, each in their own way.

So I began asking myself–“what does Greatness mean?”  According to Merriam-Webster, Greatness describes someone who is “remarkable in magnitude, degree or effectiveness.”

Every one of us is capable of remarkable feats. We don’t need to be anything extraordinary.  We do, however,  need to play full out.

Here are what I see as the 15 traits of Greatness:

1.      Greatness refuses to be limited or controlled in any way by fear. (Fear is to greatness what ants are to a picnic… annoying, inevitable, and best ignored)

2.      Greatness follows ideas that come from seemingly nowhere.

3.      Greatness doesn’t act alone. It has partners, collaborators, a team.

4.      Greatness is humble, not to be confused with Grandiosity. Grandiosity comes from the ego and is, as A Course in Miracles tells us, “always a cover for despair.”  Greatness is sourced from the soul and is always a desire to do what it came to earth to do.

5.      Greatness sees the world as it’s playground and every problem as part of The Game…a lawsuit is no more serious that losing a stapler.

6.      Greatness takes its mission (not itself) very seriously, and always puts that mission first.

7.      Greatness truly enjoys Greatness, not just for itself, but for its positive effect on others.

8.      Greatness  respects and appreciates money… sufficient income is necessary to eliminate any distractions for achieving its goals.

9.      Greatness isn’t perfect, and is more than willing not to be. Greatness feeds on self trust (the definition to self-trust: knowing you can clean up what you mess up!).

10. When pain enters Greatness, it’s meant to be a wake-up call.

11. Greatness is kind, but tough, and politely endures criticism.  While Greatness doesn’t need be liked, it demands to be respected.

12. The Arc of Greatness involves many mistakes, failures, wrong turns…they are the steppingstones to  Greatness.

13. Greatness is passion made manifest.  The biggest pitfall to Greatness–doing what you should vs. what you love.

14. Greatness requires responsibility, rejects mediocrity, and resides in the unknown.

15. When Greatness dies, it doesn’t go away. Greatness always leaves a legacy behind.

Anything you’d like to add???

Sacred Success is what my soul had been yearning for.  It just took me a while to figure that out. Perhaps you feel the same. Perhaps, like me and many others, even though you  deeply desire, definitely deserve and will likely reap hefty financial rewards,  you’ve somehow always known there’s more to success than making lots of money.

Sacred Success does not require sacrificing financial reward in order to find fulfillment and meaning.  Quite the contrary. Sacred Success merges higher incomes with a higher calling. Each successful woman I interviewed explicitly expressed her unshakable desire to increase her earnings. Yet her drive was no longer fueled by making more, more, more. . .

Here’s where I got stuck…until I discovered the  Paradox of Sacred Success

The Paradox goes like this: In order to play the game of Sacred Success, you must have a strong profit motive firmly in place….which is essential to overcome underearning and attain financial stability. But…here’s the catch…at this point, you must give up profit as your primary goal.  The Primary Goal for Sacred Success is Achieving Greatness.

Next:  exploring Greatness.

I spent much of last year pondering this question: Why was I—along with scores of other women who’ve overcome underearning—still having difficulty cracking the code to even higher earnings?

Then, one day, it hit me.

Basically, there are three levels of financial development:

  1. Survival—doing whatever it takes to stay afloat
  2. Stability—generating enough cash flow to meet one’s needs, eliminate debt, and establish future security.
  3. Affluence—accumulating ample disposable income to live the life of one’s dreams.

The women I’d interviewed, who made millions,  were playing a very different game than what I had expected.  That’s because men tend to be highly motivated by profit, perks, and prestige. In the male world, the promise of affluence is a powerful incentive.

But not for women.  Once a woman becomes financially stable, she is no longer motivated by money.   What motivates her is helping others…or as numerous women described it, “ a search for significance.”

These are two very different paths to affluence. “Show me the money” versus “Show me how to help.” Too many women—like me—futilely struggle to navigate the first path, without realizing they have another option.

The latter is what I’ve come to call Scared Success™. It is the journey from stability to affluence…the game that is quietly being played by countless women (and, I might add, quite a few enlightened men!).

Stick around, and I’ll tell you exactly how to play!