There was another fabulous visionSPARK workshop this past Saturday. I tell you, if I could exist in visionSPARK workshops, just move from one to another for the rest of my life, I would. The participants have been so amazing and what has come out of each workshop has had its own nuance which leads it to be uniquely powerful. It is cool, cool stuff for which I am honored to be present.
This past Saturday, the not uncommon issue of saying no came up: how hard it is to do, how much trepidation it gives us to do it, the discomfort.
One participant shared that she now just always says, “I need to get back to you,” when she’s asked to do something so that she can have some quiet time on her own to discern whether or not she wants to do it and to come up with an answer.
I then shared with the group how I had recently been asked to serve on a board whose work I think is incredibly important but whose work isn’t my calling. I was also asked by someone I really respect and the invitation was primed with accolades about what I could offer the board.
“Oh my,” I fretted. “They really want me. I’ll need to let them down easy.” And so I composed a long, over engaged email of all the ways that I was just too maxed out and how that would keep me from being a productive member of their board. While their reply wasn’t this brief or direct, basically, what I heard back was, “Do you know another Latina who could join us?” Oh, it wasn’t about me at all. Just my ethnicity.
After I relayed that story of all my fretting, I shared that most people are really ready for our nos, more ready than we realize– it is a bigger deal to us to say no than it is for someone to hear no. Once we understand that, it becomes a little easier to say no.
For me, though, there was another issue of guilt in saying no. The idea that this- whatever I am being asked to do- should be of primary importance to me, too. That I should not just care more but do more about the issue and that if I didn’t do more when the opportunity presented itself, well, then, I wasn’t all that good of a person.
Except for I don’t think that is how the world works at all.
I have shared with you that I think we\’re all here on purpose. That we are each meant to be a part of healing the world\’s pain. And that we each have a unique way that we are meant to be doing that. I think the key for each of us is to find how we are supposed to be plugged into the world and to do that with all of our might and energy and reverence. And, then, what we say to the people whose purpose is different from ours– let’s say my purpose is saving the endangered leatherback and basically do everything I can to improve the world’s water situation and someone else’s is to educate and encourage local eating– is “Go. Do everything you can about promoting local eating. Knock it out the park and do it without fear that something is falling through the cracks because I am here doing everything I can to save the leatherback turtle and our oceans and Sally is over there doing everything she can to improve our school system and Jon is over there making sure that everyone knows about fire safety. Let’s just all do our part and by doing that we tackle everyone’s needs.”
Because here’s the truth: if we all find our thing, our purpose, and then if we all just give our things the absolute best we’ve got, then the world will hum along more smoothly, not needing millions of us to head PTA but just the ones who can do it with gusto while those who can do something else with gusto are doing that. The key, I believe, is not for us to spread our purpose so far out that the amount of energy we have left is so thin that everything is done partially. The key is to pour ourselves into our purpose and have faith that everyone around us will do that, too.
What’s the thing to which you feel inspired to give the best you’ve got (and don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be fancy or involve turtles, oceans, or local food)? Are you giving it the amount of energy you want to give it? Do you feel ready to say no to things that don’t align with who and how you are in the world? Do you have a telling no story to share?