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Last week I wrote about aligning yourself with your mission instead of with the voices in your head that want you to play small and stay safe. 

When you are mission-conscious instead of self-conscious, you can play bigger – do things that feel risky, like, say, marketing if you’re a small business owner (ahem) – because it’s not about you.

But what if it is about you and that’s good news?

Ideas Have a Life of Their Own

In her book Big Magic, Liz Gilbert tells the story of an idea she got for a novel set in the Amazon. She knew the characters and the plot, and she was devoted to the project. 

But life happened, and she put it aside for a long while. When she was finally able to return to it, she immediately discovered that the novel was gone. 

Not the notes. The idea. “The sentient force that inhabits all vibrant creative endeavors had vanished,” she said.

Around the same time, she made fast friends with Ann Patchett, also a brilliant novelist. 

About a year in, they met for lunch. Ann was elbows-deep in her novel set in the Amazon, which she had begun right after she and Liz met. 

This got Liz’s attention. Liz summarized for Ann, for the first time, the story of Liz’s Amazon novel (the one that left her due to neglect). 

Ann stared mutely at Liz. When she was able to speak again, Ann told Liz, for the first time, the story of Ann’s Amazon novel State of Wonder. 

Reader, it was the same story. Not the same genre; the same story: set up, characters, conflicts, themes, the lot! Only a few details differed.

The idea, they concluded, was “officially transmitted” from Liz to Ann on the day they met.

Ideas Choose their Creator, Children Choose their Parents

As long as Liz tended to it, the novel idea stayed with her. But when Liz withdrew her care, it withdrew to find a new home, a suitable and willing co-creator.

Until I encountered this story, I had never thought of ideas as sentient before. But I was persuaded. And I liked it. 

It reminded me of what a mentor once told me about children, that they choose their parents. 

It was liberating! I immediately saw that, if such a choice was being made, it was from some spiritual plane where everything was visible. So, they knew the best and the worst of me. 

And they still picked me. For me. Not for perfection.

“That’s the good news,” she said. “Even better is that they chose you not only for what you can teach them, but for what they can teach you. They want to help you grow, too.”

Boy, have they. From profoundly humbling to exquisitely joyful and everything in between, parenting has been the greatest spiritual path of my life. My children have remade me into a better, wiser person and taught me about what it means to be human. 

And they’re alright, too. (They haven’t left us due to neglect!)

Your Mission Chose You, Too

Creative ideas. Children. Why not missions, too?

If your mission chose you, it chose you for the good and bad in you – your gifts and your growth edges.

Ask yourself now: Why did your mission choose you? 

  • What does it like in you? What makes you a uniquely suitable and willing co-creator with it?

Maybe it was your warm intelligence, the way you bring people together, or your sense of humor and spontaneity. Claim your gifts! When you doubt yourself or lose your way, go back to basics – to the qualities that attracted your mission – and be or do that.

  • What does it want to help develop? What makes it a uniquely suitable and willing co-creator with you?

Maybe you’re shy and you want to be more outgoing; you’re anxious and you want to be calm; or you had an experience that you want to help others through. Claim your growth edge! When the mission gets hard, remember that it’s for you – building you into the person it needs and that you want to be.

That’s the good news: it’s win-win! 

  • The mission isn’t about you, so you can be bold. 
  • The mission is also about you – for and because of you – so you can be brave.

If you’re ready to prioritize your mission in 2023, you’ll need back up. How about a coach who can help you dissolve your barriers and a posse of extraordinary on-mission women to ride with? Check out Be the Heroine, my year long, high-touch mastermind for women who are ready to play bigger.

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