Updated: Jun 11, 2019
Last week I ran an event for charity.
It was a huge undertaking and I was so happy with how it went that I felt high for a week…
I have never done anything like this in my life. Sure, I’ve donated, and I supported other people’s endeavours, and about 7 years ago with my husband Jesse Wilde I even committed to donate 10% of what we earned to charity. That’s all well and good, but I have never before stood up to be counted and said “I see a problem and it needs to be solved.”
I’m not telling you this to say how great I am, or even to try to inspire you that you should do the same. What occurred for me was a profound shift in how I experienced myself.
For the last 10 years I’ve had a fascination with how people operate, how they show up in the world and the results that they get. When I deliver my keynote “Wake up your WOW” I ask people to rate themselves based on their energy, confidence, and motivation most of the time. Typically, people are a solid 7/10 – pretty good or “good enough”. That’s how human beings operate.
I started to wonder what would happen if every person who rated themselves as a 7/10 could raise their game to a 9/10 (since a lot of people don’t think that they can operate at a maximum 10 out of 10 all of the time). And I became fixated on the idea that if we were all operating better (and by that I mean in a happier way with less effort because we were energised by our lives) – then there would be plenty of extra resources to help people in need.
So, I put it to the test for myself by running my own charity project.
What I discovered through the journey shocked me. I had thought that if I could motivate, force or cajole myself to operate at 10 out of 10, I would have spare resources to help a charity, but what I discovered was that if I ran an incredible charity event I would experience myself as 10 out of 10. For the rest of the week once the charity event was out of the way, I felt powerful in everything I chose to do. Boring tasks were quickly dispensed with, procrastination had no place, and even doing majesty return was a delight!
There are a bunch of principles that could be called “leadership lessons” or something similar and you know that they make logical sense. But it is not until you put yourself out on a limb to achieve something bigger than you are that you fully appreciate these principles at work in your own life.
I realised all at once just how small I am and yet how big I can be.
The event I ran was a multi-speaker event in support of the charity that works to prevent child suicide. I became emotionally involved in the stories of children who had died or who had survived, the people at work to prevent these tragedies and the alarming scale of the problem.
When I thought of putting on this event by myself, I felt a sense of impending doom – it’s a big thing to pull off! So I put together a management team that included myself and 6 of the most inspiring yet diverse people I knew. When we held our first meeting, I felt somewhat in awe of what I had managed to create just by putting all these people in the same room around the table!
It was a little tricky to manage a project of this scale on top the demands of our “real lives”, so somehow I had to keep the vision real enough for people that it mattered to us all equally.
I’ve got to tell you that it was quite the rollercoaster but the experience was incredible. It was a quick snapshot of what I learned – not just intellectually but at a deeply profound experiential level:
Ask for help – yes, you’re great as super-capable and you are, but you could be so much greater if you are willing to ask for the things you need. Strangely, as soon as your endeavours are for charity, you somehow have less hesitation about asking for help. But what would your life be like if you always ask for help when you needed it.
Play as if your life depended on it – I use the word “play” because really life is a game that we are participating in and sometimes we get carried away with how terribly serious we think it should be. Imagine that you always incorporated the spirit of play, yet you really played full out. Imagine that you totally got that it was super important, and that it really matters how you show up. For one thing it helps you embrace tasks that you may not want to do otherwise. When the going got tough on my project I reminded myself that people may literally live or die depending on what actions I was willing to take.
The sum of the parts is bigger than the whole – the compound effect of all the people involved created something magical that was completely unpredictable and hard to measure. It seemed that some invisible force was at work. When the sequence of speeches unfolded, it seemed like they had been carefully crafted to dovetail together, when in fact we had held one face-to-face meeting. Is it possible that when like-minded people pulled together for something bigger than ourselves, some mysterious quantum physics law is at work?
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