"What do you do when you're doing you're best and it's not enough?" - Keith Urban in an interview in Rolling Stone
Been there, done that. More than once. There are words I could use to describe that feeling that are not very polite. It's a scary, potentially debilitating experience. People choose options at that point that can include numbing out, checking out, stuffing feelings, or going into what can be described as the dark night of the soul. I used to think of this as falling into a pit and having no idea how to get out. It is what happens when you place all your expectations on the outcome.
Keith Urban goes on to describe his "dark night" that involved drug and alcohol abuse and much soul-searching. And thankfully, like many others, he discover that it was not a pit, but a tunnel he was stuck in, and with tunnels there are ways out. Gratefully he has found his way to the other side and is now an example to others of learning to use what has been given you, without the expectations.
I can so very much relate.
A few years back, I had an idea, one I felt was absolutely divinely inspired. It was for a place for women to come together to learn, to connect and to relax. All was going beautifully, until I ran out of money to keep it afloat. To say I was devastated was an understatement. How could this be? I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was doing my best... and it was evidently not good enough. Shutting those doors was a crushing experience for me -- a true dark night of the soul. And one that took years for me to recover from.
But recover I did, and here are some things I learned from the process:
1. Let go of expectations.
Just because you think you know how things should turn out, there is always Murphy's Law. It is important to plan, to do your very best at anticipating what could possibly happen. But it is equally important to let go of the need for it to go a certain way. If you don't, you run the risk of finding yourself in an unwelcome position.
2. Timing is everything.
Part of my business woes involved the market crash of 2008. Yes, timing is everything. However, there is also the part where perhaps your market is not ready for your idea yet. Just because I think I know when something should happen, it doesn't necessarily mean that the rest of world is in step as yet.
3. Things done from a place of core belief and integrity are rarely done in vain.
While that iteration of my belief in the power of women did not pan out, it laid the groundwork for what I am doing today. And I am confident that what I am doing today is only a stepping stone to what could be out there tomorrow.
Trust God, your Higher Power, the process...whatever works for you. Believe that things happen for a reason and you are only seeing part of the puzzle. Know that there is something else around the corner and that yes, this is a tunnel, not a pit.
5. Be Grateful.
Take stock of what DID work. Of who you met, who helped you, what is now available to you that wasn't before you started this journey.
6. Give yourself time to recover.
I am so grateful to have allowed myself the time to grieve and recover. I put no time limits on the process and just continued on with my life on a different path. People showed up out of the blue to help me. It took longer that I would have planned it to to get back where I am today, but in hindsight, I wouldn't have been ready a minute sooner. Give time time.
You just never know where life will lead you when you use your gifts and talents and do your best. Keith Urban may have hit bottom when he first went to Nashville, but he has rebounded to be one of the top Country artists. Muhammad Ali had his title stripped from him when he followed his beliefs, but came back to not only regain his title, but to go on to do humanitarian work around the world. History is full of stories of people who have done their best, failed, and then come back even stronger.
If life is a journey, there are sure to be a few detours along the path. If we expect to get to Akron and keep focused only on that, we may miss that opportunity to get to Paris instead. I'm here for a glorious ride and am looking forward to what is just around the next corner!