It was a June night; my family was outside enjoying one of the first warm days of our soon-to-be Michigan summer. And I was inside, experiencing a spark to my soul, something so profound that it brought tears to my eyes. I stood there, dish cloth limply hanging from my hand, completely overcome by the truth of it: writing is what I feel called to do.
Although the thought seemed to come out of nowhere, in reality, it had lain dormant for quite some time. I had been working for months with a coach who was helping me redefine my business pursuits. For any of you who have worked with a personal coach, you know it’s important to “do the work”: Dig deeply. Be introspective. Look at uncomfortable facets of one’s life. Inventory one’s strengths. Call forth the gremlins into the daylight and vanquish them.
And I had done that for nearly two years and still, nothing quite fit. I’d come close a few times to feeling that inspiration—the pursuit that was more vocation than occupation. But there was never that visceral feeling of Yes, that’s it!!
Until when, at last, for the briefest of moments, in a moment of mundane housework, I got out of my head (finally!) and the purest of truths was allowed its voice. I want to be a writer. There it was, plain as day. It was my truth, my essence: my greatest love is using words to make a difference. I had finally listened to the voice inside of me and acknowledged my gifts.
So, then the question for me was, what to do with that truth? How in the world would I go about finding a way to get paid to do what I love? Lots of people write and many write for free. It turns out that the writing found me. Exactly two weeks after I finally listened to my heart, I received an inquiry for what would be the first of several paid writing gigs.
My colleague Jon Mertz has written a book called Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders and in it, he describes what I experienced that June night as a “Soul Spark” — “those small ignitions of inspiration that fan into big changes, new directions or fresh works.” Jon writes that Soul Sparks are important to us as individuals because they help us ignite an interest that we may have set aside, or possibly just didn’t know was there.
My Soul Spark experience helped me realize:
- Fear shows up disguised as “reasons not to do this thing”; be sure your reason isn’t really an excuse
- Souls Sparks aren’t always loud, insistent drum beats. They can occur at the most unexpected moments
- When you open your mind to the possibility of your spark, it’s fanned into something more tangible
Beyond our own Soul Sparks, if you are a leader, you can play an additional role. “As leaders, we need to find ways to create this spark in others,” writes Jon. On the Thin Difference blog, Jon and his team highlight people who have shared their Soul Spark stories. As you read these stories, you’ll see that Soul Sparks are as unique as the people who experience them. Read the summaries at The Leadership Challenge: Soul Sparks and see how you can make a difference in your lives, and the lives of others if you choose to listen.
Food for Thought: Is there an inner voice that you’re ignoring?
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