I had the pleasure of seeing Elizabeth Gilbert speak live in Auckland last weekend, and she was AMAZING! Bucket list item, complete. Liz was hilarious and honest, and there were so many gems from the evening. If you haven’t read her latest book, Big Magic, I suggest you do. It’s all about creativity living beyond fear and embracing curiosity. I highly recommend the audio version, as there’s something wonderful about having Liz read it to you!
Today, I want to share with you three lessons I took away from the evening...
1. Vulnerability creates connection
Liz shared a story about how on her book tour, she’d set herself the challenge to ask everyone she met one question: ‘What are you most excited about right now?’
Unlike relatively meaningless questions such as ‘where are you from?’ and ‘ what do you do?’ this question skips straight to the good stuff. Giving a person space to talk about what really lights them up will show you their authentic self. Vulnerable and honest conversation also creates instant connection - the kind that you’ll rarely experience if you stick to small talk.
Liz was full of funny and moving stories of conversations that had happened as a result of this one simple question. She connected with so many people that she usually would have drifted past. How often do we meet someone, talk to them for five or ten minutes, and come away knowing only superficial details about them?
I had a similar experience at a yoga immersion recently. On the first day, we had to stand in front of the circle and answer three questions:
Why are you here?
What are you most excited about?
What’s one thing in your life that’s challenging right now?
That kind of vulnerability cultivated an instant bond within the group, creating space for dozens of meaningful conversations over the course of the weekend.
So, try it out… next time you meet someone, or even spend time with someone you've known for a while, ask them ‘What are you most excited about right now?’
2. We All Have Enough Time
Someone asked Liz how she balanced working full time with writing when she was starting out. She said one of her mentors gave her a reality check by asking, 'What's your favourite TV show? Not anymore. That party on the weekend? You're not going. You say you want to be a writer, but right now I just see someone with a lot of excuses.’ Sometimes to make time for our dreams we have to say no to things we really want to do. We have to skip that party, that nightly TV binge, that extra hour of sleep. How badly do you want it?
Sometimes to make time for our dreams we have to say no to things we really want to do.
The truth is, we all have the same amount of time, and there’s plenty to go around. We make so many excuses that we fool ourselves into thinking that we actually don't have enough time for what we want to do. The trick is to prioritise - ask yourself what’s more important, spending half an hour on Facebook, or using that time to write, draw or work on your website? Align your actions with your values.
I'm almost a year into running my own biz and I've learned so much about prioritising and saying no. Is it always easy? Hell no. But it’s more than worth it.
3. Do it for the sisterhood
Liz spoke about how, as women, we often find it hard to commit to chasing our dreams. We feel selfish or guilty for prioritising ourselves. She often finds that women will be more motivated if they are reminded of their connection to something bigger - the collective sisterhood.
We have to remember how f***ing lucky we are to have been born in a time and place where, as women, we have the autonomy and means to follow our curiosity.
We are not legally bound to men (be it our fathers, or husbands), we have a political voice, and we have the freedom to shape our own lives as we choose. Do not take this opportunity for granted. Do NOT waste it.
I finally saw the film Suffragette a few weeks ago, and it was a potent reminder of how lucky we are to have the freedom and opportunities that we hold today. Generations of women before us could scarcely have dreamed of the lives many women lead in 2016.
If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your sisters and daughters, who will be empowered to follow their own dreams if they see you following yours.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
- Marianne Williamson
I'd love to hear from you. If you've read Big Magic, what were your biggest takeaways? What are you giving up to be able to prioritise your dreams? What are you committing to?
Personally, I'm committing to daily creative play, even if it's just for 10 minutes. For me, that looks like drawing, painting and mixed media experiments. I'll be sharing some snapshots over on Instagram if you'd like to join me.
Have a wonderful weekend,