Let me tell you a quick story…
This past weekend, I went camping in the Mt. Adams wilderness area at Forlorn Lakes, WA, a remote campground with several small lakes and tent sites.
I had just finished putting up my tent and was settling into my hammock when I saw an old man flip his kayak in the middle of the lake.
The kayak turned over a few times and the man’s grasping hands thrashed about in the water.
I ran down to the mucky, algae infested bank to get a closer look, when I heard him call for help.
I didn’t even think. I dove in the lake, fully clothed and started swimming as fast as I could.
As I paddled towards him, I tried to recall any tips my little brother might have given me from his days as a lifeguard in high school. The only thing I could remember was to not let this man drown ME in a panic.
By the time I was a few paces away, the man had steadied himself by gripping to the bottom of the kayak which was now floating upside down on the water. I slowed my pace — I didn’t want him to grasp on to me — and called that I was almost there and I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him.
When I arrived at the kayak and looked in his eyes, he was in a state of shock — wide eyed and terrified.
I wasn’t sure what to do, but I figured an introduction was a good place to start, so I said, “Hi, I’m Jessica, what’s your name?”
He said, “My name is Jeff.”
By now we had drifted clear to the other side of the lake from my campsite, not far from the bank.
I caught my breath and then said, “Jeff, I want you to look me in the eyes and I want to tell you something really important.”
He turned intently as if I held all the answers to his predicament.
“Jeff,” I said, “I am standing on the bottom.”
What does that story have to do with your search for meaning and purpose in your life’s work?
1. You have to act and make decisions with the best information you have in the present moment.
When I was standing on the bank of the lake watching Jeff thrash about, I had to make a decision with limited information. I didn’t know if I was overreacting, but I made the best decision I could with the information I had.
In achieving your true life’s work, what decision are you putting off? Do you have the necessary information you need to act? Is it time to take the leap?
2. Act in trust that the pathway forward will present itself — have faith that answers will appear.
I acted with the trust that a solution would come to me in the moment when it was needed — it came in the form of my feet hitting the bottom of the lake and, quite literally, I found support.
Do your research, get the information you need, prepare accordingly and act. Have faith that the answers you seek will arrive along the way.
When I made the decision to dive in and swim to Jeff, I didn’t know what the outcome would be. I didn’t know if he TRULY needed my help.
It turns out Jeff really did.
He was at least 70 years old, disabled with a bad back and weak legs AND he didn’t know how to swim. He was camping with his sons who also didn’t know how to swim and couldn’t help him. In his excitement to fish, he had forgotten his life vest.
What if I hadn’t acted? What if I had stood there wavering?
So, what needs rescuing in your career?
What decision about your life’s work do you keep putting off?
What is begging for your attention and a decision to be made?
Act and trust that the truest and best path will present itself AND that you can handle whatever happens.
I believe in you.