One of my favourite authors is James Hillman. He believes that each of us has a unique character and calling, that we are all here to make a unique contribution to the world. He tells us that within each of us lies something secret and mystical; he calls this the “acorn”. In this acorn is housed our destiny, who we are meant to be. Most people never find it, but if we are true to ourselves, and stop trying to repress who we are to please others, one day it will crack wide open. He’s a philosopher, radical psychologist, and all round mystic who wants us to know that we “dull our lives by the way conceive them”.
I’ve been working towards cracking my acorn for some years now. I took a redundancy from a marketing director role that paid extremely well 12 months ago to push this journey forward. I am patient, and I’ve just turned a corner. All that doubt and uncertainty has led me directly to my big idea – it’s much bigger than I ever imagined. I’m not crazy; I’ve done some pretty hard yards, in the last 12 months I’ve learned more about myself and the world than I ever imagined, and I know I’m ready for this. So with another huge journey ahead I thought I would share with you what I’ve learned about growth.
When I started down this road, I let go of many things that gave me certainty, a sense of belonging, and fulfilled my need for significance. I remember the day very well, that barren feeling when I realised that not one of my core needs was being met. I'd thrown my cards in the air to see where they landed, and all the doors flung wide open, everything was, and a lot of it still is, moving and shifting around me. I trip. I falI. I get up. I keep moving forward without complaining. There is no going back because I’ve gone too far; the only way out is to move forward.
The funny thing I discovered about growth is that there is no room for anything else. Anxiety…I just can’t focus on that in this place, all I can do is keep moving. In this place, I don’t have the mental capacity to over-think. If you're in my path, well all I can say is, OK, I am coming through because that’s what I do now. I’m not focused on the bystanders anymore; my vulnerability is just a natural condition of where I need to be.
The cracks started to appear in my "acorn" about a month ago – 12 months of exploring an enormous amount of territory to see what was out there my naivety shining like a beacon for the whole world to see. I was thinking too small; I was trying to fit in, asking for permission to add value to redundant processes, systems and ways of thinking. I let it go. Along the way, I discovered some new ways to care for myself that cannot be taken away from me because I created them; they turned out to be critical pieces of this puzzle. I thought I had all the answers two weeks ago, but no it was bigger – it all makes sense now. Everything I am, everywhere I’ve been, my struggles, all that I’ve learned in a lifetime, even parts of my character that may upset others are necessary. I’ve been trying to create this my whole life – I wasn’t ready. That’s how the acorn theory works, there is no time frame, it comes when the seeker is ready.
If we’re serious about contributing in an authentic way, then at some point, the props we cling to so tightly need to fall away so we can find out what we’re made of.
So as I’m about to jump in I thought I’d share a small fraction of what I have learned this year, just in case this is for you.
1. Entrepreneurship is a mindset. TCI is a school for entrepreneurs, a very good one at that. I give myself permission to pull the world apart and put it all back together in any way that works to solve the problem. I’ve got this!
2. TCI staff are dedicated to supporting us in any way they can, and we honour them by giving them the opportunity to do what they do best. We then pay it forward by sharing what they teach us and serving this community and the people we meet every day as we walk our path. We are fortunate to have such outstanding role models and support throughout this journey.
3. Mentoring is a critical part of this journey. My TCI mentor planted a seed that grew into a bean stork and I am now gazing at the sky. I know that I have somewhere to go to lift me out of the mental fog.
4. I belong here.