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[A beautiful guest post from Grant our Chief Operations Officer + Shining Academy co-teacher. We’ve both been on a huge learning journey of becoming better business managers, better creatives + better people since we started  pressing each other’s buttons working together. I love this ode of his. And of course, wanted to illustrate. It’s a beautiful affirmation for all of us – still learning, still growing, still opening our arms wide to a sometimes thrilling, sometimes scary new vista. Enjoy. xo L]

I’m learning.

All the time I’ve been writing and working in this beautiful space, I’ve been learning.

I’ve done a lot of work in my life. Perhaps, instead of being scared of hard work, I’m not scared enough. I’ve not been scared enough of difficult things to make sure I was using my gifts well. Not been scared enough of wasting my time to prevent me from, well, wasting my time.

But that’s behind me now. I’m here. Here is a place where my gifts are welcomed. All of them. Astounding.

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Last week, I met some of the Shining Academy members in person and we talked and cried and worked together. And I sang songs. And they said amazingly wonderful things about our work. And some beautiful things about my gifts to the day.

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I’m still learning how to accept that. How to say “Thank you” in a normal voice, when inside, part of me is wanting to scream “I NO RITE?” and part of me wants to tell you about the pitchy note I couldn’t hold, about the questions I wasn’t sure how to answer.

I’m learning that all of this is part of the work. I believe we all have gifts that are beautiful.

It’s not just a few of us. We all carry fingerprints of greatness.

We have been touched by God. Call it what you want, but there’s stardust in us.

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The little kid in me wants to just stop there.

To start and stop with amazement. That’s not so bad, really.

“Water, stories, the body, all the things we do, are mediums that hide and show what’s hidden.” ~ Rumi

This life is a fickle thing. Either we hide our genius, ‘I’d rather work behind the scenes.’ ‘I’m more of a support kind of guy.’

Or, we show it, and then feel the sting of so much nakedness. Like we’ve ripped away the covering on something, yes, beautiful, but also new, and raw, and intimate.

It’s like your genius is your dominant arm. I’m left-handed, so I’ll go with that. (Why does it feel revealing to tell you that?) For part of your life, you’re using your non-dominant hand. Turns out, that shaking hands with people is a right-handed thing to do. And so, it’s like a non-choice, you just extend that sort of thinking further. Everything can be right-handed. Save your left arm for something important. Save that strength, you can use it when you really need it.

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Pretty soon, you have a rule. Only use the left hand when the right hand won’t work. And now, you’ve limited your genius to helping out only when the rest of you is failing. “Lead With Your Weakness” is your new slogan. It’s so safe. When you fail to deliver, just blame it on your weakness. When you succeed, think of how amazing it is you did it with your non-dominant hand. And when you’re shaking hands with your odds-defying right hand, think of how clever you are to have adapted to the world in such a fashion. Only a genius would come up with this plan, you think.

Only thing – it isn’t true. It’s not enough. At some point, life is going to call for all the strength you have, in both arms. In both hands. At some point, you won’t be able to fake it with your weak arm. You’ll need your strong arm.

And not just for you. There will be a time when all your strength is required to save someone. Someone you love. There will be a baby floating by in a basket and you’ll need your left and right arms, spread wide, to bring the little one to safety. There won’t be room for excuses about how it’s a right-hand world, or how you wanted to use your weak-side first so it would grow. Or how you really hid your strength to avoid the dilemma of using it.

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The world needs strength, even if it comes in the ‘other’ arm. We need open hearts. Strong hearts. Hearts beating on passion, not on the pursuit of success or some small idea that won’t go the distance.

But, when you take a step in the direction of your dreams, watch out. That left-arm can be really weak. It’s been hidden. Covered from the sun, kept underwraps from exposure. It’s tough to wake up every morning and know that you’re working on a dream. Right now, like a doctor doing surgery on an infant. Like a good guy cutting the blue wire off the bomb.

So here I am. Left-arm exposed. Heart open to all the beauty and challenges of this road. Some days, I’m fascinated by the strength of what’s inside me. How can I be this strong, I ask. Some days, I’m just a puddle. All the brilliance, the schemes, the ideas, the passion, dissolved into some weak concentration beneath the tires of a passing car.

Maybe you’re still learning too.

This is good. Always learning. Always balancing our weakness and our strength. Always aware of our place in the world and our next challenge.

The world needs learners. People strong enough to adapt. To pursue new outcomes in new ways. Us learning, is just practice. It’s good for us and good for the world, so keep it up.

And the sting of fresh skin exposed, it leaves with time. Pretty soon, you start looking for more hiddenness to reveal. More of yourself you can out. Because part of the strength of our beauty is its weakness.

“We’re not a strong as we think we are.”
~ Rich Mullins

Who wants a steel heart? Who wants a person that never blinks? We walk these lines between solid and liquid, hard and soft, strong and weak. The hardness of our muscles and the wetness of our cheeks. Both are human. Both make us real. Both are signs of life. And it’s all of this bothness that the world really needs.

“Use me while you can.”
~ Bruce Cockburn

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