When I left the known world to journey out West, I had no idea what the future would hold. Though my gut and intuition were telling me my future was there, consciously, I had no idea that I would work nearly a decade as an executive for adidas, that Heather would become my wife, or that she and I would build and sell a successful chai business together. Meriwether was nowhere on the map of my future and neither was meditation or yoga. I couldn’t have expected the physical and emotional angst I would endure in my abyss of the law firm or even that I would have worked there at all. I didn’t have the foresight to know the identity crisis I would go through after a seven-day silent retreat.
As we reel through our journey, watching the play-by-play of life’s experiences, we capture the bigger picture. It is only in hindsight that we see how all the pieces fit together. This can be likened to the weaving of a tapestry. The one who works the loom only sees the side they weave, a gnarled collection of thread. It isn’t until their work is complete that they see how those threads create a vivid masterpiece.
The result of heeding your call and entering the unknown world is like that beautiful tapestry. Though you will undoubtedly encounter troubles along the way and fall deep into the abyss, your mentors and guides will lend a hand to help you ascend and return to your path. Once you’ve found your footing again, you’ll travel on, collecting tools for your transformation. As you integrate them into your life, you’ll grow, you’ll evolve, and one day, you’ll bask in your own bliss. For me, the first of the tools I was introduced to was that of our shared divinity, the truth that we are all connected by the cosmos.
My high school football coach, Coach Barcheski (whom we called Coach Bar), was enormously influential in helping me nurture connectivity with others. He echoed my Grandma Lena’s appreciation for oneness. They both shared the belief that all humanity is a single unit, undivided and connected by some greater force. These two prominent people in my life were my greatest teachers. By their examples and beliefs, I came to also believe in oneness, the interconnectivity of us all on a universal level. “There is no I in team,” Coach Bar would say. And it’s true; we are all members of a universal team, here to help each other succeed and live joyful lives. We each bring our unique gifts and contributions to the whole of all beings. We teach, we learn, we give, we receive—or at least, that is the way it is designed to be.
Coach Bar recognized that not only was I a born athlete, but that I also had the instinctive ability to inspire and motivate. He saw in me budding leadership qualities and so invited me to lead our football team. For many, being a leader is synonymous with heavy responsibility. It is a burden. Some even feel being a leader is a bit of an ego fest. For me, neither was the case because I saw everyone—all the players, the coach, the fans, and myself—as parts of the same thing. I was merely a guide to the players, stepping into a leadership role in order to inspire. I simply served as a mirror, reflecting back to them their greatest strengths and weaknesses, to show the team members how to look within themselves for strength and to be the heroes of their own lives. The team responded well to me as their guide. I was the person who could get them fired up. I was able to get them to believe we were badasses and a great team. In the same breath, I could speak about compassion, being of service, remaining humble, and the notion of the humble warrior—being strong and assertive, but not at all costs.
Coach was wise and saw that I also needed guidance on how to better take care of my own emotional and spiritual well-being. He saw that I lived to please others, to make their lives better. He recognized that doing so was admirable but that too much giving and doing for others was leaving my needs unmet. He coached me on how to focus inward and to give to myself with the same level of compassion and love as I gave to others. He assured me that, in doing so, I would be even more effective in my service to others. He was absolutely right. As I cared more for myself, I cared more deeply for the well-being of the team and all people everywhere. And the team felt the appreciation for their various contributions; they felt unconditionally loved, and as a result, their inner peace and happiness rippled out to all the lives they touched.
In our current culture, one of the ways people try to convince themselves they matter, that they exist, is by pointing out how they are different. They think, If I stand out, if I am different from someone else, then that means I am unique and special. I am alive and real and not alone. With that thinking, an existential angst gets momentarily quelled. But like Grandma Lena always said, the way to feel connected is not through pointing out the differences but to realize we are all brothers and sisters. We all share the same breath of God, and we all share the same goals.
If you were to travel around the world to watch people pray and worship and then ask them what they are praying for, it would likely be for similar reasons. It would be for the stuff of love, peace, prosperity, and joy. These are the desires of our common divinity.
In order for us to be effective, it is essential we accept the intangible interconnectedness of our human family. Even when we are not able to physically experience this connection, we instinctively know it exists. Each of us has sprung from the same source, crawled from the same primordial soup; we are not all that different. We each have an instinctive drive to see our dreams actualized yet are often met with challenges that cause our behaviors to be incongruent with our goals and passions. When others see and appreciate our true nature and know we are part of something bigger and part of a universal connectedness, our path is illuminated, behaviors are realigned, and we are motivated to keep evolving.
Subscribing to this universal truth of our shared collective power is essential to achieving both success and happiness in all areas of life. Having compassion and understanding that we are universally united goes a long way in fostering lasting and impactful relationships. Every human wants to be understood. They want to know someone gets them, that they are seen and valued.
When I am tuned in, when my ego is not running the show, this concept of connectedness is integrated into my communications.
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