An old fable tells about a religious man and a flood. As the water
began to rise, the man's neighbor came by in a boat and offered to
take him to safer ground. He politely declined, "God will save me."
When the water had risen up to his second floor windows, authorities
came by in a rescue boat. They shouted impatiently at him to get into
the boat, but he sent them off, saying, "God will watch out for me."
Later, as he sat on his roof with water lapping at its edges, a
military helicopter hovered above him; a rescue officer was lowered to
bring him up into the aircraft. Again he refused . . . and later
drowned. When he reached heaven, he was furious and demanded a
meeting with God.
"God," he said, "How could you let me down like this? Why didn't you save me?"
God replied, "I sent you two boats and a plane! What more did you want?"
Do you sometimes miss the boats and the planes in your life? Many
of us manage NOT TO SEE a great deal of what's in front of us!
Information and opportunity come our way all the time -- and we
often miss them.
Sometimes we look right past these openings because they look so
ordinary. We actually HAVE what we've been seeking in our lives, but
we don't "get it" because no drum roll sounds, no name glitters in
lights, and the New York Times doesn't mention a word about it. My
friend Cathy recently shared an example of this with me. She said,
"Ten years ago, where I am now in my life felt like a far-distant
dream. I don't think of my current life as a dream come true because
it feels so 'regular' to me -- it's just my life. But I have really
worked very long and hard for this. And here it is."
A client of mine decided that he wanted to go into private practice
after doing his work within organizations for many years. He
approached the decision with much fear about whether he would have
enough clients. Then he began to SEE that he already had some private
clients! He began to realize that he had a powerful professional
referral network, a strong and widely known reputation, and great
content skills for doing the work. In fact he'd been turning down
private work for years. All he really had to do was to start saying
Sometimes we miss seeing what's true in our lives because we are so
stubbornly obsessed with having it look a particular way. When I
first left my systems analyst job, I felt POSSESSED by my loss of
income. I felt impoverished and dominated by scarcity and lack.
That May when the lilacs bloomed, I felt sorry I didn't have the money
to buy lilacs for myself as I had in prior years. One evening I came
home from grocery shopping to find a huge bunch of lilacs in a vase
on my kitchen table, twice the size I ever would have bought for
myself. I was stunned and thrilled. Where had they come from? One
of my daughters' friends who had been spending a lot of time at our
house had brought them for me. Her family had enormous lilac bushes
in their yard, and she had thought that I might like some.
This profound, mind-shifting experience opened up my eyes to the
enormous abundance in my life. Her simple act of generosity helped me
understand at a much deeper level that wealth isn't just about money.
It helped me to grow a larger vision of my life and myself. This new
sense of possibility supported me to become more of the kind of mother
I wanted to be and pointed the way to finding my next career:
Other times we are oblivious to the magic in our lives because the
timing is different from what we expect. A friend started looking
early last spring for a fall teaching job. Seven months and 32
interviews later, she now has the perfect job; she's already twelve
weeks into the school year and she absolutely loves the position. As
she looks back on the long process leading up to her hiring, she
realizes it unfolded as it needed to, although at the time she felt
rejected and defeated. She says she wouldn't have recognized this job
as the 'perfect' one when she began the application process, nor would
she have felt qualified to take on the required responsibilities. But
by the time the school district offered her the position, she was able
to recognize it as right for her. She felt completely ready to accept
the job. She now feels that she was being guided the whole time.
Timing was a factor she hadn't anticipated. When the timing was
right, the job materialized.
Another important category of information that we sometimes
undervalue is one that elicits a "you can't be serious" response from
us. When information comes with a light touch or a huge degree of
coincidence, it's sometimes hard to accept as real information, but it
is! Lynn Robinson, an intuition coach based in the Boston area, was
having difficulty writing her newsletter after the tragic events of
9/11. However, when she read the message on her computer screen
saying, "You have been disconnected," she knew SHE had to reconnect
with her intuition! (For more about Lynn Robinson, see the RESOURCE
SPOTLIGHTS section of this issue.)
While between careers, I was extremely impatient to know what my new
work would be. In my daily meditations, I frequently saw images of
eggs: ducks, geese, robins, and sparrows sitting on eggs; eggs in egg
crates; eggs jumping out of crates; eggs in nests. At first I was
exasperated; I needed answers here, not eggs! But eventually I
realized that I WAS getting answers, just not the kind of answers I
had expected. MY eggs weren't ready to hatch yet; they were still
incubating. I needed to continue keeping them warm for a longer time.
That was the answer: sit tight, be patient, and keep doing what you're
doing. All this I did, and yes, they hatched in their own sweet time!
Keb Mo, a contemporary songwriter, created these lyrics:
You might be hip or you might be blind
She'll put the message right in your mind
Might look like a plan or a coalition
It might be God trying to get your attention.
You might be hip or you might be dumb
You'll get the answer when the answer comes
Maybe it's just news on your television
Or it might be God trying to get your attention.
Very often, what we seek is right in front of us in the form of
Opportunities, Information, Feedback, and Answers to our most burning
questions. The issue is not "Is it there?" but rather "Will we see
it?" See if you can take off some of your blinders this month. Look
for answers and information everywhere. In particular, be on the
lookout for boats and planes! These sometimes well-disguised modes of
travel can come from any direction at any time to help you in your
transitions and passages.
Here are some questions that may help you to see these dynamics in
your own life. Write down your answers -- this helps anchor your
process in the present.
What questions are you currently seeking answers for?
What KINDS of answers or results are you looking for? Are you
limiting the way you're looking? How might you take your blinders
How else might the answers look? What other form or content
might they have? Use your imagination here - really let 'er rip!
Where and when in your past have you received information or
realizations from unexpected sources?
Where in your life do you feel stranded, stuck or at a plateau?
Perhaps the timing just isn't right yet. Do you remember when
something you wanted just wasn't ready to happen, but when the timing
was right, it did happen?
Where in your life is something "just right"? Are you now
manifesting something that was once a dream?
Copyright 2003, Sharon Teitelbaum.
Sharon Teitelbaum is a Work-Life and Career Coach who works with high achieving women with young children, people at mid-career, and professionals seeking greater career satisfaction or work-life balance. Her book, Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: Restoring Work-Life Balance, is available at her website, http://www.STcoach.com.
Certified as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Sharon works by phone with clients around the world and in-person in Boston.
She delivers keynotes and workshops on work-life balance issues, has been in national publications including The New York Times and Working Mother Magazine, and has appeared on cable and network television. She publishes Strategies for Change, a newsletter offering practical tips for work-life success.
Sharon has been married for 30 years and is the mother of two amazing young women. You can contact her here.