What Doctors Can Learn From Artists and Entrepreneurs

Since leaving medicine, I’ve been an entrepreneur and an independent artist. They are similar pursuits, and both have taught me about the experience of living in creative rather than reactive mode. In the moment you can claim your role in creating the experience you are having right now - as reflected to you by the external circumstances you find yourself in - you begin to take a creative stance. You begin to see yourself differently within the grand puzzle of your world. No longer can you point your finger and your attention outward at “them”, but now you must see the source within you that holds your power to create, choose, and act.

Every artist and every entrepreneur has had to touch this inner place in order to bring a never-before-seen vision into material reality. Whether you name it “imagination” or “vision” or “desire”, every human being has an inner source of creativity. Some of us have placed this in a box in the basement of our consciousness. Maybe we have given up on ever being able to use it in this lifetime. But as long as you are alive, you have this source within you, waiting for you to open the space for it to breathe.

Here are four creative mindsets you have within you, waiting to be awakened and remembered.

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Success 3.0 - Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up

Success 3.0 It's been a BIG few weeks for me. I've been away from my desk, discovering more of my tribe, in places I never thought to look. Experiencing the feeling of coming home to myself, my story, and my place in the evolution of all that is. I trusted the feeling of just knowing (without knowing why or how), and I was rewarded beyond my wildest imagination.

Three weeks ago I attended a four-day event like no other in Boulder, Colorado. Called Success 3.0 Summit, this was a gathering of entrepreneurs, CEOs, authors, spiritual leaders, artists, musicians, doctors, coaches, healers, and other thought leaders for the purpose of rewriting the myth of success in our culture. Success 1.0 was survival. Physical survival at the most basic level. Success 2.0 was the accumulation of wealth, status, achievements, and symbols of power at any cost, even at the expense of health, relationships, and well-being.

Success 3.0, as we are co-creating it to be, is the awakening to the fact that we can no longer operate as if our individual actions have no effect on the collective. We must wake up to the reality that we are all interconnected, and that we have both the capacity to destroy ourselves as a species and the infinite possibility of expanding our consciousness to include the whole cosmos in our own evolution.

Summarized in six words, Success 3.0 is a call to "Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up." Wake up to our true identities not as separate beings, but as expressions of the oneness of all that is. Grow up to take responsibility for our actions as part of a larger whole, beyond our egoic concerns, beyond even our immediate family or tribe or community, but to include the entire cosmos as an extension of our sphere of influence. Show up as a leader by expressing our own unique gifts, standing fully in the truth of our unique life experiences and stories.

For me, the conference was profoundly integrating of the many chapters of my life experience that had previously appeared separate or unrelated. I now see that every single world I have lived in - from the suburban middle class neighborhood of my hometown in Libertyville, Illinois, to the halls of the Ivy League, to the training of medical school, to the partnership track in a venture capital firm, to solo entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, to the experience of burnout, to transitioning from classical music to improvisation, to performing acoustic rock violin, to training as a life coach, to traveling to Southeast Asia to study bodywork, to becoming an artist - informs my perspective wherever I show up. My ability to listen deeply across multiple disciplines, and my unrelenting vision of possibilities, is my unique gift to any situation I am in.

I am a weaver and collage maker, drawing threads from seemingly disparate elements and incorporating them into a new tapestry with every interaction I have. I am a living expression of the evolutionary impulse, coming through me, existing in me, and experienced by me. And so are you! Within your unique set of life experiences and stories is the unique expression of life as you - and only you - can express it. When you choose to wake up, grow up, show up, you enter into the process of co-creating, with the evolutionary impulse of all that is, your unique definition of Success 3.0.

I'm excited to continue showing up in new ways, to start conversations about what really matters, and to continue bringing my unique art into the world.

Is it time for you to upgrade and update your definition of Success? Join me in the conversation.

Exercise Your Write To Be Free

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjpacres/ I rarely share client stories, but a recent experience is birthing a whole new way of working for me. I just finished a 30-day writing experiment with a physician client who is just starting out on a brand new path. Having already found the courage to leave his medical practice and head into the open space of the unknown, we worked on rekindling a secret dream he's held for a long time, maybe his whole life: writing.

He always wanted to try writing, but never did because he had a belief it was too impractical and was no way to make a living. Yet he knew he had stories to share, and ones that would help others if he did.

I wanted to hear these stories myself. I was curious what touched him so deeply about his experiences in medicine. I knew that in hearing these stories, we could both experience a healing journey.

So I came up with this idea, which I had never done with a client before: a writing experiment. The assignment was to write daily for ten minutes a day, thirty days in a row. Then send that writing to me, which I read every day. Mostly we let the process run itself, but we had two phone conversations during the month, once to check in and then again to review the entire process.

I knew that a small, daily commitment done over a sustained period of time would lead to something. A new habit at the very least. An awakened sense of hope and creativity I envisioned as possible.

What I didn't expect was the vast territory we would cover in those ten minutes of daily writing each day. Not only did I learn from my client's deep minings that occurred from this type of reflection, but I heard accounts of key moments, important feelings, and long-held beliefs that it might have taken months to get to with traditional weekly phone coaching calls. In timed writing, you get to the heart of the matter quickly. You can try to dance around, squirm a bit, but the hand keeps moving and the clock keeps ticking, and something gets said that has juice to it, even if at the very end.

And when you have a curious, compassionate witness, who wants to hear more, and will ask you questions and deliver you the next prompt to inspire more writing, it unfolds with surprising beauty.

It was so beautiful that we are continuing the process for another thirty days, this time including a few additional daily and weekly practices like meditation and art-making (yes! eek! art!). And now, I want to offer this powerful experience to you.

First, here is the practice, which you can do entirely for free on your own. Form a group of friends and do this together. It could, in my client's words, be a "life-altering experience".

The practice:

  1. Choose a start date. Why not tomorrow?
  2. Choose a time and place you will do your writing every day for the next thirty days. Yes, you need to think about this in advance, or it will not happen.
  3. Choose a pen and notebook that you LOVE, and that you will use only for this writing practice. You can use the computer too if you must, but I highly encourage the use of pen and paper for this. There are enough reasons we are called to the computer, and not enough good reasons to go manual these days. Here's one.
  4. Get a timer. Most phones have a timer app. Or use a good old-fashioned egg timer or stopwatch or alarm.
  5. Set the timer for 10 minutes. When you sit down to write, you start the timer. When the timer starts, your hand starts moving across the page. You don't stop. You don't pick the pen up off the paper. You are not thinking. You are letting your hand move, letting it lead the process. You don't edit grammatical or spelling errors. Don't cross anything out. Just keep writing. Lose control. See what happens. Don't have a plan.
  6. When the timer goes off, you stop. That's it. Pick your hand up off the paper. Close your notebook. Go do something else. This is important, too. Give yourself an endpoint that is defined.
  7. The next day, repeat.
  8. And repeat again and again for thirty days.

The page serves as a mirror to our present state, in a beautifully unedited and raw form. We get to see inside ourselves in a way we probably don't look for on our own. Our minds are too busy arranging things. Or we're reacting or responding to something outside ourselves.

With this form of writing (which is influenced and inspired by several of my favorite creativity teachers), we come into contact with the reality of the present moment, and how raw and fresh and changing it is. With practice, we also begin to create a space for ourselves to witness what is. To be OK with whatever shows up on the page. To not always be meeting some idea of an expectation. To let go of an agenda and trust, even if only for ten minutes a day.

And all of this, again in my client's words, could lead to "a whole new world opening up".

You can totally do this effectively on your own as a practice. There are great books that speak to the depth of what this can uncover, and provide you with pages and pages of prompts to go far and wild.

But if you want to work one-on-one with me, receive weekly written responses to your writing (I am not an editor or a coach or a critic, but a supportive, curious listener who tells you when I want to hear more), and have two phone conversations during your thirty-day process (one brief check-in after week one, and another full-length conversation at the end), then I am offering the opportunity for a limited number of individual clients, starting October 15th.

I've learned this about myself during the past few years: I don't do online forums, and I don't do auto-responder emails. I thrive in one-on-one interactions. According to the online marketing experts, this breaks all the rules of becoming a rock-star millionaire business owner. But that doesn't faze me. I'm following the bliss of what I know to be an extremely potent process, which is in alignment with everything I know from experience to be valuable to the recovery of the soul.

Here's how to join me in October.

E-Squared Book Club: Week 6

At this week's E-Squared Book Club we discussed the last two chapters. I was sad to get to the end of the book because it’s been so much fun to do these experiments and share what’s happening each week with the club and on the blog. Once again, the weather at Quarry Park was spectacular – warm and sunshine-filled.

Bathed in sunshine.

Oneness - We Are All Connected

Experiment #8, the 101 Dalmatians Principle, is about how we really are all connected. That every particle in the universe is in instantaneous communication with every other particle. Wow!

I happened to stumble upon the movie Cloud Atlas this past weekend (coincidence? Or synchronicity?), which addresses this principle in beautiful movie-making splendor.

According to this principle, every thought we have alters the entire universe forever. Imagine that! The other big idea is: Your thoughts about other people change YOU. How you see others is how you will see yourself. This makes forgiveness and kindness and compassion make sense at the level of the universe. It’s not about doing the “right” thing according to a rulebook or moral code. It’s about observing and choosing what you create in your own reality each time you think a thought about someone else.

Shirley had a GREAT story about this experiment from the morning of our meeting. Instead of blurting out her normal string of requests and judgments toward a person in her life, she paused and silently sent a message through the FP to that person. She got quiet and still and asked clearly and kindly that this person take action.

Within minutes, she received a phone call from that person reporting that he was completing the actions she requested.

What I LOVE about this story is that in the moment she stopped herself from “yelling” and connected her thoughts silently to the FP, Shirley was giving to herself what she so desperately wanted from the other person. And then she got it.

Pretty magical…or (as I like to say now)...exactly the way the universe works.

Shirley in her stillness.

Abundance and Enoughness

Experiment #9, the Fishes and Loaves Principle, was about “enoughness” and finding the goodness and beauty that is already everywhere all the time.

I love Pam’s discussion of how our society's mantra seems to be, “There’s not enough”, and we hold on to this thought because we believe we need it in order to motivate us to do anything at all. If we were completely content with how things are, then what would we do with our lives? Or so the thought goes.

But have we ever really paused to live the experiment? What IF we tried being appreciative of every single thing we already have right now, and kept repeating that moment to moment? What IF we saw our worlds through that lens of everything already being “enough”?

Most of us are too afraid to try.

It reminds me of an article I wrote on the Breema principle of No Extra. On the free Q&A call for that month, I asked people what came up for them around the idea of “No Extra”, and one of my clients said, “I worry that it means there won’t be enough. No Extra means there's not enough.”

Isn’t it fascinating how solidly we are rooted in the concept of “not enough”? So much so that we can’t hear the real meaning of “No Extra” which is actually EXACTLY enough. Not too much, and not too little. I once heard that Mother Teresa’s multimillion dollar charity always operated on enough. No extra, but exactly enough.

Based on everything I’ve learned from these experiments, I see that “enough” is not an amount or quantity. “Enough” is a lens. When we choose to see through the lens of “enough”, that is what we will find in our lives. And when we choose to see through the lens of “not enough”, we will also find that.

It Doesn't Have To Be Hard

Tammy wands

Tammy shared a story from this week, that she sees as a result from Experiment #1, started six weeks ago. At that time she felt she had received a sign from the FP that it was time to be recognized at a higher level and submit her portfolio review for a magazine. She had a grumbly feeling about doing the submission, but really wanted to be seen in a respected magazine. She walked away from that first meeting saying, “OK, universe, if you say so, I guess I’ll have to submit my portfolio if I want to get shown. Even though I really don’t want to do the submission.”

Tammy says she recalls me saying, apparently very calmly, “What if you can get the recognition you want from the magazine without having to do the submission?”.

She rolled her eyes inside because she held the thought, “Yeah, right. Nothing ever just happens like that. You’ve got to buy the lottery ticket if you want to win the lottery. Just like I’ve got to do the submission if I want my work to be recognized.”

Fast forward six weeks, and she finds herself being asked to show her work in San Francisco, in a beautiful sacred venue, to an audience who will likely include prospective clients. The more pieces she gives, the more they ask for. And she never had to go through a portfolio review! The opportunity and invitation to show just came to her.

I loved hearing the opening in Tammy’s voice as she described, with a bit of awe and wonder, how maybe – just maybe - this all really did just come to her.

Another update from Experiment #1: Pianos Pianos Everywhere!

Remember Shirley's request from Experiment #1? She wanted a piano to play. She didn't want to own one. She just wanted a place to go and play when she wanted to, and be heard by others if they wanted to.

Two possibilities came immediately into our circle in the form of pianos we knew to be available.

Shirley's big learning was about the need to show up and take actions to meet the blessings that are coming her way. She did that TWICE during the E-Squared Book Club, both related to pianos.

Last Sunday, I happened to be out for breakfast at Cafe Classique, and there she was, sitting at the piano playing ragtime. Dreams do come true. You have to call it in by asking, then be brave and take action to go meet your dream! Yay, Shirley! You inspired me and many others.

Shirley plays the piano at Cafe Classique, El Granada.

Shirley at the piano, Cafe Classique, El Granada.

The Radiance of Self-Love

Finally, we played with the wands, and captured some video for you. In this clip, watch as I consciously send love to each and every corner of my life as it is right now - not just the parts I 'like" but all parts that I may have hidden, judged, or cast aside as "not good enough right now". My energy field expands and the wands open like butterfly wings.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/i9IS8367aj8]

Here's a quick clip of Tammy silently asking a question of the wands. First you see a "yes" and then a "no" with her second question. Tammy is very connected to the wands and her energy shows up very clearly and immediately.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Dj-Y5OP9XmY]

Onward and upward! Bringing experiments into daily life

Our project over the next week is to design our own energy experiments for the holidays and end of the year. What one or two experiments would you like to run in your own life? You can base the experiment on one of the nine experiments in the book, or you can come up with your own completely original ones.

I’m looking forward to hearing what we all come up with…and sharing our results right here!

P.S. Here's an update on my sunflower seed sprouts, two weeks after planting:

Sunflower sprouts - Day 14

Falling Down To Earth...Lessons from "Gravity"

gravity I saw Gravity this weekend. It was date night. Since we normally watch movies on Netflix in the luxury of our own living room, with the sunset and ocean behind our backs and the fire roaring in the fireplace, the trip through traffic and the ordeal of finding a parking space in a shopping mall made me expect a lot from this one.

We decided to splurge on the 3-D version. We got a big bag of popcorn, and settled into the theater, which we had mostly to ourselves.

I was already filled with gratitude for my life on the coast after we set foot inside the neon shopping mall that contained the movie theater. At that moment, seeing the names of the food court vendors – none of which were familiar to me, feeling the fluorescence of everything, squinting at the brightness of the SALE signs in every store window, hearing the echoes and reverberation of the cavernous container of the space, I realized how long it had been since I’d shopped in a mall. When had that shifted? I recalled a time in my childhood when the only place to shop for clothes and shoes was the mall. It was also one of the main “hangouts” for kids who went out after school (of which I was not one).

I won’t talk too much about plot points here, but I want to list several of the “messages from the universe” that I feel are embedded in the movie. I’ll scramble them up so as not to have to give too much of a spoiler alert. But if you must see the movie first, I’ll warn you that I refer to some scenes in the text below.

1. We’re hurtling at light speed toward our destiny at all times.

2. There are two ways to go through our brief moment of time called life – light and floating and free, with laughter, presence, and acceptance, or tethered, struggling, thinking hard, constantly driving somewhere, not knowing where in particular.

3. As unlikely and miraculous as it was for the protagonist to arrive back to earth, her journey is a metaphor for the set of unlikely circumstances that collide to create any individual life on earth, and both are equally miraculous.

4. There are two ways to meet our inevitable demise of death – in awe and wonder, with a light heart, and fully present, or with fear and regret. The way you die is the way you live. Start living.

5. To continue living, you must continuously jettison the parts that no longer serve you. Even though at one time in the past they were essential to your survival, these parts can be exactly what’s holding you back right now. Keep letting go.

6. Sometimes you find yourself on the end of a tether, getting whipped around, believing you’ve been rescued or saved. While you’re technically alive, the ride may feel nauseating, and you’re never permanently protected by what’s on the other end of the tether.

7. Use what you have, do what’s in front of you, remember what you know, and start from where you are.

8. Be grateful for your mind, and remember to use it to serve your heart’s desires, not replace them.

9. Everything can be blown to bits, and you can be one of those bits. You can experience your own rebirth by falling back down from (your head) space into the watery womb of mother earth. You can dive deep, find air, reach land, express gratitude, and then finally find your own legs. This is the story of human evolution…from star stuff to dirt, that’s what we all are: miracles.

10. Sometimes we need to journey far, far away in order to find our way back home.