Turn Away From The Complexity & Find The Simple Next Step

What’s Mine To Do?

What is mine to do? 

Over the last month, I have found myself asking this question over and over again. While it may not be an easy answer or instantly clear, this question has helped me find a way to move forward, show up or get into action. 

When we look at complex issues and problems in our work, our lives, or our society, it's easy to get overwhelmed and slip into hopelessness or get paralyzed. It feels too big and too hard. All we see is the pain, the obstacles, and the challenges. 

This has been especially true for me over the last month, in more ways than I prefer. 

From finding out that my niece's cancer is back to the two recent mass shootings, a client suffering a loss, the discussions of human rights and equality, and what can look like nothing but divisiveness everywhere – it's all felt too big or too hard at times. In more ways than one, I've felt in over my head. 

Each of these, in different ways, has caused me to question my ability to make a difference.

Yet, here's the thing, I want to make a difference. I imagine you feel the same. These things matter. Our families matter, people matter, lives matter, equality matters, inclusion matters, and ultimately I believe change is possible. 

When it looks complicated when it's complex, how do we navigate? How do we help? How do we create change?

We look for the simple next thing. We ask ourselves, “What is mine to do?” then we listen.

Gabby's cancer is back. The good news is it's not life-threatening, but that does not mean it's not life-altering. It is. Her world changed instantly. I've watched her, my sister, and my brother-in-law navigate the disappointment, the fear, and the anger with grace and courage. Our family has been in awe of Gabby and her resilience and spirit, but we know this has not been easy.

In many ways, this will be Gabby's journey to take. We can't make the cancer go away, nor can we predict what it will look like moving forward. We've all wondered, how do we help? It's easy to feel inadequate and like anything we offer is not enough. Yet, each of us wants to do whatever we can. We want to do something.

When I ask myself, “What is mine to do?” I get a nudge. I hear things like call your sister, call your mom or send a text to Gabby. All of these are within my capabilities. At first, those things may not seem like enough but when we understand the power of love, connection, a kind word, and holding space, we realize that it is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer one another.

What about those bigger, more complex issues we face in our companies or society?

Between the mass shooting in Buffalo and the more recent one in Texas, I have found myself feeling more despair about the state of things. My mind gets overwhelmed with outrage, pain for the victims and their families, and the bigger issues they point to, such as racism, politics, and overall division. It doesn't take me long to feel like it's all too big and too complex to make a difference but doing nothing is not an option. 

While I was driving in my car this week, thinking about all of this, I was reminded not to let complexity keep me from moving forward. 

Switching my attention from all the discord, the hurt, the pain, or my thoughts about what is happening, and turning inwards, allows my mind to settle. From a quieter mind, I am able to see with more perspective. Quieting my mind and asking “What is mine to do?” helps me. 

If we turn our mind away from the complexity and ask, “What is mine to do?” and then listen; eventually, a “knowing” emerges. We will see a potential next move. 

It means we ignore the discouraging thoughts like, “It's not enough.” or “What good will that do?” and move forward anyway. We do the thing. 

We educate ourselves; we reach out to an organization, we write, we connect with others, we vote, we turn the tv off. We find our bearings and the peace within because we understand that nothing is more important. 

We listen to understand. We love, and we show up with our humanity and compassion. 

We follow our inner wisdom and take a step.

These are no small actions. These things matter, and our movement, small or big, creates a ripple. 

Earlier this week, a client reminded me of this quote from Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. 

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.” 

The idea here is that one small gesture, move, an act of kindness or shift of consciousness leads to change. 

“What is mine to do” has the potential to create change in the life of others and our world. 

Taking a pause, listening for “What is mine to do” connects us to the deeper intelligence within and gives us what we need to meet whatever challenges and circumstances life presents us. 

We have what it takes to meet the moment. One move at a time. 

If we turn our mind away from the complexity and ask, “What is mine to do?” and then listen; a knowing emerges.”

Simple may not always be easy, but when we quiet our minds and listen, we hear the next thing to do. From this space, we shift from feeling paralyzed and can step into action.

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Barbara Patterson is the owner of a global coaching and consulting company helping solopreneurs, entrepreneurs & leaders access more clarity, creativity, have greater impact and higher levels of fulfillment in work and life. She is the founder of Beyond Limits in Business, a global platform and community designed to point people to the source of human potential. That potential resides within and is experienced via our minds. Barb is also the host of the Real Business Real Lives podcast. You can follow Barb on Linkedin and Instagram. You can also subscribe to her weekly blog on her website at barbarapatterson.com 



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