When I was a teenager, my parents gave me a book. Not just a book, ’the’ book of the 80’s.
The Road Less Traveled by M Scott P. Peck
The premise was simple. The road “less traveled” symbolized the possibilities lost by making a decision. The narrator wanted to travel both paths, but he had to make a choice. He chooses — on impulse — but continues to think about the opportunities he missed by not choosing the other path.
I’ve picked this book up again during different seasons of my life. Its’ premise stuck with me but had until now, eluded me. It wasn’t until I came up against my own choice to take the road less traveled that I fully embodied its message.
For me, the two choices have always been to take the road of doing more or to take the road of doing less. My go-to until now? Taking the road of doing more which was also a road of feeling less.
The idea of taking action — being and showing up in the world as “doers” — is universally accepted, respected, appreciated, encouraged and rewarded. It is rooted in an identity that we can smell and taste and touch. The idea that there is another option — that “undoing the doing” or not doing at all — is actually possible, is a real risk for any true “doer” to consider.
Who will I be without my “doing”?
How will others value me?
What will I be rewarded for instead?
Will I be fulfilled?
Will I be successful?
Questions like these, fears really, have kept me stuck in my over-doing life for more than 30 years.
Are they keeping you stuck too?
To not take action, if even for a moment, is non-intuitive. The practice of pausing and giving ourselves permission to get clear — truly clear — has been reserved for the chosen few. Or so it has seemed.
“Those” people are calmer than me, more connected to source than me, have different lives than me, and are ultimately, more powerful than me.
Oh, and not only that! In that pause — in those ‘not-doing’ moments where we seek to discover a deeper and more authentic knowing of what it is we truly want to do — inaction is not only less accepted, the process itself can be downright excruciating.
What will I find in the silence?
How long will others tolerate my inaction?
How will I know that what I discover is my most authentic answer?
Wouldn’t it just be easier to do it, whatever it may be?
What feelings will overcome me in that stillness, in that pause?
So no, the journey back to being has not been easy. It won’t be easy. It isn’t easy.
In an organizational context, companies are even better at doing too much. Most of us who have lived much of our days in corporate contexts, have even taken part in creating this havoc.
They too over-do most everything. The over-efforting is real. The over-engineering is commonplace.
Our teammates crumble under our bad habits but instead of fighting back, they adopt them too. Why? Because not adopting them is even scarier. Not adopting them gets translated into — I don’t belong here.
But we do belong! However, the ‘real’ you. The you who has given themselves the right to live a life of their choosing.
Are you still with me?
If so, one truth that might be hard to take in is that no one is going to make it easy for you to make this kind of shift. It will all be on you.
To move from a person who does a lot, stays busy, says yes when they mean no and ultimately — values getting things checked off a list more than their authenticity and well-being — to a person who is choiceful, present, intentional and authentic in their actions and decisions, is a monumental shift.
Because the other truth about being a “doing addict” is that the addiction over time, has slowly erased our ability to simply be. To live a life of letting in, being with, and letting go. A life that follows the natural rhythms of this planet and own own souls desires.
Ultimately, to be the kind of person we admire. To be a person that others admire, not for what they do but for who they are.
We are human beings, not human doings. But somehow, that got lost along the way.
A person who is doing the work required to align who they are with what they do is taking the most important journey we can take. The journey of becoming more human.
To become this person means to live with less certainty.
To become this person means to live with less control.
To become this person means to live with more curiosity. More hope. More forgiveness. More compassion.
Less grasping and more releasing.
Less work and more play.
Less fear and a lot more love.
While many will envy you from the sidelines, you may likely never know. It will be a world they are not a part of. They are burdened by their own fears, narratives and heavy trappings that push away the threat of their doing life crashing down around them. They have their reasons and you have to let that go too.
If you resonate with this storyline, you may now be wondering…where do I start? It is a great first question but the better question is…am I ready?
Are you ready to take your power back?
Are you willing to not only see yourself as a “doing addict”, but to see your role in keeping that addiction in place? While work, spouse or boss might have welcomed your addiction, in the end, only you can find a way out.
If you are ready, here is the promise.
Taking this journey, this particular road less traveled, will shower you with gifts. You will begin to trust yourself in new and expanding ways. You will know deep in your belly that when you say something, do something, start something, join something, or voice something, you always have options. You have choices. You have power.
You will become so clear that when you say yes — when you decide to give something your precious attention — who you are and what you hope that action will achieve will be fully aligned.
In traveling this road less traveled, this road back to being, you will have essentially earned your right to choose your life. And, you won‘t need anyone else to agree with those choices.
Will they respect you? Likely.
Will they be upset? Maybe.
Will they watch in awe and wish they could do the same for themselves? Absolutely.
Most importantly, you will have given yourself the best shot at living a life full of purpose, authenticity and joy.
Welcome to the journey!