The Gift of the Blind Spot
Let me introduce myself: I am the founder of a Canadian charity called Shift Happens Coaching. I have spent the past eight years with my head down, hammering pegs into holes, building a strong foundation on which this organization can stand. The work I have been doing is important and it is not for the faint of heart. To achieve charitable status is momentous.
To say I wanted to quit many times would be an understatement. What kept me going were the faces and voices of the vulnerable youth we serve, and the encouragement of my very resourceful coach. Invariably when I was down and waving my white flag, I would get a call from a youth out of the blue, as if they knew I needed the encouragement. My coach would gently take away my flag, help me back up, wipe off the dust, and continue to fight the good fight.
But this last month, everything changed. I suddenly became aware of a blind spot, so blinding that it stopped me dead in my tracks. For years I had been courting agencies that wanted our program, but couldn't afford it. In a twist of fate, this year, due to successful fundraising on our part, we finally had the money to run our program, but these same agencies did not have the youth in the numbers we needed to run our program. The frustration had finally reached it's peak. Enter, the gift of the blind spot. I decided I was going to stop: stop doing, stop pushing the invisible rope, rock, boulder or whatever else I was pushing. I remember clearly the exact time, place and the person I was with, when I made this declaration. Not pause, but a full on stop.
Now the challenge. I am an anxious achiever - if I am not doing, I tend to start hair-pulling, mostly my own. So I had to come up with a strategy. When the urge to do would start to bubble up, I would engage my inner observer (from The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer). I would notice my compulsion to act and would sink deeper into the observer. What happened next, you will find hard to believe, as trust me I did. From 2015 - 2018, I had been actively pursuing a single contract with a very large Government Agency. They seemed very interested, though we acknowledged it would be a slow process, requiring innovative leaders supporting the initiative. When the hammer came down in 2018 and we were told firmly “no”, I was devastated. Three years of generating and modifying proposals, endless meetings and conversations, all for naught.
Out of the blue, approximately one week after my declaration to stop and surrender, I got a call to come to that same Government Agency, by then under different leadership, asking to brainstorm some ideas for providing a coaching program. Suddenly, we were no longer begging for a seat at the table. On the contrary, the relationship felt very equal. Not only did they now have studies that show coaching works for the group they are hoping to offer it to, but we have the exact coaching program for their demographic. Magic.
That was the first of many opportunities that have since showed up as gifts. Weeks later, I was scheduled to assist at a Neuroscience and Consciousness course that I am licensed to lead. Though I had not led this course since receiving my license, when the leader was caught in a surprise snow storm, I found myself leading the first day of the course. This was a huge growth opportunity for me. It had me lean into my self-authority and self-confidence and the ripple effects are still playing out. When I was approached to speak about Shift Happens and neuroscience at an open house, I said yes, and there I met a participant who was actively looking for a program to reach disenfranchised youth. More magic.
I have had so many things open up since I let go of pushing that darn rope. Though society values doing above all else, it is my hope that you take away inspiration in what is possible with not doing and surrendering. Surrendering not as a way of giving up, but from a place that it is bigger than you and taps you into solutions bigger than you can imagine. I had done my part and I needed to learn to let go, so that the pieces of the puzzle could click in to place. Magic, universal energy, inner knowing, whatever it was, it works.
Ask yourself: What do you need to get out of the way of, to let happen? To observe, to step away and allow to form without meddling and sticking your finger in? You have gathered the ingredients, now just let the pie bake. When it is ready, you can sit down and pull out the ice cream and enjoy that pie.
Carol McLean is the founder of a registered Canadian charity, Shift Happens. Shift offers coaching and workshop for incarcerated and vulnerable youth, from high priority, low income, neighborhoods. She was born in Dublin, Ireland, loves to laugh, and is inspired by neuroscience, consciousness, coaching and leadership and above all, her favorite teachers are youth.