Alexander the Great, who had the privilege of being tutored by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, succeeded to his father’s throne at age 20. By age 30, he had conquered one of the world’s largest empires. He never once was defeated in battle, and is considered one of history’s most successful military commanders.
Yet for all his genius and glory, and despite enduring faith in himself and his destiny, Alexander’s inner life contained pain and suffering. His insecurity and doubts ran as deep as his ambition ran wide, which led him to seek constant comfort and counsel from his lover, friend, bodyguard and general, Hephaestion.
Ruminating on Alexander’s life and accomplishments with my husband the other day gave me a deep sense of relief. If one of the greatest achievers in history wasn’t exempt from the human condition, why should I expect to be?
Here is what rocked my world recently.
I was part of an eclectic group of twelve successful, growth-oriented professionals who met on a beautiful waterfront private property outside of Washington DC for a Mastermind retreat. For three days, I broke bread with global educators, best selling authors, speakers, multiple time Oprah guests, a got-it-going-on doctor and an expert identified by Forbes as one of the five most powerful women changing the world in her industry.
On the way to dinner one evening, a woman who had founded an inspiring global charity for girls sat next to me in the van. She explained the importance of vulnerability in connecting with others. She described how she and her audiences become one at fund raising events when she shares her personal childhood story about being molested by her father.
I should have seen her next question coming, but I didn’t. Suddenly my colleague turned to me and said, You’ve dedicated your life in helping others find their giant why? What drives you?
When you fall into a deep dark hole it occurs so quickly you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late to do anything about it. I almost stopped breathing. The sound of her words, like a tuning fork, reverberated in my ears. As my eyes filled with liquid salt squeezed straight from my soul I softly said, My driving force is the constant search for life’s meaning because life has no meaning but the meaning we give it. Then and there, it dawned on me that I harbored shame for entertaining such forlorn thoughts and feelings as early as I could remember.
I came to this work through a lifelong journey to find meaning for myself, and to turn my discoveries into epiphany producing processes that enables others to successfully complete this journey for themselves. One of the books that inspired me was Man’s Search for Meaning. What I’ve learned over time is that people who can find that meaning for themselves can achieve life goals that others barely believe are even possible.
The next day we had to report on our greatest insight from the day before. I chose to share this moment not because I hadn’t known this verity for my entire life, but because I was given the opportunity to reconnect with my core. In the process, I realized the very thing I chose to hide i.e., why I chose to dedicate my life to this work, was what qualified me as the expert in my field.
As an entrepreneur, executive or global influencer, do you sometimes let self-doubt creep in For example, do you wrangle with questions like:
Have I got enough bandwidth to handle what others expect of me?
Am I good enough to sit at the table with the big guys
Am I smart enough to recognize when to solve challenges on my own, and when to seek expert help?
Am I actually on the right track
Here are the lessons to counter self-doubt that I learned from Alexander’s story and my epiphany:
Embrace your humanity. Like Alexander, we need not be perfect to change the world in a profound way.
All answers lie within, even when we try to bury them deeply. Asking and truthfully answering the questions that summon the pain will reveal our truth.
Create a support team whose members you trust and respect. Allow them to help you uncover and embrace your truth, to act as a mirror that allows you to see your blind spots, and to challenge you to address them so you can share your talents fully with the world.
Apply these three lessons to your life and work, and step into your greatness. Searching for life’s meaning is part of the human condition. What’s YOUR truth?