For four days, Jason and I put down our phones and we soaked up life in a way I haven't experienced in a long time (possibly ever?). There were definitely some lifestyle challenges, like oh, I don't know, sleeping on the ground. Or perhaps not showering for four days.
But there were also some really powerful challenges, like the fact that I rock-climbed for the first time up an 80ft vertical summit and made it to the top. Or that I had some of the deepest, most epiphanic conversations ever, with virtual strangers, mind you.
I'm hoping to share more about the entire RTC Adventure Trip experience in a recap on my blog after we get home, but for now I want to share with you one insight that kept coming up for me again and again.
When you open up your mind, your heart, your soul, you invite in greatness.
There were so many times I almost told Jason to cancel our trip. I admit, I was highly skeptical about the whole thing. Part of it was out of fear - aren't there scorpions and snakes in the desert? I don't want to sleep on the ground with those things creepin' around! Part of it was out of discomfort. I knew that Round Table Companies was different than most companies - they focus on storytelling and vulnerability. And while I can bear my soul with the best of them, I want to do it on my terms, right? I had a lot of preconceived notions about gathering around a campfire at night, holding hands and singing kumbaya. As I started to build up that image in my head, I got more and more uncomfortable.
But then... we arrived at the campsite on Monday and everything changed.
That first day, introducing myself to these 30 other people and sharing bits of myself, I was struck by the palpable sense of openness that each person possessed. It wasn't an overbearing type of vulnerability - just the kind that invites you in and gives you permission to connect.
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Monday night, as we laughed around the campfire (no kumbaya, in case you were wondering), I promised myself to approach the whole trip with more openness. To shed any preconceived notions of what I thought the week might be like, and to just invite the experience in.
I'm convinced that decision is what made a potentially good trip great, and I want that for you too.
The truth is, we spend a large portion of our lives closing ourselves off. Life is a pretty phenomenal training ground for it. We do it to protect ourselves. To prevent ourselves from feeling pain or rejection or discomfort. And over time we get really good at it.
We walk into meetings at work knowing they'll be a waste of time. We have a first date and on the way we tell ourselves it'll never work out. We say I can't, I won't, It's not worth my time, Why try. We make fun. We judge. We settle. All of these are examples of the different ways we close ourselves off. And it comes so naturally.
But this past week has taught me that in an effort to protect ourselves, we can also miss out on some pretty amazing things.
Sure, I opened myself up to fear.
I opened myself up to vulnerability.
I opened myself up to potential danger.
But in turn, in flowed joy.
In flowed connection.
In flowed adventure.
In flowed a depth of experience I could have never expected.
So this week, my challenge for you is to simply open up.
But, of course, you might be asking yourself, well how do I do that? Especially if closing ourselves off comes so naturally?
Well, this might help. Below are the three main indicators I've found that tell me I'm being closed off. I challenge you to really take in each one, and think about the times recently when you've maybe closed yourself off instead of opening up to greatness.
- Approaching a situation with judgment. For me, one of the biggest red flags is humor and cynicism. When I hear myself making fun of a situation, even if it's light-hearted - much like I did with the campfire kumbaya scenario - that tells me I'm pre-judging it. Judgment is a separator, a wall between you and something else. In moments of judgment, silence the cynicism and make a conscious effort to realize that people, places or experiences can be great if you would just let them.
- Predicting the outcome of a situation in your head. This is a popular one. Like I mentioned before, we build up this imaginary outcome in our head to justify closing ourselves off. Oh nothing will come from this meeting, so why even go. I'm only going to make it half-way up this rock face so I'll just get there and then quit. Do you know how much we are capable of that we miss out on because we assume the outcome of things? When you begin to do that, tell yourself that the world is poised to surprise you. Imagine a different outcome - one where you take charge in the meeting or where you make it to the top of the mountain. By opening yourself up to possibilities, new outcomes will manifest themselves.
- Refusing to participate. I don't just mean participating in class or at work, I mean participating in life. Like I mentioned before, closing up is a defense mechanism. We don't want to fail, so we don't try. Not trying is the biggest indicator of a closed mentality. You'll never even give yourself the chance to experience greatness unless you try.
It may sound a bit silly, but in order to train myself to be more open, I picture an invisible switch (kind of like an iPhone setting, actually) that toggles between OPEN and CLOSED. When I recognize my psyche protecting itself with one of the three indicators above, I just mentally picture myself flipping that switch from closed to open and that reminds me to approach everything with a more open mind, heart and soul.
Feel free to try that little trick too, or develop your own way of rethinking those situations, because I'm telling you, I believe it deep in my gut: openness is the gateway to greatness.
And when I say greatness, I really just mean positive energy. I mean opportunities, rich experiences, happiness. Being closed off is like walking out your front door to find the most beautiful, perfect day you've ever seen - sun shining, birds singing, air cool to the touch - and then walking right back inside, locking the door and closing the blinds.
I'm here to remind you, that perfect day is always waiting for you if you would just open up the blinds.
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