As I near the date to present the made to measure apparel concept to the job creating venture capital group in West Virginia, I have packed my days gathering all the information I can about how to go about this work, compiling it into a plan. I’ve been talking with people experienced in starting a sewing workshop, in technological innovations for manufacturing apparel, in financing business ventures. And the advice and perspectives I’ve learned from provide so much information, some of which conflicts with each other. People are, after all, walking different paths and have different experiences to share. Some days I will talk to people who hold very strongly to an old way of doing things that makes me question if my dream is possible.
How then do you find the way forward when the conflicting winds threaten to push you off course this direction, then that, fueling the flames of fear with this bit of information and then that?
Part of the thing that further complicates our ability to find our footing is that the confusion and fear exists inside and out. Inside, we have held onto thoughts about what is and isn’t OK. How we should live. How we should think. The world we have today, reveals where that thinking has led us. Yet even though we can see that we need to radically change our thinking and our actions, it is so hard to let those thoughts go: I’m not being productive enough. I’m not valuable enough. I’m not worthy of this dream. I’m not smart enough. Or my favorite–spiritual women don’t accomplish anything. They don’t create value. Their work is worthless as judged by the white male faces that stare back at us on American bills.
If this were not bad enough, on the outside we continue to encounter people who tell us that we can’t possibly get anywhere doing what we are doing, being who we are. We read the news and see the things we value nowhere. We watch our entrepreneurial sisters and brothers struggle to gain traction with their new way of doing things. Struggle to make it worthy in the world of dollars and cents. Nope, this work is not easy.
It was amidst the waves of fear, worry, joy, peace, exhilaration that I’ve been experiencing in response to all that I’m learning right now, that I found myself staring across the register of my restaurant job at the following message on a customer’s t-shirt:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein
Wherever the truth lies in the path forward, we can know one thing: we have got to do things differently. This is scary, but we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect to get a different result.
We therefore have to trust ourselves.
And we are being asked to trust ourselves and our world when we have to deal with both the inner muck that says that we are wrong, unworthy, misguided, AND when people around us will reinforce that inner muck–that’s not how you do things, this is how it’s done.
So when you are reeling from a meeting where you feel that the way you have done something is wrong because it is not the way it is usually done, take a moment to ask yourself, “Has our fidelity to going about the work in this way contributed to the way our world is today? Is it OK to try something different to see if we can achieve a different outcome?” Breath in. Breath out. Sit with it.
I leave you with some words from my yoga teacher, Nina Be, who is an endless source of wisdom: “If you put in the time and do the work, you can expect miracles.” Here, Nina Be was referring to standing on one foot, yet, like the t-shirt quote, the meaning of these words touches every corner of our lives.