Tuesday, March 23, 2021


I cannot separate success or accomplishment from the context in which they occur.

While it is always true, I am writing this piece solely for myself. Please feel free to scroll past, delete, or otherwise ignore.

For those of you remaining…

The past several years has in many ways been the most difficult of my life. Without outlining specifics there have been major personal, familial, professional, and health challenges. There have been losses sustained that are still in the process of being integrated. I share this not in service of complaining, eliciting pity, or in justifying some of the ways these challenges have affected me. Please remember I am writing these words primarily for myself.

With what have felt like epic challenges these past years they have occurred during a time when I have most needed my energy, clarity, stability, and steadfastness to do what I have been called to do. The pinnacle of my vocation has been occurring during the most trying times of my life. While I do not understand why these two things would coincide, I also embrace that in my Soul there are no accidents. My questions have not been about why problematic things are happening during a time when I most need to directly channel my energy into what I have been about professionally. My questions have been centered around what I need to become in the wake of these problems, and how I may use the dark times in service of shining more light.

I have listened intently and responded imperfectly.

Looking back over these years I cannot help but momentarily lament that I have not been able to accomplish more. If I allowed myself to self-evaluate based on the surface effects, I would say that I have not been successful in what I have been about. I could then justify that evaluation based on what has been happening behind the scenes.

I am choosing that it be only a momentary lament.

When I expand my heart to include the context in which I have been living and serving and responding, yet not using it as a tool of evaluation, a whole new lens becomes available. These trying external times have slowly and admittedly painfully strengthened my internal resolve and increased the fortitude necessary to do what I have felt led to do. My compassion has increased even as my boundaries have become clearer. My merciful responding has more often than not flowed forth from the tender places I would often prefer to defend. The harder things have gotten the stronger I have become. These years have served as a gym membership I would have preferred to cancel.

And yet I have more spiritual muscle to show for it.

I am clear today that I am at choice as to how I frame what has occurred for me during these profound and trying times. I am at choice as to what metrics I use to evaluate what I have or have not accomplished. I get to call it as to whether I have been successful or not, and what I deem to be accomplishment or failure. Others will weigh in. That is what we humans tend to do to each other. And ultimately it is all up to me.

That is the secret to my success.

Ultimately it is up to me.

So, back to context.

It is true for me that I cannot separate context from what I accomplish or deem to be a success. I could frame these past years in terms of “look what I was able to do even though all of things were happening.”

And that would be valid at a certain level.

I will not use the context, however, as a justification for what I feel I was not able to do. I will not use the context-success prescription to tell myself I did not do enough. Doing so would give authority to circumstances and will disempower me every time I am called to do things when circumstances in my life are rough. Without denying what has occurred or fact checking what I perceive I could have accomplished if my seas had been calm, I expand my view to bring the bigger picture into focus.

I do not deny that I wish I could have done more. Fact.

In the bigger picture I know I did my best, especially from the context from which I was doing.

That is not for me justification. It is realization. It is evidence of a lesson I have meant to learn. It, too, is a fact.

What I was experiencing is not separate from what I was accomplishing. How I chose to handle my personal challenges directly fueled the impact of my vocational choices. I demonstrated that no matter how many times life knocks me down I can always get back up and serve the something greater within me that is more powerful than the circumstances around me.

There is always something greater than me.

Knowing deeply and relying completely in and on this power is how I do what I am called to do. Knowing that everything that happens is somehow in service of my Soul softens my self-judgments and disengages me from metrics that dishearten and disempower.

I know that I have done the absolute best I could during these challenging and strengthening years. I have placed my personal problems behind the collective good. I have accomplished what I accomplished, and I really do not take personal credit for it. There have been supports around me, and a Great Power within me.

Do I wish I had done more?


Do I trust I did enough?

You bet.

And that is the secret to my success.

It is that I continue to show up to the best of my ability regardless of what is happening around me. And then I loosen the evaluations around what that looks like at the level of circumstance.

The secret to my success is that I get to choose what that is for me.

So, today I celebrate what a success I have been, and will continue to be. Wherever and however I am expressing.