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Harnessing the Power of the Unknown: Move from Repeating the Past to Re-inventing the Future

The Unknown - it is scary territory for many, something to be avoided for others and shameful for those who feel they are supposed to know everything. What is your relationship with the Unknown? Take a moment to ponder it because your attitude towards and experience of this is what governs your ability to create, to innovate and truly bring more of yourself out into the world - in short to be successful. If you are going to create something new in your life - in your career, your relationships and your creative endeavors you will be walking into unknown territory. Learning how to navigate this territory effectively and with power is what makes the difference between having a full, rich experience of life and work you enjoy, relishing the adventure of every day or living in frustration wondering why the same thing keeps occurring repeatedly.

Many of us have been taught to be afraid of what we don't know. It's threatening, "bad" things happen in the unknown, if you don't know the answer it means you are stupid. You have been taught over and over again that remaining with what you know will ensure your security and your success. But you can see repeatedly that this attitude gives birth to bigotry, prevents you from taking informed risks that could improve your life and often creates a life of boredom and fatigue.

In truth each moment is a new one. It is your habit of carrying the past forward that keeps you repeating the same old patterns both in business and in your personal lives. This is not to say that experience doesn't develop discrimination. It does and discrimination is a valuable tool for us. The question is when is it blocking you? I can't tell you how many times in working with clients they say some variation of the following -

  • Why even try a new approach, it will fail as it has in the past,

  • Why risk a new relationship, it won't work out anyway,

  • Why reach for the next level of success and challenge myself I am fine here.

But what I know is that if you are not moving into new territory, you are not being as truly alive as is possible and your businesses are not as creative and successful as they could be. You are holding yourself back from what is possible in your life and in your profession. And because of that you suffer personally and professionally. Unknown territory is the birthplace of all possibility, all real support and is a very exciting space in which to operate.

There are many things that keep us from exploring new territory: fear, lack of self-esteem or confidence, lack of support, and misuse of imagination are a few. This misuse of imagination is one of the trickiest to detect. Many people feel that imagination is the province of children and artists. That of course is true but each of you uses your imagination constantly; however, many of you don't recognize you are doing this. Every time you think you know what is going to happen you are using your imagination. Are you using it against yourself or for yourself and your goals? If you are imagining the repetition of the past you are using it negatively and not allowing a brand new thought, solution or step to emerge. When you walk into a business meeting and your anxiety rises you are using your imagination "knowing" you won't close the deal - you are seeing the worst possible outcome. When you won't take a reasonable, calculated risk you are likely using negative imagination to keep you in the sphere of the known. You imagine you won't be safe in unk! nown territory. But the Unknown is the territory of possibility, creativity, your own real pathway and therefore success. Who really knows what will happen next?

One of the things that prevent you from experimenting with unknown territory is that you believe you won't be safe. Once again you use your imagination against yourself and your goals rather than accessing the resources that will support you in entering unknown territory. So how can you move into new territory safely?

  • Navigation: One of the premises I hold in working with clients is that we each have our own innate intelligence, our own North Star by which to navigate. Have you ever had the experience of just "knowing" that something was right for you? That is the action of your own innate intelligence, your own North Star. The more you can develop your contact with that innate knowing, even feeling it in your body the more you have a sextant with which to navigate the unknown. This connection is learnable. Using it you are able to sense and know the right move without accessing negative imagination. You become more agile in making accurate decisions.

  • Innate Talent: identifying, following and developing your own innate talent will always move you into new territory and if you are true to it will always lead you into safe territory. Some people awaken their innate talent in their current jobs and discover new levels of success; others wrap entirely new businesses around that talent. In either case, new success and fulfillment result.

  • Intention: In order to navigate safely you need to have a sense of where you are going, once more not based solely on the past but flexibly moving towards possibility. Developing a clear intention here that is in alignment with your talents and your values creates natural stepping-stones in this unknown landscape. They feel right! Setting a clear intention allows you to envision where you are going and when new opportunities arise you can recognize them as a possible steeping stones. Your positive, informed imagination aids you in finding the right next step.

  • Guidance and Support: Because we often have to move against our patterning and learning in this movement towards the new, it is useful to have a mentor or guide to help you discern when you are straying off your navigated course and moving back towards the past. The right guidance at the right moment can offer new tools, prevent you from being myopic and open your vision to a whole new horizon. It can also accelerate your progress.

    I suggest that you spend at least a few moments in the busyness of your life to question what your relationship with the Unknown is really about. Do you relish it? Do you fear it? Do you ignore the richness that could be there for you? Do you repeatedly use negative imagination to hold you back to mistakenly "keep you safe"? Then take a look at some of the tools I have suggested that can assure a safe passage for you and honestly ask yourself how you are developing each of them. Who can aid you in scouting new territory for your personal and professional life? Develop those relationships- they are the invaluable ones!

    You can excel in life and in business as you keep dynamically moving forward into new territory.

    Connie Butler

    The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark. (Michelangelo Buonarroti)

    I have just happened on a book that describes much of my approach in working with people. It has been heartening and inspiring for me to read his words. The book is Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by David Whyte. Pick it up I assure you it will enliven all that you do.

    Copyright 2004 All rights reserved.

    About The Author

    Connie Butler is a personal and professional coach working with individuals and groups to clarify their greatest vision and cultivate its successful realization - moving them past their growth frontier into new territory. She is available for personal or professional coaching, seminars and can be reached at 305-534-1119 or Ms. Butler is a published author and radio personality.


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