Letting go – leaving ball and chain behind

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Author —Auteur — Peter Georgariou

Introductory Note: This blog was written a year and a half before it was published. A lot has changed since then. I’m proud of our journey and hope the story still resonates with you.

 

March 16, 2023

I met with Margaux (a.k.a. The Coach Lady) today, and it was another jarring session… in the best way possible.

I wanted to chat with her about two main things: working toward a profitable business and the next steps toward fulfilling our vision. In other words: the beautiful, ever-present tension of holding space for the present and the future all at once.

Profitability

For the first question, we are nearly six years in and still struggling, to some extent, to achieve consistent profitability.

Even so, there is lots to celebrate. We have grown from an idea in a Starbucks to a 12-person team working with amazing clients. We continue to build a healthy culture, and we approach business in a more regenerative way – a place that can be energizing rather than draining, restorative rather than punitive, and that gives back more than it takes.

Yet the mantra I often preach with our charitable and b-corp clients, no margin, no mission, also goes for us. We need to solidify the foundation of our business model to be able to continue to have the impact we are looking to have in the world.

Vision

For the future vision, it all started with the question: if karmadharma, like any person, were to become the most enlightened version of itself, what would it look like? With this question in mind, a group of us at karmadharma got together and imagined what this potential future state could look like.

It turned into an aesthetically pleasing Miró board of possibility.

As the conversation progressed with Margaux, she asked me what success looked like at the end. My response was immediate.

  1. Impact – help the largest possible number of individuals and organizations fulfill their potential, amplify their impact, and have the courage to be themselves in this lifetime.
  2. Be at choice 100% of the time. Have the financial freedom to do the work I want, when I want, and where I feel I can best serve in that moment. No margin, no mission.

This Miró board is simultaneously inspirational, aspirational and overwhelming for me. I get anxious at times about the road from point A to point Z.

Where I often get hung up is where to start. How can I boil this down to the next step towards point B; after that, we can start thinking about C, D, E and Z.

I then realized that for karmadharma to fulfill its potential, I must also fulfill mine.

An organization’s awareness level cannot go beyond the awareness ceiling of its leader.

So my ability or inability to become the most significant possible expression of myself will dictate in a big way karmadharma’s ability to fulfill its mission. I will be the bottleneck in the fulfillment of its potential.

Dance with your genius

In Dacher Keltner’s inspiring book: Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life, he gives the example of a dancer as a source of awe – someone who is able to immerse themselves in the music and move with freedom, fully abandoning themselves to the rhythms.

When I heard this, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I don’t think I know how to be that dancer. I’m caught up in the everyday throes of life. Even if I were alone in a room, just me and the music, I think I would worry about whether I was doing it “right”, and what people would think, and then I would start worrying about why I can’t just let go. Eeesh…

When I thought back to the vision board, I questioned myself. Who am I to be doing this work? I don’t have a Ph.D. I haven’t been studying human and organizational fulfillment for 20 years… What are my qualifications?

Margaux asked me – what are your skills? What is your superpower?

It boils down to two things:

First, being a dot-connecting polymath. A person who knows a little bit about a lot of things and finds trends and relationships from all the different fields of knowledge. Then, plucks out some actionable insight to move forward with.

This is driven by an insatiable curiosity. A growth mindset that allows for endless space and opportunity to challenge assumptions and blossom from the learnings of being wrong.

Secondly, it is my ability to read the energy of a person or a room, and sense what is going on and what might be needed.

Is this not enough to become that dancer? To dance without restraint, without apology?

What are you protecting yourself from?

What is holding me back? Or, to quote Margaux’s killer question of the session: What are you protecting yourself from?

Then the bomb dropped. It fell from the dark skies of my subconscious and detonated in the heart of my ego.

The answer to Margaux’s question came to me immediately, but in the moment, I was too embarrassed to speak. The emotional collateral damage of the realization was ricocheting throughout my senses—sensory overload.

After a couple of minutes, I finally spoke.

I am protecting myself from my mother’s (and stepfather’s) prediction that I would fail. That I would amount to nothing. That I could not stand on my own two feet.

To go out into the world freely as me and fall short would fulfill her prediction.
To have an unsuccessful career or business would fulfill her prediction.

I have been protecting myself from the prophecy of failure.

Motherucker. I was so angry with myself. Here I am, quickly approaching 50 years on this planet and still unearthing paralyzing skeletons in my closet.

This is why I have been dragging the feeling of shame and never being good enough. Never arriving. Not arriving. Unable to celebrate the beauty and the wins laced in what I have achieved.

I lost myself trying to protect myself from failure—a lifetime of insidious self-sabotage.

Margaux continued the exploratory journey: what does this feel like? Deep in your body?

This prophecy of failure feels like a big, black, rusting anklet, ball and chain that I have been dragging around my whole life.

– What do you want to do with it? she asked.
-Getting rid of it would be nice.
-Do you have the key?
-No. If I did, I would have gotten rid of it a long time ago.
-I call bullshit on that. You have the key.
-How dare you! (For the record, this was my inside voice)
-So where is it?

As I fumbled around, I ascertained that this fictional key was in my pocket. I pulled it out and used my pencil as a physical representation.

If her eyes could speak, they were saying: Sooooo…….?

I looked down at my socks, which were ironically striped and reminded me of prison attire. I proceeded to unlock the anklet and looked up.

-How do you feel?
-A little strange, to be honest. My entire energy system was overloaded. I had for sure blown an emotional fuse or two.
-Where are the ball and chain now?
-Just lying here under the table and across the office.
-Do you want to get rid of it?
-For sure.
-Where?
-Good question. There is a dumpster out back in the parking lot.
-Okkk……?
-You think we should go there now?
-Up to you.
-Alright. Let’s do this, I guess.

The whole thing felt a little surreal, but we put on our boots and headed down the hall, down the stairs and out to the dumpster parking lot. All the while, I was carrying this not-so-fictitious ball and chain over my shoulder.

We stood in front of the red dumpster. I looked at her. She looked at me. I proceeded to fling the ball and chain into the dumpster.

-How do you feel?
-Better. Lighter.

I had just offloaded a lifetime of shame, guilt and judgment. This was/is a lot to process. Not your average coaching session, to say the least.

Becoming aware, finding and painting a picture of what a lifetime of conscious and subconscious pain looked like, then proceeding to offload in one swift chuck into a dumpster. Holy Shit. What a moment.

Now the bigger question is: since I have named the beast and released it, can I dance?

How about you?

Do you have any rocks in your sails preventing you, and ultimately your organization, from becoming who you are destined to become?
Do you feel their presence but cannot put your finger on exactly what they are and where they reside?

Welcome to the party. You are not alone. Help is only a phone call or a Google search away. Please don’t let your ego get in the way of getting help.

Peter Georgariou

CEO & Founder

With over 18 years of experience in sales, marketing and operations, Peter enjoys helping businesses establish the proper structures, strategies and marketing plans to help them achieve their goals and dreams. He is helping them make the most of their potential and ability to impact the communities in which they live.

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