David Whyte Sheds Light on the Soul at Work

While waiting out Hurricane Sandy, I started reading “The Heart Aroused” by David Whyte. As I started reading, it seemed the perfect book for a potentially treacherous day. He opens the book to talk about the fine line we walk between having it all together and losing it all at the drop of a hat. Says Whyte: The personality seeks power over experience; the soul seeks power through experience, no matter what that experience may be. The price of our vitality is the sum of all our fears.

When I coach entrepreneurs who are re-calibrating their business life after being knocked down by illness, their greatest desire is to regain “control” of their destiny. It makes sense. They wouldn’t be in business if self-destiny were not a high value. Yet, they recover best when they take some time to explore the shifts that being ill has caused in their sense of themselves and their future endeavors: their values, their purpose and their approaches. As one entrepreneur said when I interviewed her for Business from Bed:

I’m so grateful that [it] happened, because if it had not, my life would be very different today, and I’m not sure it would have been better, if I have the courage to ask new and different questions, and I’m willing to uncover what’s [inside], that means I hold the key. But, I have to have the courage to unlock the door and let the light in.

The light does not seem to reveal itself until we’ve opened ourselves to the darkness. Stripped of our ability to carry on with life as usual, we tend to feel depressed and frustrated, mistaking that depression for “something is wrong here.” If you can be with what remains, you’ll eventually meet up with the source of your power.

The trick is to find faith when fear or pain dominate your senses. If you try to control or put time limits on that experience, you create resistance and pressure that shortchanges the desired soul adjustment.

Illness, like a hurricane, gives rise to a myriad of questions that demand to be answered:

  • Why Questions
  • Self-Reliance Questions
  • Capacity Questions
  • Future Planning Questions
  • Sustainability Questions
  • Work Life Integration Questions

What is your experience?

  1. What has your illness, or other difficult life event, opened in you?
  2. Which questions have been most pressing?

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