I recently had the great pleasure and privilege of interviewing best-selling author Tama Kieves about her latest book, Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! This is my third of three articles about our conversation. To learn more about Tama visit www.TamaKieves.com.
“I finally got it that my wildest dreams could never come true, until I remained wildly true to myself.”
– Tama Kieves in Inspired & Unstoppable
Have you ever had the experience of thinking you understand a particular concept fairly well, then something happens that opens you to “getting it” at a profoundly deeper level? Conversations with Tama Kieves have a way of stimulating those “aha!” moments. So does her writing. Things that were merely “understood” suddenly become “known.” You gain a newfound appreciation for your own wisdom and your ability to translate it into something meaningful in your life.
The concept of being true to yourself in order to live an authentic, fulfilling and genuinely successful life is one of those easily understood concepts. It’s touted by every therapist and coach and self-help guru on the planet (including yours truly). It’s one that is so commonly repeated and endorsed it feels almost trite.
Yet it’s also one that we’re subtly – and not so subtly – encouraged to abandon time and again in order to “fit in” or to meet the external standards of success so revered in our culture. And time and again, we discover that it simply doesn’t feel good to try squeezing ourselves into roles or circumstances or jobs that bear no resemblance to who we really are. That’s why the self-help gurus keep reminding us that we need to live by a different standard. Only being true to ourselves will yield true satisfaction.
Tama Kieves does more than merely remind us of that potent truth. She illuminates vividly – through her writing and her life – that “being true to yourself” is not merely a guideline or strong personal value to uphold. It is the seat of your blazing, mountain-moving, joy-loving power to create a life you really want to live.
In her book and during our conversation, she shared the story of a time, after she had self-published her first book, when she met a woman named Phyllis who seemed like “the one” – the one who could open doors and secure the introductions and connections that would catapult Tama to success. Phyllis had found Tama’s book on Amazon and loved it. She was well-connected in the publishing industry and offered to help Tama put together a package that would be sent to the president of a big New York publishing house, a man she knew personally. I’ll share the rest of the story in Tama’s words:
“I was a giddy Cinderella who had just met a ticket out of invisibility. But then over the next few weeks, things began to feel anxious and weird. Phyllis didn’t return some phone calls. But she was a busy woman and I, an insecure and desperate one, wagged my tail against the odds. Then there were missed deadlines, stories, dramas, and weeks passing by. Finally, she began disappearing altogether, even from cyberspace. I felt as though I was skidding on black ice, still trying to get somewhere. I desperately wanted things to work. I couldn’t bear the idea of going back to my life alone, without this hookup to the Emerald City, or, in this case, midtown Gotham….That night, weeks of agony receded and I knew what I had to do, come what may. I had to speak my truth, and risk my one thin bridge to having my book published by a big publisher. I felt surrendered and strangely calm. ‘Spirit got me here and will carry me all the way,’ I said to myself as willingness, fear, exhilaration and faith warmed my veins like apricot brandy. Suddenly I was willing to believe that a loving universe might have more than just one rickety way for me to accomplish my dreams.”
The next day, Tama told Phyllis – aka the Fairy Godmother – she no longer wanted to work with her. And the rest, as they say, is history. Tama continued to listen to her heart of hearts, landed a big-league agent to represent her and was published by the publishing company of her dreams. And all because she dared to speak her truth. She dared to be true to herself.
Through this experience and others, Tama had a dawning “aha!” of her own. She began to grasp what it really means to be wildly true to yourself – and how much power is unleashed when we commit to that, no matter what. She now states, boldly and calmly:
“I will walk away, figuratively or literally, from any situation that doesn’t feel true to my soul. I will not be walking away from power or opportunity. I will be walking away with power and opportunity. My truth is my power. So is yours. It’s where the magic lives.”
I love how clearly she draws the line between personal truth and personal power – or perhaps more accurately, how she shows us that personal truth and personal power are fundamentally the same thing. A good practice to follow, whenever you’re feeling powerless, is to see if you’ve somehow ignored or denied an inner truth.
A classic example of how many people give their power away is by denying the truth of their talents, passion and creativity, and remaining stuck in jobs that suffocate or bore them. They convince themselves that the job is their only source of financial security and that they must stay. They deny the unfathomable intelligence of the universe and Life itself, which wants to thrive through us. Or as Tama says, they haven’t yet grasped that a loving universe has more than one way for them to accomplish their dreams. And yes, that includes their dreams of financial prosperity.
I’m not saying that everyone who is frustrated in their job should simply quit and walk away – far from it. But a sense of deep powerlessness always indicates a misperception of our true power, talent and possibility. And we can learn to cultivate a truer perception, to stand in our talent and power and passion, before walking away from the job we’re in. (Of course, if we’re clearly guided to walk away – and we feel deep in our hearts it is the right thing to do, right now – then walking away would itself be a reclamation of power.)
Start with your intention to do just that – to acknowledge and stand in your talent and power and passion. Be willing to consider the possibility that the universe has infinite ways for you to realize your dreams.
Even if you’re not an entrepreneur or bestselling author like Tama.
Let me share the story of a friend of mine who recently went through a highly tumultuous time at work. She works in a large, bureaucratic organization and the chaos was caused by a change in leadership at the highest levels. As part of the transition from one regime to the next, it was decided that certain positions would be redefined and everyone currently in those positions had to reapply for them. And the reapplication and interviewing process was detailed, demanding and lengthy.
My friend is a high-potential employee with years of outstanding performance well documented in her file. She is creative, proactive and responsible – not to mention highly skilled and immensely talented. Yet the grueling process triggered a sense of self-doubt within her. She doesn’t like being interviewed, and kept wondering if she would “make it through.” She started to feel almost as if she would be lucky to keep her current job, in which she had excelled for years…and which she was sick of.
From my vantage point, I could easily recognize the chaotic transition as a time of great opportunity. From her vantage point it was at best a colossal nuisance and at worst a slap in the face of her many years of hard work. The self-doubt kept surfacing, and her inner wrangling was often matched by unexpected dips and changes in the outer process. It was wearing her down.
I kept encouraging her to ignore the outer drama and focus on her immense talents and contributions, and to get clear about the kind of job she really wanted. I knew if she connected with the deepest truth about who she is and what she wants, she would invite opportunity to reflect that truth.
Luckily for her – although at the time it didn’t seem lucky at all, it just seemed like busy work – one of the requirements of the process was for the applicants to compile a portfolio of their achievements. As my friend accumulated and organized the various reports and awards that documented the milestones of her career, she gained a newfound appreciation of herself. And at my urging, she took the time to sit with her journal and describe the kind of job that would best fit her creativity and skill. It felt good to contemplate it and recognize that she was indeed ready for that kind of job. She regained a deep connection with the truth of her talent and passion.
Fast-forward to the conclusion of the process. My friend did not retain the job she was in. She was promoted two grades – to the highest pay level – into a newly created position that matched what she had written in her journal. Turns out the universe didn’t just want her to tread water, it wanted her to move forward. And it created a whole new path for that to happen.
Her responsibility in the process was to be true to herself – to stand in the truth of her talent and passion.
And that is your responsibility, too.
When you do that, opportunity will meet you there.
Tama said in our conversation that she finally recognized, humbly yet joyfully, that her talent and genius represent an amazing gift to this planet, and she needed to value it. And she learned that when she values it, so does everyone else.
My friend learned the same thing. It is true for her, it is true for Tama and it is true for you.
And let’s be clear, this is not about being egotistical. It is about honoring the deepest truth of who you are. As Tama says in her book:
“There comes a time when you will have to stand up for the magnificent truth that trembles in your heart and bones. When you step out in this way, you are actually letting go of your ego, not letting it decide for you.”
Let yourself feel the truth in those words. Decide to acknowledge the deepest truth of your own talent and passion and possibility. Choose to speak and live from that truth. Remember that your wildest dreams can come true only when you remain wildly true to yourself.
The full audio recording of Suzanne’s interview with Tama is available at www.mysolidground.com.