Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
October: The Birdfeeder
The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life. Try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate. ~ Robert Browning
One of my favorite teachers and authors, Martha Beck, once used an analogy that has stayed with me for many years. She said that when you fill a birdfeeder, you can’t stand right next to it and try to coax the birds to come. You have to walk away and let them find it themselves.
This applies to all of our work in the world (and in fact to every relationship). You can never force someone to take what you offer, no matter how good your intentions or how much you think they need it. You can only offer what it is you have to give, freely and without expectation, and then wait to see what life will make of it. The more you hover and fret and try to force the outcome, the less likely those shy little birds will ever come to your feeder.
There’s a place for marketing in this world of commerce, but marketing will only go so far. Self-promotion has become a way of life for many these days, with the daily onslaught of Facebook feeds fueling that trend. It takes strength to resist the tide, to stand back and quietly offer your best to the world without expectation of acknowledgement or return.
I’ve learned this lesson in spades since I published a book last year. My conscious decision was to let it make its own way in the world, finding its own readers and trusting that the people who needed it would be drawn to it as mysteriously as the birds that inevitably find the feeder once you leave it alone. My ego constantly wants to get involved – worried and disappointed when “nothing happens,” preening and proud when someone praises me. I have to keep patiently coming back to the birdfeeder analogy and walking away from my need for results.
Now my work is taking on a new twist that will challenge my ego even more. Through some classes I’ve taught and a few on-line articles that were published, I’ve unexpectedly developed a small flock of birds that keeps coming back to the feeder. Although I’ve been a certified life coach for several years, I haven’t previously offered 1:1 coaching, since writing and classes seemed a better fit. I'm opening that door now so that I can add spiritual direction to my offerings at the birdfeeder. May it bring exactly the birds who need this nourishment the most, and feed us both!
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