From the ashes of the Phoenix
It is often said that the business owner is a business’s biggest asset. However, how much does the average business owner devote to ensuring that their most valuable asset if functioning at peak performance?
I am always looking for ways to develop both as an individual and as a business owner. This weekend I attended a fire ritual workshop. Not the walk on hot coals type, this fire workshop focused on cleansing and renewal, as in the way that fire renews the Phoenix. Before you start getting alarmed, no one was thrown into the fire, we symbolically burned pieces of paper, but more about that later.
From the ashes of the Phoenix grows the roses of success
The beginning of the year is typically when most people review their personal and business targets, celebrate their successes and set new ones for the 12 months ahead. We are encouraged to set SMART(ER) (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time framed (exciting, relevant)) goals and then go full speed ahead to achieve them. However, the baggage that we carry in terms of our beliefs, emotions and relationships can be a major barrier to achieving our SMART(ER) targets. This is because our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings determine our actions and our actions define the results we ultimately get. If you are carrying around unresolved stuff from the previous year, then not only will it impact only your effectiveness, it will also cloud your thinking when it comes to setting your targets in the first place. The fire ritual is designed to help participants to start with a clean slate, and if not clean, at least a conscious awareness of the things having an impact on their thinking.
The workshop led by Rev Anita McKenzie, a fellow interfaith minister and founder of SistahintheRaw and Raw Soul food , although not religious, had a clear spiritual focus. We began with a guided meditation that asked us to let go of any physical tension we were holding in our bodies and open our hearts to be guided by our deeper consciousness, the universe or what ever we identified as our source. Whilst I am no stranger to meditation, sitting in relaxed silence surrounded by others doing the same, for me creates a sense of togetherness that I find incredibly nourishing, so I really enjoyed this start to the session.
Fire can destroy, warm and illuminate. Originally thought to be the only one of the classical “Four elements” that people could create, fire created a bridge between earth dwellers and celestial beings. Fire represents spiritual enlightenment, sexual arousal (light my fire), birth and resurrection (the Phoenix). It’s long been regarded as a force for purification.
We then went on to work on the things that we were holding on to. We did this in pairs by and in the larger group. The key to uncovering these was simply the space to be listened to and reflect. It never ceases to amaze me just how effective being really listened to can be. So much of our engagement with other people tend to be exchanges of information where both parties are simply listening to reply. We were instructed to listen to understand and only ask questions that would enable the speaker to reflect more deeply rather than to explain themselves. In terms of personal development, finding opportunities to be “heard” is possible the best gift you can give yourself.
At the end of the first part of the workshop all participants had a pile of paper on which they had written the things that they wished to let go of. Although several of the participants, myself included, had initially thought of writing down people’s names, we were asked to focus on the situation and how we felt about it rather than the person in question. I found that this really helped me to be specific about what I needed to let go of and provided a greater awareness about the limiting beliefs that had (until that point) been preventing me from letting go and moving forward.
If I am honest, I was initially more than a bit sceptical about how useful watching words on a piece of paper burning in a fire would be. However, I found the experience very calming and affirming. I also felt a real sense of release and sense of letting go in relation to the things I had written down. I also really enjoyed watching the flames consume the paper. It felt very nurturing and sharing the experience with other people felt really good too.
Following the fire ritual we focused on setting our targets for the year. We were given an A3 blank piece of paper, coloured pens and asked to create a spider diagram of our goals for the year. Rather than the usual focus on creating SMART(ER) goals/targets we were instructed to focus on what we wanted to achieve without the restrictions the SMART(ER) test. In case you are thinking what’s the point of creating a list of unachievable and unrealistic goals, once we created the list we given a series of questions to used to review our lists. The questions focused on what we were prepared to do to achieve our goals and were as follows:
What am I willing to do to achieve my goals? Am I prepared to…
- experience other people’s anger?
- take the first step?
- feel weird or sound stupid?
- challenge or be challenged?
- be wrong?
- do what needs to be done regardless of the perceived limitations?
- do more spiritual practice?
- to march out in pursuit of the things in your best interest and in the interest of those around you?
- walk the extra mile?
- fall down, get up, fall down again?
- ask for help?
This approach to goal setting was surprisingly liberating. I found it made identifying goals a lot easier and at the same time allowed me to set more ambitious goals, which I probably would have dismissed if I applied the SMART(ER) criteria. However, using the questions to review them really challenged me. I was forced to consider how much I really wanted what I had set as my targets and just how prepared I was to strive to achieve them. After the review, I felt emotionally connected to the goals that remained and a real sense of excitement about starting work on them. If goal setting has become a bit of a drudge and you’ve started to dread doing it, I would highly recommend this approach.
To complete the process we were instructed to turned each of our goals into a positive affirmation and ended by labelling our spider diagram of goals, [Name]’s Divine Plan for 2014, which I thought was a really nice touch.
I really enjoyed the fire ritual and found it a very helpful way of moving from 2013 to 2014 with renewed vigour and drive. Although the process was used to mark the new year, it could actually be used at any point in the year as a symbolic way to mark a fresh start. The workshops are available throughout the year so if you want to find out more about them visit the SistahintheRaw website.
Have you come across any out of the ordinary methods for goal setting or personal development? How do you ensure you aren’t unduly ladened by things in your past? Please share your experiences, we love reading them Big Hugs.
By: Ola Agbaimoni – The Business Detective (Caroleola)
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