Kate McCready on countering 'dot-com' culture and filling our emotional well.
We get ‘swept up’.
I don’t actually know when ‘hustle’ became the official catch cry of ‘success’, but my gut tells me it’s something that’s been slowly evolving since the 80s. I think it’s a product of the dot-com boom and the digital revolution that followed.
The ability for anyone to be able to ‘make it rich’ via the internet has been both a blessing and a curse. In many ways, the internet levels the playing field: anyone who has something to sell has the ability to have an audience at their fingertips, but competition is also fierce.
Our generation is one that was taught, ‘if you work hard at something you can do and be anything you want’. But with that comes so much pressure. ‘Ah! I can do or be anything I want. So if I don’t ‘make it’, it’s my own darn fault. I can’t blame anyone but myself. So I better hustle hard.’
Then, of course, there’s the fact we can see everyone else hustling via their social media. It gives us that backstage pass that we never used to have and just adds to the pressure.
When I was 28, things changed.
I ended up in the hospital with blood clots. I had Deep Vein Thrombosis in my leg and a pulmonary embolism (clots in the lung). At the time I was working in a big corporation, working my way up the ladder at quite a cracking pace. But even before I fell ill, something had always felt a bit … off.
When I was in the hospital recovering, so many people said to me ‘you’re so young’ and ‘you're so lucky’. And in a sense, they were right, because honestly if things had gone a different way, I could have had a stroke or even died. It was pretty unusual for someone my age to have that happen.
For the first time, I was confronted by a true sense of my own mortality. It woke me up. When I went back to work, things never felt the same again. I could see so clearly that the work I was doing and the company I was at wasn’t aligned to who I was and the life I really wanted for myself.
I often think it takes what I call a “big moment” for many of us to realise something like this. I’m always trying to encourage people to not wait for that big moment and instead look inward, and evaluate their values, for inspiration.
What success looks like for me now:
Now I focus on living in line with who I am and what my values are. Living and working with consciousness, intention and ease. Being able to spend my time doing things that fill me up, bring me joy and help me grow. Being immersed in the flow, as opposed to striving ‘upward’. Prioritising my relationships, my wellbeing and my development. Having fun! Being in nature. Being able to use my unique strengths and experience to create something of value in the world that leaves it a better place. Creating meaningful connections to myself, others and the world around me. Being inspired and inspiring. Knowing myself as something more than my small, individual, human self and yet knowing that small, individual, human self as best as I can.
It takes vitality.
Energy is so important. I talk a lot about ‘potential’: I really see potential as our latent energy. Not just our physical energy, but also our mental, emotional and spiritual energy. For me to produce meaningful and impactful work to the best of my ability, I need to make sure each of those types of energy is working for me.
Then there are three things to consider in relation to those energies:
What fills them up? What depletes them? And, importantly, what increases the size of the container, so that I can hold more in? Meditation is one of the biggest game-changers for this. It fills our container up, reduces the amount of depletion and … it actually expands the container as well. If I feel my container emptying, I meditate, take a walk down to my local parklands and have a cuddle with my dog. It’s often the simplest things that help us fill and expand our containers.
Your values give you purpose.
What’s really important to you? Really? Don’t be sucked into the things you think you should value. You need to be super honest with yourself. It can even be worth considering whether you’ve picked up any borrowed values: in other words, values you’ve been carrying around with you that aren’t actually yours. They might be borrowed from your parents, your culture, your school days, or society as a whole.
Then, think about who you want to BE in life, as opposed to what you want to DO or achieve.
Once you know your true values and have a sense of who you want to be, start setting your goals, making decisions and taking action based on them. Design your life and your work around them.
Feed your values:
There’s no one book or podcast that covers all this stuff: inevitably, you’ll dip into lots of different things and that will help you create a holistic view. That said, here are some I’ve found useful or inspiring:
The Inside Out Revolution, by Michael Neill
The Science of Being and Art of Living, by Maharishi Mahesh
Happiness by Design, by Paul Dolan
Conscious Business, by Fred Kofman
The Science of Meditation, by Daniel Goleman and Richard Dadivdon
Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker
The Good Life Project
The Vedic World View
(And of course!) the Leading Beings podcast.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Dr Jason Fox.
You can start right now.
Start asking yourself: Why is this important to me? You’ll know when you hit something that is truly important.
Oh, and meditate. The answer is always mediate. =)
If you’d like to talk more to Kate about coaching and Vedic meditation, you can find her at Leading Beings.