I’m Not Living Up To My Full Potential

Last week, a client asked me to write about my experience of doing the Work with Byron Katie in the YouTube video, I’m Not Living Up To My Full Potential.

That video was recorded two and a half years ago. At the time, I was feeling pretty low. For the previous three years I had struggled financially to be a nature photographer. I worked hard, and I enjoyed my work, but I sometimes had to decide between a gallon of milk for the table, or a gallon of gas for my car.

I was living away from my partner that year, and if it wasn’t for him and my mom sending money, I would not have had enough money to live on.

But Worse Than Anything Was The Feeling Of Shame

I felt like a complete failure. I couldn’t even do the basics of taking care of myself financially. I had dreams of being really successful with my business, but the money situation didn’t improve, no matter how much I tried to make it work.

I was putting in full days, and evenings, and weekends too, trying to make a break through. I remember thinking that everyone else seems to be paying their bills. "I’m intelligent, and talented. Why the heck can’t I do the same?"

But I just couldn’t.

My Thinking Was Holding Me Back

I was thinking I needed to do something huge. I needed to be a self-made man, depending on no one but me. I thought working for other people was beneath me. And so I held on to my ideal, even as the ship was sinking.

Watch the video here, in two parts:

This Pride Is What Katie Had Me Question In That Video

She started with "You have to pay the rent, is that true?" And soon, I was finding that I actually could get any job to pay the rent. And that I might actually enjoy it.

Two weeks after that session, I quit my job as a nature photographer, and started working for a company building them a website, designing product labels, writing, even photographing their products. It was fun. It was easy. And I loved that I had weekends and evenings off, and a steady paycheck.

The simple life turned out to be better than my striving life trying to do big things. I remember walking around with my cheeks feeling full, knowing that I was just doing a simple job of service.

But The Session With Katie Awakened Something More

At one point Katie said something like, "It sounds like you want a break." And I said that I was too afraid of what others would think of me if I took a break to really focus on questioning everything. At the time I thought,"That’s a nice dream, but I can’t see how it could ever happen for me."

Little did I know that my mom would die six months later and leave me some life insurance. The first thing I did with that money was to take a month and go to Turnaround House, an in residence facility where you do The Work all day every day.

I questioned everything there. I questioned my beliefs about diet. I questioned what I thought my family thought of me. I questioned my beliefs about my relationship. And I came out of the closet about my relationship to my family.

As A Result I Found Freedom And A New Career Direction

I decided I wanted to facilitate The Work as a way of serving others.

Now my job is helping other people question the stressful beliefs that hold them back. I love this job for two reasons. First it is a service job, just like building websites. And secondly, it keeps me focused on my own growth.

Every time I facilitate someone, I am learning and growing myself.

Ironically, I’m working for myself again (like nature photography). And this makes me face my biggest fears. The fears of putting myself out there. The fears of asking for what I want. And financial failure is a real possibility again.

But I Notice A Difference Now

I’m not as attached to my job as I was two years ago. If it doesn’t work out financially to be a facilitator, I’m not opposed to working a different job.

In fact, I notice that my honest desires with money and success are really quite modest now. I’m not trying to change the world. Instead, I’m slowly rediscovering that time in the evening, and on the weekends, is more valuable to me than being famous or wealthy.

Katie says that she invites her children to make friends with mediocrity. And that seems to be what I’m doing. It feels more comfortable, more kind to me, that way.

Would You Rather Be Successful Or Peaceful?

If you had to choose, which would it be? I’ve always gravitated towards success. But life is showing me that peace is actually a lot more enjoyable for me.

There is a balance, and The Work keeps bringing me back.

If you haven’t subscribed to The Work As Meditation newsletter already, subscribe by clicking the big red button below, and start getting articles like this every week. Or continue browsing more articles by clicking on one of these links:
What is The Work?
Relationship and Family Issues
Money and Job Issues
Body Issues
Deepening Inquiry
My Process Exposed