The Map Is Not The Story

Don’t confuse the labels you use to describe yourself with who you actually are. Just like how a map is a symbol of a place, the map is not the story or the reality of that place.

I’ve posted previously about the Cosmic Egg and the symbols like the serpent mound in Peebles, OH. We use symbols to create a map of meaning for ourselves. An important point, though, is that the map is NOT the story of what is going on.

If you were to go to a big city, say Chicago, a map of the streets, public transportation, restaurants, etc. would be really helpful. It helps to find the important things in a complex city. But the map is not Chicago itself. You can’t truly understand Chicago without being there. The same is true for us as human beings.

We like to create symbols, maps, and labels of who we are to better understand ourselves and each other. Introvert, extrovert, business person, parent, sibling, agnostic, atheist, rebel, care giver, Republican, Democrat… once you start creating labels of how we describe ourselves, it starts to paint a picture so we can understand ourselves and others can understand us. Just like the map of Chicago, these labels are not the real identity of who we are.

So here is my request. Pay attention to what labels you use when describing yourself and others. You are much too complex of a being to be limited by the labels and map of what describes you. Take some time and dig into that complexity and don’t hold on so tight to the map. Life will be much more freeing and meaningful.-

map is not the story - rhoads life coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Pride vs Arrogance

Do you understand the difference between pride and arrogance? They aren’t the same thing. Frequently our relationship with pride prevents us from seeing the difference!

I’ve posted previously that we have a weird relationship with humility. The same is true with pride. We want to be proud of ourselves and others, but we are afraid of being TOO proud. We think poorly of others, and ourselves, when we have too much pride.

What if we put ‘pride’ on a spectrum and tease out the positive and negative characteristics of it? On one end we have healthy pride where we lift up the valuable things we do and are in ourselves and others. It is possible with healthy pride to be proud of someone else’s accomplishments without being intimidated by them.

On the other end of the scale we have unhealthy pride. This is where arrogance lives. It is different from pride in that it tears others down. When we are arrogant we overstate the value of something at the expense of something else. It can even tear us down inside. This ends up being why we are so awkward about being proud of our accomplishments. We don’t want to be labeled as arrogant.

The dilemma is by leaving healthy pride out of our lives we diminish the value of the good things around us. My challenge to you is to sort out for yourself how pride is difference from arrogance in your own life, and value the healthy things that don’t bring others down. –

pride arrogance - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Social Endurance

Just like physical endurance, we also have a social endurance. Social muscles that build & can lose elasticity, strength, & power. We have all lost some of that endurance over the last year & it will take time, effort, & patience to build it back up.

Over the last year we have been limited in terms of where we can go, who we see, & how long we visit new places. Just like not going to the gym for a few months, we have lost some of the strength & endurance that we had a year ago in being able to navigate through social situations.

This could look like being angry or agitated more quickly when we are out in public. It might be feeling exhausted after a short period of time being in a crowd, or even back in the office. Because we are out of social shape, our energy drains very quickly being in social situations that would not have bothered us previously.

Even if you don’t experience this personally, someone you know will be. Those around you are working to build their endurance up again. It will take time. Be patient with yourself & others as we head back out into the world this spring & summer. It is exciting to be out & about! Just remember you (and those around you) are building their endurance back up!

Thank you to the City of Hamilton for funding the murals around town. It has been a lot of fun to film them. Thank you to the Street Spark artists for their amazing creativity! Thank you to you the viewers for your patience with the audio in some of these recent videos. It is challenging recording near busy streets.-

social endurance - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Keep The Story Going

A detail that needs to be pointed out about the symbol of the Cosmic Egg is that all three stories are NOT finished. Part of our purpose is to keep the story going. What pages of My Story, Our Story, and The Story are you currently writing?

I hope that isn’t a revolutionary idea for you. Hopefully it is also a thought or belief that doesn’t get lost in our daily shuffle of life. My narrative is still being written. Our narrative is still being written. The Narrative is still being written.

Which means that in standing in this spot, you and I have a roll to play. A purpose to be fulfilled. It is our job to keep writing these stories. At all three levels. In fact, each of these levels NEED us to keep writing them!

Ironically, my personal biography, my family’s narrative, my country’s history, and my planet’s tale, my faith’s mythology are all open-ended. They won’t stay that way if I don’t write the next pages and chapters of them.

So where do you see yourself in these layers? What do you understand your role to be? There is a future in front of you that needs to be created, and it won’t happen unless you take responsibility in creating them. What do you want your portion of these stories to say? Don’t wait any longer to start writing! –

keep the story going - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in life

The Cosmic Egg

We have a tool in the symbol of the Cosmic Egg reaching across time and cultures as a way of understanding our own growth and development through My Story, Our Story, and The Story.

I’ve written in the past about holons, nested systems fitting together into a bigger whole. And I’ve posted about the symbol of the Serpent Mound in Peebles, OH, that ironically has the cosmic egg embedded in it. We are currently plastering brightly colored cosmic eggs all over our houses and grocery stores getting ready to celebrate spring and easter.

There is A LOT of symbolism and history in how we view and create meaning from this idea that we are part of an egg that is hatching out. So try this interpretation as a way of viewing your place in the universe.

The yolk of the egg is Your Story. It is about you and how you understand yourself. Some of us understand that part of the egg really well. Some, not so much.

The white of the egg is Our Story. Our collective story (and many many levels), of being in a family, community, nation, and being human together. Again, some of us really get the identity of being part of a tribe and who is and is not part of that tribe. Others, not so much.

Beyond the shell of this developing embryo is The Story. It is universal. It is the story our religions and belief systems try and describe. We have trouble knowing and understanding it from inside the shell.

You are part of this cosmic egg. Your purpose is to use the My Story and Our Story to grow a human being that can break through that shell and live in all three stories at once. Life is not whole if you aren’t striving to reach beyond the shell and connect all three layers.

Is this a new idea? Could this tool help you in identifying pieces that might be underdeveloped for you? Might it provide some clue to the meaning and purpose you are seeking? –

cosmic egg - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Paradox (Meaning Between Opposites)

The idea of paradox is the awareness of two opposite ideas that reveal some sense of meaning or truth. Part of being human is the ability to observe paradoxes. As humans we ARE paradoxes. We are each mixtures of good and bad, light and shadow.

You have to spend money to make money.

“Tis better to have loved and lost, than never have loved before.” – Tennyson

If I know one thing, it is that I know nothing.

This is the beginning of the end.

Just like everything else, there are layers of complexity to paradox. From the simplest ideas (Less is more) to mind bending complexity (check here for few samples), they are part of how we understand ourselves.

The truth or meaning coming from these opposite ideas is its own new thing. A third piece that is the precipitate coming from the chemical reaction of two contradicting things. Think about that for a second, you have the ability to create meaning in a new space by comparing contrasting things.

Given all of the polarity and contrast in our world right now, what would happen if you started looking for the truth and meaning between the opposites? The simplest place to start is observing yourself.

Where does paradox appear in your daily life? How will observing it help?-

paradox - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Trust The Process

Has anyone ever asked you to ‘Trust The Process’? What was your reaction?What is embedded in that statement?

First, there IS a process. A sequence of events is developing around you even if it looks chaotic. It implies a mindset that your life has something bigger going on that you can’t see. The internal resolution that whatever decision you need to make, or conflict you are in, has a solution out beyond where you are currently standing. How often do you get bogged down in the details of your daily life and forget there is a bigger plan playing out around you?

Second, you have the ability to trust. I’ve talked before about what trust is and how it works. Understanding that for yourself creates a willingness to let things play out. Having faith to see what comes next. An attitude that you are willing to let go of a bit of control to find a solution you don’t have yet.

The ability to trust the process occurs at many many levels in our lives. It can be applied personally to your own story (do I need to change jobs?), corporately to our community story (when will it be my turn for the vaccine?), and universally to The Story (where is god leading us?).

Which levels in your own life could use 10% more of trusting the process? How would you appear differently in the world if you allowed the process to unfold without knowing the outcome? Where do you need to start? –

trust the process - rhoads life coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Businesses Do Not Exist To Make Money

It is sometimes the simplest ideas that are the most profound. The idea that “businesses do not exist to make money” seems simple. Not paying attention to it, however, has significant (and very complicated) consequences.

Has this thought ever crossed your mind? Did you immediately disagree when you read it? Is it a thought that lives in the back of your head without you being aware of it?

When I heard this phrase a few weeks ago, I had to laugh. Yes, it makes sense. But what do we really believe about it though? And how do we act on a daily basis?

Every single business (even the ones who are trying to increase wealth) are providing a service. To help achieve some vision of the future. If businesses only existed to make money we would not have traded goods or services prior to money existing. Businesses existed before money!

So what are the consequences of ignoring the idea that businesses do not exist to make money? We get greedy. Our behavior hardens and we start to act like machines. If there is anything you can do to bring purpose and meaning back into your professional life, start looking at our businesses, clients, and co-workers as having a purpose other than making money. –

Businesses do not exist to make money - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

I’m Sorry (Find a Substitute)

We use the phrase “I’m Sorry” so much it ends up becoming a throwaway phrase. Almost meaningless. How often do you say it in a week? Is the meaning you’re intending conveyed with how you use it? Do you use it so much that it has no meaning at all?

The root word of sorry is ‘sore’; to physically ache or hurt. We use it to convey sympathy with someone else’s misfortune, to express regret, or describe a poor or pitiful state of something.

Do you differentiate those four definitions? Does the line between them ever blur for you? Have you ever heard someone say it meaning one definition and someone else receive it using a different definition?

If we use this phrase too much, where has it lost meaning for you? Does a hollow, “I’m sorry for your loss” land flat? Do you apologize so often the expression of regret sounds more like something pitiful? Have you ever receive an insincere apology?

My request is to separate out the different uses of “I’m Sorry” into phrases that convey the meaning you intend. Try using “I’m sad to hear of our loss”, or “Our family wants to express our condolences.” Substitute “I apologize. How can I make this better?” What other phrases are more meaningful for you?

Try substituting the definition of how you are using “I’m Sorry” instead. I’m curious to hear if you notice a difference in how you are able to communicate with others. –

I'm sorry - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Impostor Syndrome (Phenomenon)

Three times this week someone has mentioned having impostor syndrome! So it must be time to talk about it!

Ever have the feeling you shouldn’t be included in a group and that someone will find out? THAT’s impostor syndrome. Actually it isn’t a syndrome at all. Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance coined the term Impostor Phenomenon as it isn’t actually a diagnosable syndrome. But we all have it at some point in our lives. Some of us feel it when we are new to a group or a career, or when we don’t trust our own abilities.

Having this phenomenon creates a lot of anxiety. We all experience it in a variety of ways and for some of us we may have it about one topic while the person sitting next to us is having about something else.

The antidote?

There isn’t an easy fix. For some of us it goes away once we are older and have some more experience.

As with most of these internal battles we have with ourselves, it helps to name what is going on. “I fee like an impostor” said out loud relieves some of the tension.

Have some compassion for yourself and take stock of what talents, skills and experience you bring to the situation. Make a list!

Make a note for yourself that social, racial, and gender cues make this phenomenon worse. Pay attention to the scenario you are in, even you don’t feel like the impostor!

Ask for help! I’ve posted about this before. The fear of asking for help prevents so many options for us in life. And finally, take a break when you recognize that your stress is high. By pausing it allows the fear to dissipate and creates the ability to shift your perception of what is going on.

Where do you feel you are an impostor? What evidence is there to suggest this isn’t true? How different would your experience be if you believed you weren’t an impostor? That sensation isn’t helping you! –

Impostor Syndrome - Rhoads Life Coaching

finding meaning and purpose in daily life