Follow the breadcrumbs
A decade before I wrote my first book, I was walking around the streets of New York. I’d gotten lost in the back streets of SOHO and was meandering along my way when I came across a big bookstore. In the large window display were a whole range of books on how to be a non-fiction writer.
At this stage I hadn’t even dreamt of writing a book. But something about this display intrigued me. So I found the writing section, and before I knew what was happening, I was walking back on the streets of SOHO with a book called something like How to write best selling non-fiction safely in my bag.
That was the first of many crumbs. And over the course of the next fifteen years, it would lead to my purpose.
When I look back now of course, it wasn’t the first crumb. I had written my heart out from the time I could hold a pencil, until my early twenties when I hit my first ‘serious job’ and for some reason that meant that these creative desires needed to be locked away. Not that it was a conscious decision like that, it just kind of happened (amongst the 12-18 hour days, not really a surprise).
But back to the bread crumbs.
I bought that book, read it in my hotel room, but once I got home it sat on the bookshelf and whilst not entirely forgotten, it wasn’t part of my daily thought process.
But a seed had been planted and more crumbs would follow. A close girlfriend telling me that I should put all that stuff I talk about on women’s journeys and my own journey into a book because ‘noone talks about this stuff.’
Or the crumb of an idea to start a blog after completing my yoga teacher training and doing my second Masters degree in Wellness, to share all of that good information women were always asking me about and get it in one place to be helpful.
Following those crumbs lead to submitting a book proposal to get my first book Getting Real About Having It All published by a major global publisher (yes to write down all that stuff that noone talked about – turns out thousands of women actually did want to talk about it all). The crumbs lead to my first blog and website when I was still a corporate executive and would eventually lead to more blogs, businesses and more books.
Here’s the point: we think that we are going to get struck by our purpose, that the heavens will open and we will hear a booming voice declaring what work we should do in the world. But researchers tell us that it rarely happens like that. Instead, it happens by following the sparks of curiosity, seeing where they lead, and continually re-triggering this interest until it either petters out or blooms.
If I had squashed the flutter in my stomach when I saw that book in the window in New York; if I had brushed aside the comment made by my girlfriend about writing a book when I knew there was something in that for me; if I had resisted the creative urge to start a blog by telling myself that I had a day job and I didn’t have time (or no one would read it); and if I hadn’t backed my idea of writing a book proposal and submitting it to a publisher, even though the idea of being a published author seemed crazy at the time – then who knows, I might still be back in my corporate job, wondering what my purpose was and how I could walk a different path.
But I did follow the bread crumbs. Even when I didn’t know why. Even when it didn’t really make sense. Even when it looked like there was no purpose to any of it. I followed them anyway. Because something inside of me was whispering that there was more to be found on my path. Because I believed that things show up on our path for a reason, even if we can’t rationalise them. And because I knew that curiosity is one of the greatest teachers we have: that we should follow the trail when it appears in front of us, and we should trust that it knows where it’s going, even if we don’t.
I invite you to think about these questions: What are you curious about right now? Are there bread crumbs showing up on your path? Are you following them? If not, why not. If yes, keep going and see where they lead. They may just lead you to your purpose.
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Photo Credit : Clem Onojeghuo