I asked my eight year old for the name of the diagram that has two overlapping circles. She was hanging on some climbing structure in flip-flops and a bathing suit. I should have been alarmed. Instead I was trying to think of an interesting angle to use to tell you about this week’s book while my two children enjoyed a few moments of their own.
She quickly chirped “Venn diagram” while still scaling the loosely joined swinging steps. My read this week was really a Venn-test. My test was simple. I wanted to see if a self-help book would have relevant info for my quest to find the best book for women’s transitions. I read Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life No Matter What!, by life-coach and Oprah inner-circle member Martha Beck. On the Venn-test the two literature genres – self-help and women’s transition – should have a decent amount of overlap. I was not a fan of Ms. Beck’s Starlight so I rate the overlap as limited.
With Starlight Ms. Beck offers a structured approach to re-acquainting ourselves with our core via countless vignettes and personal stories. The book falls loosely into two parts: the 1st is letting go of many beliefs or behaviors that limit who we are; and the 2nd is adopting an approach to living “your best future.” The book is bursting with question sets and suggested activities. Truth be told I really breezed through many of these so I may not have given the book an adequate chance.
If I step back to think about this book there is a fair amount in there similar to William Bridges’ Transitions. Remember start with the endings? She is far more expansive than Bridges about letting go of barriers so that endings can occur.
Here are some tidbits that I thought might prove useful:
a) Are we imprisoned by our obligations? Jobs, relationships, kids? If so how can we de-couple ourselves from these shackles? Her word not mine. (Steering by Starlight, pg 52)
b) Are you living your critics? or Are you living your best destiny? (Steering by Starlight, repeatedly throughout the book)
c) What are your wildly improbable goals? (Steering by Starlight, pg 132)
d) “Tell me what is it that you plan to do with your one precious life?” (Steering by Starlight, pg 231) Sounds awfully similar to Eleanor Roosevelt’s question to women decades earlier.
During one of her shackles off checklists she asks about moving “away from” certain forces in your life. Reading it reminded me of a recent discussion that really threw me.
I was having a self-critical day. Ever have one? Here is how mine went – despite having a Harvard MBA, starting a fast growth company, securing venture capital, contributing as an executive at an S&P500 company – and on and on – I was sure that I wasn’t really poised to do anything positive ever again.
Sensing this, a colleague said “Are you going ‘away from’ something OR are you moving ‘towards’ something? Wow. Tears instantly welled up in my eyes with this question I wonder why?
I’m not sure I know. But I would be lying if I said I hadn’t moved “away from” many things over the years. Maybe that is why it is so hard to get back to the honest unbiased ‘forward’ answer. Note, no single move away in my mind’s eye was huge – a slight move right when my ideas weren’t respected or listened to by superiors – a jog left when I couldn’t find a way to scale a wall. So maybe all these slight lefts and rights are the reason I can’t find true center —it’s blurred amidst thousands of twists and turns.
I refuse to be cowed by the difficulty of getting back towards my true core. Beck was equally motivated and so inspired by her own process that she wrote a book about it. At her conclusion she shared a South African poem that I enjoyed..here is a bit of it:
Live while you are alive, learn to be what you are in the seed of your spirit, Learn to free yourself from all things that have molded you and which limit your secret and undiscovered road. (Steering by Starlight, pg 232)
Enjoy the week!
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