, ,

When I was growing up, I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes. I still love following a mystery and considering each event and detail as a possible clue.  Of course, I never have the whole thing figured out when Mr. Holmes exclaims, “Elementary, my dear Watson!”, but I always have my suspicions.

Looking at each detail of the story for meaning is one of the things that I enjoy most in Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. I didn’t think of looking for meaning in the details of my own life until I read The Celestine Prophecy years ago. I don’t remember many details of the plot, but I did take away the thought that people and challenges might be put in my path for a reason.

I’ve always fought against the idea of “destiny.” What is the point of living life if you are just living out a script set in stone? However, I like the idea of looking for and following clues because I’m still in control in that case. I always have the ability to choose whether to follow the clue or not, but recognizing it as a possible turning point keeps me from blundering blindly through life without making a conscious choice.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I have to jump on every opportunity that comes my way. If I did, I’d buy every single item advertised on TV and fall for every marketing gimmick. The ultimate choice is mine. I find that my stomach is my most reliable yardstick for making a decision that’s right for me.

I was offered a discount on a leadership school that is quite expensive. Two trainers who I respect from my life coach class recommended me. I felt a real obligation to live up to their expectations and to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me. In the end, I realized that the thought of taking on such a huge financial burden was making me crazy, and my stomach was in knots. When I let go of the opportunity, my whole body relaxed, and my stomach unclenched and gave a sigh of relief.

In her book The Unmistakable Touch of Grace, Cheryl Richardson writes about a guiding hand influencing our lives. She calls it “grace” and writes, “Every event we experience and every person we meet has been put in our path for a reason. When we awaken to this fundamental truth, we begin to understand that a benevolent force of energy is available to guide and direct our lives.”

Richardson advocates asking for that help from the Universe, or whatever name you use for your higher power. Asking a higher power for help isn’t all that odd an idea. Many people pray to God and ask for help and guidance. Here is the phrase that Richardson uses: “I am open and receptive to the power of grace in my life now. I ask to be shown clear examples of how this energy is operating in my life.”

My best example of grace stepping in to lend a hand came the morning that I was struggling to get the convoluted idea of grace that was in my brain untangled, down my arms, and into my hands to type. I was about to give up when my friend Rose called. She said, “I thought that you could use a smile this morning.” I told her that I always appreciated a smile, and she asked me what I was up to.

I started trying to explain the concept of grace and clues and choice. My explanation seemed lifeless and vague, but she sent me scrambling for a pen with her immediate comment, “Oh, the treasure hunt to fulfillment.” Wow! Thank you, Universe, for sending me Rose this morning!

“That is the way I live my life,” she continued. “I see myself surrounded by opportunities that I get to choose from.” It’s way beyond coincidence that she telephoned just as I was grappling with Cheryl Richardson’s call for grace.

Rose’s metaphor of life as a treasure hunt reminded me of a game that I used to play with my children. They were too young to read, so I sketched various places around our yard and used them as clues.  I handed them a picture of the slide. They would run to the slide, where a picture of the basketball goal waited for them. They ran to each place eager to find out where the next clue led.

There are a lot of similarities between the kids’ game and life. First, there’s no way to see the end from the beginning. Second, to get to the end and win the game, you have to follow all of the clues in a specific order. You focus all of your energy on the visual image of your immediate goal. Once you reach that goal, another one waits for you that will take you further along your adventure. The game of life is fun when it’s a puzzle and a journey into the unknown that requires brains, courage, and tenacity.

There are those who disagree with my perspective on life, and I wouldn’t argue with them. They have just as much a chance of being right as I do, but being “right” isn’t what is important. Whether or not it’s true, isn’t it a more fun way to look at life? We have two choices. One is to go through life feeling that we are buffeted by the winds of fortune and are forced to fly hither and yon like a feather with no say in where we go. On the other hand, we can see ourselves surrounded by clues and gifts that are ours for the taking. Each day is an opportunity to learn and grow. Each person is a potential guru with wisdom to share.

Now I will confess that I wrote this blog back in 2007. It represents a turning point in how I view life. I still work to see life as Rose does – a treasure hunt to fulfillment. I will admit that the treasure hunt has taken me to some dark and scary places in the past dozen years or so. However, the journey is an adventure if you expect tokens and clues that will lead you into sunlit happiness. An adventure is something that I can look forward to living.

Life is a grand adventure when each moment could uncover a clue that leads to the treasure of living our best lives! As my friend Sherlock Holmes would say, “Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot!”

For a little bit of fun leadership development, join 53 Leadership Challenges at KathyStoddardTorrey.com.

Want to go further with your professional development? Check out the courses offered at PositiveEffectLeadership.com.

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at KSTorrey@tapferconsulting.com.