Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's your Gobi? An ode to a very inspirational man...

The theme for this weekend, is letters, plain old simple and honest beautifully scripted letters.

Prior to leaving for Africa, I was lucky enough to come across the "Lean In" blog, that had a special feature for father's day, entitled "Letter's to my daughter". The concept was simply beautiful. "Famous" father's were given a chance to blog a letter full of their dreams,visions, hopes and wishes for their daughters as a leave behind that they could revisit for as long as they pleased.

I of course sat and read through most of these letters, while grasping onto a tissue box - disaster - but none the less was inspired and couldn't help but think of how awesome this concept was. Whether we write letters to our daughters, fathers, mothers, boyfriends, girlfriends and Anyone's in between. The idea of just writing out your thank you's and leave behinds is simply beautiful. And while I have gotten a lot better at my verbal communication, I have forever always relied on the power of the pen to articulate my most deepest sympathies, apologies, love, laughter and anything else you can imagine, which is why I thought my blog would be the perfect forum for me to write a letter to a man that most recently has inspired me more than he will ever know.

So the preface... About a year ago I was fortunate enough to attend the TEDx conference in Toronto. As I sat in the audience bright eyed and busy tailed, soaking in every single inspirational word that I could, out emerged Stefan Danis, a CEO of a large organization that was ready to share with us his adventures through the Gobi Desert. Shortly after the TEDx conference, I was searching for a speaker for a work event and in my short list of speakers, Stefan Danis's name emerged. After contacting him and realizing that scheduling issues would prevent him from sharing his story with my colleagues, he mailed me an autographed copy of his book that scripted every waking moment of his Gobi desert adventure. I am not going to lie, while getting the book was an amazing surprise, I brought the book home and left it by my bed side for quite some time. Then shortly after reading the letters to my daughters blog post, I came home and looked at the book by my bed side and thought, I wonder if this would have a leave behind for his daughters. It was that night that I picked up the book for the first time and started to read it. And I continued to read it, unable to put it down. This book traveled with me to Africa and has come on many of my adventures since I got here. And while I have soaked up every word of this man's story, it wasn't until the end of the book when he re-caped his lessons learnt that a light bulb in my head went off that will forever change my life from this point on.

And now to the letter..... 

Dear Stefan,
Thank you for sending me a personalized copy of your book about your Gobi Desert adventure. My only regret is not opening the book sooner, even if I believe that timing is everything. After all I am in the midst of my Gobi, and enjoying every minute of it, lol.
Reading your story of how you and the other's in your book first determined that the Gobi Run would be the best challenge to take on as a method of helping deal with other areas of your life, really resonated with me. After all this is how I encourage all the CA Candidates I coach to get over their exam fears. I always tell them to start with a list of 5-10 things they want to accomplish that they never thought they could and ask then ask them to pick three and focus on them. And while none of my students have the bandwidth to take on the Gobi Run during their exam schedule, I believe that they all learn something so profound from their experiences that allow them to better equip themselves for the CA Exam beasts. I mean I did, so I can only imagine that they too have had the same valuable experiences.
Now while, your whole story was quite inspirational, it wasn't until I got to the end of your book where you re-caped the lessons learnt that I really felt as though something had clicked in my head. I will paraphrase the exact lines for reference  -

" For me, comfort is the buffer zone between fear of failure and fear of success. I always knew I was afraid of failure. I hate failing and I work hard at not failing. It is what has given me most of what I have. But during the race I was confronted with the possibility of actually winning. Strangely, in a sense struggling is my comfort zone. I know that I almost always find a way to kick into another gear and find a way out. In the desert I saw more clearly than ever that when I do well, I am uncomfortable and almost apologetic about it. A misplaced sense of humility robs me of my own power.
It has been fascinating for me to become aware of what stopped me. For five days, "I danced like no one was watching" and then I stopped. It is a subject I am exploring right now, hoping to feel worthy of winning and removing this self-imposed ceiling altogether or at least raising it higher."

Reading these lines made me feel as though everything that was in my own head, had come to life. After recently living through something that has seemed like deja vu when compared to past years of my life, I was forced to take a long hard look at my own life and the patterns of my thoughts, actions and everythings in between. It was this exact lesson that I came to learn about myself. I am really good at coming back from a fall, but am horrible of believing that I actually deserve a win. For years I have had people tell me I was beautiful or worthy of the good things happening to me and for all these years I have uncomfortably smiled and come up with some sort of a Witty remark or excuse for why its so. I have been my worst enemy, I have imposed the ceiling on what it is exactly that I deserve. Which is why I have allowed myself to be disrespected, unappreciated and worst of all ignored. I have made excuses for everyone else's bad behaviour and scolded myself for good, simply because I haven't felt worthy enough and it just hasn't made any sense. Until I realized the very same words you wrote.

Maybe I needed someone else to admit that they felt the way I did, until I could believe it. But regardless I finally see it and like you am working on making sure I no longer get in my own way. Actually yesterday someone told me I was beautiful and had an awesome personality, and I smiled from ear to ear and said thank you with out inner voices going banana's in my head. I think it's because I finally believe it or at least believe that I deserve the compliment.  

There are so many events that led me to your book, and while there are moments along the way i wish I hadn't had to live through, I wouldn't change a thing. Thank you for being the voice in my head and an inspiration to keep chasing after my Gobi.

As a token of my appreciation, I have asked the couple I am staying with in Botswana to leave my personalized copy of your book by the bed side so that your story and your inspiration can leave footprints in other people's hearts as they travel through this home.

Here's to hoping that your story, words and inspiration continue to spread around the globe. Thank you again.

For everyone out there in cyber space, I encourage you to google Stefan's story and set out to find your Gobi :)

Til next time

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