Life lesson: From the stalls into the arena of your own life

How to step into the light of your own life

Italy has voted. The Italians have expressed their opinion on a vote that is now the basics for increasing changes in European and local politics. Normally I don’t express that much of my political opinion, but this time I would like to share a profound thought I had this morning, when I read about the final results that were released and the first reactions in the newspapers.

Time to vote
People came to vote. Less people than five years ago. Good job- we have the right to vote, so we better use it and do something good with it. A third of the people here in Italy voted for the Lega party (far right). I already saw Matteo Salvini, the party's leadership, kissing his crucifix saying that Mother Mary will protect us all.

Ten minutes later I saw in the Repubblica that an old politician, well known to all of us, is climbing the stage again to continue his never ending political career. Silvio Berlusconi (80-something now) has entered the EU gravy train. With a big smile he said that he has done everything he could and that the time is right to return. And his stage is Europe and the Parliament now.

The Partito Democratico (centre-left) won in the biggest cities of Italy. What this means is that another sound is entering the political arena as well… and it can be a sound we want to hear over the next years... but we still don't know that. We only know what is happening now. 

Is it a mess? Well, I don’t know. I only know that my vision of this world is not based on fear, but on love. And the purpose lies on what we can do if we start working from our compassion and passion.  

Real essence of leadership
The real essence of leadership: why do we lead and what is the purpose? What is the value leaders bring into the arena that is called politics in both European and local society? What is the long walk we all want and need to walk to achieve our goals... and what is needed to get there?

The bubble
Sometimes people accuse me of living in a bubble. ‘Yeah right, in your world everything is possible. In your world there is peace, there is enough for everyone and there is safety. That is absolutely impossible in the real world’. Every time I smile and I know that giving up is not an option. Churchill always said that you should never give in on something that is worth thriving for or in your honour. That’s how I see the society and world: it’s always worth thriving for.

You better leave the kitchen as you've found it!
And we can all go for it. I always think about what my mom said when I was cooking a lot and making a mess of everything, “You better leave the kitchen as you have found it”. And my answer was always “Your kitchen will be even better, cleaner and brighter than you saw it before I came in!”

I see the world in that perspective as well. We came into it and we better leave it better than we have found it. That must be the mission. Everyone can do that. I always tell my students that they have their own stage in life. Big or small... we all have one. And all stages are good. Because it’s your own stage and thus your own truth and your own path. Your style, your authenticity, your passion and your compassion.

The clue is that we all have to stand more often and more stable on that real stage. You know the one you actually were born for. We are often afraid of showing ourselves because of personal anxiety for our beliefs or the opinion of others. Then we have the opposite: those who aren't afraid of taking a huge stage, who don’t care about the opinion of others and do their thing. And even though you do not agree, you stay in the stalls, because “it will be impossible to change or improve something… and by the way… who am I to do so?” - is what your little voice probably tells you.   

Who are you to make a difference? 
Indeed, dear reader, who are you to do so. Or to not do so? This is where your vulnerability is tested and your conviction to continue the long walk you started on the day you were born. You can wait for the right moment, but believe me… the moment is never right. The moment is never perfect. The moment starts when you start walking. Searching for your way, your direction.

We need to do that. You can only know yourself and your path better if you start walking. Stop the voice in your head telling you that you are not good enough... Will you make ‘mistakes’ along the way? Oh yes. Will you say goodbye to people you thought you would never say goodbye to? Oh yes. Will you cry, will you be angry, will you be disappointed, and will you be heartbroken from time to time? Oh yes. But at least you start moving. And you start figuring out what the real deal is you came for in this life.

And then, all of a sudden, you are fully aligned. You understand it. You feel it. And you go for it. You will see that because you know yourself, you will be able to create more compassion towards others. Your own 'stuff' becomes inferior to what you are serving. You will see that everything you do is serving something bigger than you thought and that you in your own way can illuminate this world. But it takes practice, courage and vulnerability at the same time.

Stop complaining, start doing
You can see things through the lens of complaining and frustration or you see that this world is an amazing playground on which you can practice. Practice to find your way. And if you can practice, you can practice love and compassion as well. And let that be the starting point for whatever you are going to do.

Get out of the stalls, enter the arena. The game is on and you are your own competition.

Taste, feel, practice and experience, and as Mandela always said: There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

Good luck.