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Do what you can with what you have where you are.
These words from Theodore Roosevelt offer practical advice for challenging times. Something about that statement grabbed my attention the first time that I read it. However, as I kept sitting with Roosevelt’s words, I began to realize that in today’s world, we might be better served by turning his statement around, starting with the last part first: Where you are, with what you have, do what you can.
When we are in the throes of a “breaking open,” it can be hard to know where we are and what is happening. When the ground beneath our feet is shifting and everything around us seems to be changing, we may even feel like we no longer recognize the world around us. So a first step is to find some clarity about where we are now and “what wants to happen” next.
“What Wants To Happen Next?”
The question, “What wants to happen?” acknowledges that there is probably a message to be sensed or heard, a shift waiting to occur, a door that is opening, or an opportunity waiting for us to notice—something that “wants to happen.” Getting clear about where we are includes peering into the present circumstance to discover the seed of potential or the seed of the future (they’re often the same thing) that is waiting to emerge. We then become stewards for that potential, supporting the unfolding of “what wants to happen.”
This is actually what being a visionary is all about. It’s not so much about seeing what will happen in the future. The true visionary peers deep into the present moment to discover the greatest seed of the future that is now ready to burst open. And then the visionary begins to nurture that seed.
“What wants to happen” is not necessarily the same as what you want to happen. “What wants to happen?” is a question in service of something bigger than you—sometimes much bigger.
“What wants to happen?” is in service of a common good. It’s got to work for everyone. While everyone may not get all of what they need or want, the idea is that everyone gets at least some. And basic needs are met for all.
Recognizing The Resources That We Have
The middle part of Roosevelt’s statement—with what you have—can also be confusing when everything is changing. It’s easy to get so caught up in what we no longer have or what is slipping away that often we don’t recognize what we actually do have.
So the second step is to recognize the resources that we have within us as well as the resources around us that we can access right where we are, right now. Most of the time, there are more resources available to us than we first realize.
Which takes us back to the first part of Roosevelt’s statement—do what you can. Part of what makes a “breaking open” so challenging is our conditioning to go straight away to the intellect and ask, “What can we do to fix this?” That’s a very difficult question to answer when we don’t have a clear sense of where we are and what we have.
Therefore, we start with the last part of Roosevelt’s advice first. If we pause to gain some clarity about where we are and what we have, then what we can do will start to reveal itself. And as what we can do starts to become clear, we’re able to take our first steps into action.
Three Simple Yet Powerful Questions
The Transformational Presence approach is built on just three simple yet powerful questions:
- What wants to happen?
- Who is that asking me to be?
- What is that asking me to do?
We’ve already talked about the bigger meaning of the first question, “What wants to happen?” Other ways of asking this question could be: What is the opportunity available to us right now? What is the breakthrough that is waiting to happen? What is the shift that is trying to happen? What is this situation or circumstance trying to tell us? If what is happening is trying to give us a message to help us go forward, what is that message?
The second question speaks to who we are—to our personal presence. It’s about how we “show up” and the personal qualities and characteristics that we can bring to our leadership and service. Perhaps “what wants to happen” is asking you to be courageous, truthful, playful, or creative. Or perhaps it’s asking you to take on a particular role. Who is it asking you to be?
Notice that the question is not, “Who do you want to be?” The question is, “Who is ‘what wants to happen’ asking you to be?” Your head may be confused by that question, but your heart will understand. Your heart can tune in to what is happening and sense or intuit who the circumstance needs for you to be in order to move things forward. The key is to let “what wants to happen” be your guide. It will tell you what it needs. You don’t have to “figure it out.” The message is more likely to come from your heart than from your head.
The Call to Action
Then the third question is the call to action. Again, the question is not asking you to figure out what to do next. Instead, the question is inviting you to let “what wants to happen” show you what it needs from you in order for the greatest possible outcome to unfold.
These three simple yet powerful questions cut to the essence of what is happening and what is being asked for. Don’t worry about having the full picture right away. Just start with what you are able to sense and understand from these three questions right now. And then take a step. Be who you are asked to be and do what you are asked to do. Then come back to the first question again.
In essence, the Transformational Presence approach is to ask these three questions, respond by taking a step in action, ask the three questions again, take your next step, and continue this process for as long as is needed.
The approach can be simplified even more through this model:
Opportunity → Presence → Action
Answering the first question establishes the potential that is waiting to emerge. Answering the second question establishes who you need to be—what parts of you need to show up or be developed in order for you to be a steward for that potential. In other words, it establishes your presence. Then answering the third question clarifies the next action step to be taken.
The key is to ask these three questions in this order.
When faced with a challenge or opportunity, most of us have been conditioned to go straight to question #3. Actually, as in Roosevelt’s statement, we don’t really even ask that question. Instead, we ask, “What are we going to do?” or “What is our plan of action?” We go straight into figure-it-out-and-get-it-done mode without realizing that there could actually be some important information hidden within what is going on.
There is always something that “wants to happen.” So we begin with stepping back for a moment, using our heart intelligence to tap into that hidden (or not so hidden!) potential, and listening—paying attention to it with all of our inner and outer senses.
As we begin to sense what wants to happen, that potential will start to show us who we need to be in order to turn that potential into reality. It will tell us what parts of ourselves—what inner qualities—are needed to bring this potential into form. As we start to become that person or embody those qualities, we begin to recognize the next step to be taken.
These Three Questions Are The Foundation
These three questions are the foundation of my approach to everything. Whether I am writing an article or blog post, preparing a workshop or keynote lecture, addressing a challenge or obstacle, or visioning the next big steps for the Center for Transformational Presence, my first question is some variation of “What wants to happen?”
For example: What is the core message that wants to come through this article? What is the greatest need that this workshop should address for the participants? What message is the obstacle I am facing trying to tell me—what am I not yet seeing? What is the next great calling in our work at the Center? What is the potential that is trying to get our attention? I take time to listen, sense, and feel.
Then I ask that potential how it needs for me to show up. Who does it need for me to be to help it manifest? What is important about my personal presence in this situation? What qualities must I bring to the moment?
And then I ask the potential to show me what to do. Sometimes, I only sense a next step; at other times, I can begin to see the whole path ahead of me—who to talk to, what resources to gather, and even the step-by-step strategy. I’ve learned to trust that, if I pay attention, I will find what I need to move forward.
The whole process is very fluid. These three simple yet powerful questions are always playing in the background of my awareness.
Shifting Your Focus
As you may have already discovered, simply asking these three questions in that order can already shift your focus to your heart so that the exploration begins there rather than in your head. The simplicity of the Transformational Presence approach tends to take you straight to the heart intelligence where you can continue to expand your capacities for awareness and discovery, perception and understanding, clarity and action.
The Three Questions can then become a powerful guiding light—a light that will illuminate your path forward, help you become the person, team, or organization you need to be for whatever opportunity or challenge is in front of you, and show you the next steps to take.
These three deep and simple questions can become the foundation of your life and work and the foundation of how a team or organization approaches their work, mission, and vision. They offer an alternative to the big question of “How can I/we do it?” In fact, as your ability to sense what wants to happen gets stronger and stronger, the question, “How?” will come up less and less. Instead of asking, “How?” you ask, “What is my next step?” The Three Questions offer a pathway towards making the difference you are here to make.
©2017 by Alan Seale. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the author and
The Center for Transformational Presence.
Transformational Presence: How To Make a Difference In a Rapidly Changing World
by Alan Seale.
Transformational Presence is an essential guide for: Visionaries who want to move beyond their vision into action; Leaders who are navigating the unknown and pioneering new territory; Individuals and Organizations committed to living into their greatest potential; Coaches, Mentors, and Educators supporting the greatest potential in others; Public servants committed to making a difference; and Anyone who wants to help create a world that works. New World, New Rules, New Approaches.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon. Also available in Kindle format.
About the Author
Alan Seale is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, transformation catalyst, and founder and director of the Center for Transformational Presence. He is the creator of the Transformational Presence Leadership and Coach Training program which now has graduates from more than 35 countries. His books include Intuitive Living, Soul Mission * Life Vision, The Manifestation Wheel, The Power of Your Presence, Create a World That Works, and most recently, his two-book set, Transformational Presence: How To Make a Difference In a Rapidly Changing World. His books are currently published in English, Dutch, French, Russian, Norwegian, Romanian, and soon in Polish. Alan currently serves clients from six continents and maintains a full teaching and lecture schedule throughout the Americas and Europe. Visit his website at http://www.transformationalpresence.org/
Watch a video with Alan: Alan Seale Introduces The Manifestation Wheel