Last weekend I gathered with some of my EFBA clients in Portland for their “Oh Hell Yes We Did” celebration– a day of workshopping and partying to wrap up their year-long EFBA coaching program. It was SO fantastic to see them, and hug them hard, and reflect with them on all their insights and growth and triumphs of this past year. From a picnic in the park (where they got to experience an authentic Portland drizzle), to a sacred circle in a loft amidst vintage workout equipment and velvet couches, to the crimson lobby of the Monaco where we drank my favorite bubbly, I absolutely DELIGHTED in their presence.
You guys, I have so much respect for these women. They truly are badasses. They made a courageous investment last year of time, money, energy, and risk to do this program. They threw down the gauntlet for themselves by getting support, accountability, and structure. They stepped into that scary place where instead of just having secret hopes and wishes about what they wanted in life, they dared to say it out loud and take responsibility for making it happen.
Make no mistake, this is a radically galvanizing and terrifying thing to do. EFBA stands for “epic fucking badass,” and the two requirements are that you tell the truth and you don’t quit. These women have told the truth about their lives and their feelings and their yearnings and their circumstances, and they’ve persevered like BADASSES.
Every year as the mentorship starts coming to an end, I am filled to the brim with pride and love for these women. As we start to part ways, they often thank me for helping them step more fully into themselves and I thank them for being big and brave and badass enough to do so. I think sometimes these women feel like our relationship is a one-way street, but the truth is that they teach me so many big beautiful things too. Each time I go up the spiral with my clients, I am reminded of these truths about what it means to live as an EFBA.
7 EFBA Truths
- Growth happens in spirals. This makes my clients (and me) crazy, because the self-help industry promises short-cuts, quick fixes, and instant transformation. The truth is messier and more complicated. We don’t “get over” things so much as we keep coming around to the same issues at different levels. I have truly come to believe that that’s because our souls decided to grapple with certain themes in each lifetime. It’s like we decided to really “do” boundaries this time, or to really fully explore the dynamics of power, or sexuality, or creativity, or family. This can make you feel like you’re a failure when you find yourself tackling the same situation again and again. But my clients who are doing their inner work discover that while they may be working with the same themes, each time they’re higher up the spiral and dealing with them at a different level. This means that we don’t just solve problems once and put them behind us. Instead, we get a black belt in certain topics. This means that it’s all just practice, and the art of the recommit is the biggest magic of them all.
- I bet you $5,000 you’re not giving yourself enough credit. You are capable of so much more than you think you are. But I bet you’re already doing a lot more than you think you are, too. One client told me she thought she’d flunked this year’s EFBA Mentorship. I blinked at her for a second. Then I started listing off the INCREDIBLE things she’d accomplished in the past year. “Oh,” she said. “Well, yes, those things.” The truth is, EVERYONE DOES THIS. That’s why…
- Tracking your progress is a humble and unsexy task, but it is KEY to moving forward. Most of us are just lunging from minute to minute, trying to stay alive and put out the biggest fires. We focus most of our energy on all the things that still need to be done: that great vast formless nightmare of our to-do list where somehow the truly important things keep getting pushed to the back burner and we are at the mercy of the trivial urgent. That’s ok, it’s just life. But it’s why it’s so important to have a map to show you where you’ve been and where you want to go next. This can be a plan, a coach, a systematic journal, a curriculum, or accountability check-ins. My EFBAs used all of those this past year, and it forced them to swoop up periodically and look at the big picture of where they started and where they were headed. This let them see how far they’d actually come, acknowledge how much they had actually accomplished, and get clear on where they wanted to steer next. Paper and pen, folks. They will show you the truth and help you shape it.
- Your truth really will set you free. This is true even when that truth stings, it hurts, or it’s devastating. It still sets you free. Speaking your truth will make the world shift around you. It doesn’t always mean that you get what you ask for. But you will be transformed by the asking. And sometimes the people around you will respond in ways that surprise and delight you. I truly believe that every time we say what we mean, ask for what we want, and get proactive about bringing to life what we need, the world gets a little bigger. In fact, sometimes it seems like the whole world is just waiting for you to step up and speak your piece.
- That said, the people around you won’t always be delighted when you decide to change your life. It shines a bright light on all the places they are staying small and pinched. That’s why it’s so important to have support in your corner. But if you stay clear and kind and truthful, they might surprise you with their capacity to grow and get bigger themselves. Sometimes, of course, this means that they peel away from you and relationships end. But just as often, my clients have been surprised by the way their own growth has triggered corresponding growth in those around them. It’s almost like they gave the people around them permission to do their own growing and changing.
- There is no place of “arrival.” Having everything perfect is not in any way a prerequisite for living an extraordinary, glorious, gorgeous life. In fact, as life gets bigger and more interesting, you’ll find yourself facing bigger and more interesting challenges (see the spiral, above). But don’t be afraid of this– you’ll be bigger and more interesting yourself, and you’ll be up to the task. Even people whose lives are amazing still have places that stretch them uncomfortably. Life brings sorrow and struggle to us all. When you accept this fact, and stop waiting for things to arrive at a place of static perfection, you’re able to enjoy the glorious messy beautiful reality of what you’ve created.
- It is never too late to heal your past. Many of my clients are in the same age bracket as me, in their late 30s and 40s. But some of them have a couple decades more life experience under their belts than I do, and I’m always particularly humbled and honored when they show up to do this incredible work. They bring such wisdom and power to the table, and as they begin to heal the places in them that have stayed small or hurt or neglected, they shake out their wings and get to the big work of healing their communities, families, and the planet. When they embrace the wholeness of themselves, they unleash incredible energies of love and a kind of galvanizing, no-nonsense, I-don’t-have-time-for-bullshit presence that I have immense respect for. It’s magnificent to behold, and I am so grateful to them, because heaven knows this world needs more wise women of all ages.
I could go on and on and on. I didn’t even mention the extraordinary transformative journey of motherhood, or the civil rights battles playing out in corporate boardrooms, or the power of daring to make a clear decision in a murky situation.
But what I most want to say is that I love you, my EFBAs. Thank you for walking this year with me. I am so proud of you that it comes out my eyes.
And I love the EFBA in you too, dear reader. Love her hard. She’s your treasure.