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Transcript from this inspiring true story of healing Life Purpose.

Everything I am grateful for, I can trace back to that moment. Sorry.

And, gosh, I’m here to tell you, there’s a way to do this.

There’s a way to take the wisdom within you and call the rain.

You don’t have to have one flag here for purpose and another flag here for profit. You don’t have to separate spiritual and material.

You don’t have to have your calling in your career; you can combine them. Business can be 100% business savvy with wisdom.

Twenty-five years ago, I was sitting with a pen and paper, tuning in, coaching myself, trying not to cry more tears because I’d been crying myself to sleep almost every night. My baby daughter, my second daughter, had been born with very severe health challenges. She had her first surgery at 14 hours old, and before the age of two, she’d had more than a dozen emergency procedures and two massive surgeries.

I knew that she would have health challenges for the rest of her life. At the same time, my then-husband’s graphic design business had crashed to the ground. Some terrible printing mistakes had put the business into severe debt. We were being called by debt collectors on a daily basis, sometimes even threatening violence if we didn’t come up with cash.

I was working till two or three in the morning with graphic design work, trying to scrape together pennies. At the same time, we had two deaths in the family. We had burglaries. My car was stolen, so we were trying to share one car. To say that this was among the most insanely difficult times of my life is just putting it mildly.

 So there I was, sitting, trying to figure out what to do. The bank had also phoned to say that they were going to repossess our home because of failed mortgage payments. So I wrote at the top of my piece of paper, “What must I do?”

And I did what I fortunately learned to do from a very young age and had refined over the decades. I sent the buckets deeper than the surface mind—my mind that was panicked, scrambling with different solutions—to find inner wisdom and clarity. I had fortunately also learned to tell the difference between the ego mind and the daily chatter, and acquire to still live in a truth that can be translated into clear seeing.

So I just wrote down, “What must I do? What must I do to be a strong mum to my little kiddies, both daughters and my sick baby? What must I do to turn the ship around with a failing little company that my husband was struggling to keep alive? What must I do to save our house from being repossessed?”

Once I got some thoughts, dreams running that had a sense of openness and clarity, the first thought that landed from wisdom was, “You’re asking the wrong question.”

I’m asking the wrong question?

So what is the right question, I wondered? And this is where you can set up an inner dialogue. If you are patient with yourself and if you know you have other radio stations to tune into inside of you. So what is the right question?

Ask, “Who am I?”

So instead of asking, “What must I do?” and scrambling, I needed to ask, “Who am I?” I could not see at all how that was supposed to help me. I mean, do I phone my bank manager and say, “I’m sorry? I don’t know what to do, but I do know who I am?”

And then he says, “Oh, well, you know, Colleen, if you know who you are, that’s fine. We’ll put that on the system and we’ll postpone repossessing your house.”

It didn’t make logical sense at all, but I could feel the solidness of it. I could feel the openness in my body, the relief it was giving my nervous system, which is my way of knowing the back it in my inner well has hit water.

There is truth here. There is clarity here that I need to pay attention to. So I wrote down this question: “Who am I?” but still a question mark with the question.

And then this simple idea arrived, an idea that at the time did not seem profound, did not seem life-changing. But looking back, this simple insight sent me into a new future timeline. It totally changed everything. And it wasn’t a Hollywood moment. There wasn’t a profound symphony choir or harps playing; it was just a thought. It was a gentle thought, just like water filling up a bucket. It’s quite ordinary until you drink it if you’re thirsty.

And the thought was simply this:

If you were an apple tree and you didn’t know you were an apple tree, how would you know what to do?

And I thought about this: If I was an apple tree, but I didn’t know I was an apple tree, how would I know what to do? I wouldn’t. Maybe I’d try and make oranges. Maybe I would be doing the best I could, but from the wrong place, from a sense that I’m supposed to do something.

So now, who am I? Well, the symbol of this apple tree was one I clung to. I held onto it, and I had to admit to myself, I actually don’t know. I knew the answer wasn’t the photo on my ID book, and I knew there was a deeper answer here. But the truth is, I didn’t know, so I surrendered. I don’t know the answer to that question.

And then I was guided to change my approach from “What must I do?” to discovering what my apple tree was. What is my true natural self?

And I realized that I was wrong about a sense of purpose. We believe that our purpose is something we’re supposed to do, some passionate, inspired action, something we’re supposed to do with our lives to create meaning, form, and significance. We also might believe that when we do this purposeful thing, this purpose-aligned action, that somehow the waves are supposed to part and that everything is supposed to be okay. So we try to do this and we try to do that. But a doing-based purpose ties us to everything external to us.

 So this was a total revolution in my way of seeing.

An apple tree does what it is.

Who it is and what it is comes first. And what it does is an expression of that.

But think about what we do when you bump into someone at a cocktail party or a wedding or a function. After you’ve said, “Hi, my name is…”, what’s the next thing they ask you? They say, “What do you do?” But listen to the way we answer. We don’t say, “I do coaching or consulting or accountancy.” We say, “I am a coach. I am a teacher. I am an entrepreneur. I am an author.” We respond to “What do you do?” with an “I am” answer, which tells us something about ourselves.

We make what we do into an identity, and we put doing first and being second. So we climb into a doing box. We put our identity into a doing box, which severely restricts what we can do, and it restricts our being. It limits who we are. We equate worth to what we can do.

Now we say, “I’m in a doing box. I am what I do, and if I can’t do, I am worth less, worthless because I can do less. Or if I haven’t found the doing that is my purpose, then I have no meaning. I have no significance. I have no fulfillment because I haven’t found the doing that is my purpose.”

That day, I changed that around. I put being first, apple tree first. My mission was to find and free my being. Find and free my apple tree. Trusting that an apple tree knows what to do. Trusting that you have an innate natural self. Well, that if you free it, it can make bark and leaves. And that your purpose is not something you are supposed to do, which means you cannot fail or succeed. You can find and free your apple tree, natural self.

Everyone always says to me, “Colleen, you never finish the story. What happened once you found and freed your apple tree?” That day, I worked to listen closely to reassess my sense of being.

When we speak, do, and think in alignment with our apple tree selves, with our true natural selves, the sap rises naturally. And that sap rising feeling is an energy, it’s an inspiration, it’s a movement, it’s like life and love moving within us.

When we speak, act, do, and think in a way that isn’t in alignment with it, so trying to make oranges, for example, the sap doesn’t rise. It drops.

So we feel a lack of movement, a lack of love, a lack of energy.

Now, there’s a caveat here that when we’re in a fear state and contracted, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. So it’s really first important to actually get into a neutral open state, which tuning into wisdom can help us to do. And once you’re in a more open state, you can then tell where does my surprise. And then to double down on that, to back it.

For me, my sap rises doing this, tuning in and translating. And that day was the first day of really owning that. So I’d ask you to spend some time with what makes my surprise. And yes, we’re looking at doing activities, but you’re trying to trace that back to who are you? Who is the being? What is the being behind that? What is the natural self?

And then from that place, starting to notice, how does this natural apple tree authentic self design, move, speak, work? So from that day, that’s what I did. I was still coaching, doing a little bit of coaching work, doing a little bit of teaching work, a little consulting work, doing some graphic design work. But I started trusting my apple tree and giving myself that confidence, and I started freeing it into my life.

It changed the way I was showing up for clients. It changed the way I was making decisions. This changed the way I was being present.

When you free you and can see your apple tree self, turns out others can see it too.

And I started being invited to speak. My clients started referring other clients, and a struggling coaching business became a flourishing one. Opportunities started showing up, and now I started saying yes.

I met this with practical studying and finding skills and knowledge. But that met the knowing. The knowledge met the knowing. The knowing of my apple tree. And so when I found myself on stages and when I found myself in front of clients, this natural approach to serving other people changed everything.

And people started being blown away. They were. “You’ve helped me, Colleen. You’ve changed my life.” Sometimes I’d hear that.

And then I also started showing other people how to find and free their apple trees. And it became a cornerstone to what then became a brand and a business. And publishing deals came my way. I started writing for magazines. People started asking me to speak as an expert guest on television, on radio. This is before podcasts. That did eventually happen. I found myself teaching in Singapore, in Buenos Aires, in New York, in Chicago, in London.

There are conscious, ethical ways to run a business, to market, to be a custodian to a beautiful business that can serve many, many people. And that, my beautiful, is what I’ve spent the last two and a half decades doing, and now get invited to work with scores of multinational companies and get the privilege of guiding, facilitating leaders, coaches to build their own conscious careers and businesses and brands.

 

And it turns out when we follow these natural principles, where your purpose is first, your apple tree is always the cornerstone. It is always the foundation when that is the first thing. Everything grows from that.

And my kids are now adults. I work with them. I get to watch their apple trees growing. They’re in their late 20s. There are still challenges. Life is still challenging, of course. But everything that I am grateful for, everything I am grateful for, I can trace back to that moment.

Sorry.

And, gosh, I’m here to tell you, there’s a way to do this. There’s a way to take the wisdom within you and call the rain. Still, it’s work, but it’s work aligned to a deep sense of integrity and service. You don’t have to have one flag here for purpose and another flag here for profit. You don’t have to separate spiritual and material. You don’t have to have your calling in your career; you can combine them. Business can be 100% business savvy with wisdom.

Making this work so that we can do the work that makes our sap rise for our own sense of fulfillment, so that we can make an impact in the world, that we leave better than when we arrived. And like building an organic farm instead of poisoning the earth, we can feed our businesses so that they feed us. There are simpler ways to do this. There are elegant ways to do this.

And I’m here to help you and guide you if this is something that resonates with you.

I can help you build a conscious, profitable, purpose-filled business where you bring your wisdom to life to serve at the highest.

This could be a coaching, consulting, training business.

Anything in that space is something I know now quite a lot about, and I’m here to help you to do the same.