by Hillary Strobel | Featured Contributor
I’ve read The Alchemist multiple times. (The truth is that I’ve lost count. I re-read many of my books over and over again. My father thinks it’s some kind of tic.)
This book is something I want to share with everyone I meet. There are nuggets of wisdom on literally every page. I don’t mean “nuggets” as in “insignificant scraps;” I mean as in pure gold. I’m inspired, as I always am, to discuss this notion of following a dream, and how it applies to the world outside of magic and mystery- that is, in the Real World.
In my own version of the Real World, I live a heart-centered life and run a heart-centered business. The entire point for me is to contribute something amazing to the world while working with as many people as possible to make it happen. It’s a dream many years in the making, and while the effort getting here was great, my heart had certainly not suffered one bit.
My own path to success was not easy- I’m a single mother, who has struggled financially and personally. It’s not as important to find yourself running a business versus working within a business, but it is vitally important to translate our personal struggles into success.
What personal struggles can be translated? Pretty much everything, of course.
The skills we acquire over the course of a lifetime, whether we are always consciously aware of it, are the building blocks of our current situations. So map them out, just like you would a business canvas- only instead of using the canvas to map a business’ assets and liabilities, do it for yourself. Be systematic about it, don’t leave anything out, and don’t question the process.
For example, in my own life, I’ve built a solid base of social impact successes, even if this wasn’t directly related to any particular job I had at the time. I simply needed a specific bucket for placing all of these skills. Think of this as the equivalent to the “Value Proposition” that any business must know inside and out before it can ever go public with a product of service. The Value Proposition relates to you as the “What Do You Do?” million-dollar-question.
How can you frame this for others to see the value in what you do? This is where you need to start developing the answers to “How Do You Do It?”, “Who Will Help You?” and “What Do You Need to Do It Well?”
Is any of this going to cost you? Probably. Anything worth doing well is worth investing in, especially and forevermore as it applies to your dreams.
Don’t fear the “costs” as they aren’t necessarily a loss—they are an investment. It’s an investment in your future, in your goals, your heart. This, of course, shows up in The Alchemist over and over again. Every “loss” that the protagonist encounters is actually a gift that serves the continuation of the journey.
From here, you can begin to frame your dreams as helping someone else: “Who Do You Help?” You must now map out how you reach these people and how you choose to interact with them. I think these are perhaps the two most important questions: what is your most cherished heart-centered dream, and how will you share it with the world in the most effective way?
For myself, it was discovering that there was a way of working that would feed my soul. Social Business is where my dreams found fertile soil. Coincidentally (or was it fated?), right about the time I was ready to pursue my biggest dreams, the United States began to pass laws to allow for the formation of Benefit Corporations. It’s the Triple Bottom Line interwoven with every single facet of creating a company. It’s my golden treasure.
Benefit Corporations have absolutely convinced me that this kind of business is kind and decent; it’s part of a shift in everything, from making “social good” a concrete part of the production process, to the changing perception of the moral value of profit. We don’t see profit as necessarily evil. We see it as the catalyst that makes the prolonged growth of our new production process viable. So bring it on.
So there was the universe conspiring to make it happen. We are all presented with opportunities at every turn, and we need only stretch our minds and our hands out to pluck one for ourselves. How are you going to reach for yours? Start with getting to the heart, what my man Paulo calls the Soul of the World, and letting it lead you. Make your map, and then be willing to throw it out the window as the path gets you to the right place.
For you, it will be different than it was for me or any other woman on the face of the earth. It may be something as seemingly straight-forward as getting promoted and finding a whole world of opportunity opening up to you, but make sure you always know how you will get to that place of being promoted. It might be as life-shattering as a personal loss, and you’ll need to have a way out of the darkness. However, there are no shortages of paths to follow when your dream comes knocking.
Hillary Strobel is a single mother, fierce learner and teacher, ardent lover of life, and the ass-kickin’ President and CEO of The Flyways, Inc. We publish story projects that are interactive and highly creative, and 25% of profits are donated to support social justice causes: from business incubators serving vulnerable women, to agencies working to reduce recidivism rates.
Hillary also runs a consultancy for businesses and organizations seeking to meaningfully build social impact programs from the ground up. The three pillars that support this mission are: designing outcomes and developing goals, measuring impact and creating a universal metric, and quantifying results to the public.
After a long and varied career in just about every kind of Liberal Arts field imaginable, and in every type of job — volunteer, employee, entrepreneur, non-profit worker, and freelancer — Hillary has decided to marry her two deepest passions: storytelling and social justice. The results have surpassed her wildest expectations.