Why I Dismantled Success and Followed My Desire
by Bob Wilms Dec 22, 2015
Imagine this: You’ve got a successful job; better yet, you’ve got your own business. You have a condo overlooking the San Francisco Bay. You’re living in the most expensive city in the U.S., and you’re living well. Eating out at the best restaurants - those places they write about in the NY Times and appointed with Michelin stars (it took me years to realize this wasn’t a subsidiary of the tire company). Beck plays at your gallery. You’ve met Richard Branson, Tony Fadell, and other members of the billionaire glitterati. Writers write about your business all over the country, and you can pretty much call on anyone in the city, anywhere, anytime, and get in through the door.
So where do you go from here? Make more money? Vacation on those picture-perfect islands, and swim with dolphins? Grow your business? Start another business? For what? To take more of those vacations? Buy more of those cars?
In my case, you do the opposite. You do exactly the opposite you had done up to the very minute you made the decision to change.
You sell the business, you rent out the condo, and stare into the void. Your contact list, your status, the prestige: ALL GONE. Safety, career planning, retirement plan: ALL up in smoke. You let go of the safety, you let go of the money. You stop making decisions based on calculations of risk vs reward, and you start moving towards desire. You start saying yes. You stop saying no. You lean into the things that are the scariest, and you learn to use that discomfort as electricity to propel your life into the unknown.
What is this insanity? Well, I have what I believe is a relatively sane response.
It doesn’t make sense. And the truth is, it doesn’t need to make sense. My Bikram instructor said in class today that your “mind can’t serve two masters,” and it’s true. I had let my ego drive my decisions for my whole life, and it was time to let it go. It was time to stop hanging on to that last crumb of self-will, and give space for my intuition to take center stage.
And this is where I started living the life I wanted to live.
I remember the exact moment that sparked this transition. One morning I received a lengthy email from an artist firing us. My heart dropped. I felt light-headed and sick to my stomach. Our biggest star was now our biggest failure. I was embarrassed. I had just flown cross-country to spend a week driving all over California with this artist, and he was firing us.
It took a bombshell like this to wake up. The sensation washed over my whole body. I couldn’t wiggle around it. I couldn’t hide from it.
In real-time I saw my life flash by.
I saw how I had convinced myself over the last 10 years that life was as good as I could expect it. That this was it. That this job, this career, and this business were the best options I had. That if I quit I wouldn’t have enough money. I had a-thousand-and-one excuses to keep me in that thing I hated the most.
I had convinced myself, and convinced myself, and convinced myself until I had beaten out any sense of purpose, any sense of knowing what I want. And I had been doing this for a very long time.
And so the back to the moment after I'd read that email; I walked into my business partner’s office, and we started talking. I said, “I think I’m done. I don’t think I can deal with this anymore.”
And it was over. I was done. D O N E.
I had written resignation letters to my business partners before, and each time we got together to discuss, I would dissipate the anger and the frustration of knowing that I wasn’t doing what I wanted. Eventually the emotion would pass and we’d move on, and each time the blowout happened again, the fallout would be worse. I would retreat to my apartment with a migraine, watch TV for hours, and fall asleep. Then I'd wake up at 3AM and start my version of Groundhog Day. Every day, rolling out of bed, half-dead, wondering how on earth I was going to get through another day. This was my life for 10 years, and it was no way to live!
This time was different. I held the space. I pushed through the fear of confrontation, and I leaned into the conversation without an agenda. I asked for 100% of what I wanted, and stayed in the conversation to negotiate through to a solution that benefitted all, not just me. Even when the emotions ran high, and we got into disagreements, I stayed connected. And after a few months, both sides got what they needed and we all remained friends. They got the business, and I got my life back.
Funny that the thing that made this possible was a practice called Orgasmic Meditation, or OM. Having spent 14 years practicing yoga, meditation, and Qi Gong, it was this practice of stroking a woman’s clitoris that brought me to face my greatest fear: intimacy. It taught me to embrace sensation. To establish connection with other human beings, and nurture and build that connection. Where I used to run - and I had been running for years - I could now face my darkest feelings, stay engaged, and move through the scene one step at a time, never losing consciousness.
Now I fully experience life, and that’s worth a lot more than all that other stuff I was getting good at collecting, money included.
So I’m starting all over again. Building brick by brick. This time it’s a life I choose...and I’m grateful to be here.
(Photo Credit: Ellie Polston)