Featuring Stephanie Red Feather, PhD
In many ways, I had to surrender to my own psychic death for my rebirth to happen. It was not a graceful surrender.
It’s time to get out, I declared to my first husband. “Time for whatever’s next.”
My decision to leave the Air Force after almost ten years wasn’t born from a clear vision of what the next chapter in my life would be. There was no, “GET OUT!” shout from the universe. It was just a faint voice, whispering in my heart.
In hindsight, it’s a small miracle that I even listened, as my heart had long been banished from the decision-making table in favor of practicality, logic, and all things left-brain.
As I laughingly tell people now, “It wasn’t like ‘Hey, I know what I want to do next. It’s time to get out.’ It was more like, ‘It’s time to get out … oh s#&@! Now what?’”
As a lifelong empath and people-pleaser, I had no clue who I was or what I wanted, so my next career choice seemed rather random. It came down to this: my financial advisor said, “Hey Steph, you’re good with people. Do you want to be a financial planner?”
I liken it to the first time someone of the opposite sex shows interest in you in grade school: “Oh, you like me? Okay, cool, I’ll like you back.” So, I said, “Sure I’ll be a financial planner!” with about as much authentic passion as a teenager taking out the trash.
I thought my financial advisor’s endorsement meant I would be successful in this field. At that time in my life, I could neither recognize nor distinguish what I wanted from what someone wanted of me or for me. My sense of self was practically non-existent, and my locus of identity was centered in anything and everything else but me. Pleasing outer authority had been my unconscious motivation, driving all actions and decisions.
But that system was about to implode.
For the next year, I endured three levels of interviews, socked away more than a thousand dollars each month, and studied for my series of exams to sell insurance and securities. I learned the company’s tradecraft, practiced my “spiel,” and set up my office. Then, with great excitement, waited for the clients and money to come flooding in.
It turns out I had no clue how to run a business, listen to my heart, or manage my expectations.
But, to be fair to me, the company taught us to apply a prescribed system, but they offered no real advice for anyone who wasn’t wildly successful doing it exactly that way. It was almost as if they blamed you for not using the tools, they didn’t give you.
I bought their fast-start model hook-line-and-sinker. It was formulaic and supposed to be “foolproof.” Just do A, B, and C like they showed you, and you’ll get X, Y, and Z in return. Not enough XYZ? Do ABC more, and harder.
Failure had never crossed my mind, so while I was terrified at the slow start, I remained in denial that I was failing.
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Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from just one of many Sacred Stories of our time. Powerful voices from around the globe that speak to our shared human experience. May they inspire you and give you great hope. Order your personal copy of CHAOS TO CLARITY: SACRED STORIES OF TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE today and discover hope for the future and a blueprint for your life ⤵︎