Finding My True Self - In Search of The Full Body Yes.
I grew up on a big wheat and soybean farm in Kansas. It’s a place so rural, the nearest fast food and movie theater is almost an hour away. It was quiet in a way that you could hear the rustling and songs of meadowlarks and quail, and the coyotes at night. You could hear the constant wind rushing through the tall grass. You could hear your own thoughts.
As a kid growing up there, I never thought about being an elder. I am the youngest of five. I always identified as being a kid. The Kid. I hung out with friends that were older. In my first job as a salesperson in Silicon Valley, all my customer contacts were in the 40’s or 50’s. I always felt like I was catching up. Looking up.
In 2015 my father passed away unexpectedly. I returned to the farm to be with my family, to be with the memories of my dad. My dad had always been my rock. It was him that I looked to for external validation, the “attaboys.” I focused on achieving, on winning, as much as possible so that he would notice me. See me. Shine his light on me.
During that period of time my manager was fairly absent from my work life. I was an executive leading a big chunk of the business. It was going well and he had other things that were on fire to attend to. I was autonomous, but it also meant that there was no one to receive an “attaboy” from at work. Even in my spiritual life, the friend who had been my primary confidant for matters of meaning was no longer available to me.
I found myself at the top of some imaginary hill, with no one to look up to. I was the one people came to. I was the desk where the buck stopped. There were no more father figures to pat me on the shoulder. I was going to have to learn to be my own port in a storm.
Is this what it means to become an elder?
I hadn’t sought it out. I didn’t want it. I had been comfortable with the way things were before. But now, given no choice, I was forced to make changes.
I learned to strip away and purify my own motivations. Who am I trying to please? To impress? Who am I making this decision for?
As I strengthened my own internal convictions and stopped looking (as much) for external validation, a new strength emerged. One that has clear intentions. One that is congruent with my deepest and truest self.
One that is comfortable being vulnerable. One that has a deep understanding of who I really am and what I want. One that shines a light from within.
One that is ready to serve.
COVID has given me the gift of time to write – trading commuting time for writing time. In “The Full Body Yes” I share my experiences from my own personal journey from “me” to “we” and learning how to operate from my True Self.
I guess…I’m ready to embrace my role as an elder.
Scott Shute is the Head of Mindfulness and Compassion at LinkedIn which allows him to be at the intersection of the workplace and ancient wisdom traditions, blending his lifelong practice and passion with his practical leadership and operations experience. His mission is to change work from the inside out by “mainstreaming mindfulness” and “operationalizing compassion.” He is the author of the book "The Full Body Yes", available in May 2021. And, he and his wife Aparna are MEA alums having spent a couple weeks in Baja for Sabbatical Sessions.