Anchors Away! Where are you going to toss your anchor?
The reoccurring theme this week has been around where to anchor myself – in the stories of my past or in my future?
A few times each year I travel from where I live now to the place where I was born and lived up until about age 47. I never imagined living anywhere else. It was perfect. I loved the fishing village, the tourist community, the daily interaction with friends and family and the traditions that anchored me. I’m talking about things like the 4th of July celebration, the Memorial Day parade, Santa coming to the town square by horse drawn carriage each Christmas morning to greet the hundreds of people who gathered at 10:00 am. Even the coffee shop where I got my coffee everyday!
But when I was about 44 years old I went to visit friends on the Central Coast of California. When I stepped off the plane onto the tarmac, something changed within me. I felt it – physically. I had never been in this tiny town of San Luis Obispo but I looked around and saw the Seven Sisters, dormant volcanoes now lush green mountains dotted with cattle and horses surrounding a valley bursting with grapes, olives and avocados. As we drove through the town, the sundrenched streets were lined with low profile stucco buildings and red tile roofs. And just on the other side of the mountains, not even 5 miles away, the Pacific Ocean filled with seals, seal lions, otters, dolphins and surfers had open access for hundreds of miles north and south.
The only way I can describe my reaction is that within mere minutes I felt home - in a different way than I ever had before. I felt home in the unfamiliar. I felt home in the tips of my toes and in the strands of my hair. I felt home in my lungs with each inhalation. I felt home in my heart, my soul and in my gut. And I knew that my unexpected 4-year transition to move from one coastal town to another, 3,500 miles away had begun. My anchor had been reset - no longer behind me, but now ahead of me. My intention and attention become this anchor point.
It has been 10 years now since I sold my house of 20 years and nearly everything inside it, sold my car, packed 7 boxes and shipped them UPS to California, and arrived at my sight unseen rental in Shell Beach. I’ve since changed jobs, relationships and bought a house. One daughter has moved out to be with me, then moved back to Massachusetts, then moved back to California again. My younger daughter has visited often but never moved out west. She has married, bought a home and is now pregnant with my first grandbaby.
When I’m not paying attention to where I set my anchor, my story, I find myself in a place of discomfort. This recent trip back to my home of origin was filled with feelings of anxiety and actual stomach upset. It took me several days and a coaching session with Amy Burford to realize that I had allowed my boat to get ahead of my anchor and was now dragging anchor. Such is upsetting and burdensome for a boat moving forward at a fast speed.
My anchor is the story I tell myself of who I am. It is how I choose to identify myself. It is where I lock in my attention and intention. It is the space where I stand as others meet me and greet me. When I feel vulnerable, I tend to toss my anchor around quite a bit. Some of the places I choose to set my anchor serve me well and some bring me unnecessary upset. As an example, when I am feeling vulnerable or insecure, especially around holidays, I tend to set my anchor in “Everyone but me is having a Norman Rockwell Christmas. If I’d only stayed…” Or as my first grandson is growing inside his momma from the size of an orange to the size of an eggplant, I anchor my story in “Who moves 3,500 miles away from their family? Will I regret this?” This trip was about baby showers and family and preparing the nursery in the new house. All this was just the perfect fodder for me to compare myself to where others have set their anchors – if I choose to do so. But the truth is, nobody else’s anchor matters. I am living my authentic journey and so the only anchor of importance is my own.
I realize too that as my business grows and expands so beautifully, I can choose to anchor my intention and attention in the place of, “I am a smart, intelligent, successful business person who brings value and important service to the world” or I can anchor in, “Wow. I can’t believe this all happened to me. I hope I can hang onto it”.
Our anchors and the stories they hold, hold us in place.
As my good friend, mentor, coach and business amplifier, Amy Burford tells me, "Toss your anchor out ahead of your boat – not behind it. Take an assessment of who you are today not who you were in the past. Plant your anchor in who you are becoming, not in who you’ve been. Don’t let the old stories define you today. And don’t let the future projection of fear around things that may not even happen, define you either.”
This is critically important advice as we are leveling up. So many emerging leaders and existing leaders I work with have received the promotion, inherited the business, or experienced faster business growth than they could have imagined, yet they still anchor the story of who they were to 3 or 5 or 20 years prior.
Every so often, check the location of where you are anchoring your story. List out who you are today. What your business is today. Check to see if the story you tell in your head, the way you see yourself or your business is based in the past or if it is in the vision of the future. If your anchor is dragging behind you, holding you in the place you no longer fit, pull that sucker up. And then with great intention, toss it out a few feet, a few miles or a few years ahead. Begin living that story. Be anchored in that place. When you catch up to the anchor and begin to feel the pull, the drain, and the upset – repeat!