One of my favorite things in 2015 is being a member of New York Toastmasters. I became a member a year ago and have since given ten prepared speeches and competed in two speech contests. In fact, several blog posts here were originally presented as speeches at New York Toastmasters meetings. I have a lot of devotion and a strong case of the warm and fuzzies for this club.
As the year draws to an end, I’m reminded of how exactly a year ago I got fired up for 2015 after hearing a Toastmaster speech by Danielle Mercurio. Danielle is a gifted speaker and life coach who calls herself an urban gypsy. She’s into New Age, astrology and kundalini yoga.
In December 2014, as part of a prepared speech for Toastmasters, Danielle shared with us an auspicious insight from numerology.
She said 2015 promised to be a year of great abundance. This is because, in numerology, 2015 — or 2, 0, 1, 5 — add up to year number 8. Turn 8 on its side and it’s the symbol for infinity. Year number 8 signifies “achievement, a year for making great strides in business, promotion, monetary compensation, and accumulation of possessions.”
As a hustler, negotiation coach and ambitious person, I really dug this. I even posted about it here.
And I’m very pleased and very proud to report that, YES, Danielle’s prediction came true. 2015 has indeed been a year of abundance and achievement for me.
Allow me to brag.
At my day job, the company’s revenues grew by more than 10 fold over a span of one year. Things got very busy and exciting. I did well for myself in terms of monetary compensation. I negotiated and got a bump in title as well.
With the extra money, I bought myself some nice clothes and a pair of really lovely Italian shoes. Mom got new furniture for her new apartment. As a wedding gift, my sister and brother-in-law got an expensive rice cooker (an essential appliance in a Korean kitchen). I bought my friends fifteen dollar cocktails. I felt like a hotshot.
It’s also been a great year for travel. In the spring, I achieved the dream of an Asian American nerd — I made it to Harvard. I attended a day long symposium for negotiation trainers hosted by Harvard’s Program on Negotiation. That was really fun.
In 2015, I led ten Negotiation Prowess workshops / webinars.
And I can’t leave out the pretty trophy sitting on my bookcase that I received for winning second place at Toastmasters district level humorous speech contest in the fall?
It’s been a year of great abundance and achievement.
BUT — are you ready for the plot twist?
What I learned is that having material abundance doesn’t shield you from its dark underbelly — scarcity.
Scarcity is the fear and shame of “not enough.” Scarcity is a daily struggle we all experience.
To paraphrase Lynne Twist, fundraiser and global activist, from her book “Soul of Money” —
For many of us, our first waking thought is, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is, “I don’t have enough time”…
Before we even sit up in bed and our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.
Then it continues at work, where everyday is a struggle against not having done enough, not knowing enough, not being liked enough, not whatever enough to meet the growing demands of our customers and employers.
Then at night, when we’re back in bed, our minds are “racing with a litany of things we didn’t get or didn’t get done that day.”
In this mindset — or hamster wheel — of scarcity, we often fall victim to the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee. The job of this Committee is to keep you feeling small and scared, regardless of how abundant your external circumstances are.
When you don’t feel good enough, you feel anxious and afraid to reach out and ask, to move forward. Scarcity breeds negotiation anxiety, handwringing and can get you stuck.
In 2015, I struggled with scarcity, just like this, every day.
I had to confront my own scarcity mentality just a few weeks ago while we were apartment hunting. My partner wanted to go really BIG as in space and as in rent, and my knee jerk reaction was, “No way we can afford that!” (when actually, yes, we could).
Underneath this was the irrational fear that somehow I’ve peaked professionally. That the great abundance of 2015 was as good as it gets. The gravy train is coming to a halt.
Brene Brown, expert on shame resilience and vulnerability, teaches that, to free yourself of the fear and shame of “not enough,” you have to reach out, connect and take courage in someone who accepts you as you are, with compassion, not judgment or shame.
This means showing up to engage while risking uncertainty and emotional exposure, knowing that we are enough.
This takes owning our stories, our successes, our achievements, our struggles with scarcity, our imperfections.
So I shared my fear with my partner. I told him about my hesitation. My partner looked me in the eye, reassured me, “Jamie, we’re in this together, and we will continue to move forward in our lives.”
He connected with me, showed me confidence and courage.
He showed me we don’t have to be afraid of greater abundance because of the fear in our heads.
We can be brave.
In just a matter of few days is our move-in date, my birthday, and the New Year.
Inspired by Danielle’s speech a year ago, I looked up 2016 or year number 9 in numerology and learned that it signifies personal transformation. It’s the year to fulfill or bring to completion personal dreams; it’s also the year to be more compassionate, tolerant and forgiving.
This is perfect because the antidote to scarcity is cultivating a sense of worthiness, the confidence in knowing that you are enough just as you are. To be this brave would take a transformation. To be this brave would require through compassion, courage and vulnerability.
So I’m making this my New Year’s Resolution – to cultivate bravery rooted in worthiness.
True abundance starts within us.
When we are brave, we can be abundant inside and out.
Be brave with me in 2016.