Personal Writing

Rainbows and ladders

The set up

I had breakfast with a friend recently; she asked me how my new life was going, a question I’m getting a lot these days and one that’s forcing (allowing?) me to have hard conversations with myself because the answer isn’t what I want it to be…yet

I paused to determine how honest I would be.

I went for real and said, “Oh, it’s a complete bust.”

She looked a bit askance, so I went on, “I naively thought that when I finally announced I was leaving my stable job to venture out, the Universe would send a rainbow through my office window and a unicorn would gracefully slide down to bequeath me with a blessing to go forth. That for sure hasn’t happened.”

She countered with, “How about a ladder?”

The break down

We laughed and began to riff on the difference between the two:

Rainbows: Stunningly beautiful. Magical and mythical. The transportation system of the Care Bears and Rainbow Brite. God’s sign to Noah. A siren song to those in search of gold. The go-to design of 3rd grade doodlers the world over (and still me as evidenced above).

Ladders: Take you up AND down. Portable, predictable and practical solutions to many problems. Exist in the physical realm versus refractions based on the physics of water and light. Readily accessible. Relatively stable, adaptable and collapsible. Provide the opportunity to see a myriad of different vantage points.

Where a rainbow is illusive, fickle even, a ladder is a tried and true, trusted object that reliably does its job.

The lesson

Why do we crave the rainbow? Why ignore the stalwart ladder in favor of something that will ultimately evade us every single time we think we’re near to grasping it?

So much of what I’m putting out into the world seems to be ignored; I (kind of) jokingly asked my marketing team if I had died and just didn’t know it? Maybe that was why I was getting so little traction? They informed me that I have not died—I’m not absolutely sure that made me feel better, but that’s for another day’s post.

I’m desperately searching for rainbow moments, exchanges and opportunities: the viral post, the sold out experience, the growing network, bank account and influence.

But while I’m searching for the chimerical, I’m climbing a ladder and discounting the extraordinary value of the rungs:

  • The email from a past Spark participant who told me of a man she reconnected with. She wrote, “I was fascinated by how much desire he had for more (or at least different) despite everything he’s achieved. I immediately thought this was the exact person that would benefit from your courses (an indicator of great branding, by the way.). He’s in a phase of transition where there’s a mix of big dreams, uncertainty, disorganization, and hesitation. I thought he had a lot to learn from you, and I hope he signs up for something soon!”
  • The brunch I had last week with five incredible friends and past Spark participants who agreed to be my Personal Board of Directors.
  • The friend from far away who kindly admonished me for not inviting her to be part of the BOD, which reminded me that I need to ask, and people can say yes or no for themselves. She’ll be flying in for the next board meeting in June.
  • The enthusiastic response for meetings with two women who’ve experienced a bit of Spark work and are willing to help me refine a new idea I’m formulating.
  • The moment four past Spark participants (who didn’t know each other before I introduced them) were on a virtual Q&A about a new anthology one created (in part because of doing a Spark weekend retreat) and three submitted chapters for and called out that I was the reason they were connected.
  • The follow up email from a woman I’ve never met in person who wrote to thank me for helping to inspire the anthology because listening to that conversation ignited a new, powerful Spark for her.

It’s easy to discount those positive moments and so many others. After all, what do I really have to show for any of that besides a list of bullet points? Aren’t each of them just one little step up the never-ending ladder?

Over to you

I bet you already know what I’m going to ask you.

Are you so busy searching for a rainbow, something that doesn’t technically exist in any physical way (I remind you and me), that you’re completely ignoring the ladder rungs moving you upward?

This week, can you focus on the easy-to-dismiss moments, exchanges and opportunities that actually matter?

  • The 1 pound you lose
  • The nice email someone sends or the one you take the time to send
  • The thank you for holding a door open for a stranger
  • The extra hug your child gives you
  • The 10 minutes you take to work on Discovering Your Spark
  • The drink you don’t make/order
  • The evening you put your phone away
  • The walk you take outside versus streaming something
  • The connection you make time for with your partner

And take the time to write them down. My perspective magically shifted from frustration to appreciation for this past week while I was writing my bullet list.

We all want the rainbow—it’s in our nature to crave beauty, mystery and overnight success. But while you’ve got your head up, scanning the sky for ROY G BIV, be sure to note that it’s easier to see all the beauty if you climb up a few rungs on your ladder and get a better view.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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