There is a phenomenon in the change process that is a sure indicator that you’re making progress. You’ve gotten in the elevator to go up to the next level in your life, except none of the people from your previous life are getting out with you.

Since I’ve been living what’s amounted to a dual life over the past year or so, keeping a shiny happy face and presence (I’m good at “doing my job”) while feeling completely sapped of my life force and pursuing change actively at the same time, I’ve had the luck to have a new group join me in my elevator. Most of the business contacts I made as Lisa Chu The Adult – my commercial real estate leasing agent, my accountant, my recording engineer, and my film producer, just as examples – are thrilled beyond belief and not at all shocked at my transition. They’ve actually silently been waiting for me to discover my true path, knowing from the moment they met me that I wasn’t going to be happy for long just working with kids and their over-anxious parents.

I have gotten so many sincerely supportive notes from friends locally and around the world (three dear friends of mine recently moved abroad and now live in Asia temporarily). Not just the fake, “That sounds so exciting!” email, but the real “getting it” of knowing how much I had to let go of in order to take one step into the unknown.

This week I have been emptying my elevator of previous clients. I am observing myself again, realizing that I have been offering a very old part of myself – the trained part – to these people. That’s all they know of me, and even that they barely understand. It’s fine. I met all of these people when I had less of an understanding – or rather a different understanding – of myself. I honestly thought that I would become a version of my teacher, and live happily ever after for the next who knows how many decades building a replica of her program. Ha. When did I ever allow my vision to narrow that much? Never mind why. Now I’m in that delicious void from which all things blossom.

Some of the magical things that have happened in the days since I let go of my old elevator full of people:

  • New ideas for workshops have blossomed in my head and are taking shape on paper right now
  • All of the supporters mentioned above are ready to start working with me and supporting me once my offerings are put together
  • Unexpected people, like my yoga instructor Birgit, are also ready to start working with me – I ran into her today at the bakery after class, and when she heard about my change, she said, “Well, it’s always good to have some change!” and also mentioned her interest in giving a workshop series in my space regarding the Yoga Sutras
  • I saw the movie Up finally, which brought up the idea for another blog post (coming soon!) on impermanence and nonattachment and the value of connecting to the reality of the here and now

I recall that when I first started The Music Within Us, I never called it a “violin school”. I struggled with what to call it, since I was spending all of my time recruiting families who I honestly thought I could “life coach” (although I didn’t call it that at the time) through the vehicle of violin. Little did I know then that I had zero coaching skills to effect lasting change within people’s thought processes or ways of seeing the world. Now I also have the added wisdom that change only comes from within the person going through it. No coach, teacher, or guide, can tell anyone what to do or provide any answers on how to do something. A person should trust themselves over anyone – that really means ANYONE – else. I feel equipped to enter into relationships with better boundaries because I have the tools and permission to listen to myself. I now know that change is absolutely possible, and it takes exactly the kind of deliberate practice I’ve been trying to teach the kids in my school. I’m doing it right now myself, and am so thankful for my knowledge of how to practice something.

But there is a whole parallel process for adults that I am more interested in, because it can completely change an adult’s experience of their existing circumstances in life. Too many adults – parents or not – go through their entire lives feeling entrapped and without choices, having to “make do” with whatever has been handed to them. There is some value in that way of thinking – it can keep the status quo afloat and chugging along for decades. Everyone can have the illusion of progress and the material evidence of having built something. It all works fine as long as everyone plays by the rules.

However, there is another way of living, and another way to experience our own lives, that interests and excites me much more. I never would have believed in it unless I had hit my own version of “rock bottom”, having created and built something I so desperately wanted to separate myself from, but feeling obligated, entrapped, and powerless to do so. The ideas around life coaching came to me at the perfect moment in my life, when I needed to wake up to new possibilities that were already within me. The feeling of unease, the knowledge that I needed to listen to a different voice, the depletion of energy – all were gifts and signals that it was time to take another leap.

Other people who walked out – seemingly suddenly – from situations of entrapment or outgrown positions:

  • Wayne Dyer was a tenured university faculty member in psychology when he was driving down the freeway one day and realized that after seven years, he had grown all he could and was done working in the university system. The next day, he walked into the Dean’s office and resigned. For the following year, he criss-crossed the the country selling his first published book out of the trunk of his car, and made more money that year than in all of the seven previous years combined.
  • Iyanla Vanzant walked out of her law office one day, never to return again, when she finally accepted her call to devote herself to spiritual teaching
  • Martha Beck left the Mormon Church, quit her faculty position at BYU, and moved out of Utah, shortly after publicly disclosing her history of sexual abuse by her father in front of a conference of Mormon women
  • The poet, David Whyte, having transitioned and adventured many times in his life, finally made a commitment to writing and created a career out of the poetry of change

These are just a few examples that come to my mind on this Wednesday evening in my office, after saying goodbye to several families today. It’s remarkable for me to see that I truly did build an institution without really knowing it wouldn’t fit me for the long-term. I put systems in place because I was so well-trained in “how to create a business” from my VC days. I’m such an avid absorber of the people around me, I become what I surround myself with. I guess that’s a lot of what this comes down to. I didn’t like what I was surrounded by, and I felt like I needed a total change of surroundings – people, attitudes, ways of engaging – to live my life the way I feel is my most alive.

There’s a Native American saying that is framed on my desk and is currently food for thought:

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.

Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

Interesting, eh? To me, it means give of yourself generously and lovingly while you are alive, so that the world grieves your absence when you finally die. But it also means, live your life without regrets so that when your time comes to go, you can rejoice in the way you spent your days and experienced the gift of your time here on earth.

Happy new year! I’m in a new elevator, and it feels like a great ride.