Over the past month or so I have met a wide variety of people for whom the Hummingbird analogy resonates. I have pursued my curiosity by exploring with them some of the challenges that Hummingbirds face – both those from within themselves and those that our current societal memes place upon them.
Today, I want to start by diving into those challenges that we face internally as Hummingbirds.
So far I have uncovered two themes, there are Hummingbirds who:
- accepted relatively early in life that they are different from others and have pursued their curiosity despite pressures to ‘fit in’; or,
- have bought into the pervasive meme that the only way to be successful is to pursue one passion relentlessly.
Let’s delve into one at a time.
I’m too fabulous to fit in … I’m fine flitting from one thing to the next …
I heard from a range of Hummingbirds who own being ‘too fabulous to fit in’ and proudly pursue their curiosity. Although this mantra allows Hummingbirds to be true to themselves, often they find that it is a lonely way to live. Many different areas of research have highlighted how important human connection and a sense of belonging is to the well-being of individuals.
As I listened to the stories of these Hummingbirds I noticed that many of them chose at least one area of their lives to compromise on being ‘too fabulous’. Where they tried to clip their wings or slow their pace down or dull their iridescence so that they may connect or belong – at least a little. Often this was within their employment, although for some it was within their relationships with their families or certain friends.
One Hummingbirds explained that after 10 years of flitting from job to job learning all sorts of skills and gaining a wide range of experiences he made a career choice to work in a large corporate. He believed that there would be a variety of opportunities to do different roles and projects whilst allowing him to belong in one place. Initially he was drawn in because he was learning a lot whilst working with focused career driven people who appeared to know exactly what they wanted from their career. And that was intriguing to him.
However, as he immersed himself in the company he discovered that they only valued very specific aspects of what he bought to the table. And any opportunities open to him were in a set skill range with a particular customer focus. He maintained being ‘too fabulous to fit in’ outside of the corporate environment – undertaking a wide range of activities that gave him physical, intellectual and cultural stimulus.
After two years he was restless and wanted something totally different at work. He held onto the belief that ‘this was a great place to work with a wide range of opportunities’. He had also connected with colleagues in different parts of the business and wanted to retain that sense of belonging. He tried opening doors within his chosen corporate environment but they stayed firmly shut.
He found that his iridescence dimmed at work and simultaneously in other areas of his life. So he chose to walk away from a secure well-paid career to travel the world. He volunteered, he adventured, he wrote, he undertook a wide range of activities, he explored, he tried different states of being, he connected lightly and meaningfully with a wide range of peoples. He rejuvenated. His iridescence returned. And then he chose to fly back to his home country. Upon landing he realised that he still faced the question – ‘how do I have a career and remain iridescent?’
One of these interests will turn out to be my passion … and THEN I’ll pursue it relentlessly and be successful!
A larger group of Hummingbirds shared stories that played this internal monologue. Which is unsurprising given that in many parts of our world at the moment this is the prevailing belief. Every seminar I have attended this year at least 80% of the speakers have stated in some form or other ‘find your passion’, ‘sacrifice yourself for it’, ‘you will then be successful’.
I found that many of these Hummingbirds were struggling with a belief that they were failures. Their feelings of failure were related to trying very hard to land on one interest and build it into an eternal towering flame … and yet, even when something initially excited them deeply after a relatively short time the fascination waned. And something else had caught their curiosity.
They kept asking themselves: ‘what’s wrong with me?’. They kept wanting to know: ‘when will I find my passion flame? When will I pursue something through every valley and mountain top to reach the epitome of success?’ Often times they would be comparing themselves unfavourably to people who have a deeply abiding passion flame and who have achieved societally defined success.
As I listened I learnt that many of these Hummingbirds have had coaching, counselling, therapy to ‘help’ them identify the one thing that will be their burning tower. They have been to every seminar, workshop and retreat on the topic. And yet, all of this has failed to reveal to them their ‘passion’. Instead, they keep coming across more and more that intrigues them, sparks their curiosity and delights them for a period.
One Hummingbird explained that she has lived in a variety of countries, doing a wide range of jobs and pursuing an eclectic mix of interests throughout her life. She looks at people she knew when she was younger and sees who they are now, what they have achieved and the material wealth they display and she feels that perhaps she has missed out somehow.
Her most recent role is within a large corporate, she is relatively senior in her work and widely respected. And yet she feels unsatisfied, caged, slow … lacking in sustenance. She wanted something more fulfilling. And so she started studying transformational coaching. And now she feels that a world is opening before her where she can bring all of her experiences to play in working with a wide variety of people to transform themselves on their terms.
And as we talked about being Hummingbirds a sense of absolute relief washed over her as she recognised that there are many others like her in the world. And that Hummingbirds have significant value to bring to our families, friends, work, communities and the wider world.
She currently believes that all the variety of being a transformational coach will fill her with sustenance so she may fly faster and brighter. And now she is asking ‘how do I ensure that I am meaningful as a Hummingbird?’
I found listening to these challenges faced by other Hummingbirds resonated with places I was also earlier in my own personal journey. I have learnt so much that has helped me and that I now offer to others through my coaching.
I am curious about what internal challenges you are facing? Share in the comments below.