Joy is the Essence of Success

Joy is the essence of  Success…

My teabag tag on this cold winter’s night.

Don’t you love gifts like this?  It is a winter’s night when the snow has melted slightly and turned to black ice, the moon grows full, and it is a deep cold. The frosted air and all its various contributions — the musky fox who darted through the yard a bit ago, car exhaust, someone’s passing cigarette smoke, the dog who has recently over eaten, and now a sweetly scented cup of spicy tea — clings close to the ground to join into a soupy, heady moment in which to be aware of life passing by.

And yet, this is just it . . . and thus the gift of a moment in time no matter the moment:

When one feels a success, one feels joyful.

When one is joyful, one is a success.


Yes, it’s that simple.


When do you feel joy?


When do you feel a success?


Wouldn’t it be nice to remember to feel either or both of these during many moments of each day or on a cold, winter’s night?

For feeling each or both is, in fact, a moment’s choice.

Choose it now and take a deep breath! If in this moment, you are able to connect to heartfelt joy, you are a success. And, if in this moment, you choose to feel a success — you are here doing good work, after all, right? Being your shining best in this moment? — then you feel joyful.

Round and round it goes, success to joy to success to joy…


I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately. It seems there are so many recipes to achieve it and so many encouragements in the world to define and attain it. There was even an entire TED radio hour on it on a recent NPR show (good to listen to! Here’s the link: ).


When I first heard this show several weeks ago, I scribbled notes immediately as I took issue with so much of what was discussed, for it seemed there was something missing from many of the definitions of success explored in that assembly of speakers.

And what I felt was missing was simply this:

Heart.  Shine,  Soul.

A sense of Being You, On Task and On Purpose.

A sense of being here to do specifically what you are here to do . . . And doing that.

Call it living one’s shine and using one’s gifts for this world.

Although we try to measure success in so many outward ways, as the Ted Radio Hour on NPR explored, the real measure of success is exactly what my teabag reminds me tonight:



And that, simply, is what I hope any of you feel after working through my book or in working with me one-on-one.

Joy and Success: You are being You at your best and deepest heart-level.

I thank you, at the end of this year in this season of returning light and cold nights, for your joy, for your heartfelt connection in reading my thoughts, here or in my book, or even just for smiling after looking at my work here. Your many likes, nice comments and follows make me feel joyful and have helped to make Here You Begin, a tiny book of good intentions in a sea of self-help gurus, what I feel to be a success.

And so I thank you again!

If I were to define success, for any one of us, you know it would be this:

To feel that you are here, shining, doing your work, on purpose and on task, using your unique combo of talents and heart for this world and in this world.

And that makes everyone around us — as well as you and me— full of joy.

Thank you for daring to shine in whatever moment is before you in your life in this moment, right now.


Elizabeth Darby

Asking the Right Questions

I ask a lot of questions in my book and in my life; doing so is the basis of both the work and the Work of finding our way in life and through Life, in story and in Story, in our journey and in the Hero journey that is every life-time spent.


Asking questions is how we start off engaging with our life, even as babies and toddlers.  After the natural, instinctive curiosity of ‘That?’ to define our surroundings, and soon after ‘Mine?’ becomes the declarative ‘Mine!’ we move quickly into the danger zone of questions:




Asking ‘why’ is lovely. It’s pushy, to ourselves and to others around us.  It pushes boundaries, understandings, norms, and entrenchment. It’s often perceived as demanding, as asking why can unsettle a shaky authority and states that the person asking has as much ‘right’ as anyone else.  Why is the mover of principle and the test of character from here to the Pearly Gates.


But ‘why’ also has a shadow power: Doubt. 


Asking it at a wrong moment in your personal journey can cause chaos and confusion and, well, self-doubt as you thrash with an unanswerable knot. 


Why did I do that?

Why did I choose that? Or why did I choose this?

Why is this going on in my life.  

Why is that the rule?

It’s both a powerful question and a hazardous one, because often as not, there may not be an answer.  Or the answer may be I don’t know.


And let’s face it:


Why do I love thee? …


            is a very different question than


How do I love thee…?


Here’s where the asking the right question comes in when defining one’s path from here, the choices looming ahead, and when fathoming your heart to choose one’s vocation, calling, path and purpose from here.


I learned a long time ago in doing interviews with people I was writing about, from world leaders to loggers, that the right question can make all the difference in the success of what Truth is revealed next. One question can shut a person down, while another opens possibility and long, lovely revelation toward interesting Truth and knowledge. ‘Why did this happen,’ even in news reporting, too often allowed an opening for casting blame or ducking behind ‘I don’t know.’  So a new approach was needed:




How is more than a question of mechanics: How did this happen elicits the steps taken that created the situation, like a recipe. But it’s also more:

‘How’ is a question that presumes something already is.

It, whether answer, solution, reason, or direction,

already exists

and you and I are in the process of discovering it.


With ‘why’ we might be probing whether it exists at all, while with ‘how’ we are poking around knowing in our hearts there is a workable way we just need to understand. And the good solution always begins with a heart-filled understanding.


As in:


How do I use these talents and passions?

How does this work, my life forward?

How might I take the next step?

How does this make things better, easier, gentler, more meaningful to me or others?

How do I feel when I’m getting a glimpse of what my path might be or the good my actions might bring?


Ah, yes, asking ‘how’ allows for ‘feeling’ and the compass to our truth and our light; there’s no doubt that the feeling is there, or that it’s acceptable. It’s already embraced and hugged and able to be integrated into the next step, no matter how gnarley it might have looked a moment before ‘how’ was uttered.


‘How’ is a question for the brave, like, you.


With ‘how’ you are accepting what is, that feelings can be addressed, solutions can be found (as they’re already right here), and that there’s a way forward from here.


So, ask the right questions of yourself as you proceed from here through the door of next. All the questions are important; asking the right one at the moment is the first step.


How do you feel knowing there is something you are here to do?

How do you plan to make that something the action of your life-time left to spend?

How’s it going, living on task and on purpose now?


Blessings on your day of questioning!





More on Success:

This lovely reflection from business professor Clay Christensen, from a couple years ago in the Harvard Business Review. I keep it handy for days when I, too, need to remember that Success is a life-work as well as a moment-to-moment state of smiles:

How Will You Measure Your Life

by Clayton Christensen

Blessings on your day!

Elizabeth Darby

A Lot of Truth

There’s a lot of Truth out there these days.

A lot of it is good Truth:

Like we are really good at doing what uses both our talents and our heart-felt enthusiasm, otherwise we risk the fashion faux pas of wearing brown shoes and a black belt … and a half-smile of enduring another day choosing one over the other;

Like we need to define our own success to look like something we actually want to wear and which looks good on us, rather than the latest style;

Like we don’t walk alone no matter how dark it looks and despite all appearances in certain moments of closet-hiding.

Moments of closet-hiding? You know the ones I mean:

You wake up thinking Today is the Day I’ll _____________________________ (find that job; feel talented for once or again; know that it’s possible I’m here to do Good Work that pays, despite age, circumstance, and time taken off for care-taking kids or parents or both; not feel like yesterday’s left-over beer when handing in yet another resume).

Choose any or all or fill in the blank with your own grinning admission.

And then you find that, well, yes you do still feel like any or all of these and the best place to deal is in the warm closet where your imagination can soothe you with possibility. Closet-hiding.

It gets pretty stuffy in that closet after a while.

And this is where we can dare to let the Truth in, like a bit of fresh air or a crack of light into our dark, somewhat stuffy place:

There is something within each of us

guiding each of us to what works best for us individually

and to the Work we are here to do.

No one is alone in that closet; there’s a guide in there with you, shining a light on your possibility but also asking you to listen carefully to your inner shining wisdom:

No one else can do exactly what you are here to do.

You have precisely the tools, talents

and soul-filled enthusiasm needed to

create the work — your work — in this world

where it is sorely needed.

And if you’re not sure about that, while basking in the possibility of this Truth, get out your pen or sketchbook and complete this simple fill-in-the-blank-of-your-Soul:

I’m an inventor and I can make anything work.

This is a description or sketch of the invention

I feel the world needs most:





Name of my invention

My International Prize Awarded on:



Here are the steps I took to make it:




Now that’s wisdom shining from your Soul. And work waiting for you to do today.

And that’s a Truth.

Blessing on your day!

Elizabeth Darby


Often when we whisper a dream of what we want to do with our time here, a bully shows up inside.

You know the type; they are the ones who remind us of “responsibilities” or it’s converse,  “being unrealistic” which is just another way of “being irresponsible”

Or that bully reminds us that we don’t have as much talent as our third cousin removed, or our neighbor or perhaps even our cat. And certainly, if that doesn’t dim the momentary shine of our soul when feeling the forward movement of wanting that dream, we are reminded that we don’t really have the right to be so, well, deserving of such fun – life is serious, no?


Call these roadblocks.  And the social “norm” is that we weather the challenge or we weary of them, and thus the dream “was not for you after all, weakling,” that bully inside sneers.

I say meet challenge for challenge.

If the bully inside or outside of you says, “You have responsibilities . . . you are being unrealistic. . . .”

This is a two-part sandbag, knock to the knees of your taking a step on the path.  We need to take each of these on one at a time.

First “you have responsibilities.”  Challenge it:  Yes, I have responsibilities, thank you.. And I am taking action to meet them.  I am responsible for who I am and what I am responsible for is my circumstance right now.


By taking responsibility for where you are — no matter where you are— you open a door to actions you can immediately take to meet your circumstance. You’ve just dismantled the lock, the door, and the bully leaning against the door keeping you from your dream.

You can take responsibility for your situation and simultaneously take action to meet the responsibilities of your circumstance. Either way you look at it, it’s in your hands, and in your control to take the actions, now!  It may be as important and as forward as simply “deciding” to take actions to meet those responsibilities.

Not sure?

What needs to happen to meet your responsibilities?  Bit by bit, step by step.

Do the first one. And make sure what needs to happen is in your hands, not relying or waiting on someone else’s actions.

This can be the first muddy spot in the road, and we’ll look at it again, so if in doubt, just take one small action now that improves your circumstance or meets your responsibilities. One small thing, followed by one more small thing and feel the energy of captivity to circumstance flush.

If it’s stubborn, then we need to work with the “belief” that this circumstance is deserved in some way, and we need to see what dark shadow your bully is reminding you of:

What do you get from believing that you have no action you can take to improve your circumstance?

For most it’s a belief about love, being loved, and being cared for that peeks out – a feeling from a very long time ago.

Or perhaps the belief is that the solution requires a sacrifice too dear – these self-limiting places are all beliefs protecting you in some way.  And knowing that, we can take actions that honor the need to avoid the sacrifice of some soul – either yours or those you love.

Then the question is really about a judgment of being “unrealistic” from your bully’s point of view.

Challenge that POV again: Under what conditions would what I dream to be and do be realistic?  What do I need to believe or what actions do I need to take to make it realistic or achievable?

Quickly this comes again to your own beliefs, embedded like a viral video in your soul.

Do you believe what you dream is unrealistic?

What do you get from believing that?

Peel it away like an onion, layer by layer, asking what you get from that belief – it’s all there to protect you somehow.

“What do I get from believing my dream job/life/use of my talents is not going to be realistic – a code word for “successful”?”

“I get a reason to not try . . .

And what do you get from not trying?

“I get an excuse as to why what ever “it” is, is not working.

And what do you get from your excuse?

I get self-protection, as if I tried and it didn’t work — i.e. didn’t meet my definition of success — I would prove myself to be a failure at my dream . . .  So I’m keeping myself protected from proving that I believe my dream won’t work.


And what do you get from believing your dream won’t be successful?

You are really saying you fear your dream will be a failure, and you with it.

Or put another way, you get protection from this judgment of failure –

Funny thing is all negative beliefs try to offer our small selves protection:

Protection from finding out you FEAR you can’t make your dream in reality

look like it does in your head. . .

There – it’s really self-doubt —

masquerading as that bully who is deriding your dream as —codeword— unrealistic.

But unmasked, self-doubt is indeed something you and I and we can work with, and more importantly, work to make reality look like your vision, by asking a simple question.

“Under what conditions would I be able to make my dream in reality look like it does in my head?  What steps do I take to make it so?”

Voila, the steps you can take pour out in front as a path:

Well, I could take more time on its execution so the results look a tad better;

I could research how others achieved something similar and try to learn from their models;

I could improve my skill, get feedback, undertake a course or a coach to give me feedback and improve my performance . . .

I could do all this and keep working at it.

And little by little my skill will improve and grow, if I work hard, work honestly, and work with faith that I can do this.

And now, what else could you believe that would help you make your dream real?

Pursuing this path of what else you could believe soon becomes:

I could believe that if I dream it, I can work at doing it — and do the work of doing it well.

So:  Recap.

Challenges: Are you being or dreaming something that is called Unrealistic by inner bullies or outer loved ones?

Challenge it:  Under what conditions would this dream be realistic? What steps can I take to make it realistic?  What steps can I take to make it happen . . .

Can I do that?

Usually the answer is a resounding YES.

So go! Now is a great time to dream it and to do it. Step by step.

Why Would It Be Great . . .

. . . if we were each here On Task and On Purpose?

What a wonderful world that would be — getting the Work done only You or I or He or She knows how to do, using specific gifts, talents, passions and vision.


I don’t think so.

I think the question is why

we are afraid to think that each person

— even You —

does have talents and gifts and abilities

unlike any other here now on Earth

and that it is possible

to use them right . . . . now!

Do we think the “um, work” (said with heavy heart), meaning the drudgery, wouldn’t get done if You and I were On Task and On Purpose?

What is it about being — yes everyone being — On Task and On Purpose that makes us nervous?

Or would we rather believe that the “um, work” would not only get done, but get done better, faster and with more energy than now?

At least that’s what I’ve found, for when we are On Task and On Purpose little things remain little and quickly achieved, like tick off boxes, for the vision and focus and energy of what we are here to do is rocket power to our Souls.

It’s not even stopped by dust.

“The most rewarded . . .


 . . . and the most important

here on Earth — and beyond —
are those putting to work
their talents, abilities and vision
on behalf of their Souls, the Universe,
and the needs of the World.
For they create Beauty here and now.”



Here You Begin —

Elizabeth D.

Dear Reader:

“You are not perfect at anything …

except at being you.

You are perfectly made, however, for the life and work

you are here to do in your life-time. . . “

So this guide to discovering you, your Passions and Purpose,
and designing the Life Path only You can do is written for you —

It is for you who feels the simultaneous excitement, confusion, and freezing fear brought by the myriad decisions before you as you think of the Life and living you build day by day, moment by moment, as you live. It is what you do in this moment that makes your dream made tangible in this world. It’s how you fill this moment that reveals your essential Being in this world.

It’s how you fill this moment

that reveals your essential Being in this world.


The possibilities for how any of us spend our time here on Earth, and how we put into service our energy, talents — the choices of what to make of ourselves — are indeed endless. Such choices are limited only by a combination of imagination, self-confidence and sheer courage to meet our own Self in the process. There is not a circumstance that limits the possibility of becoming exactly who we each dream to be, as it is only the actions of each moment that define each of us, revealing our Spirit.

This is how my book begins. . .

And I wrote it for you.

There is not a circumstance that limits

the possibility of becoming

exactly who we each dream to be . . .

Like any work, it was written for its author as well.

I wrote it when feeling particularly lost, at a crossroads in life:  children were grown and going, 24-years of marriage collapsing under the weight of separate careers, and my life path ahead totally unknown.  Would I return to the busy life of international journalism, having now successfully guided not just my offspring onto their own springboards and to lives they were loving but many of their friends as well?

Or, well, exactly what would I do to somehow combine my love of helping others discover their talents and passions and also bear Truth and Witness to the brilliance of those around me as they sought encouragement? What exactly was a Vocation anyway  . . . and does it pay the bills?

I was sitting alone in an old stable-room turned into dismal yet neutral hotel room. You know the kind — the windows were a little too high to look out, and revealed only the sky from the little desk pressed against the wall under them.   Although I imagined the horses that used to bed in the room, for comfort if anything, I found all I could see were the stars above the buildings of the stable-block. I wondered if the former residents, too, looked out this window for greener pastures to run in?

Then, as now all one could see

was a vast sky

full of stars: 

Infinite and improbable possibility as a blanket

for the soul on a dark night.

With me on this particular evening was not the reassurance of a warm muzzle and sweet hay breath of a horse but instead a little square pad of sheets of paper.

Each little square was separate and not connected to the next save for the box in which they sat.  I took one, curious to see what note I could write to my Self, looking for guidance.

Instead I took one then another and found a whole list of questions download through me onto each of these little sheets of paper.  Well, the little 3 by 3 squares were connected — by a guide leading me to my purpose and passion  — as the questions, simply questions that I was to answer, guided me to write down my dreams, longings, plans, abilities and things I cared about. Suddenly it was all on paper.  It was a map of my soul’s purpose and the squares became the stepping-stones to living this life-time here: On Purpose and On Task.


On Purpose and On Task.

This is what the World — this World of breathtaking beauty and piercing hurts — needs each of us to be.  On Purpose and On Task, being as excellent as each of us can be at using the gifts and talents we carry as tools of our expression in our life-times here.  To do what?  To do the Work we are each here to do; and if in doubt of what that might be, then to follow our yearnings and create as much beauty as is possible.

So if you, too, are feeling lost at this particular cross-roads, look up at the sky. Take a deep breath. Maybe there’s something here, or in my book or at a workshop that might help you.  I hope so!  For a quick start,  Take a look at the page Questions where I excerpt some of my book.  There you can  fill in the blanks of your soul as you discover or rediscover your dreams, your talents, your passions, your magic and remember how to be the Sovereign of your time here on Earth.

My book, Here You Begin, is being published by Chesterton & Davies, Ltd. It should be out any week.

To do what? 

To guide you to discover and do the Work

you are here to do;

And if in doubt of what that might be, then it is a guide to follow your yearnings to create as much beauty

as is possible while you are here

in the way only you can.

What you can do and who you are is greatly needed in this world.

In the meantime, I’ll post a few of the questions from my book  here …  maybe you will want to pre-order the book via the publisher at the link on the right!!  Or maybe you’ll want to try it out here a bit first.

I also offer personal coaching in finding your path and you OP/OT as well as workshops where we gather in beautiful places to go through the exploration together as well as take a keen look at the resistance felt or at the hurdles to  what is stopping any of us from being our best Self.  And then we walk around them together.  Dates on these to come but plans are for one to be held near you very soon.

If you have a group you’d like me to talk to — whether your friends or church group, your teen’s school or a job-search shelter for the many of us out of work and hurting just now, contact me!  As a journalist I found that asking questions proved to be the quickest and easiest way to discovering the obvious truth; in doing so with a gentle hand to hold, it re-ignites the fire of our souls to be remembered and put to use.

In the meantime, come back for a question of the day, week, month or set up a private coaching session with me.  You can do so through the links at the right!

Until we connect, remember: You and your gifts are needed in this world!

Believing in You,

Elizabeth D.