The Portal Wisdom Story

The Portal Shows Up...

I was in a modern dance company with my friend Philip who turned professional after college.  He was in the national company of Norway and came through my hometown of Minneapolis on his way to participate in a one-week Lakota ceremony in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  He asked if I wanted to go with him.  And I said, 'Sure! '

It was the first time I'd ever been on Pine Ridge Reservation and the Black Hills.  First time I'd ever done a sweat lodge.  I mean, it was just magical!  At the end of the week, he said, "I'm leaving from here to go to a three-week ceremony.  Why don't you come with me?"   I told him I couldn't call up my corporate job on Saturday to tell them I'd be gone for another three weeks.  I'd have no job.  He responded, "And that's a problem?  Why?"  I explained again how important the job was to me and that it was rare in the corporate environment to take three weeks off.  And with merely a weekend notice, it would be career suicide.   So he says, "Well, why don't you try to come next year?" "Yeah, Philip, I'll try to come next year."  And then he did this,

He looked at me in the eyes.  Put his hand on my shoulder and said,

"So … on our friendship, you promise to try"

Time stood still.  I could feel the weight of the moment hang in the air.  He asked me to make a very real commitment. 

The Path to the Portal

6 months passed and he calls me in December.  During the conversation he asks, "Are you coming to South Dakota this summer?"  And again I respond with my barriers, objections and obstacles.  And he says,

"But on our friendship, you promised to try. Have you tried?"

Hmm.  "No."

In March, Phillip leaves me a voicemail.  "Patrick, hey, just want to catch up with you."  

Aaargh!  I can't talk to Philip.  I haven't tried! 

To validate the rejection I knew I would receive AND to fulfill my promise, I talk to my client.  "Hey Nancy, I've been asked to do this thing for three weeks in South Dakota.  It's in July.  Totally bad timing.  A critical point in the project.  And you know I'm in a critical role.  If you say no, I TOTALLY understand.  Just say no, I'm good with that."  She says, "No, you should probably go." 


Next, I go to my boss at Accenture.  "Hey Andy, I've been asked to do this thing in South Dakota.  The clients said yes, but they're naive about working with consultants.  Three weeks is a long time to be gone and I just don't think this is the right thing to do, BUT I need to ask if I can do this."  He came around from behind his desk.  Put his arm around me, turned me around, and looking outside at the Minneapolis skyline, said, "I was asked to go on safari when I was your age. I said No.  I've regretted it my whole life. You should do this."


Benefits of Stepping Through the Portal....Into the Unknown

I went to the three week Lakota ceremony.  And that year changed the trajectory of my life.  Every year for 26 years, I head out to Pine Ridge Reservation and participate in ceremony because every time, it changes the molecules in my body.  I receive those blessings because of a little promise I made 26 years ago … to TRY.  My friend created a portal by holding me to a BINDING commitment.  He placed that commitment on something sacred.  Our friendship. 

Your Challenge, Your Promise

I bet you've been presented portals in your life.  You've walked through some.  You've walked past some.  And that's okay.  But I bet a few of the most significant times in your life are when you you walked through a portal.  And probably changed your life. 

For me, that's what my Wisdom Council is about.  That's why I do EVERYTHING I do!  It's about taking those portals and stepping into the unknown to live into your mission and MORE.  

What portal are you facing right now?  See it?  Try naming it.  You know you should go through it, but something holds you back.  Fear of the unknown?  Doubt that you'll succeed?  Looking for permission? 

Can you at least TRY to take that first step TOWARDS the portal? 

On our friendship, will you TRY?


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