Embracing Possibility With Sibyl Chavis
How do you achieve success and reach your goals? You do that by embracing possibility! In this episode, Katherine Twells interviews the founder of The Possibility of Today, Sibyl Chavis. Sibyl talks about her dream of becoming a lawyer, working towards the goal at Harvard and finally reaching her dream. She discusses the feeling of climbing the wrong ladder and pivoting towards her new goal of helping others lead better lives. Tune in and be inspired by Sibyl’s road to personal growth.
Listen to the podcast here:
Embracing Possibility With Sibyl Chavis
The Courage To Follow Our Own Unique And Brilliant Path
In this episode, I am welcoming the remarkable Sibyl Chavis, who is truly a role model in having the courage to follow your inner voice into an expansive life. A little bit about Sibyl’s background, like many people, she worked overtime to create “The Good Life.” She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Michigan and a Law Degree from Harvard Law School, which is no small feat. Following law school, Sibyl began her career practicing law at a leading law firm in Atlanta, Georgia.
In our interview, you will hear more about what that experience was like for her and why she made a shift. From there, she became Executive Vice President in one of the top multicultural advertising agencies, where she played a key role in helping grow the company with billing and personnel tripling over the course of her tenure. She left the lucrative corporate world on the East Coast to create a life that, for her, had much greater clarity and purpose.
In 2011, she launched The Possibility of Today what began as a blog turned into a lifestyle media brand with hundreds and thousands of fans engaging with Sibyl on webinars, social media platforms, and her podcast. In 2015, Sibyl launched Ripple Agency, Ripple Partners with mission-driven companies to create social good programs that help people transform and lead better lives.
One of her biggest passions in life is her work with Sounds True, a multimedia publishing company that works with some of the leading spiritual teachers and visionaries of our time. Sibyl has an incredible journey and you’ll read in our conversation that she had to tap into a personal sense of trust in her path and what she felt she was meant to do next and that trust resulted in a truly extraordinary life. I hope that you will enjoy my conversation with the passionate Sibyl Chavis.
Sibyl, thank you for joining me on the show. I appreciate you taking the time.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor to be here.
We’re going to have some fun because I love your story. Before we start digging into the meat of everything, we always start the show with the origin story. I already talked about your bio beforehand but there’s way more to someone than a bio. It’s the journey. If you would take a moment and share your story, and then we’ll go deeper from there.
I’m going to start way back at the beginning at the age of seven. From the time I was seven years old, I always thought I wanted to be an attorney. I don’t know why but it was something that felt it resonated with me. I didn’t even know attorneys. My mom was a teacher and my dad was a doctor. It made no sense but I wanted to be an attorney so much so that even as a child, I can remember I would invite my friend over and she would run over to my house. We would set up my bedroom with a desk and chairs. I would be the attorney and she would be my client and we would play.Law school is a grueling process. They say, at Harvard, they build you up after they break you down. Click To Tweet
The fact that you were doing this at seven amazes me. I didn’t think I had any idea. I went off to college and it was a big question mark but here you are at seven already doing this.
It’s hilarious. I want to be an attorney. I then go to undergrad. I’m on this path. In high school and college, I’m like, “I’m going to be an attorney.” I went on going, “What attorney am I going to be? I’ll do environmental law.” That felt something that I would love to serve in that way. I love the law and so I thought, “This is a great combination.” I go hardcore through undergrad because I’m like, “I want to be an awesome environmental lawyer. I need to go to a good law school. I’m going to push myself and I’m going to give everything I can in undergrad, graduate at the top of my class, and dare I say it, I want to apply to Harvard Law.” it was a dream. I applied to six other law schools but I was like, “I want to go to Harvard.”
You’re dreaming big. I love it.
I’m there and I don’t feel like I have a chance of getting into Harvard, despite the fact that I worked super hard in Michigan. I’ll never forget that I was driving to an appointment and my mom called because I sent all of my acceptance letters and all of my college materials for law school when I was applying to my home address. She would have to call me every time a letter would come and be like, “You got in.” She’s giving me an update. I had gotten into some of the other schools I applied to and she’s calling me and I’m driving. She’s like, “Sibyl.” I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “You got into Harvard Law.” I’m like, “Are you kidding?”
That moment must have been amazing just to hear that news.
It was surreal. I didn’t even finish completing the application because there’s a part where the Dean of my undergrad had to turn in a Letter of Recommendation. I was like, “That’s so much. I’m never getting in.” Harvard sent me a postcard and they’re like, “Can you finish your application?” I’m like, “Okay.” It felt like a pipe dream. I’ll never forget that moment because I’m like, “I’ve done it.” Long story short, I go through law school and it’s a grueling process. They say at Harvard, they build you up after they break you down. I went through the break-you-down process for the 1st and 2nd years of law school. It’s so much work. There are so many people there that are quite honestly some of the smartest people I’ve met. I’m working so hard and it’s like you’re working and working and it is a beat down.
I can’t even imagine how difficult that must have been. Your classmates are thinking the same about you. Everyone is stepping up to this huge bar.
At that time, they’re thinking that. In my mind, my chief negativity officer is like, “You’re the only one here. That shouldn’t be here.”
We’re going to talk later in the podcast about what an incredible positive voice you are. We all do have that chief negativity officer in our minds.
I got broken down the first year and have to find my way up and have to dig deep in my 2nd and 3rd years. The professors built you up. They give you back the confidence that they’ve taken from you as one elf. By the time you go off, you’re feeling confident. I get to the law firm and I’m like, “The hard part is over. I’ve gotten through law school.” I’ll never forget the first day I’m sitting in my office at the law firm and I’m like, “What is this? I feel like a fish out of water.” I have a couple of hundred thousand dollars of student loans and I have wanted to be an attorney since I was seven years old. I was shocked. I’m like, “I’ve climbed the wrong ladder.”
That’s not just climbing any ladder. You climbed the Harvard Law School ladder, which is enormous. You almost feel like you have to go forward with that.You can train your mind and brain and remove negativity by focusing on the right things. Click To Tweet
I was like, “I’ve made a $200,000 mistake,” because I’m seeing other attorneys and they’re loving it at the law firm. They’re thriving and they’re like, “This is great.” I’m like, “This is awful. This is what we do?” How did I not know this? I was a summer intern. In your summer intern, they’re wining you, dining you, and getting you to come to the law firm but then you’re there for the first year and it’s either for you or it’s not. There was so much I loved about analytical reasoning and the learning and the discipline from being a lawyer but I knew something is off. I left. I quit.
You said the first that you knew right away. How long did you give it before you said, “No way?”
I made it at my law firm for a year. At that time, my boyfriend and I went to law school together and now we’re married. We’ve been married for many years. We were both feeling the same thing, which was interesting. He loved to write. He was a creative writer and he had talked himself into going to law school. He was like, “I always knew that this was a mistake.” For me, I was like, “This surprised me.”
We found this opportunity because we’d been dating throughout law school to go to this advertising agency and both be in-house counsel but to do business and advertising. For me, I got to do the business side. For him, he loved it because of the creative side of advertising. Luckily, we were able to connect with the CEO of this advertising agency. One thing leads to another. We go there and I had an amazing growth experience in terms of my career. I learned so much about the way to go about building, working, aligning with teams, and bringing great work. I did that for a decade and I got that same feeling that I had that first day of the law firm.
What was different this time is I had been on a journey probably for about ten years of mindfulness, wellness, mental health, and doing meditation. I was going around to these different events for 4 or 5 days with some of the well-known wisdom teachers. I spent a lot of time reading and studying Eckhart Tolle’s work, who wrote this book called The Power of Now. I knew that what was missing was not a career thing, there was a certain amount of inner growth that I also needed to explore as I was making my way to this next part of my career.
The other thing I knew is I have always figured out and I’ve always seen this path in my mind. I describe it as a spiral of how you get from where you are to where you want to be. I had lots of fear. I’m like, “Am I going to quit my job? Is my husband going to quit his job? Are we both going to do this?” He wanted to be a TV and film writer. I want to serve. I want to be of service.
I want to take my analytical skills, my business skills, but I want to be in the social impact space, the social good space, or the spiritual space. I want to contribute differently to the world. I know that is going to make me feel aligned because I’m studying this stuff every day anyway. To be able to make this my career, I’m trying to grow in these ways, and now it would be awesome if my job was aligned with my heart and the way that I wanted to spend my days.
I love that you said, “Your job being aligned with your heart.” If we did a survey, I don’t know how many people would say that it is. I’m curious what was the catalyst for you to start doing that inner work and going down the mindfulness track because that is a track for some not for all. What was it that drove you into that space?
It’s interesting because, in many ways, it was the way I was making it through the day. I had a child, I was married, I had responsibilities, bills, a full-time job, and I was busy. I was running from one place to the other and always trying to handle this. I could feel stressed for so many days. I was anxious at other times. There are times I was sleeping well and there were times I wasn’t. I could feel that it’s not just my job, there’s something else that needs to change. My job and career need to change because that’s going to make me come alive in a lot of ways but also, this mind chatter and what’s going on in my head need to quiet a little. Rob and I did a challenge for 30 days. I said, “Let’s stop complaining. For 30 days, we aren’t going to complain.” This is a big deal because, at that time, we’re at this advertising agency and it’s in Michigan. It’s wintertime.
There’s a lot to complain about when it’s winter in Michigan.
Can you imagine the weather? It’s so much. I started listening to the voice in my head, the chief negativity officer that sometimes flares up. I’m like, “Let’s stop complaining.” We went on this thing and we challenged each other. I’m like, “I’m going to call you out when you complain and you call me out.” That was a little bit of a mindfulness technique, quite honestly. I wasn’t even necessarily all that deep on the journey of practicing mindfulness. It’s elevating my thoughts and my awareness and taking that negativity. Instead of complaining, “I have so much work. I’m tired.” I would be like, “No. Stop.” Every time, I couldn’t say anything. After the repetition in the 30 days of practice, what I realized later on because I started reading some books in neuroscience about what had happened is the synapses in my brain started firing differently.
We get repatterned.
I had no idea that a silly 30-day complaining challenge could do that but so much negativity dropped out of my mind and my patterns in the way I was going through the day and even how I was observing changed. I’m like, “I see possibilities.” Before, I would be focusing on what was wrong. All of this culminated at the same time. I had this moment where I was on this business trip and I knew. I’m like, “I’m scared to quit my job. I have done so much to get here. We are comfortable. We have a child. We have responsibilities. We have bills.”
I walked into this hotel room and I saw this huge sign. It’s five feet and it said, “Life is about creating yourself.” At that moment, something snapped in my mind. The chief negativity officer got quiet, the one who was like, “You’re never going to be able to do this. Are you crazy? Who quits their job? For what reason, because you want to do work for social good? What are you talking about?” It got quiet. The negativity that had dropped out of my mind because I’d stopped complaining was gone. I had moments of clarity, a good five minutes in that hotel room before the voice starts again.
I’m like, “Oh my goodness.” I sat on the edge of my bed in that hotel room staring at that sign and I knew that I’m going to have to quit my job and go for what feels right. Align my heart with the way I’m spending my time. It’s going to be scary and it’s going to be hard because I’m going to have to rebuild and Rob wants to try to do this at the same time.
That’s the kicker. It’s not like, “You hold down the fork. I’m going to try this.” You guys are holding hands and you’re jumping.
He was much more confident. He had been trying to talk me into it, “Let’s do this. We built some savings. We’re not doing some crazy risk. We can live off of our savings and we can always go get jobs.” I’m like, “I hear you and that’s still crazy.” I came home from that trip and the next week, Rob and I quit our jobs on the same day.
That is amazing. I listened to your story, the connection between your 30-day no complaining challenge. I wonder how many of us have that voice come up, “I need to make this change.” It might be a job change, a relationship change, a health change, or anything but we drowned out that voice from the noise in our head of all the reasons. You’re like, “I can’t because of this. I can’t because of that.” Somehow, you were able to break through that voice. There’s a connection in how you retrain your brain and prepare yourself for that moment.
You’re 100% right and I didn’t even know it at that time when I signed up for the challenge. It wasn’t until much later and in retrospect because I started reading things about how you can train your mind and your brain, how you can remove negativity by focusing on the right things, how having a healthy mind matters, how mindfulness quiets that negative voice and helps with stress and anxiety. I did not know any of that but I felt the benefits of it from doing a simple 30-day challenge to stop complaining. It also opened up this sea of possibilities of what I could do and it opened it up for Rob.
Rob quits his job and he wants to be a TV film writer. This is why we moved to Southern California and he started going at it and building that career. Now he works at ABC and he’s on a show. Granted this isn’t overnight. It took him years to start getting traction and momentum there. Slowly but surely, step by step, the humility to start at the bottom again, which he had, he worked it out and he’s doing well. For me, I have to first figure out how I want to work in this social good industry. It’s not like there are all these jobs. It’s not as clear of a path as becoming a lawyer on what you do.
I created this website called The Possibility of Today, where I was journaling about it, working, being super honest, and vulnerable. I don’t have the answers. I used to be an attorney and I am now into this mindfulness, wellness, mental health, social good, and I’m finding my way through it. Ultimately, I know what’s supposed to show up will show up. I’m taking steps, preparation meets opportunity. I’m doing my work but I haven’t figured it out. I’m still trying to get clarity. One step came after another after another.
I ended up finding my way to Sounds True, which is where I get to spend the majority of my focus and attention. The multimedia publishing agency that is focused on social good mindfulness works with the leading teachers and wisdom leaders, folks like Eckhart Tolle that I was reading my whole life anyway. It’s crazy how things unfold but all of that happened. I’ve sat and thought about it because it started with this 30-day stop complaining challenge and the willingness to do something about it and to make a change when I knew the current state wasn’t working.An alignment check-in is just taking a moment, quieting out all of the noise, going within, and tapping into your intuition. Click To Tweet
There’s something about you, Sibyl. You were drawn into the inner work because our inner work does create our outer world and how we are approaching. The example that you talked about on how you retrain your mind. As mindfulness has gained a lot of popularity and greater understanding, the science of it is coming into play where we’re starting to understand that this isn’t a feel-good thing that is affecting our biology, our thinking, and how we approach and see life. Here you are as Chief Business Officer. You’re able to combine this love of that inner journey with unbelievable business experience, the acumen that you bring into it from that. It seems like a beautiful marriage of all the things. What are some of the things that you focus on in your role there at Sounds True?
I am mostly focused on the business-to-consumer division. It’s all of the things, the courses, the products, and the programs. We have what’s called the Inner MBA, which is bringing, helping, and aligning with conscious business leaders and helping them go within and tap into their passion. Also, mindfulness and calm down their mind so they can express themselves in a conscious way in the world. Be part of this huge conscious business movement that’s rising, align them, and let them create networks together. We’ve created the infrastructure at Sounds True called the Inner MBA.
The great thing about it is it, in addition to the fact that it has all these awesome professors from Harvard like Lisa Lahey and Jeremy Hunter from the Peter Drucker School of Management. All of these people who’ve devoted their careers to conscious business learning and teaching people this from an academic standpoint. Also, business trainers who are doing conscious business and teaching people, how do you bring this to a corporate environment?
It’s something that is still integrating into Corporate America mindfulness, making mindful business decisions, leading mindful teams, and understanding that these things infuse into a company and help it create healthy and explosive growth. People who are focused on that and to have mindfulness teachers like Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, the leading teachers are in this program, all in one nice lovely program. I would have given anything for that program to have existed when I was trying to figure out and find my way after quitting my job.
What I have seen with the students that go through it is that transformation. It’s like, “First, let me slow down my mind.” You have mindfulness teachers helping you do that. “Let me align with my passion. What is that?” You have trainers and folks teaching you what that is and how to connect with it. “How do I make my outer world look like this in a real practical way?” You have business people who are helping you do that.
You’re with a group of people who are like you, who get you, who you’re networking with, and know these jobs that exist out there or who want to partner with you to bring these types of new projects to life. I’m super passionate about The Inner MBA and it is almost at the sweet spot for me of business, spirituality, and mindfulness. It’s me and I get to now be a part of it and work with the team of people who are bringing it into the world and sometimes it feels like, “How did this happen?”
It is an absolutely beautiful example of total alignment and I want to go deeper in alignment. When I spoke with Tami, she is such a visionary. There is no other product out there like this because it does combine all those aspects and you need to look at it from all angles, not just 1 or 2. The course does perfectly describe what you naturally did on your path to find that. You talk a lot about alignment and you mentioned something on your website, The Possibility of Today, around an alignment check-in and it’s a practice. Will you share with the readers what an alignment check-in is? What does it look like for you?
For me, an alignment check-in is taking a moment. If I’m around a lot of people, maybe that moment is something where you wouldn’t even necessarily know I’m taking it but I’m quieting out all of the noise and I’m going within and tapping into my intuition I would say and deciding on what feels right for me. The question I always ask myself is, “At this moment, what is my highest and best decision?” For example, we had an author who was trying to bring a program. They wanted to change things and it was last minute. It’s creating this whole ripple effect of challenges and issues.
Tami and I were in this meeting. We have outside people who are helping us bring this program to life. People from my team are in it and we’re all trying to solve it. We’re like, “We have to change the title.” There are so many things that we’re trying to figure out and we don’t have that much time because it’s getting ready to go live.
Tami, in such a beautiful way, modeled it. She said, “To the outside people who aren’t used to being with Sounds Truers, this may feel weird to you but I want us all to take a moment. I know that we need to come up with the title of this program.” We’re all brainstorming and throwing out ideas. She’s like, “I need to take a moment. Feel free to do what you want while I’m taking my moment but I’m going to take a moment.”
She sat back in her chair, closed her eyes, and this is her taking an alignment check-in and I did my alignment check-in at that time. We all got quiet on the Zoom call and checked in. We’re bringing an awesome program to the world and we have some challenges right now. What is the best way we can title this program? Everyone took their time with it. We all came back in and the title came. That’s an alignment check-in.
An alignment check-in also for me is when I’m talking to my daughter and she’s getting upset. She’s agitated, “I don’t want to do this. Why are you asking me about that?” I’m like, “I’m not going to get frustrated right now. Let me check-in. What is my highest and best response?” She’s feeling fear right now because she doesn’t want to work and do this. She’s feeling fearful that something like three hours of free time is going to be taken from her.
How can I align with her, do it in a way that’s calm and bring presence to this moment, and help her rise to her highest and best decision? For me, reacting is super important and an alignment check-in allows me those moments. Even if it’s 1 or 2 seconds, take a deep breath, “This is what this moment is asking for and it makes it so much easier for me to rise to it.”
Practices For Creating Greater Space
The people reading our conversation can probably pick up even by the way that you speak and carry yourself that you have a sense of space. I’ve gotten into this conversation with different people on the show and this was true pre-COVID. All of a sudden, we had so much space, fear, and all kinds of things coming in during COVID that changed a lot of things for people. We are still in COVID but reacclimating in different ways. This is an interesting conversation about space. You modeled it for us and you could do a parent course because certainly in the workplace, we get emotionally charged. Certainly, as a parent, you can get emotionally charged.
There’s a big difference between reacting versus responding. I hear as you’ve spoken about this slowing down of the mind chatter and all of that of what we’re trying to be, do, prove, and earn and get to, the words are endless but creating that space allows the highest and best that you’re talking about. As people are reading this, what would be a practice? You mentioned the alignment check-in but there were so many things you did before you started that practice that helped facilitate. What are some other things you would guide people to do to help them find greater space?
First of all, thank you for that. Hearing you describe it helps me settle in on how much it’s added to my life. My life is having so much more space than I used to have when I was younger, in college, and running with all that mind chatter. I’m intentional about it. What I mean by that is I set myself up for success every day in a structured way because inevitably, the day gets chaotic. I have hours of meetings after meetings but I do not start the day until I’ve created that space for myself. I won’t start. What it means is at 5:00 AM, I’m waking up when my house is quiet, I’m taking space and I’m listening to silence. Even if I only have 5, 20, 30 minutes, it’s something about doing that and having that as the foundation of my day that changes everything.
In between my meetings, in a structured way, I have scheduled time. I can have 1 or 2 minutes more space and silence. That’s what I mean about being intentional and structured because I have intentionally structured these space moments into my day. When I do them and they’re there, it’s perfect. If something flies off and let’s say one of my meetings runs over and I’m late to my next meeting, I feel bad and I’m like, “I don’t want to be late for the meeting.” I don’t have the time and I have skipped over the space, it never feels the same. I end up charging. I’ll charge up, I’m running, and at the end of the day, I’m like, “I’m so tired,” because I haven’t had those moments of space in between the day.
I’ve heard Loch Kelly, one of our teachers at Sounds True, describe it as mindful glimpses, making certain that we’re structuring those within our day and it doesn’t have to be forever. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes. It could be two minutes, it could be, “I’m going to go on a walk for five minutes in between these Zoom calls.” That changes everything. What has also been my experience is that it builds and gets better.
When I first started, I’m like, “I can’t take this.” My mind was loud, “How long am I going to have to do this?” I was like, “I’m going to sit here.” You’d be like, “It’s only been two minutes.” I’m like, “Whatever. At least I’ve got two minutes.” By now, I love listening to silence. I’ve heard another one of our teachers, Jon Kabat-Zinn, say that if there’s one thing he could have done differently earlier in his life is, he would have been more silent. When I heard him say that, I’m like, “I’m going to be silent more.”
I was in a conversation with one of our customers and she was talking about the power of questions and listening versus filling in all the space and all the talking. What you shared is some of the most valuable advice that anyone can take because you’re creating a frame. Life happens things will interfere and of course, that’s always going to be something we have to manage as humans but you feel the difference. If you’ve missed that morning quiet, how does the day feel different? We’ve all had it.
I’ve overscheduled and overbooked. You are frazzled by the end or as you get to those meetings in the latter part of your day, you’re not able to bring your energy and your presence in the same way. People get a bit caught up in, “Is it selfish? This is time for me. I need to be constantly giving.” No, it’s not because you’re able to bring your highest and best when you have enough space to recuperate. When we breathe, we inhale and we exhale. You don’t inhale all day long. You have to exhale at some point to live.People fall into infinite loops all the time and don't realize it because they think they're doing the right thing. Click To Tweet
I’m honest with myself in terms of as I’ve grown into being a parent and learning that. I promise you, one thing that’s consistent from the worst parenting moments I have when I’m judging myself, I’m like, “Why did I react that way? Why didn’t I give more? Why didn’t I show up differently for my kids?” One common denominator is I haven’t had space. I didn’t have enough space that day, at the moment, and I didn’t have enough patience. I wasn’t grounded and I didn’t have these little check-ins throughout the day. I’m off-kilter because it started earlier. I always say, “There’s still that 10% of the times where I go off schedule or off routine but 90% of the time, which is an A-minus.” That’s not bad.
There’s the Harvard girl coming out, “A-minus.”
I’m on A-team and I am not missing those times. I am not missing that structure in my day that keeps things moving and flowing. In many ways, I always played tennis and it’s one of my pastimes. If I don’t set up right, take enough steps, and I don’t hold the racket right, I never hit the ball out in front enough and it goes to the right or it sprays. It’s all about the setup. What I’ve realized is that’s my day, it’s all about the setup. Set your day up better.
With parenting, sometimes you have to completely lose it in front of your kids. They understand that you’re human too. We are human. We’re going to lose it sometimes. I love all this. Something I wanted to touch on because it’s wonderful and also wise. It’s something you talked about on your website about the Up Spiral. Share with us, what is the Up Spiral? How does that work?
This was something that I saw a vision of in my mind when I had quit my job and I knew I wanted to go into the social good space. I knew that there was this path and what I saw was that if you imagine a big Christmas tree or a large spiral staircase that spirals up and it’s larger at the bottom and it spirals up to the top, I could see that. I could see that this is the journey that I’m going to have to travel. This is the journey I’ve always had to travel, whether that was to try to get into Harvard Law, graduate from Harvard Law, and build my career. I’ve always been moving up a spiral.
The big insight that I had was there are going to be times where I’m on the front side of the spiral and things are falling into place. I’m inspired and I’m like, “I’m going to go. I’m creating my blog. This is awesome. I’m having fun.” Inevitably, there are going to be times where I’m going to hit the backside. I’m like, “Why is nobody reading this? Is this not even helpful? This is awful. Why is my writing so bad?” It’s the backside of the spiral moments.
Your chief negativity officer shows up again.
Inevitably, the chief negativity officer shows up on every backside of the spiral. Once you know that happens, then you can break the pattern. Also, being able to see this vision of the spiral. It happens to all of us and knowing if your relationship is on a spiral, your career, your finances, your health, everything is on this spiral. What it does is that when you’re on the backside and things are going wrong or challenges are happening, things aren’t falling into place, your chief negativity officer is trying to tell you, “This is never going to happen. You’re never going to get there.” No, because now you know it’s a spiral. I’m going to spiral right around to the front and the next loop. I’m going to go. I’m getting another backside and something else is going to go wrong or another challenge is going to happen. I’m going to be pushed and feel like I’m struggling.
What the spiral did for me is it took away the fear of challenges and struggles. What else it did is I started having a different way I went about it when I was on the backside. I’m like, “This is a challenge. I’ve got this.” My chief negativity officer shows up and I’m like, “Be quiet. Sit down. I don’t want to hear it. I’m not in the mood. I’ve got stuff to do. I’m trying to get to the front side of this fire road. I know you want to do that with me. Could you please be quiet while I’m trying to do it?” It gave me this inner strength. It allowed me to create this inner strength. I also realize, interestingly enough, a lot of my strength came all of those times I was broken down on the backside of the spiral when I had to figure out how to get up.
This has broken me. How do I dig in deep and move around again? That struggle created strength. For that struggle and that strength, I would never have been able to finish getting up the rest of the spiral into the top. There’s nothing wrong with the backside of the spiral. These challenges have come because you have asked to create something that you need to grow into and you’ve got to do your work. It’s like you go to the gym to get in shape. You’ve got to hit the backsides of the spiral. If you’re trying to write a book, create a company, grow a company or grow your career, there are capacities that are meant to be built that can only be built on the backside of the spiral.
It’s such a powerful image because it’s important for people reading to realize so often that we hit that backside and we think we’ve gone backward and we’re not advancing. We’re like, “I can’t do this. I knew I shouldn’t have tried.” Everyone has the moment. When you think about the spiral, you know that even when you hit the backside, you’re still elevating because you’ve taken risks, you’re learning, and you have used that muscle of being courageous and bold even if something isn’t working. To your point, those times of failure and setback are when our character is tested. We learn what type of grit we have and we keep moving forward. Everything is used and you take it with you to the next level of the spiral. It’s fantastic but you also talk about something called the infinite loop. What’s an infinite loop?
Breaking The Infinite Loop
I’ve been in those. The infinite loop on the spiral is important. Sometimes when I’m showing folks the spiral and they’re seeing it, that insight that as long as you show up and you take a step forward, you’re moving up the spiral. Regardless of what you think is happening or regardless of if it looks like you’re failing, you’re moving up. Believe it or not, sometimes moving up is happening because something has gone wrong, even in business. Things going wrong in business are pointing you to better ways to do it.
You and I were talking about the supply chain and the challenges in the environment because of all the stuff that’s going on with COVID. All of the failures of like, “I can’t get these products here at the right time. I feel like I’m disappointing all my customers.” You’re being pointed to a different way forward that you would not have even started to look into but for the fact that you have this challenge and the supply chain is broken.
I promise, understanding that’s happening for a reason and going about it in a way of curiosity and innovation is going to create optimization for the next time, even once the supply chain is fixed and you’re going to start doing it better. One might say it’s a gift, at this point, at the least, it’s here in front of you. No need to be upset about it. You’re like, “What can I learn from this? What can I take away from this because it’s helping things go better?” That approach and doing it that way is what prevents you from being in an infinite loop. What is an infinite loop? I’ll never forget that I was doing this workshop and showing the spirals and infinite loops. An infinite loop is when we repeat the same patterns and we keep getting the same results we don’t want.
I wanted to say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
This phenomenon happens when you’re on a spiral like if you’re trying to go and accomplish something and you’re like, “Why is this not working?” You’re like, “Whatever. I’m going to keep doing it this way.” A common thing I see people do is the chief negativity officer can create an infinite loop where it’s talking you out of things and it’s like, “You’re never going to do this.” You get stuck there. You’re spinning in an infinite loop and in a pattern that you’re meant to break out of. If you don’t break out of the infinite loop, you’re stuck in one spot on the spiral, you’re going round and round. You’re moving and you’re making a motion but it’s not progressing. You’re stuck in an infinite loop. The best way to do this is to be aware. There’s no judgment. People fall into infinite loops all the time and don’t realize it because they think they’re doing the right thing but maybe you’re like, “Oh man.”
The supply chain is a good example to hit back at because there could be people who are like, “The supply chain is broken. It’s awful. I can’t do anything.” That becomes their everyday thing. They stay stuck. They’re not curious and not innovative. They’re trying to solve it but they’re mad at the situation. They’re like, “Why did this have to happen? Why are we stuck at home?” All of the energy is there. You’ll be in an infinite loop. You’ll never fix the supply chain challenge. The opportunity, though, we all have is to say, “I’m resisting this and this is my pattern where I resist something and I’m upset about something. How can I change this? How can I become more curious? How can I maybe be aligned with a beginner’s mindset and find a different solution?”
Inevitably, the best way to break out of the infinite loop is 1) To be aware, 2) To change whatever your mindset is, and 3) To say, “Every day, I’m taking a step forward out of this loop.” I’m going to find and discover something. Maybe if I’m elevating my thought, that’s going to be a step forward but there always is a way out of these patterns and it’s a willingness to say, “I’m going to recognize it. There’s no self-judgment. I’m human. Everyone falls into them.” It’s also an opportunity for mindset strengthening once you’re breaking out of one, but we’re not meant to stay in infinite loops.
You said an important word and it’s the whole idea of patterns. You are a voice of positivity because if you go to your website and all of your blogs are about how you can ask yourself new questions and how you can reframe things in your life. The reason that these conversations are so important is that everything is a practice, whether it is in business, parenting, or in any aspect of our lives, we have to keep showing up.
Sometimes we’re going to get stuck but the more we keep pushing forward, going back to your spiral, the more we’ll break free and take those learnings into a new space, which is amazing. This is such a wonderful conversation. As I think about putting a bow on this or wrapping this up a little bit, two more questions I have for you. If they’re interested in the Inner MBA and the concepts you shared, where do they go to find that information?
It’s InnerMBA.SoundsTrue.com. I’d love for anyone who feels that program resonates with them to check it out to see the different trainers. I audit that class. It’s one of the programs at Sounds True that I do all the time. I’ll get to see you if you join.
Your own website is ThePossibilityOfToday.com, which you share a lot of this and more on that website as well. I have one more question for you. We’ve been talking about wisdom this entire time. That’s been the thread of everything you’ve shared. If you were to tell someone of the wisdom teachers, you’ve heard maybe personal friendships, your own life experience, what would be maybe the 1 or 2 pieces of wisdom that you think have been the most valuable to you? The conversation was space and frame was a big one that we talked about. What else might you add from a wisdom perspective?The best way to break out of the infinite loop is to be aware, to change whatever your mindset is. Click To Tweet
By all means, one of the things that I feel so fortunate about is because I get to work with many wise spiritual teachers and it’s my job to listen to what they say in their courses, programs and read it all the time. One common thread is this spark of extraordinary or some people call it their divine essence. For me, I call it our extraordinary side. There’s something within each one of us and life has a way of covering it up sometimes. The hard times and the things that we struggle through can create the show and it can get dumb.
I felt it in times in my life where I didn’t feel passionate about things and I couldn’t find my way out, but there was always that impulse within me. I call it my extraordinary side. Understanding what life is about is digging into that more and more. All of the experiences, the good experiences, the bad experiences, are helping us deepen into recognizing, staying connected with that, letting that grow within us, and letting it infuse our work, relationships, and everything that we’re doing every day.
It’s a capacity that when we’re intentional and we put attention there, and we’re like, “I’m aligning with this,” whether it’s an alignment check-in, space, or going up a spiral on the backside and saying, “I need my extraordinary side right now to kick in.” Every time we do that, something shifts, changes and grows within us and that spark grows and continually provides so many benefits in our life. That, to me, is what everything is about, mindfulness, meditation, yoga is always touching that place within us and we can live with that leading the way every day.
Sibyl, that is a perfect place to end the conversation and powerful advice. As I think about everything we’ve talked about, I go back to the 30-day complaining challenge and the fact that you were able to replace the negative voice with the power of what is possible. That’s what you’re saying. It’s that extraordinary part of us because there’s a lot of negativity in the world. I know a lot of people, their inner critics are so much tougher on themselves and they would ever be on anyone else. As we bring compassion to our own life, narrative, and compassion into the world, the ripple effect of that is strong and powerful. You are quite extraordinary and I want to thank you for taking the time to share in this conversation.
Thank you. It’s been wonderful to be here with you.
Thank you. To be continued. More to come.
- The Possibility of Today
- Ripple Agency
- Sounds True
- The Power of Now
- Inner MBA
- Jack Kornfield
- Tara Brach
- Tami Simon – Previous episode
- Loch Kelly
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
About Sibyl Chavis
Like many people, Sibyl worked overtime to create the ‘good life.’ She earned her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Michigan and Juris Doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. Following law school, Sibyl began her career practicing law at a leading law firm in Atlanta, Georgia. From there, she became an Executive Vice President at one of the top multicultural advertising agencies, where she played a key role in helping grow the company, with billing and personnel tripling over the course of her tenure.
Sibyl left the lucrative corporate world on the East Coast to create a life of greater clarity and purpose. In 2011, she launched The Possibility of Today. What began as a blog, turned into a lifestyle media brand with hundreds of thousands of fans engaging with Sibyl on webinars, social media platforms and her podcast.
In 2015, Sibyl launched Ripple Agency. Ripple partners with mission-driven companies to create social good programs that help people transform and lead better lives. One of Sibyl’s biggest passions in life is her work with Sounds True, a multimedia publishing company, that works with some of the leading spiritual teachers and visionaries of our time.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join The Coca-Cola CMO Leadership Summit Podcast community today: