The story behind I Am Nick Williams…
Over the past eight years, a series of personal challenges has propelled me into a kind of meltdown. The sequence of life events proceeded as follows…
- In August 2005, I lost my father, to whom I was very close.
- I subsequently became a carer for my increasingly frail mother.
- In 2006 I ended a significant collaboration and business partnership.
- In February 2008 I reached the age of 50.
- In June 2008, a significant mentor of mine died.
- In December 2010, I left the board of Alternatives, which had been my spiritual home for more than 20 years.
- In an 18-month period between 2011 and 2102, around 15 people close to my partner – and to me – passed away.
- In 2009, my first book and signature work The Work We Were Born to Do went out of print, 10 years after publication.
- In November 2012, I contracted hepatitis while giving a keynote speech in Khartoum, losing my health and then spending most of 2013 recuperating and rebuilding my energy.
- And finally, most recently, being in dispute with my sister over my mother’s wish that both of her children should be given power of attorney when she had to move into a care home.
So, for the best part of a decade, I have experienced a great deal of loss, vulnerability and being broken open. I have been brought to my knees many times. Not surprisingly, I suffered a lot.
Many big things exited from my life – both structures and people that had supported me and to some extent had defined me. I felt a little bit lost. I was a man searching for himself and coming to terms with midlife and the promises it might hold.
Part of me was wondering if the best of my life was over. I had blossomed, shone for a while, but now I was getting older it was all downhill from here.
But many good things happened during this period too. I wrote four more books, continued travelling, enjoyed holidays and made new friends. As I have had to let go, new life has bubbled up.
In 2010, some big questions began to surface in my consciousness:
- Who am I now at this point in my life?
- What has been the story, the arc of my life, that has given it all meaning?
- What is the story I have been telling and what’s the story I want to be telling?
- What is it that I am really good at?
- What do I really stand for?
- Am I really a leader and if so, what is my leadership really about?
- How do I want to be in this world?
- What do I want to be up to in the world, and who do I really want to be up to it with?
These are questions that I could spend a lifetime answering, and at times I wondered if I would ever be able to answer them authentically.
But just as the DNA of the butterfly is contained within the caterpillar and the imaginal cells of the pupa, what I could become was always there and is now surfacing more clearly.
In 2011, I hosted an evening for Kim Rosen, the wonderful poet and advocate of poetry. I loved this poem of hers as it echoes my own journey of transformation and emergence:
In Impossible Darkness
Do you know how
Do you remember
inside a cocoon?
There in the thick black
of your self-spun womb,
void as the moon before waxing,
(as Christ did
for three days
in the tomb)
in impossible darkness
Kim Rosen, http://kimrosen.net/
As I went through the dark phase of my metamorphosis, I was given one good piece of advice by the author Michael Neill, which was “avoid premature articulation”. So I did my best not to rush into anything. I came up with some answers, but they kept changing and evolving. I found it hard to pin them down, as there always seemed to be deeper and deeper layers to mine and uncover.
It also became clearer to me that I was in search of “me as a brand” at this point in my life. But I had mixed feelings about the idea of branding, as brands seemed to me to often be completely fictitious creations for largely commercial purposes.
But as I enquired more deeply and had more conversations, especially one with my dear friend Robert Holden, it dawned on me that branding can have a truly inspiring and spiritual purpose: to understand and truly express the essence of who we are in this world, to express how we were uniquely created and how we can be of service.
For me this also tied in with the teachings of A Course in Miracles, which says that we are all thoughts in the mind of God and that spiritually there is no competition to be us. The Course also teaches that each of us has a unique and an essential part to play in restoring this world to love.
So the enquiry was on: to create what my business partner Niki Wiles came to term my Miracle Brand.
And iamnickwilliams.com is my early 2014 answer to that enquiry. I can’t say I feel completely ready to go, but I do feel less scared and vulnerable than I have done, and I am feeling really excited too. There has been a whole new me surfacing, more of the real me – the me willing to own my leadership more fully.
What I have found most difficult about this journey is simply the fear of exposing myself, of sharing myself in all my goodness, human frailty and weaknesses. I still find it so tempting to edit myself, to hide out, to play just a little bit safer. But that doesn’t fulfil me, and I don’t think it engages or inspires you either. So, to the best of my current ability, this is me, this is who I am, this is what I stand for, this is what I am up to and who I am up to it with.
The past eight years have felt like an excavation job. This is not an invented me, this is what has always been in me but has been concealed by my beliefs, programming and conditioning. I have cleared a lot of debris to uncover what was always there. I feel I have birthed the true me, and found what I was born to be doing at this point in my life.
I have had to plough through a whole layer of my mind that wasn’t at all pleasant. I guess the best way I can describe that layer is my self-hatred. The part of me that crucifies me, never lets me off the hook, continually beats me up and leads me to self-sabotage and at times really screw things up for myself. The part of me that has felt victimised by the world, almost helpless to stop doing that to myself.
Instead of fighting it, I have had to face it and make friends with it, but the process has been about putting different hands on the steering wheel of my life. This self-hatred had too much power, too much influence. I could easily be derailed.
But the destination of the journey I have been on for the past eight years is simply this: that it is OK to be me, fully me, all of me, all of my light and my shadow. It’s OK for me to exist more fully.
I think I had been much more afraid than I realised to be happy, successful, popular and for things to go well. I have been afraid to have a good life for fear of other people attacking me because they were jealous of me. I have been afraid to give up my suffering and feeling bad about myself.
My calling now is to move into the leadership arena, and for me true leadership is grounded in our desire to serve. I feel called to step into my own leadership at a new level, to teach about leadership from a more spiritual perspective.
My emerging signature work is called Born To Lead – which is designed to support those of us who feel the call to show up and lead in inspired and inspiring ways and offer hope for transformation in this world.
I believe we all come bearing leadership gifts, that we are all Born to Lead. I am both extremely excited and pretty scared about this next chapter. The level of my own resistance has been huge, which I have taken to mean that I am right on track.
Maybe my life so far has been a prelude to what’s wonderful and still to come. But now the butterfly is emerging from the pupal soup and I am unfurling my leadership wings. I hope you will join me on my flight.