2. How do I jumpstart my greatest self?

"Just about every single person who comes to see me," says Gordon, "has a long, ugly laundry list of all the things she's supposedly not successful at: her marriage, her driving skill, her failure to make homemade minestrone soup." Even Gordon does this, telling herself on occasion, "I'm not good enough at spreadsheets. I can't figure out numbers."

None of us, though, can build on weaknesses. Think, says Gordon, about what would happen if she decided to start a company built on spreadsheets. It's possible that if she dug deep, applied herself to math and mastered it, she might (sort of) make it. But why would she do that? Why would any of us spend our lives consciously choosing a struggle whose end reward was not joy? In other words: Why would we try to jumpstart our worst selves?

Instead—and this is what really happened—Gordon focused on design and founded a hosiery company called Hot Sox that went on to partner with Ralph Lauren. Why? Because she was talented at design and color and painting. She enjoyed it. It was a strength that supported her other strengths, a brick that held up other bricks. Her advice: It doesn't matter what you're actually or supposedly bad at. It matters what you're good at—and how much time you spend doing it.

3. What caused me to lose my aliveness?

Many clients, says Gordon, come into a session because they feel burned out. They can't get themselves excited enough to do even the basics, like exercising or sending out that resume. "They think they're tired. They think they're stressed. They think they haven't had enough juice or organic vitamins."

But almost always, there is another, less expected reason. They've lost a relative, or they're having a protracted fight with their sister, or they're thinking about a divorce. They understand that they have a big personal problem, but, surprisingly, they don't understand the connection between it and their lethargy. "Something bad happens," says Gordon, "and we don't want to feel sad or pain; we use all our energy suppressing it, we get exhausted from that exertion, and then we resign ourselves to a reality in which we can't change the bad thing—or anything at all." Resignation is lethal. There is no way over or around it. You will stand by that cement wall—without banging your head or screaming—until you fall down. Unless, that is, you figure out what caused you to erect it smack-dab in the middle of your life, and you remove it.

Next: What to ask if you're looking for your path


Next Story