If you’re not able or willing to read the post below, have a listen to the audio above. 

I was first struck by Lianne Raymond‘s work when I read her explanation on the difference between actualization and ambition. It was incredibly refreshing to read a writer with such intellectual and spiritual integrity, a voice that stands for intellectual rigor and intuitive wisdom.

A life coach, teacher and lifelong student of human development, Lianne’s work brings together “the best of yin and yang, science and wisdom, intellect and intuition.” She is a champion for living life from the inside out and exploring what it means to be human, to be alive and to grow.

Although she isn’t widely known, Lianne has worked with and is lauded by some of the leading voices in personal development and spirituality. And I can see why. I consider Lianne one of the wisest voices we have today, and following you’ll see why:

[On actualization] Actualization is an awkward word for the beautiful and somewhat mysterious essence in every human being and every living thing to grow into the fullest expression of itself.

When we are swimming in actualization we feel light, buoyant, the water is supporting us and we don’t worry if we swim so far out that we occasionally lose sight of the shore. The water is warm. We are in our element. We feel at one with the water.

[On ambition] Once we become initiated into the world of ambition we often lose sight of what is in us to become and instead focus on what is outside of us – on what seems to please and impress others. The root meaning of ambition says it all – “eager or inordinate desire of honor or preferment, a striving for favor, courting, flattery; thirst for popularity.”

When we are swimming in ambition we may start out feeling good, but after a while a heaviness sets in. All the layers we have put on of approval seeking and people pleasing and material success make it hard to float. When we try to go into deeper water, suddenly we are out of our element and feel dragged along and under by some unseen force. The water is cold. We become tired, everything becomes a struggle – the water seems to be against us and no matter how close we are to the shore, we feel too far out.

[On personal growth]…sometimes what looks like an ending is just your life spiraling up to a new viewpoint.

This is how I try to view my journey – as moving up a spiral. Going up a spiral can sometimes feel like going around in circles. But each time I come to a place that has that “I’ve seen this view before” feeling, I am actually looking at it from a slightly higher place than I did previously, I am looking at it from a place of more experience, more wisdom and more self-understanding.

[On asking for help]…think of it this way, think of how much we all like to help others. How good we feel to be of service. So when we want to dismiss the idea of asking for help, maybe we ought to question whether it is our right to rob others of that joy.

[On being stuck] I’m proposing an alternate metaphor to describe this state/process. In sailing, the term used when the wind dies down such that the boat stops moving is becalmed. Becalmed. Be. Calmed…And what do sailors do when their boat is becalmed? Well, first of all they recognize that it’s a partnership – the boat is not completely under their control – it moves due to a partnership between the wind and the sailor. They have techniques for ensuring they can make the most of any light wind that comes up, for allowing themselves to be drawn, rather than driven.

[On anger] Anger is often the most (or only) accessible emotion for people who are defended against their own vulnerability.

[On parenting] The best option is to be your child’s parent – neither adversary nor best friend, but trusted, loving care-giver. A parent is the person in the child’s life who guides them with love, not with fear. A parent is not someone who makes everything work in their child’s life, but they are a soft place for their child to land when the things in their life don’t work. A parent knows how to discipline a child without damaging the relationship – without shaming and humiliation. A parent cannot toughen their heart against their child, they must always be able to find the tenderness with which they can see their children’s behavior through the lens of love and relationship. A parent is the one person in a child’s life from whom they should always get the message, “There is nothing you could do that would remove you from my love.”

[On desire vs. drive] I believe Desire is the antidote to a society that is all about being driven. Desire is the wild child running through the forest in her bare feet, climbing trees, blowing kisses and beckoning us to come play. Drive is the machine that cuts down the forest.

[On intimacy vs. accountability] I want to be a voice for intimacy over accountability. For knowing yourself instead of forcing yourself.

Love lives in attention and trust, not in accountability. Be interested in yourself beyond the metrics. This is the path to intimacy.

[On boundaries] I think of boundaries as being a natural outcome of a person who has grown into a mature, actualized being. Imagine coming to the edge of the river. If the river is full and flowing as you stand there on the riverbank, you are going to think twice about crossing it. The flowing presence is in itself a natural boundary. Now imagine that the same river has dried right up, the riverbed is dry and walkable – you might walk across without even hesitating. It’s the same with people. When they are present and full of themselves in the best possible way, there is no question of invading them, crossing them, or walking over them.