Lianne Raymond, M. Ed. is a certified life coach, educator, and yogini. She also has been called a free spirit, a ruthless questioner, and a giver of delicious hugs. In her coaching, her teaching, and her life, she is guided by the question What if you let your heart move you instead of living a life of forcefulness? She lives in the wild beauty of Vancouver Island with her husband of 26(!) years and delights in being Auntie to her nieces and nephew.
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Lianne Raymond

Hi. I'm Lianne. I appreciate you stopping by.


I'm on a mission - there's a good chance you landed here because you are, too. Whether you are longing to love yourself more, yearning for more fulfilling relationships or hoping to feel more enchanted with your life - you have found a home for those desires.

Danielle LaPorte doesn't call me Her Majesty of Questioning Just About Everything for nothing.  It is becoming obvious that the old paradigm just ain't cutting it anymore. Like fish that are unaware of the water they are swimming in, our culture is still swimming in outdated ideas that are dragging us down. These ideas are permeating your life in ways you aren't even aware of. But you're feeling it, aren't you? Like an itchy sweater you are wearing to a formal dinner you didn't even want to attend. I question it all so you can change into something comfy. And the big, juicy question I love to ask  is...

What is it to let your heart move you instead of living a life of forcefulness?

If you're not even sure what I mean by that - well, that just gets me even more excited. Cause I can't wait to show you.

More Philosophizing Ahead →


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are you swimming in ambition - or are you drowning in it?

Not Waving but Drowning. It's the last line of poem that always moves me...and it's the difference between ambition and actualization. It's easy to get confused between the two, because from the shore they can look the same. But one is waving and one is drowning.

Not Waving but Drowning


Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith

Waving. Drowning. Actualization. Ambition. In Love Rest Play Grow, the class I recently gave, this was one of the key ideas we explored: the difference between ambition and 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.

You see it in a flower that bends to the sun.

You see it when a baby pushes herself up to take a tentative step, falls and does it all again, over and over until she is walking.

I see it in my artist friend Sharon who says, "I have drawn and painted all my life. I can't not do it."

When we are swimming in actualization we feel light, bouyant, 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.

Ambition is not inherent in us. It is something we learn from the world, from our parents, from school. It is possible for ambition to be in service of actualization, but more often it interferes with it and at the very worst it completely displaces it. (Jen Louden has a great article on the heaviness of turning the actualization of others into ambitions for ourselves.)

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. (Tara Sophia Mohr has a great article about getting lost in pleasing 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 awhile 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.

Here are the things I've noticed about ambition and actualization:

Characteristics of Ambition                             Characteristics of Actualization

~ need to impress                                         ~ authenticity
~ need to win                                                ~ vitality
~ status seeking                                           ~ creativity
~ pursuit of acclaim                                      ~ playful
~ pursuit of recognition                                 ~ meaningful
~ rooted in insecurity                                    ~ rooted in self-esteem
~ reaching for success                                  ~ growing into oneself
~ temporary satisfaction                               ~ continual integration

With myself and with my clients, I am always paying attention to whether dreams and goals are originating from a place of actualization or a place of ambition.

Sometimes I see my clients waving and I smile and wave back.

Sometimes I think they're waving, but when I look a little closer, I realize it's time to throw them a life preserver so that they can come in from that cold, ambitious water before their heart gives way.

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Reader Comments (12)

Nice distinctions you've made here Lianne! Really lovely - thanks!

June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

YES. I spent far too long (and too much of my spirit) trying so hard to lead the life I thought I was supposed to. Now? I'm blessed beyond measure to have found what I am meant to do, the daily details of which bring me joy, surprise me, stretch me, and make me shake my head with awe. Love this post and am so grateful to be living on the other side of it!

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Fall

Thanks Kathy and Amanda. And yay for a life of joy, surprise, stretch and awe, Amanda.

June 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterLianne

ahh one of the central lessons of my life, beautifully written and understood by you! I so needed to read this~

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjen louden

Such perfect timing. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. Thank you, Thank you for this.

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam Belding

This is one of the first pieces of your's that I have read and it's beautiful. You have elucidated what can be a very confusing distinction, and it's been a lovely reminder for me. I really look forward to reading more. Clare

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClare

Beautiful. The metaphor of waving vs. drowning is so apt. I have finally come to the place of accepting and embracing my ambition, because I am VERY ambitious! But in your rhetoric, in fact, it would be more accurate to call it "desirous of actualization."

I USED to be filled with all the items in the left column (characteristics of ambition). I have become no less energetic in the pursuit of my goals, but now it's the items in the right column (characteristics of actualization) that compel and pull me forward, and that feels soooo much better!

Thank you for a lovely post.

June 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Dinwiddie

Hi Leanne, thank you for this post, I have found it practical and inspiring. It took me a whole year from signing up for a blog to writing my first post since I was constantly asking myself why was I doing it. With the distinction between ambition and actualisation much clearer in my head I feel ready to continue, simply for the joy of it. thank you, Tina

June 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertina

Great post! Thank you so much for sharing!

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRitaJC

I am facing the last productive years of my work life. And I'm so overcome by the desire to become ambitious and make lots of money and create a retirement nest egg for myself (and the fear of what happens if I don't do that). But also, there is within me the intense desire to authentically contribute to the world and make my life meaningful and contribute to something that makes a difference. I know I need to do something. And I don't know what it is. I am not out in deep water waving and drowning. I am drowning in 6" of water on the sand. How pathetic is that? Thank you for your blog post which inspired a piercing look into myself.

June 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I came to your post from Tara Sophia Mohr's blog. I love what you are saying, and I can see that my art and creativity have always come from a place of actualization and it always feels good. My question: Can selling your work, getting your work out there feel the same way?

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Gallacher-Turner

I'm so moved that this distinction is meaningful for you all. Thanks for letting me know.

Susan - that is such a great question - I'm going to write another entry to answer it, but the short answer is yes.

June 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterLianne

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