Monday, January 13, 2014

Meet Andy Gray, Podcast Host and Entrepreneur

Andy Gray is the host of A Congruent Life, an interview project that explores themes and stories of authenticity and happiness, particularly when people reinvent and live their lives in a way that is more congruent for them. Andy is also a software entrepreneur, helping small businesses and non-profit organizations bring their ideas to life.

1. What inspired you to start A Congruent Life?

A Congruent Life is a project that's been gestating for a long time, and has finally taken shape over the last couple of years. Like many projects, it started with a whisper and a tiny flash of inspiration: late one night several years ago, the phrase "a congruent life" popped into my head, and I registered the domain name on a whim, not having any idea about what I might do with it.

The dots started connecting a couple of years ago during a Vision Quest experience. I spent several days alone in the wilderness at a time when my work in the corporate world wasn't very aligned with the work that made me the happiest. I was looking for guidance and inspiration from others who had managed to align those successfully, and one important insight that came from that contemplative time was the realization that I could be of service to others in similar situations by simply sharing the very same stories that I wanted to hear, rather than keeping them to myself.

2. I was impressed in looking at your website because it seems that you've found a way to align your professional work with your personal and spiritual interests. What do you see as the intersections between your career in software development and your spiritual work?

Thanks, Mandy--it's nice to hear that's the impression that you have from the podcast and the website.

I think, though, that really what I'm trying to live out is a perspective of seeing spirituality as something that's integral to the way that we are in the world, not something that is separate and that we need to try to find a way to intersect with the other parts of us.

I know that words like "spirituality" can be pretty loaded for many people, and I sometimes wrestle with people associating that word with the A Congruent Life podcast. The reality, though, is that we're all spiritual beings--and I don't mean that in a religious way (though that can be a meaningful path for some).

Rather, I see spirituality as about connecting our individual lives to something bigger than ourselves--recognizing that your life is really not just about you, and living that out in a meaningful way. I find it fascinating and inspiring to hear stories of people who have found a way to align their personal skills, passions, and values with some larger purpose that's meaningful to them, and especially seeing how much more happiness that they experience in doing so.

And sharing those stories with others is exactly what A Congruent Life is all about.

3. What particular resonance does the word "congruent" have for you?

Well, congruence is a key concept in mathematics and geometry, so that works well for my engineering mind. This project isn't about geometry, but that's actually a good analogy.

I'm not a big fan of "work-life balance"--as if these are separate competing things to be weighed and traded off against one another. But I love the phrase "congruent life" because it implies alignment: putting the various pieces of our life--our values, our passions, our relationships, our skills, our body of work--together into a coherent whole.

4. In your own life, have you had some turning points where you saw an opportunity to make a shift--and based on your own experience, what is your advice to people who are feeling a sense of crisis, tension, and/or change?

Yes, these turning points that you describe come up all the time! Life is a series of opportunities to learn, grow, transform, and reinvent--some big, some little; some relatively easy, and some way more challenging.

Some of what I've learned from others and through my own experiences: when you're feeling a sense of crisis or tension, it can be really helpful to reground yourself with your values. Deep down, what are the things that are most important to you--and equally important, what are the things that are truly not important to you? Clarifying and prioritizing your values can provide a helpful framework for making decisions and staying steady when your world gets tumultuous.

And when it's time to make a change, take action. There is great power in action, and even the tiniest step in the direction of your dreams can combat that feeling of being stuck and start a snowball of positive momentum. And when the doubts start creeping in, trust your instincts to keep you on course; your intuition will provide far more wisdom than the naysayers (who will be quick to tell you why your dreams are silly).

5. I like your idea about sharing "tiny stories" that can inspire and motivate us. What do you think it takes for ordinary people to realize that they are capable of doing--or maybe realize that they are already doing!--extraordinary things?

That's a really great question, Mandy. It's a simple concept that can be oh-so-hard to remember and actually apply! And I know that it can sound trite, but it's absolutely true that we all have genius inside, and we are all capable of doing extraordinary things.

I think that a lot of it is who we surround ourselves with and the messages that we feed to our minds. And the question that you raise is exactly why I interview the people that I do on A Congruent Life. Most of my guests aren't "famous," just ordinary people with some inspiring stories to share. I personally find it encouraging to hear those kinds of stories, which reinforce the fact that whatever the challenges and discouragements we encounter along the way, everyone can reinvent and construct authentic, meaningful lives.

Thanks, Andy!

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