Learning from someone who honestly has your best interest at heart does not only help you grow where it’s needed most, it’s a valuable resource for life! A few years ago, I thought I was doing pretty ok in life and work. I had a regular income from my consulting work and I had a few coaching clients. However, I felt like I was treading water. I was being pulled in all sorts of directions, doing many things, doing them at a level that can qualify as good. I still felt like there was not one thing I could say about myself, what I do and what impact I was having, that pulled all the different pieces of how I spent my time together.
At this point, I saw a notice posted by one of my friends about a coach that was offering introductory sessions. Being curious by nature, I decided to sign up for one of those. I have to say, in many ways, although I had had coaching before, I do not think I was ever ready to the extent I was at that point. That decision led me to sign up with this coach for a 2-year period, and I can honestly say, my life has not been the same since then.
In case you are wondering, this is not an advert for coaching. In the last few months, I have had several people come to me with different issues, and I thought it might be good to put together the five things I learnt on that 2-year journey that changed my life forever.
#1 Start with your why
At the time I was pretty good at visioning, setting goals and often accomplishing most of them. I did however at times, when I did not feel excited by the goals I set, I would abandon them midway and increasing levels of dissatisfaction. This also set off my inner critic on wild spree of judgement and criticism. I learnt to look deeper into what I want, and to ask myself why I want it. This is akin to the work of Daniele de la Porte where she encourages you to look into your core desired feelings. Once you have clarity on your core desired feelings, and you set goals that meet those, you are more likely to stick to them.
#2 Focus on what you are great at
My coach at the time recognized that I am an over-achiever, and that in fact I have the ability to set my mind to tasks quite well and do a good job of it. I was encouraged to always look at what I am great at and to focus on doing more of that, because that would exponentially increase my impact. I have to say, it has taken me a while, but I am finally getting the hang of it. I have finally decided that what I am great at is holding space for difficult conversations, supporting and catalysing deep transformation in individuals and groups. Most of my work currently is about that and the more focused I have become, the more I have been able to say no to the stuff I am good at.
#3 Connect to your heart and spirit
When I studied coaching, much of it focused on transforming my mindset. It focused on what I needed to do to achieve the goals I have set. As someone that is already very goal oriented, this was completely within my comfort zone. My coach taught me to slow things down, and rather than focusing on the doing, to connect to my heart and my spirit: to listen. To really listen, because when I listen I receive inspiration and guidance. This taught me to stop focusing on the tangible only, and to also activate my inner feminine. Whenever I feel lost, this really helps to centre me.
#4 Don’t wait to have it all figured out, do, fail, learn, then do again
This sounds so simple right? But for most of us, we spend an inordinate amount overthinking, over planning, overanalysing, waiting for the right moment to take a big leap. I learnt that fear will only have power if I let it run the show. Listening to fear does not keep me safe, because I still have to listen to my inner critic lambasting me for not being brave enough etc. I learnt that it’s not possible to get into the water without getting wet, without really learning how to fall and pick yourself up each time. The journey is about getting your hands dirty and more than just your feet wet.
#5 The power of vulnerability
My coach lovingly called me out of hiding! Yes, I was hiding in plain sight. I had all the hiding strategies down pat. Strategies came first and most importantly the strategy of omitting my own story. I always felt my own story was not worthy of being shared. I did not want to draw attention to myself, and I was most afraid that people would call me a fraud, that people would criticise me. So, I stayed in hiding. I learnt to suspend these fears and to act, even though my inner voice was constantly wanting to find the nearest rock to hide under. I learnt to make myself vulnerable and in that, I discovered my greatest strength. I learnt to ask for help and I learnt to connect with others that had similar stories.
All this to say, our journey of becoming is an amazing adventure. On this adventure, we will encounter teacher, mentors or messengers. I realise that the message really lands when you are most ready to do the work and push yourself out of what you know.