Alright. This post is part 2 of 12 in my series about the current set of training that I am undergoing in my career as a life and career coach. If you want to get caught up, part 1 is available here.
I went over to Vancouver on Friday night, at the end of the school week. I’d just finished up a phone interview with GenoLogics in which it seemed they were looking for someone more technical than my skillset currently provided for. Not a particularly empowering experience. But that was okay, because I was excited about this weekend’s training.
I packed my stuff, kissed Bay goodbye, and headed out to the ferry. I finished up part 1 of this series on the ferry ride over, drove in to town, and walked up to Quizno’s to get dinner. I ended the night chatting with some friends and then got to bed. Getting up at 4:30AM means getting to bed early too.
Then I hit a snag…
I woke up at 4:30, tired, but excited about the coming two days. In fact, I was practically buzzing with energy – my passion was sitting close to the surface. I walked out of the bedroom and marched with authority to the shower. My thoughts went like this:
“Man, I am so excited. Let’s plan the morning out. Eat breakfast, get in the car, drive with good music down the quiet roads to the border…”
“F*CK!!” (sorry if the language is offensive. It’s authentic to how I felt)
I had forgotten my passport.
I HAD FORGOTTEN MY PASSPORT!
I had forgotten my passport..
What would you do in a situation like this? Here’s what I did.
At first I checked to make sure this was the case. I already knew it was. I could remember exactly the process I used to pack. I had absolutely neglected to put my passport in my bag (it hadn’t even occurred to me).
Okay, first things first – I still had to shower, no matter what. As I got ready to do that, I gave myself five minutes to be angry, sad, furious, whatever with myself. Beat myself up if I wanted, regret that I was going to miss some of my training, whatever.
Then I committed to shifting. This was what was. To speak in more abstract terms, this is what the universe has presented me with. What was I going to do with it?
When something happens, it happens. There’s nothing we can do to change it, only to be fluid in the moment. We can’t control the universe, only be present to what we’re given. So how was I going to be fluid?
As I dressed for the day, I went through my options in my head:
- Catch the ferry back, drive home, get my passport, drive back, catch the ferry, drive down to Seattle. Arrive at around 4PM.
- Catch the ferry back, get Bay to meet me at the Clipper, and potentially catch it down to Seattle. Get a hotel room for another night. Possibly not even an option.
- Catch the ferry back, get Bay to meet me at the floatplane terminal, and catch a floatplane down to Seattle. Get a hotel room for another night. Arrive at around 11:30AM.
Option #1 was simply far too late. Option #2 was not an actual option as the Clipper sucks to catch from Victoria (awkward hours). That left option #3.
At this point, I had two choices: Be disempowered by the decision, or empowered. Was I going to be a victim, at effect with what had happened, or would I be a leader, at cause to what had happened?
I chose to lead. I looked at the positives. I had ridden the floatplanes before – they were beautiful. I’d be able to take some really great pictures (which I did). And it would give me a chance to stay over in Seattle another night and hang out with my team for longer. And at least I wasn’t spending four hours driving.
So, with my attitude shifted and my perspective framed in the positive, I headed back, met up with Bay and then flew down. Bay was phenomenally supportive and I’m incredibly grateful for her support. She met me at the floatplane terminal with my passport after having gotten only 4 hours of sleep. What a woman!
The rest of the weekend
I arrived and excitedly greeted my team members. It had been a month since we’d seen each other and it seemed like such a long time. Going through a transformational process like this, and getting to see people you are working with in such a distinguished light really builds a strong bond. We hugged, said hi, and then sat down.
I arrived just in time to leave for lunch. We chose people to go for lunch with, based on who we currently were the least connected with. The new girl chose me, since I had just arrived. Fine with me!
At lunch, I felt awkward. I was having a hard time getting a good conversation going, and when I feel like I can’t connect with someone, I start to babble like an idiot. It’s not that I’m a bad conversationalist – in fact I’m great. It’s just that I end up speaking a lot, in order to fill the silences. The moments where conversation die down really start to terrify me.
One of the great things I learned this weekend was about my judgments. More specifically, that they are about me, not the person I’m judging. We often have a tendency to notice something, and judge the other person. Everyone is their own person, doing their own thing. They are responsible for their own actions and thoughts, and we can’t change them.
The judgment is actually an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Where is that judgment coming from? Why do you feel that way? What is it about this person that is triggering you?
I spoke up and noted how I felt at lunch, and requested some coaching on it. The team took turns working with me, and I was really surprised to find out that what lay underneath all of this was that when people don’t respond to me in a way that generally would indicate they like me (ie, by making conversation with me, laughing with me, holding eye contact, etc.), I start to feel deeply inadequate.
Wow! This was a big realization, and it all flowed out from the starting point of noting how I felt when someone was really quiet and not connected with me. (and I was judging her for that too, to be fair).
Judgments often provide us with an opportunity to discover a place where we have either over- or under-learned something. If I judge someone for checking out a girl, that might be an indication that I’ve overlearned being polite. Sure, it’s great to be respectful of people around you, but at some point, you need to engage with people. There’s a difference between being lecherous and noticing someone attractive.
I judge people that are poorly put together and look like they don’t put effort into their appearance. But what does that say about me? Probably that I am overly concerned with appearance, and that I could learn a little bit about relaxing from this person.
When you first read this, you may be tempted to shout (mentally) “But it’s not about me, it’s about them!” With time (less so, if you engage in coaching), we got to the bottom of it. Take note and be present to the fact that you are the one being triggered. That other person is simply being who they are. The judgment comes from within you. You are the one responsible for it. Don’t offload that responsibility onto someone else.
Breakthroughs, breakdowns and commitment
One of the epiphanies that I had this weekend was related to the relationship between breakthroughs, breakdowns and commitment.
Breakthroughs are what we all want. They’re the exciting (and scary) part of growth. They’re the point where we experience our epiphany and move beyond the existing structures that we have in place to something new. It feels great when you have that breakthrough moment. You know that things will be different going forward. Of course, you’ll eventually normalize this new place, and will then begin seeking the next breakthrough, but that’s okay – that’s what this game is all about.
Breakdowns must proceed breakthroughs. You can’t have a breakthrough without one. In order to achieve new areas of growth, we need to push beyond where we are comfortable. Doing so will naturally trigger our self-defences, and will require a moment of having them break down around us before we can fully immerse ourselves in that area of unknown and experience our growth.
Where does commitment fit into this? Well, you can’t have a breakdown without having commitment. If you are not committed to the change you are seeking, it will become easy to turn back when you are faced with a moment of breakdown. Breakdowns are scary – they require you to remain outside of your comfort zone and just be. To sit with that feeling of discomfort. Without a commitment to back this up, we will naturally retreat back to what we know.
Here is one of the great powers of working with a coach. Not only are you working on your stuff, and creating breakdowns and subsequent breakthroughs with great velocity, but you also have accountability and commitment built in to the process. Coaching isn’t cheap, nor should it be. It’s an investment in ourselves. The price is a good thing, given the kind of work that we’re doing. When you’re getting something for free, your commitment to its success is not going to be significant (if present at all). When you are paying a decent amount of money to create the change you want, you’re going to be invested in and committed to it.
Further, you’re supported throughout that breakdown. A coach stands for you, even when you are unable to stand yourself. Your coach is there to hold the place for you that you have affirmed you are striving for.
Powerful change is challenging. Most of us assume that we will simply be able to push through whatever barriers stand in our way when we want something enough. In actuality, the kind of changes that we’re talking about are deep and fundamental, and get into the sticky areas where our context and self-defence mechanisms get in our own way.
The stuff that gets in the way of our growth and development at these points is the same stuff that always gets in our way (not enough time, not enough money, too many other things I have to do, my partner wouldn’t let me do that, my kids need me, etc.). These reasons genuinely seem real and valid to us, especially when we’re at the verge of major breakthroughs.
A coach’s job is to keep you open to the realm of possibility. Sure, money is something that needs to be considered, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have options. How might you make that money available?. Your spouse won’t be okay with this change? Why not? Can you talk to them about it? What’s really in the way? You don’t have time to make these changes? What kind of game are we playing for here? This is what you’ve identified matters most – what is taking up your time that is more valuable than that?
Commitment becomes easiest to break when we’re on the verge of a breakdown – that’s when our self-defences are running highest. That’s the point where it becomes easiest to turn away from the breakthrough we are aiming for and retreat back to what is comfortable.
Closing out the weekend
I can feel a shift starting to take place. The process that I’m going through requires a fairly substantial change in my thinking. Coming from a place of simply being present to who I am, rather than acting automatically and predictably, is a bit of a departure from what I’m used to.
As a kid I would even go as far as strategizing and planning out my conversations on the phone and in person. As you can imagine, this didn’t leave a lot of room for simply being present and going with the flow. Switching from this approach to one that is based around simply putting myself into the world, openly and authentically.. Well, it’s taking time and effort.
But as I said, I can feel a shift. I’m starting to get this, and things are starting to click for me. Little by little, and with the support of my coach, I’m beginning to step into my own role in this existence, and I’m alive with the possibility!
That’s all for now, but I will certainly continue on with this series as the months go forward.
I am looking for clients. Specifically I’m looking to work with brilliant polymaths aged mid-20s to late-30s. That is to say, people that are successful in a variety of areas, and recognize that they can shine brightly. These people are wondering “I’ve achieved success… why is it so boring? Isn’t there something more?”, “I know I’m capable of brilliance – why haven’t I taken off yet?” or maybe even where all of their time has gone.
If this sounds like you, or you know someone that might be interested in talking with me, please let me know. I want to work with you and your friends!
Thank you for your continued support and reading. I have definitely embarked on a challenging and unique journey, and I can’t be successful without your help. Take care of yourself and stay tuned!