Have you ever wondered what life coaching is? Or perhaps what it isn’t? The word “coaching” is used so broadly it can be a little confusing what people mean when they say “I am a coach” or “I offer coaching”. One of the first questions prospective clients ask me is “What is coaching and what can it do for me?”
Like all of us, you probably find it hard to change. We all have those habits that do not serve us fully, that we wished we could alter to give us more worthwhile and life-fulfilling outcomes. Habits are hard to break. Your awareness of them and the willingness to overcome them over time are inspiration to make great change and do whatever it takes to create the life you truly desire for yourself. It is easy to get caught up in your head, in the words that tell you “don’t bother” or “it’s too hard” or “things are OK as they are.” I’m assuming you want more? Therefore, I believe you want to access your greatness and do things in your life that make your heart sing.
Friend and Foe
Habits are your friends and your foes in this game. Friends because they can allow life-affirming habits to play out without much challenge or conscious effort. Foes because other habits that drain your life energy and passion for life often move unnoticed, operating out of your awareness, leaving you powerless to take alternative action.
Your body is wired and programmed to support you in your current patterns of behaviour. There are well worn pathways in your nervous system and therefore in your organs, cells and energy that go to make you, you. Those behaviours will have been created because they served you at some point in your life. You might have learned to be accepting or non- conformist in your youth because it allowed you to adapt and survive your circumstances. However, now, as an adult, you might find those behaviours create outcomes that no longer serve you. You might notice that different outcomes would give you more of what you want: agency, confidence, empowerment, intimacy and more.
Biology and Behaviour
To achieve this, you need to change your biology and the nerve pathways that create your behaviour. Sound overwhelming? Well, the good news is that you have control over your biology. You can practice new behaviours consciously until they become your new pattern of behaviour. A warning though. It takes consistent practice. However, it can be fun if you take a playful and light-hearted view of this process of change and transformation. Which is itself perhaps a change of habit that takes practice as well?
Dr Joe Dispenza says that “nerve cells that fire together wire together”. It’s a simple, catchy phrase that speaks the truth about building new habits of thought and behaviour. It implies your brain and nervous systems are dynamic playgrounds of change and learning. Nerve cells are connecting and disconnecting all the time as your thoughts and behaviour demand new biology. Conversely, your biology determines your thoughts and behaviour.
A helpful Metaphor
So, what is going on in our brains and nervous systems? I like to think of the pathways created by your nerves like roads for traffic. You have the super-fast motorways, the dual carriage ways and the slower country lanes. You also have the bridleways and footpaths and even the tracks. I love walking in The Lake District and the hills and valleys are full of these walk ways. The lesser walked paths and tracks can be almost indiscernible. It is slow going. The larger tracks are easier to follow and you can walk faster along them.
The more used pathways are larger, well- established and allow for faster speeds. Lesser used paths are smaller, less robust and less direct. Therefore they support slower speeds. Well-established habits are the superhighways. New thoughts and behaviours are the tracks that are nigh on impossible to discern. To change a track to a motorway takes practice, purpose, patience and perseverance. And to turn an out-dated superhighway into lush green fields again requires the same “4 P’s”. In other words, it requires conscious effort applied consistently to build new pathways and behaviours and dismantle old, out-moded ways of doing and being.
This is why breaking habits is so challenging. Your biology is programmed to support well-established behaviours. They take little effort and happen automatically. To change that behaviour requires a lot of effort and it’s easy to slip back into old ways. Now you know why. Your biology is programmed to do so. You can learn more here:
Biology and Behaviour inter-relate
Any athlete will tell you the same. On the build up to 2012 Olympics in London, Greg Rutherford, the Team GB gold medalist spent 4 years retraining his body to lead with his left leg rather than his right so that he could launch into his long jump without injuring his hamstring. 4 years!!!!!! Yet to get to Olympic standard that’s how long it took him to fully embody and courageously make that jump consistently for gold. Make no mistake, any habit is the same. Perhaps it doesn’t take 4 years, but it will take time and effort to create new habits. How do you respond to events in your life? How would you like to respond differently? Will you practice the changes of habit required to make that possible?
Let me give you an example. One of my habits is that I can respond to loud people who are in my face by withdrawing, keeping my distance and refusing to engage with them. I recently interacted with a wonderful work colleague who at first triggered this behaviour in me. I allowed myself to be triggered until I noticed it. At that point I was able to do something about it.
So, I made a conscious effort to engage rather than withdraw, interact rather than keep my distance and be willing to connect rather than refuge to engage. Within moments the relationship was transformed, and we shared a lot of mutual learning, wisdom and experience as a result. I need to keep practicing this until it becomes my default, automatic and unconscious way of being and doing in the face of loud people. Until then, I can make the journey of transition easier by exercising self- compassion and recognising it won’t happen overnight. The outcomes of such choices are far more satisfying to me now, than the results I used to get. As I grow, my intentions change, the outcomes transform as a result and my choices are aligned to my values and life purpose.
So, what are the “4 P’s”?
To change the wiring of your nervous system you need to practice the behaviour the new wiring that behaviour requires. Otherwise that wiring will never take hold and your new desired behaviour will never become established.
Align your new desired behaviour to values and life purpose that feels compelling and inspiring. I value connection, so my behaviours want to reflect connection. My life purpose relates to clarity, so I want to see and know people at depth, not just their surface level actions.
Failure and success are both great teachers. They show what you do right as well as point to where improvements are required. That is part of the process. As the new wiring becomes more established less, conscious effort is required. It is a work in progress and an unfolding process. Stick with it.
It’s easy to give up or allow yourself to be distracted by other things. When you’ve been on that amazing workshop or retreat or read that inspiring blog, you feel compelled to take action. Yet in the busyness of everyday life you forget to practise, and all that good intention gets lost along the way. Therefore, put structures in place to remind you. Remain accountable to yourself by allowing someone else to hold you accountable. Commit daily to your promise to yourself.
So that’s why habits are hard to break, create and maintain. The awesome power of your biology that makes habits so effective is the same thing that makes them a challenge to change. Yet, if you want different outcomes to circumstances, you have to change how you respond to them. And that takes practice, purpose, patience and perseverance.
The Yoda Moment
Habits are instrumental to the core of your being. I believe we are born with great wisdom that gets covered up with thoughts, ideas and concepts given to us by others. These ideas, thoughts and concepts become habits that mask some of our greatness, uniqueness and authenticity. To uncover and reclaim them fully, we must learn new habits, life-affirming habits, habits that allow our magnificence to shine. I love coaching and using the body and mind in coaching to effect these transformations.
“We all came into this world gifted with innocence. But gradually, as we became more intelligent, we lost our innocence. We were born with silence, and as we grew up, we lost the silence and were filled with words. We lived in our hearts, and as time passed, we moved into our heads. Now the reversal of this journey is enlightenment. It is the journey from head back to the heart, from words, back to silence; getting back to our innocence in spite of our intelligence. Although very simple, this is a great achievement.” —Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Whatever form of self-development you are engaged in right now, please know your greatness, uniqueness and authenticity is much needed in the world. There are a wealth of resources available in the world today to serve you in uncovering those gifts and changing your habits is an essential part of that journey.
Over to you
How successful are you at changing old habits? What’s your awareness like at noticing old patterns. How is your willingness to change? What do you do to ensure success? How does this information make it easier/ harder? What’s your new perspective? I’d love to hear about your successes….. and your failures. How can I support you in your transitions and transformations? What do you need for greater success?
Pass it on
Please forward this article to someone struggling with breaking unsupportive habits. Alternatively, send it to people in need of support as they go through their own growth and get frustrated that it takes so long. Nothing is wrong it simply takes time…. and knowing that can make all the difference.
How do you deal with conflict or challenging relationships? Do you allow sad or disappointing moments to get in the way of your relationships with people? Are joyous and fulfilling situations left uncelebrated, pushing you and your loved ones further apart? Or are you able to use these highs and lows as catalysts to bring you and those dearest to you even closer together? And even overcome the blocks and barriers that might have developed in relationships with family and friends?
Friends and family at arm’s length
There have been various events in my family history that had the potential to bring us closer together. They didn’t because we were all consumed by the pain, fear, anger and despair we were feeling and trying to push away as well as nursing our own wounds. How do I keep going? What can I do to make this better? How can I get over this? How could this happen to me? Why do I feel so angry or numb or disconnected? None of us were willing to come out of that place of hurt enough to actually talk about it and connect to each other. The emotion would have been too overwhelming, exposing the scar too painful and sharing the grief too raw.
And so, it gets pushed aside, ignored, swept under the carpet in the pretence that all is fine. Everyone knows it’s not, but no one is willing to take the first step to talk about it and get things moving. Years and decades can go by like this with families remaining distant from each other because they cannot bring themselves to talk about how they feel. So, the resentment and sorrow remain and people who could truly and deeply love each other remain strangers to each other instead.
Just because you love someone, does not mean you share intimacy with them at an emotional level. You may love your parents and siblings but how deeply do you know them and how fully do you allow them to know you? I can say from my own experience that keeping those close to me at arm’s length has felt more comfortable than getting to know and accept them with all their foibles. Or share with them my fears, hopes and dreams as well as my moments of weakness and strength.
Pain can keep us apart
It doesn’t have to be this way. I learned this recently on a coaching training course. One of the participants shared how the death of his brother had encouraged his family to talk more, listen more and accept each other- worts and all. It was a beautiful mirror to how my family could have reached out to each other and nurtured our relationships. Instead these events pushed us further apart.
Pain is a powerful force. People feel compelled to move away from it. The mind makes no distinction between physical and emotional pain. You react the same way by pulling away. Pain is deemed something bad and we are programmed to move away from it. That behaviour has its value. Yet the source of the pain has not changed or gone anywhere. That’s why you get triggered when similar events occur. You’re bringing the pain of the past into the present, amplifying your reaction to this present event.
For example, I have a challenge with my family where I do not feel they listen to me. It has always been that way. For many years it has frustrated and angered me. So, whenever I do not feel like any person is really listening to what I’m saying, I can get inappropriately frustrated and angry which does not serve either of us. I lose control and they think “who’s this nutter?” and it doesn’t make them want to listen to me any more clearly and try and understand me any better!!
Go into the pain
Coming to terms with that pain has done wonders. Rather than fight it, instead I go into the pain. The blocks and feeling stuck, unaccepted, unappreciated and misunderstood have given way to understanding why they find it hard to accept, appreciate and understand me. The answer lies in their past and with that my compassion makes it easier to accept the situation. Compassion is a huge value of mine as people first and foremost need to be seen, heard and understood. My understanding brings down my barriers which in turn lowers their barriers and suddenly we have a more open and loving relationship.
So, my new learning is that every event, whether deemed positive or negative, has the ability to be used as an opportunity to bring people closer together. By sharing our feelings with people, we show our pain, hopes, dreams and aspirations. When listening to people share, we witness their humanity and may even recognise it in ourselves. The key is to listen to each other and share in our vulnerability, where our deepest feelings lie. This bonds us and connects us far deeper than pretending that everything is OK all the time. From this vulnerable place, people open themselves up at depth so that they can both get where the other is coming from and resolve their differences.
Conflict is not bad
When everything is OK share that, celebrate, whoop for joy and revel in the joy you witness and share with another. And when things are less than OK, share that too- cry with them, be with them, be angry together and be in sorrow. It is part of being human. When there is conflict between two people, it is an opportunity for both of them to take responsibility for putting it right. It is a chance to grow themselves AND the relationship. What role do you play in this situation? How can you understand the other more deeply so that they can take responsibility for themselves and their role in the situation? When you accept responsibility for yourself, it enables you to retain the freedom to be fully yourself.
We all have times when we are perhaps unlovable, or someone is perhaps being unlovable. Only by giving extra love will we be able to find our love for them at this challenging time. I harboured resentment towards my parents for many years. Yet, by understanding them more deeply, I found greater love for them and it has brought us all more peace and deeper connection. Conflict is not bad. It is an opportunity, more than any other, to allow relationships to grow. You can learn more here:
Relationship is everything
It builds relationship. And everything is about relationship. My sister was like a mother to me. She is 14 years older and moved abroad when I was very young. For many years I harboured anger, hate and resentment towards her. Only recently have I begun to share with her my feelings- not in a blameful way, but simply to listen to her side of the story and share a little of my pain. For the first time I heard HER pain of leaving me behind and missing me growing up. It was like the stuck emotions between us dissolved away.
Notice that I gave her the chance to speak first and showed a willingness to understand. She felt heard first. THEN she is in a place to hear me and more deeply listen and the healing can take place.
I will admit, I am blessed with a sister who would actually share and listen. It has made our relationship far deeper ever since and the relationships I have with her children. Yet not all people are willing to listen. Even when they may say they are trying, you can feel whether they are or not.
Then, it is about coming to understand them as best you can and healing the pain you feel inside for your own sanity, peace and well-being. Try to understand how they have come to be as they are- there is ALWAYS a painful story there and hurt people hurt people.
Over to you
Would you like to be closer to friends and family members? What things might be getting in the way? How would you like your relationship to be? How do you feel about sharing more of yourself with family and friends and knowing them more deeply? What have you done to build bridges? What worked and what didn’t? How could you go deeper? If you’d be willing to share, I’d love to hear from you. Happy to make it public. Please post in the comments box or on social media. If you’d prefer a private conversation, you can always DM me or e-mail at email@example.com
Pass it on
If you know someone whose relationships and well-being might benefit from stronger and more open relationships, please pass this blog on and help those relationships heal.
This week marks 2019’s designated day of Love- February 14th, Valentine’s Day. You could spend your time right now reading about the commerciality this brings and the hollowness or shallowness of this dedicated day to romance. Or you could be reading about how to sweep your lover off their feet and thrill them in sexual desire. Instead, I’d like to discuss a much broader topic that is central to a successful relationship……. how are YOU showing up in your significant partnership with lover, spouse or partner?
Who are you choosing to be?
There is no doubt there are challenges in all relationships. The key, I believe, is understanding where your responsibilities lie and who you are choosing to be in every moment. There is also an ambience to a relationship and what you bring to create, maintain and grow that ambience.
What do you put in?
There are a couple of really great metaphors I have been taught about successful relationships. The first is that a relationship is a container. It is as full as what you put into it. The kind of things you put into it determines it’s ambience.
For example, if all your energy is focused on your work, you put very little into the container. If all your focus is on the kids what are you putting into the relationship with your partner? It needs feeding. What are you feeding it with? You can hear more about that here:
What is the ambience of your relationship?
If you feed the container with abuse, control, cynicism, lies and indifference, what do you think the container is going to be like? Gestures of flowers, chocolates and a beautiful meal once a year is not going to do much to change the ambience of the over all relationship is it? Also, you are going to be able to take very little from the relationship that is positive and nourishing.
If love, respect, honesty, curiosity, interest, empowerment and support are regularly poured into the container, the ambience will be empowering and nurturing. Another gesture on February 14th is only going to reinforce what you already know to be true about the relationship, right? Valentine’s Day is just another part of your Valentine’s Life that consistently fuels a beautiful relationship. You will be able to draw positive and nourishing from the relationship whenever wanted or needed.
What you bring to the relationship creates that ambience. Once a year won’t do it. Choosing to be the supportive, romantic, funny, respectful and honest partner you want to be everyday is going to build the kind of relationship you really hope and long for. However you want to show up with your partner, choose it purposefully, consciously and intentionally and choose it everyday. Honour your values and bring them alive in all you do…. and that includes your significant relationship.
Is there balance?
This does not mean all your attention is in your relationship. That is not healthy and balanced. If you did, what other parts of your life suffer as a result? This would only put strain on your relationship and make you dependant in each other. This is known as co- dependency.
This brings us to the second metaphor. Co- dependency is like when two cards lean against one another. Take one card away and the other card crashes to the floor. This is not a healthy open relationship.
Instead, learn independence. Cultivate your own life, interests and friendships. Be an interesting person to yourself and your partner. Be excited about ALL your life.
Including your partner. Be curious about him/ her. Delve deep into them. Discover their fears and their strengths. Listen to their longing and their dreams. Let them surprise you. Allow yourself to be in awe. And be awesome.
Learn to stand beside them. Two cards side by side. Neither one reliant on the other. Each supporting one another. Creating space, freedom and openness in the relationship to be individual, independent wholes. Offer support, love and understanding when needed, in the knowledge that your partner is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Allow them to do the same with you. Be open, transparent and vulnerable. This makes the relationship greater than the sum of the parts. An inter- dependent system that serves more than the two- it serves all the rich communities of which you are both a part.
You don’t need each other. You choose to be together. Don’t blame them. You are at choice. Take responsibility and choose to be in the relationship or not. If you choose to stay, be all you can be to serve you, your partner AND the relationship.
If it is really not serving you and you have tried everything you can or if you feel you are not being met by your partner, perhaps it is time for an honest conversation. To ask for what you want from the relationship and your partner. You don’t HAVE to put up with any crap……. you CAN choose to, for the sake of so many other benefits that may get as well. It is up to you.
As Valentine’s Day 2019 looms and passes, think about what you and your partner bring to the container that is your relationship. If something is missing I challenge you to speak to them about it….. lovingly, kindly and respectfully. Take ownership of your responsibility and allow them to take ownership of their’s. Discuss it, craft it and design a relationship of which you are proud.
One night of romance can be beautiful. Celebrate it on February 14th or not. It is the little drops of beauty and kindness that fall into the container of your partnership, the fierce love that holds responsibility and accountability to both of you that make it strong.
Don’t allow the hum- drum of life to dull your Light. Shine bright in your work, friendships, parenting, passions and significant relationship.
Love hard, love fiercely and above all love daily and create a container full of jewels that makes your relationship priceless.
Over to you
Do you have a Valentine’s Day or a Valentine’s Life? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day once a year or throughout the year? Are you consistent in your responsibility for your relationship? Do you nurture your relationship as much as you can? Could you improve in your nurturing? Who do you bring to your significant relationship? Are you happy with what you bring? What would you do differently? Who would you be instead? What’s getting in the way? What are you getting right? What do you want more of?
Pass it on
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or on social media posts. I’d live to hear from you and get a conversation going about this topic. Also, please pass it on to anyone you know who would be interested to read the blog. I’d appreciate it. Thank you.
What do you do when you feel stuck? You name it!!!
Petra came to me feeling in limbo. She felt no motivation to do anything. No inspiration came to her to move forward. She felt isolated, stuck, mistrustful and withdrawn from the world. She was also unsociable.
When we agreed to work together, Petra’s energy and vitality were at a real low. There was a heaviness around and within her. She said she felt tight and constricted. I mentioned that this heaviness and constriction reflected how she was behaving. Naming something can be a powerful tool in life coaching to highlight to a client what might not be so obvious to them. They live with it day after day and it can become invisible to them. This touched her deeply and she resolved and committed to getting out that first week for some gentle exercise and perhaps some social interaction. I invited her to notice how things changed for her and what felt possible from this new perspective. We left this external exploration for a short while to see how it evolved.
The Client is Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole
As an alternative focus, we looked at her inner world. By doing visualisations we tapped into inner wisdom and knowing, that directed Petra towards some deep insight and support. Over the next few weeks, Petra regularly did these visualisations, building a picture of inner strength, peace and presence. This taps into one of the corner stones of Co-active coaching which is that the client is naturally creative, resourceful and whole. The answers come from within, as long as the client is in resonance with their power, confidence and inner wisdom. This empowers the client to think and act from a place of “I know the answers” even when they feel lost and confused. It just takes a shift in mindset.
What also came up was a victim mindset. A voice that was derisive of the values Petra was beginning to tap into. Unworthiness and playing small were big themes that had played out throughout Petra’s life. Most especially in her relationship with her parents and partner. She committed to creating a new story that she could repeat to herself. It would allow her to build a better future- something to begin to trust and believe in. She also resolved to understand her victim mindset and apply her new- found values to her own inner journey of forgiveness and understanding.
This was the turning point- the beginning of something child- like, spontaneous, creative and joyful. Putting on a brave face and appearing confident had been a hallmark of Petra’s behaviour in the past. This was accompanied by a sense of being a fraud. Now things felt very different. She said there was an authentic confidence that erupted spontaneously that she was no longer willing to censor.
Life builds from Resonance
Ideas for her life came spontaneously too. Holidays she had only dreamed of, retirement plans abroad and learning new languages. A refreshed vitality to life was beginning to blossom. And all from aligning and resonating with the fulfilment, purpose and meaning Petra was beginning to discover for her life.
People can come to coaching in a deep, dark place. Yet, this first step of reaching out for support is so important and powerful. We did not need to dig around in Petra’s past to find the answers. It is a common question from prospective clients to ask, “What is the difference between coaching and counselling?” Put simply, counselling looks to the past to unearth the answers. Coaching looks to the present to see how the client feels here and now and then builds resonance with an empowering vision from which the client can build their future. Rather than look into her past only, Petra asked her present self all the questions and the answers pointed her to what she needed to move forward. Her willingness to go deep and stick with it was a testament to her commitment and resolve.
Forward the action, deepen the learning
She recognises that the journey continues to unfold. She has tools now she can take forward to tackle the challenges of the future and she will learn more as she continues the coaching journey.
From whatever point in your life you are, coaching can support you in building alignment and resonance with your vision of how you would like your life to be. It takes action and often some challenging steps to build that future. Petra is a testament to that hard work and commitment towards a new and empowering future. With every action step comes learning and deepening understanding. In time the client transforms into the person who IS living the dream they imagined for themselves.
Over to You
Are you willing to look at what makes a truly fulfilling life for you? Do you want to live with meaning and purpose? Would you like someone to be with you as you tackle the challenging emotions that ultimately lead to growth and transformation? Do you want to connect to your inner greatness and have that be an active, creative and nurturing part of your life? If you are wondering whether coaching can help you create more of the life you want to be living, why not get in touch?
Pass it on
If you know anyone who is contemplating a life coaching journey please send them the link to this blog and give them the opportunity to learn about co-active life coaching and how it can benefit. Alternatively, if you know someone who is stuck in their life and would be willing to take this beautiful, transformational journey, please send them the link too- it might be the inspiration they need to take that first step. Thank you.
Does the prospect of self growth daunt you? Are you aware that you need to learn and grow. Are you put off by the struggle, dedication and sacrifice you anticipate is involved? Does the thought of the pain and sweat make you not want to start or perhaps throw in the towel once things get tough?
I see this time and again with coaching clients. The first few sessions are full of enthusiasm, momentum, growth and learning. Then people hit a lull or what is known as The Dip. The resistance to change steps in. The desire to keep things as they are, becomes increasingly powerful as greater change looms on the horizon. The fears of “am I good enough?” and “do I have what it takes” beat a steady rhythm in your heart and mind. Doubts flood in and suddenly all this change and growth doesn’t seem like such a good idea.
When this happens, it is the coach’s role to champion the client. To remind them sensitively of what they have declared is most important to them, what they want to achieve and perhaps most importantly, how they want to be in the world.
This shift requires challenge, courage, learning, action and growth. The coach supports and cheers the client along throughout the journey, celebrating their resourcefulness, creativity and determination.
The Courage for Self Growth
To stand up for the life you really want for yourself requires courage. As you grow into this person more and more, you show yourself the strength, resilience and mettle that lives within you. Sometimes that resolve comes through clarity and focus as you realise your purpose, fulfilment and goals. Other times it comes from the depth of despair as you face another obstacle or setback and find the resolve to uncover the learning, discover deeper resources and take further action.
As Rob Bell says in one of his podcasts, it is the sweat and pain that makes you strong. If you do not realise how incredible you are already, then in order to discover it you can go through the process of breaking through the limiting beliefs that hold you back. You find your backbone as you journey along these paths. It seems most of us have lost that knowing about how great and magnificent we are. Without struggle and work it is hard to discover what qualities you bring to the table of life and what you can meaningfully contribute.
The Growth of Inherent Skills
I have seen clients emerge from challenges to their health or careers for example, having discovered qualities and inspiration that have taken their lives in new and fascinating directions. You may already know people who have had a health scare or faced redundancy. So often, that process sets wheels in motion to look inward and ask “what do I really want and how am I going to achieve it?” Suddenly, doors open, inspiration floods in, they take the action steps required, they succeed, they fail and learn and in time they grow the skills inherent within them. They become more confident, fuller, stronger, broader in range, deeper in resources and resilience. In short, they have grown from the experience.
Self growth has its advantages. It can be a transformative process. And it does not have to be all hard graft and full of resistance. When you are clear about your purpose and goals, self growth is a joyful process that brings you into full alignment with what is deeply fulfilling for you.
Yes, it will push you out of your comfort zone. That may scare you. Yes, you may have moments when you doubt yourself. That may frustrate you. What I see in clients is a focus and resolve on the bigger picture, drawing them irretrievably forward into the person they wish to become. That may be painful, sweaty and fearful. It will also be fulfilling, exhilarating and purposeful.
The Oak Tree
I like the phrase self growth. It speaks of already being what you are, you simply have to practice it more to become bigger, stronger and more proficient at it. An Oak tree is no less an Oak tree as the acorn, a sapling or a giant in the forest. The acorn has all the qualities of the giant Oak, it just needs time to grow. It will take time. Effort will be required. Perseverance will be essential. Set- backs will be inevitable. Adaptation unavoidable. This is the process of growth.
You grow into a larger version of yourself: more confident, resourceful, resilient, creative, experienced and joyful; with greater capacity, learning, depth, height, breadth and power.
Every person you have ever admired started their journey to where they are today a younger, less confident, knowledgeable, experienced and wise version of themselves you see before you. It was not without learning and pain as they transformed over time into these wonderful teachers, guides, mentors and leaders. They overcame limiting beliefs, diminished confidence, fear of rejection and visibility of speaking out. These people carried on through moments of doubt, uncertainty and countless nay- sayers to be where they are. They are no different to you or me. Know that the learning leads to growth and the growth leads to learning.
Over to you
What do you love about self growth? Are there elements about self growth that you don’t like? What are your areas of growth? Where do you need to grow? Are you aware of your blind spots? Do you have a team of people around you who will supportively point them out to you? Are you someone who supports others in their growth and development? Please share your experience and insights in the comments box below or on social media. It’s so valuable to create discussion on these themes and support people on their road of growth.
Pass it on
Why not share this post with other people? If you found it valuable, perhaps other people will find it useful too. I’d really appreciate it if you spread the love and light. Thank you.
Do you lack motivation? Is inspiration missing in your life? Are you lacking the clarity in your focus to move decisively along your path? Or is that indecision only highlighted when you change course? Do you find yourself frustrated following the paths of others? Yet when you put your mind to it, you cannot think of what it is that YOU want to do? If you can say “Yes” to any of these questions, perhaps it is a question of gaining clarity on your life purpose.
Life Purpose that Lights you up
Does life purpose seem like such a big and grand topic? For many it feels overwhelming. For others the question of life purpose leads to blank stares or rolling eyes. Yet the benefit of gaining clarity on life purpose leads to a context in which important decisions can be made with insight, conviction and the confidence that this is what YOU want. Not goals imposed upon you externally that do nothing to light you up from within. You also have greater confidence that you are moving your life forward in a meaningful and fulfilling direction. Or at least as confident as you can be.
Life purpose does not mean you have all the answers. A ball park is a good start. A rough guide will do. You can fine tune as you go. In fact, you will need to fine tune as you go as you see things in keener detail the closer you get.
For many years I have loved helping people lead more fulfilling lives. Initially that involved martial arts and the self- development aspect that mental focus and intention bring. Now I include co- active coaching, giving more empowerment to clients than ever before to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Mind and body focused on deeply resonating outcomes make for an awesome combination. As my skill base has grown so my capacity to help others more deeply has increased.
Life Purpose- A Joyful Exploration
So how do you turn life purpose into a joyful exploration that empowers and motivates rather than overwhelms and leads to resignation? In the co- active model there is a process near the beginning of the coaching called the Discovery Session. This is a powerful process of gaining clarity about the things that are deeply meaningful to you so that these can be present to you in the coaching. It is fun, exciting, revealing, illuminating, inspiring, surprising and full of learning. It reveals to you your North Star so that you can navigate clearly through your life coaching journey.
Losing sight of these parts of your life that bring fulfilment and purpose mean you may drift aimlessly or live in pursuit of less meaningful goals. Perhaps you know that feeling already? Is it time to stop? Are you ready to take charge?
By answering questions such as “What do you really want?” and “Look ahead six months. Where are you? What decisions would you make today to get there?” you can create a compelling vision that gives you energy and momentum, inspiring you to take meaningful action as part of your every day life. And you keep revisiting this and checking in with it throughout the coaching to make sure it is accurate, relevant and on purpose.
This is not about doing more. This is about doing different, thinking different and being different. It is about holding to that vision. Stop doing the things that detract from that vision and start doing more of the things that make that vision a reality.
Leading from Within
Very often I notice that clients are following a path set out by other people. Rarely if ever have they questioned what they truly want. What deeply motivates them from within that will enable them to live and work with passion, power and fire? When you lead yourself from within, stepping out into the world and leading others becomes so much clearer and a natural expression of your values.
Then, every step you take is fulfilling. Every decision and action is infused with meaning. You gain greater focus. You walk with more purpose. In your body you feel more energised, vital, directed and engaged. There is less room for playing small. And if you do play small you are more likely to be aware of it and more empowered to take action to live and act in your power.
Co- active life coaching and Mindful Movement are designed to give the power and responsibility back to you. In so doing you achieve greater freedom- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Yes, life purpose can be seen as a big subject, too large to tackle. But, by breaking it down into fun manageable steps it becomes an exciting vision that can infuse and inspire every area of your life. You are a constantly evolving being. Recruiting all your resources, energies and potential becomes much easier when you are clear about what you want your life to be about and make a commitment to achieve it.
All this talk scares some people. I appreciate that. To think of breaking free of the life that makes you feel safe and comfortable can be scary. But, are you at all dissatisfied, curious about what more life can be, what more you are capable of achieving? If so, this is another way of saying you wish to be more fulfilled in your life. If you want to feel that sense of fulfilment instantly, keep feeling it and enjoy the sense of purpose that comes with it, then perhaps you are ready to take the step into life coaching and learn more about your true potential.
Over to You
Do you feel dissatisfied? Are you curious about what more life has to offer? What more are you capable of achieving? Are you clear about what your life purpose is? If so, how does it inform your choices and decisions? Have you had to take a dramatic change in focus or direction in your life? What was that like to reorient yourself to a new purpose and goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please post below in the comments box or engage on social media about this post or any others on the Potentiality Coaching blog.
Pass it on
Why not share this blog or the posts and tweets for it with friends, family and colleagues? It might spur them on to take bold action and live with more fulfilment and a clear sense of life purpose.
When you do something new and step out of your comfort zone there are mind sets that are going to inspire you to take action. There are other mind sets that will do the opposite. Therefore, it is essential that you give attention and energy to those mind sets that lead to positive and empowering action. Alternatively you can focus on why you can’t do something and remain where you are.
There are of course advantages to the latter strategy. You are not taking any risks so it feels safe. You are a large fish in a small pond and so you feel confident in a narrow range of areas. As a consequence you do not grow. You do not feel you need to invest in learning, making effort and putting your neck on the line.
Recent months have seen me move my business forward in ways I have wanted to do for some time. 2017 has seen me launch a beginners Mindful Movement course. Below are some notes of thoughts, ideas and learnings I have had by taking that step. I hope you will see parallels in your life if you are looking to do something new and innovative.
- Waiting for things to be perfect- things will never be right. Do them anyway. Do not let this be an obstacle to doing anything new. Excellence will come the more you try, develop and innovate. Perfection is not possible.
- You know more than you realise. What you don’t know you can learn. You have a phenomenal wealth of experience and expertise. These skills can be invaluable in many areas. Do not think your skill set is restricted to a narrow field. If you focus your intention and goals firmly and pursue them persistently you will find out what you need to learn. Then, you can take the time to educate yourself, confident in the knowledge it is taking you where you want to go.
- Be open to feedback. One of the things we fear most is getting things wrong. I think we learn this mind set at school where making mistakes is not necessarily turned into a positive learning experience. Mistakes are incredibly fruitful if they are framed as an opportunity to learn. Everything is a work in progress. Therefore learning to adapt to change is essential for success. If you are providing a product or service, you want to know it is exactly what your ideal clients want and need. If you are employed, growing into a role that is great for your career and personal development it is a win- win for you and your employer. When you learn anything, there is a learning curve that means mistakes are inevitable. Learning is impossible without mistakes.
- Be clear about what you want to achieve (and be open to change). When I set out to design the course I had clear goals in mind. For example: to develop awareness of mind and body to promote relaxation and resilience and reduce tension. I designed it around that. Every session has been altered before, during and after to create a better client experience.
- Don’t play it safe- taking risks is highly subjective. What is risky for one person may be not appear that way to another. Try and push into that risky zone just enough to challenge you to get the best out of you. Just outside your comfort zone is where risk and the creative magic happen.
- You are good enough to make a difference. We all have talents that can serve others positively. Realising that for myself has been a long journey. Once your talents are used more and more, your skills to use them deepen and widen. Therefore, you become more of what you are meant to be.
- Don’t try to do too much- be prepared to chuck stuff away. It may be a director’s best scene or your best piece of work! If it doesn’t fit the client like a glove, enhance the movie or make a better product, ditch it!!! Or adapt. Also, if you have more material than you have time you can edit it out as required. Depth and breadth of knowledge are invaluable. They give you firm foundations and walls with which to give you and your clients confidence. You don’t need to share it all in one go. Think about “What does the client need?” not necessarily what you feel you need to show the client. Also, life is a journey. Do we need to get as far as possible? Does that extra thing we achieve make all that much difference? Can we enjoy the journey, take a little longer, connect a little deeper and laugh a little louder?
- Start from where you are- get traction. So often I have tried to run things based on skills I’d like to have rather than the skills I do have. When I have it never works. Work with what you have. Continue to learn, innovate and grow. With perseverance and dedication you will become better, wiser and more discerning.
- Let things grow organically– once the course started I realised I had so much material and scope I could comfortably run Intermediate and Advanced classes as well as bespoke workshops. I’ll be keeping the website updated with new dates and locations as they are confirmed.
Over to you
Does any of what I mentioned above resonate with you? What have you learned by running new courses or stepping into new roles? How do you feel about taking risks? What are your thoughts about taking action and just doing it? Would you rather stick with what you know or go for innovation and development? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please post your comments below.
Spread the love……
Why not share this blog with a friend or colleague who might enjoy it? If you know someone who is thinking of taking action steps to create something new, perhaps this blog might help. Please pass the blog on to anyone you know who might benefit. I’d really appreciate it. They might really appreciate it too? If this is the first Potentiality Coaching blog you have read, welcome. If you would like to receive monthly reminders of blog posts, news and free training videos you can sign up to the Potentiality Coaching mailing list here.
Yin and Yang of ” Yes” and “No”
This month’s blog is about “yes” and the power it can have in our lives. Everything works in balance. Last month’s blog we discussed “no”. Each time we say “no” to something we are also saying “yes” to something else. This balance is brought to light by Yin and Yang, the ancient Taoist concept of balance. It also illustrates how the birth of something is rooted in its opposite. “Yes” and “no” are an ideal example.
The Power of “Yes”
The things we say “yes” to have the potential to enhance us, diminish us and hold our lives in stagnation.
Very often we will say “yes” to things that keep our lives on the same path. We choose to do the same things, go to the same places, learn ideas that agree with our world view and mix with the same people. There is nothing wrong with this. It may be very powerful and rewarding to do things like this that keep us moving forward. It is when we stagnate that these things no longer serve us. This may be because we may be afraid to change. We choose to say “yes” to them to stay comfortable and unchallenged.
Actions that diminish us
We may say “yes” to things that diminish us because we think we are unworthy or undeserving. We may have that cigarette or that ice cream that we know are bad for our health. We’ll have them anyway even though it engrains habits not supportive of our health, dreams and success. This sabotaging behaviour can be tackled head on with coaching, supported by a strong and clear vision of goals. Saying “yes” to friends and family that do not support our growth can also be a challenge to our success.
Behaviour that empowers us
It is when we say “yes” to success that life moves into fulfilment and purpose. When we say “yes” to health and wellness we say “no” to cigarettes and cream cakes. When we commit to family we take time to be with them, nurture them and grow with them and “no” to always prioritising other things. This consistent and persistent behaviour moves our lives towards success the way we choose to define it. With that clear focus we can sometimes deviate from the path chosen. When we do we do so mindfully and we are not deviated from our overall goals.
There are times, however, when you say “yes” because you feel you should or perhaps because you can’t say “no”. Therefore you do not experience the power of an authentic “yes”. Neither does the person you are saying it to.
You may also feel disempowered by saying an unauthentic “yes” trapping you into a series of activities that feel progressively less comfortable and pleasing to do. You squirm as you do each thing wishing you hadn’t said “yes” in the first place.
I have been guilty of saying “yes” simply because I do not want to let people down by saying “no”. I have hoped people will like me for saying “yes” to every request. I used to get roped into things that I didn’t want to do, resenting myself and others as a result. It was really stressful.
The Power of “Yes”
When I began to say an empowered and confident “no”, I had found self respect and could tell people respected my answer. They do not like me less or think less of me. People appreciated the honesty. I was saying “yes” to my own boundaries, self respect and well- being. I could relax into myself and felt more confident.
Saying “yes”‘ is also about you. When you say “yes” to things that empower you it sends a strong message to your psyche. It says “I am worthy” and “I believe that I am good enough”.
Over to You
The next time you have choice, think about what you are saying “yes” to. Is this serving you? Could there be a better way? Are you thinking about the bigger picture if your life context and what you like to achieve? If so does it make it easier to say “yes” with confidence, power and authenticity?
Pass it on
Will you say “yes” to passing this blog on to someone you know? It may get them thinking about what choices they are making and what direction they’re taking. Who knows where that might lead?
“No” is often such a hard word to say. We don’t like to disappoint people or let anyone down. And then there is the fear of appearing unreasonable, difficult or arrogant.
The importance of “no”
At some point in your life you would have had to say “no” to something- a job, a relationship, a plea for help, a client, a cream bun, a cigarette? In some way you know it is harmful to you, taking you in a different direction to the way you want your life to go. Very often we do not find the resolve to say “no” unless we are clear why we are saying so in a way that feels really powerful from within.
Recently I declined a workshop opportunity. I had run these workshops before and enjoyed them. It had been good publicity for the business. Now however, times had moved on and it did not serve the direction of business. I was heading into new territory and this would have brought me back to where I had been. As hard as it was I said “no” and it allowed me to pursue my new business direction more cleanly.
However, initially I said “yes”. Afraid to disappoint and let down people who were relying on me it felt wrong to decline. When I sat down and thought about it logically, strategically and from my heart I knew this wasn’t right for me. I felt conflicted. As soon as I told them my reasons why I felt much better, more confident and on purpose.
Three ways to say “no”
Depending on how resolute and confident you feel you might say “no” in a number of ways:
- You might say it loudly, aggressively or rudely. Perhaps even to the point where you might damage the relationship. Saying it this way leaves people feeling like they cannot ask again. Coming from a place of weakness, doubt or a lack of confidence you might over- compensate for this lack by expressing yourself emphatically, even violently. You might feel your body go rigid, your breath quicken and become shallow, your stomach and shoulders tighten and your voice feel strained.
- Conversely, you might say it softly, with doubt or a tone that says you are willing to bargain over this. Here, you are also coming from a point of weakness and you convey that doubt with a weak voice. Your body may also feel weak, with a sunken posture. You may feel like you are pulling away. Perhaps you have a sinking feeling in your stomach and you feel cornered and that you can’t say “no”. This leaves people thinking they can impose on you again and again and earns you no or little respect.
- Alternatively, you can say “no” with confidence. You give a strong and resolute answer which leaves no doubt of your boundaries. People know where you stand and because you said it calmly, they feel happy in the relationship to be able to ask again in the future. You said it with a strong calm voice and your body was strong too. It was said without tension in it. You said “no” from a centred place coming from strength.
Do you recognise any of these in others? Which of these do you do most often? “No” is an important word to say. Not just for your relationship with others. It is also really important with your relationship with yourself.
The inner power of saying “no”
To uphold your beliefs and values sends a powerful message to yourself and others. It says “I take care of myself first. I am better able to serve others when I am coming from a place of self respect and empowerment.”
An embodied “no”
This ability to say “no” is more than just an intellectual exercise. It is an embodied, integrated response that speaks volumes about your relationship with yourself. Because of the mind- body connection a strong body posture re- enforces a strong mental state to say “no” with confidence, authenticity and conviction.
Working on your body state as well as your mind set can free you from responding from a weak place of doubt and fear. You can say “no” from a place of strength, maintaining your values, integrity and self- confidence.
If you’d like to work more on your confidence and your ability to say “no” with strength and conviction, please get in touch and we can speak about the possibility of working together.
Over to you
Do you find it easy to say “no”? Are you a “yes” person? Do you blur your boundaries and find it hard to reassert them? What do you experience when you do not say “yes”? Would you like to be able to say “no” with conviction, confidence and calm?
Why don’t you…….
Please write your comments in the box below this blog and share your experience. If you found this blog useful please pass it on. If you relate to anything you’ve read here and feel ready to work on changing that dynamic and relationship with yourself, please get in touch. You can do so here.
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