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The four elements in leadership and embodiment

The four elements model

In business, do you sometimes wish you could capitalise on your strengths more?  Would you and your business or career benefit from cultivating those strengths?  Are you unsure how to take advantage of your skills and talents more effectively?  Do you notice where your short-comings may lie and how they might impact you personally and professionally?  Would you like to be able to identify those areas you might develop so that you can take your self-employed business or career to the next level?

Would it be useful to have a model that allowed you to identify all these aspects of yourself, and others, and improve your business as a result?  The four elements model is such a framework, bringing ancient wisdom into modern relevance, benefiting people’s personal and professional lives.

The beauty of the model is that it allows you to identify the preferences, patterns and habits of yourself and others.  This empowers you to know where your strengths lie as well as the strengths of those around you.  It also shows your short-comings.  We even use the elements in our everyday language, as a hint to it’s intuitive descriptive qualities: “they have a fiery temper”, “what an air head”, “he is the salt-of-the-earth” and “she moves like water”.

All this to bring awareness to your short-term states and long-term dispositions and, consequently, develop your range and choice about how you respond to situations and circumstances.  Therefore, you also have the tools to build a team or community around you that is mutually supportive and nurturing.  As well as grow yourself and your impact in the world and on those you share your life with.

Ancient Wisdom

What I love about ancient wisdom is that it has stood the test of time and remains relevant, sometimes thousands of years after its origin.  For millennia, people have found ancient wisdom like the four elements useful, because it enhances their lives through the observation of human nature.  And it gives practical answers to everyday challenges, goals and questions.

The human condition has not changed much in all that time.  We may get caught up in the language and stories of the time and find them hard to understand: Ancient philosophers like Rumi, Lao Tzu or Plato; playwrights like William Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw and Andrew Lloyd Webber; American Indian Chiefs like Black Elk or Sitting Bull; the European Pagan stories popularised by The Brothers Grimm and; the Bible or Koran.  They may all seem impenetrable without deep study.  In fact, they simply share wisdom about human nature and our place in the world.  What’s great about the four elements model is that it is an intuitive description of human behaviour that you can test and play with from day one.  And, you can explore each element through your own embodiment, giving you real time feedback about what:

  • it feels like
  • seems familiar
  • you’d like more or less of
  • you could do differently
  • you would wish to leave behind
  • is no longer serving you
  • you long for

The four elements explained

The beauty of the four elements model is that it allows you to identify the preferences, patterns and habits of yourself and others

Throughout history, humanity has sought out answers to questions about the human condition.  Therefore, each culture in every age, has found a way to explain the human condition and help improve how we respond to life’s challenges.  For some it is a model with animals.  Others may use archetypes, spirits or gods.  An enduring model uses 4 elements (some use 5 or more like the Chinese) which are relatively organic and intuitive to interpret and are, to a degree, relatively subjective.  This is a model I have learned while studying The Embodied Facilitator Course (EFC- find out more here) and makes as much if not more sense than many of the models I have studied in the past.

So, let’s take each element in turn and see what you notice in your behaviour.  Which one or two elements are most familiar?  Do certain elements show up in particular situations/ contexts in life?  Did any feel unfamiliar to you?  Is there an element you long for?  Or one that you are sick of?  Pay attention to where the elements show up in significant relationships with others in your life: parents, partners, friends, colleagues, bosses etc.  How do these impact your relationships?  Are there patterns and preferences?  What are the strengths of your preferences?  What are the risks?

Earth

Earthy people like structure.  They like stability, reliability, control, things to be correct and organised.  Therefore, they like planning, management, budgeting and making lists.  You want your accountant or lawyer to be an earthy type.  However, too much Earth and things can get stuck and uninspiring.  Earthy people will maintain standards and hold to tradition.  When things get chaotic, the Earth quality will bring fairness, stability, reliability and self-control.

If you want to engage with an Earthy person, show them the facts.  Go slow and be structured and methodical.  In turn, they communicate in a factual and practical manner and will offer a supportive and reliable role.  If you find yourself lacking this element, slow down and get into the garden.  Literally, work with the Earth.  Take a walk in nature and breathe deep into the belly.  In excess of Earth?  Use qualities of the other elements, especially Water to create more movement, action and challenge some of that physical, mental and emotional rigidity.  Air can also bring a lightness, playfulness and creativity to counter Earthy heaviness and conformity.

Water

This element’s primary focus is relationship and acceptance.  Watery people love to listen, accommodate and care for others and support people.  They want loyalty and harmony in relationship.  Dislikes are rejection, conflict and loss.  They are great in feedback, networking, staff-care and HR roles.  You want your HR manager, coach and therapist to be a Watery person.  Too much Water and someone is a push over with weak boundaries and prone to collusion.  Empathy, connection, intimacy and relationship building are all Water qualities.

If you want to engage with a Watery person, take your time to listen and build the relationship.  Be sincere with your thoughts and feelings and show that you care.  Water’s communication style is empathic and relational.  In need of more Water?  Get to the sea or a river or failing that create comfort and soft lighting in the home.  Too much Water can be balanced with all the other elements, especially Earth to give structure and Fire to create and maintain boundaries.

Fire

What needs to be done?  When you need to take action, get results, prioritise and make tough choices, Fire is what you want to embody.  It will come as no surprise to hear that Fire is about directness, assertiveness, energising and doing more, being stronger and getting it done faster.  You want your boss or manager to have Fire.  If you are self-employed, you benefit from Fire too as you are the one who has to get the job done.  At their best, Fiery people will be challenging, name what needs to be said, be sincere and cut to the chase.  Too much Fire and you will rush and get pushy (perhaps to the point of brutality).

If you want buy-in from Fiery people, tell them what the results will be and the benefits.  Motivate to action through challenge, creating competition, setting goals, having a fast pace and being competent at what you do.  They will likely talk to you in a challenging and direct way.  Too much Fire can be balanced with Water for more relational integrity and with Earth for the rushing and potential burnout.  If you have too little Fire, get to the bright lights of big cities like London or New York or indulge in fiery activity like martial arts or tango.

Air

What is possible?  Sky-high, big picture thinking without a box is how Air people envision and strategise.  Leadership, innovation, brainstorming and creativity come from Air energy.  The light side of Air also leads to humour, flexibility, inspiration, and spontaneity.  Air types love freedom, creativity and perfection and fear boredom, imperfection and being controlled.  Use Air to over-come challenges, get clarity and come at things with lightness and fresh ideas.

Want to engage Air people?  Inspire, explore, study and learn with them, be original, use humour and pace.  Get them curious and fuel their joy of whatever you are trying to enrol them in.  Too much Air and people are vague, chaotic and silly.  Use the other elements to balance the excess Air, especially Fire for directness and Earth to bring order and calm.  Too little Air can be balanced with open space, bright lights, colour and chaos.  Head for the hills and mountains.  All this will inspire creativity, joy and excitement.

Four elements embodied

As you may have noticed in the descriptions, there are embodied qualities to each element.  You can evoke each one by moving, standing and sitting differently and even by subtly changing your posture.  This empowers you to bring more of what you think you might need to a situation or dial down what you might need less of.  We will be exploring the embodiment of the four elements in the next Be the Best Boss event in Cambridge on September 19th, 2019.

You will learn your particular mix of elements and be able to work out the mix of others.  This will allow you to better communicate with other people, teams and organisations. You will learn how to work with the elements through embodiment, to get better results in business situations as well as personal ones. The elements will give you more adaptability and versatility in work situations and work better with different people, groups and cultures, thus developing your leadership skills.  You can find further details here.

Over to you

What are your element preferences?  How do they impact on what you’re good at?  How do they limit you?  What elements would you wish to cultivate?  What impact could that have on your business, career and relationships?

Pass it on

If you found this blog interesting, please forward it to people you think might be interested too.  And if you know people in your network that might be interested in attending the Be the Best Boss workshop on leadership and embodiment, please send them the link (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/be-the-best-boss-you-ever-had-a-workshop-on-leadership-and-embodiment-tickets-67255712647).

Thank you.

Goal setting- do you only set professional goals, or personal goals too?

Do you set personal goals for yourself?  If you do, are they only for work?  Or do you set goals for your personal life as well?  Are you focused on the journey or the destination?

I have noticed with clients that they are often focused on setting goals for their business or career. Less so do I notice clients taking their personal life in hand and asking the question “What do I want to achieve in my personal life?”  When I realised that, I took a look at my own life and noticed that I had few personal goals outside of my business and almost all of those were long-standing and no where near being achieved.  It was a slap in the face.

As a result, I brainstormed ideas and goals that I would like to achieve that had nothing to do with work.  It was tough at the start.  Eventually I got into my stride and the list got really long: holiday destinations, charity work, new learning experiences and skills, building plans and so on.  It was a wonderful and joyful experience.  It continues to grow, and I tick off things off the list on a regular basis.  Life feels more fulfilling, fun and enriching.

Let me share with you some of the things I have learned by setting and striving for personal goals in general and one in particular: climbing Helvellyn via the Striding Edge route.

Expectation and Anticipation

In this instant, have-it-now modern culture, it’s quite a rare experience to have to wait for something.  There is a mounting pleasure with delayed gratification.  I set the date 8 months ahead in early June and did some early planning in a fit of enthusiasm.  But then, I had to wait.  It drifted to the back of my mind, but every now and then, something would happen to remind me, and I got excited again.  I asked friends if they wanted to join me- another reminder and a sharing of my dream and passion.  There was also the feeling of acceptance and rejection as people committed, said no, changed their minds, said may be and made stipulations about details.  I bought equipment, maps and booked accommodation, planned the route.  It all added to the anticipation and expectations.  It was a very joyful journey to June 8th, 2019.

Alone or together

I made a commitment to go, happy in the knowledge that I could do it alone. I had practised map reading and using a compass and I had all the equipment I needed for a solo trip.  In spite of that, I asked people to join me- it honours my values of friendship, connection and inclusion.  I was also honouring the values of solitude, down time and getting away from it all if no one accepted my invitation.  So, I was happy either way.  When I asked people to come, I still experienced the feeling of vulnerability.  I am a relational, people person and thrive in good company.  I also get energised by time alone, so I organised my trip to The Lakes with a day walking and exploring by myself as well walking with a friend. Does that make me an ambivert (both an introvert and an extrovert?)

It’s not all in my control

Weather is highly changeable in The Lakes.  The higher you go, the more extreme and changeable the weather.  We had driving rain and 80 mph gusts throughout.  For safety and self-responsibility, I had to be OK with committing to the trip in the knowledge that I may not be able to achieve what I had set out to achieve.  Committing to goals and at the same time being able to let go of them if something more appropriate comes along is a hard lesson for me to learn.  Getting too attached to an outcome may not deliver the best results.  Events beyond my control may intercede.  I then have choice about how I respond to the situation.  For me, this is the real meaning of responsibility- to be able to respond consciously, thoughtfully and in a centred way.  Not unconsciously, reactively and out of a sense of habit or rigidity.

The famous Striding Edge is an exposed, rocky ridge leading to the summit of Helvellyn

Danger

The famous Striding Edge is an exposed, rocky ridge leading to the summit.  People have died on it.  In fact, the week I committed to the trip I saw a poster at a local café that said that the owner’s son had died on Striding Edge that year in high wind while doing a charity walk.  The father was raising money for the charity in other ways and to commemorate his son’s death, charity and bravery.  It was a sobering thought.  And I committed to it anyway.  Goals require some risk and sacrifice.  In order to say “yes” to something you have to be able to say “no” to others. You may have to let go of others- perhaps even your life.  Extreme I acknowledge, but it tests your resolve and makes the journey more vivid and achieving the goal more delicious.  I think I enjoy the journey more with this mind set, rather than fixating on the destination.

Patterns

Doing something different reveals your patterns and where you feel comfortable and safe: exposed to the elements rather than in the security of home or work environments; spending time in the company of people I know less well or completely new to me; different food to fuel me for the long walk as I listen to my body tell me what I need to eat rather than my head saying what it thinks I should eat; being more active rather than sedentary; rugged hills of the North rather than manicured countryside of the South; camaraderie and friendship with fellow walkers; developing a new level of relationship with the friend I walked with; the glory of a cup of tea after a long day in the hills; a really deep sleep after a strenuous day on the mountain; noticing where my body is weak and strong; where my mind takes me when I am tired, lost or cold; missing loved ones.  Exposing these patterns can be revealing and you can use them as a growth edge in your development if you choose.  I’ve been listening to my body about what and when to eat ever since with remarkable results.

Surprises

Walking in the high mountains of The Lakes, I came across benches that commemorated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

However much you plan things, you will always be surprised by the ultimate outcome.  Things will never be exactly as you imagine them.  Walking in the high mountains of The Lakes, I came across benches that commemorated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.  People must have carried these benches up mountains, over styles and finally positioned them so that they were safe to sit on and enjoy the views.  They went to tremendous trouble to bring pleasure to unknown walkers and in honour of the sovereign.  I think that is wonderful and extraordinary.  It is a legacy.  A reminder that things are bigger than you.  That your actions have a consequence for the future.  What do you choose?

Letting go of rigid control of the plan allows things to unfold organically, naturally and as they will.  Imposing your will only leads to tension, resistance and discomfort.  It is a fine balance to set your intention, allow things to unfold and flow and be a willing co-creator in the process as it unfolds.  Some of the greatest moments of my life have been when I have played an active role in creating something and allowed others to create it with me as equal partners.  I used to run martial arts sessions for 12-13 year olds on extra-curriculum days at a local school.  Each session was different as the children created with me what they wanted to perform to their peers.  It takes humility and responsibility.  I often stumble upon it by accident and find it hard to do on purpose.  I think coaching sessions are the closest I get professionally.  Travel and social situations in my private life provide beautiful platforms for such connections.

Completion

There is something satisfying about achieving a goal- or even seeking to attempt it without success.  When you get to the end, do you celebrate, reflect and learn from the experience?  Life moves on at a pace, and it is all too easy to move on to the next thing without savouring the experience you have just had.  Part of the journey is to come to the end, stop and rest.  All cycles go through this rest period (like the four seasons, Winter is a time to rest, rejuvenate and assimilate what has gone before).  As a culture, we are less good at the resting part, eager to move on to the next thing.  But we lose so much because we do not savour, integrate and process the experience.  Talking it over, looking at photos, considering what could be done differently and what you would do more or less of.  These are valuable exercises is embedding the experience and how it enriches your life.

Over to You

So, there you have it.  Some of the learning from setting personal goals and trying to achieve them. What do you learn from setting personal goals?  How might you do things differently?  Do you focus more on your personal goals or professional ones?  If you’d like that to change, how would you go about that?

Pass it on

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How do you deal with conflict and challenging relationships?

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

Conflict is not bad.  It is an opportunity, more than any other, to allow relationships to grow.

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 david@potentialitycoaching.co.uk

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.

Learning is transferable- Life Coaching, Shokunin and the Japanese Way

Some clients like their coaching experience to touch all areas of their lives.  Other clients prefer to restrict the coaching to specific areas.  This may be for many reasons and is part of the design of the relationship right at the start.  Of course, I honour this request when clients ask for it.  After all, the client is in complete control of the coaching process.  The client is responsible for the results and outcomes he/ she gets from the coaching journey.  This view gives focus and clarity.  It may make it easier to keep the coaching process restricted to a limited number of sessions.  For those who are looking for on- going or open- ended coaching, the freedom to explore all areas of the client’s life brings other benefits.

Open Ended Coaching

For those clients that open their whole lives to the coaching experience, there is a huge amount of growth that can come from seeing how behaviour in one area of a client’s life is replicated in other areas of their life.  This observation allows them to see how that habit may or may not be serving them in a broader context.  This can offer powerful insights.

One client for example noticed early in the coaching journey that he allowed himself to be derailed by other people’s agendas.  He got himself into financial difficulty because friends insisted on spending more money than he could afford on social activities.  He allowed himself to be persuaded and derailed from his financial plan to get out of debt and kept falling into the trap.

Much later in the coaching journey, he noticed that this derailing pattern appeared throughout his life.  Once he noticed it and knew he could resolve it in one area of his life, he was confident he could do it in others.  He took the understanding, learning and empowerment from his financial situation and started applying it to other areas.  He overcame this pattern in almost every section of his Wheel of Life- health, work, friends and family, relationships, fun and education.

Learning is Transferable

He did it by gaining clarity on what he felt was the priority for him in those social situations.  Yes, going out with friends was important, but to restrict that interaction for the sake of financial control and independence was more important.  He felt he wanted to explain this to his friends.  He had underlying fears of being seen as boring or irresponsible as well as rejection from the people he loved.  By holding to his principles and values he felt better about himself.  He was better able to stick to his plan and enjoy himself when he did socialise.  The fear and anxiety were gone.  He applied this principle of priority clarification in other areas of his life and found that his confidence, determination, relaxation and self- respect all improved.

Repeating Patterns

It is powerful to notice repeating patterns of behaviour in your own life both as a sign of where you can improve and where your strengths lie

I have heard many teachers make this observation.  “The way you do it is the way you do it,” says Richard Rohr, while T. Harv Eker says, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”  I think this is so true, and it is powerful to notice these repeating patterns in your own life both as a sign of where you can improve and to see where your strengths lie.

For myself I am a procrastinator.  I will put things off because I think I am too busy to deal with them or I think I have the time to look at them later.  Sometimes I just don’t want to deal with them.  The thing is they pile up and then I feel overwhelmed.  Then it’s harder to get those things done quickly and efficiently.  I continually train myself in all areas of my life to do things as they come up or realistically schedule them in my diary.  Otherwise it leads to anxiety and overwhelm.  It makes me far more efficient and effective.

Conversely, I show great tenacity, committing to any project that I sign up to, person I support or relationship I value.  It connects with my values of honour and integrity that I try to live throughout my life.  When I drop the ball, it is incredibly disappointing and painful to notice that deviation from my values and truth.

Conscious Awareness

When you take conscious control of these traits, you can steer yourself towards positive thoughts, words and behaviours that impact in all areas of your life.  While they are unconscious, they can run your life in an unsupportive way in the shadows.  Once you shed light on them, your awareness allows you to see where changes are beneficial or necessary and where current habits are already supportive towards achieving your goals.

This idea of becoming more consciously aware is a foundational part of the transformational co-active life coaching process.  It is also part of the martial arts journey.  Having studied the Japanese martial arts for almost three decades, it came as no surprise that this idea is an intrinsic part of Japanese culture.

The Japanese Way

In Japan, martial arts are not just about being able to fight and defend oneself.  They are a way of life, filled with life- enhancing principles to be applied to every moment.  They offer a foundation for living with honour, integrity and respect for self, others and the world.  Many traditional art forms in Japan, from tea ceremony and calligraphy to sword making and pottery, are infused with this sense of taking the focus, care, commitment, patience, time and love necessary to make their art, into all areas of the practitioner’s life.  This is the transformational nature of martial arts, along with any other “Do” or “Way” in Japanese culture.

More well- known Ways include Judo, Kendo and Aikido in martial arts, and include Chado (Tea Ceremony), Shodo (Calligraphy) and Kado (Flower arranging).  When this has been mastered, the practitioner is known as Shokunin.  It is as if the art is used to bring the individual to greater maturity, awareness and integrity.  It touches their whole life and the lives of the people they touch.  A great example of how our mindset infuses all our actions and behaviours.

Blind Spot

The notion that the way people approach any life situation often mirrors their approach to all of life’s situations may encourage us to sit up and take notice when these patterns emerge.  They are hard to recognise in yourself- as if you have a blind spot.  A life coach, holding a vision of bringing your best self to all situations in your life, can be invaluable in supporting you in that process.

Understanding that lessons in one area of your life can be instructive to make you more effective in other areas of your life is transformational.  It shows you that: if you can do it once you can do it again; communicates your commitment to yourself to grow, be courageous and be your best self; allows for compassion for yourself and for others; demonstrates that the job is never done and that there is always more learning and directions of growth.

None of it can be done without action.  In action, we show ourselves what can be done.  Action is the classroom of learning, failure, success and developing transferable skills.  It can make us more rounded, mature and powerful agents of change in our lives.

Over to You

What patterns of behaviour show up in your life?  Do you notice those patterns yourself, or do other people reveal them to you?  What are your blind spots?  What habits do you have that are not supportive of your success?  Where else do they show up in your life?  Please share your thoughts in the comments box or tweet me at @PotentialityC.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Pass it on

If you know someone who might find this article useful, please forward it to them.  It might be the inspiration and motivation they need to make deep change.  It could make all the difference in the world to them for their health, wellbeing, career, business ideas, relationships, finances and much more.

Self Growth- the Oak tree and the acorn

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?

The Dip

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

Two rows of oak trees on either side of a straight road with branches creating a beautiful arch along the length of the road

The sapling has all the qualities of the giant Oak, it just needs time to grow

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.

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