Two Questions

One of the great lies about life coaching is that most of the people who go for it feel like failures and want to break out of that pattern. I am sure that some people fall into that category, but statistics, and my own experience is just the opposite.

Statistics show that most people who enter into a coaching/mentoring relationship  whether it’s paid or not, are successful. But they want more.

The “more” varies. In some cases it’s job related – we feel stuck at a certain level and want to progress or change our work to become more. Or we want more work/life balance, or more and deeper relationships, or a richer sense of spirituality. We want more purpose in their lives. Or some combination of the above.

Like most projects, a life “makeover” requires a lot of thought at the start.  There are basically two things we need to know as we begin.

1)      Who and where are we now?

2)      Where do we want to be?

Those may seem like simple questions, but in my experience, they are not. Particularly for people who are pretty successful in their life.

Let’s take the first question. Knowing who we are and where we are in life requires that we look at life as a whole – work, money, lifestyle, relationships, faith, weaknesses, flaws and mistakes.

Most of us are pretty solution oriented. We have a problem, we focus on it and fix it. But we often do this in different aspects of our lives without looking at how that “fix” affects the whole. So what generally happens is that some parts of our lives get out of sync with other parts, and we feel the disconnect, even if we don’t recognise what it is exactly.

Finding our way back to wholeness means a deep look at who we are, what we dream, where we hurt, where outside things are the roadblock and where we are our own roadblock.

And that’s hard. Because, as relatively successful people, we don’t like to think about our failures. Most of us either dismiss them or ignore them, or we give them too much credence, beating ourselves up unmercilessly over them.

In both cases, looking at who we are, and where we are the roadblocks, it takes time to get to them. I don’t know that I have ever experienced a person who came to me and knew them right off the bat.

They had some thoughts of course, but when we look at ourselves closely, asking ourselves questions and thinking in ways that help us get to the truth, a place neither as positive or negative as we tend to be, we develop a new paradigm, a clearer vision of who we are. We don’t have to work on everything, just the right things.

What kinds of questions lead us to understand ourselves better? Typically they are questions designed to find evidence of what we believe. For instance, about any belief about ourselves we might ask….

  • Why do we say this about ourselves?
  • Do we say it because others have said it to us so long we are convinced it’s true?
  • Do we say it because outside things have happened, and we took those as evidence (they might have been evidence about someone else, not ourselves.)
  • Is there evidence to the contrary in our lives we should be looking at?

Questions along these lines often lead to looking at ourselves differently. Whether they change your views or now however, they provide something we need if we want to change for the better – a foundation of truth.

And whatever that truth is, we can work with it. We can build on it. And we can work on the right things to get us to where we want to go.

The same can be said of the second big question: Where do we want to go?

Again, often people talk to me in early conversations and they state where they want to go and what they hope to get out of their quest for growth. But as we probe, we find that it’s less about a clear goal (like making X amount, or having X job) as it is about wanting other factors that run deeper (security, confidence, a sense of self worth, relationships). It often takes time to move past the knee jerk reactions to find what is really important.

Often, I think, we jump into a new endeavor without thinking hard about what’s important, or who we are or whether what we want is in sync with who we are. We move to the action, and then are surprised when we make so much progress, yet still have the same dis-satisfaction.

That’s because we are an action society. We’re about doing. Not being.

But if we don’t focus on being, on the inner truths of who we are and what we yearn for, we will never be satisfied, no matter how much progress we make, Because we will be progressing in a way that does not touch those deeper yearnings.

Some of us can do the inner work ourselves. Some of us need help or guidance. Neither way is right or wrong. Trust me, until the two questions of who we are and what we want are answered deeply and honestly, you’re climbing the wrong mountain.

But here’s the good news. Once we answer those two questions fully and truthfully, the path becomes clear. And the progress becomes remarkable.

And remarkable is good, right?

Take care. Journey wisely,

Tom

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