Client Insights is an occasional series of articles on breakthroughs that clients have experienced during coaching sessions. Client details changed to protect those released to fly.
Before we get to the rest of the post, I wanted to remind everyone that today is an official “blue moon”. What it means is that August has two full moons this month – one on August 2nd and one on August 31st. It’s not really anything more a scheduling blip between the calendar and the moon. But it does remind us to go and do something we only do “once in a blue moon”. I gently suggest that you make that something fun.
Penny and I were coming towards the end of our sessions and I was feeling like we had just started getting close to the heart of things. I was constantly amazed at the tales of accomplishment she would bring to our sessions, but concerned because she didn’t see them as accomplishments herself. She couldn’t bask in the glory of her talent and awesomeness.
I really enjoyed coaching Penny – she has a lovely, ironic sense of humor and always showed up to coaching raring to go. She’d been working at the same place for over a decade before making a change to a new company, right around a milestone birthday. She was worried about falling into the same patterns at work – of being the underappreciated office go-to who got left holding a lot of bags. She was starting to feel that her personal time was more important and she wanted to have more control to focus on life outside of work.
We circled through a number of calls as Penny was establishing who she was going to be at her new job. She was determined to make things be different this time, but was often unsure as to how to do that. She found herself falling into old patterns, even in the new environment. We talked about the things that gave meaning to her life – spending time with friends, having downtime at home and, most importantly, getting back to a writing career that she’d put aside to make it in the “real world”.
The place where core values and actions fail to meet is a juicy place to spend time in coaching. I wanted Penny to get really clear for herself: “What is it about writing that is most meaningful for you?” She felt writing let her express herself in way that was never open to her before. She had absorbed the lessons of early life to be hard-working and always do a good job at your paid job. The first big aha she had was when she made the important distinction between time spent and time invested. She realized that spending time writing was an investment in her and not a silly hobby spent to pass the time.
Her insights started coming fast and furious from there.
On the next call she mentioned speaking to a co-worker late on a Friday afternoon. He was bemoaning the fact that the week had run late, and he had so much work for next week, and his weekend was booked with family events, and he had so much to look after at his house, and . . . . . Penny laughed as she called him a “sad-sack”, moaning about the state of his life when he was steeped in abundance. The abundance of a good job, of a healthy family, of a loving home. She marvelled at how he couldn’t see the riches that were right in front of him.
And then she said something that made me cheer inside. “You know, Deirdre, I saw too much of myself in him. Seeing life for the burden that it is and not for the gift. And now I see how my previous co-workers saw me. No wonder they avoided me.” She chuckled for a moment – good sign, I thought. And then she said something that really made me cheer. “I want more for myself from now on.”
Her first act was to put aside the perfectionism she’d been controlling herself with for years. She decided that her best efforts were going to be enough for her job. What is truly remarkable about this insight is that she broke through something that keeps so many of us stuck in life.
She decided she was enough.
After that huge insight, many of the qualities of that Penny wanted in her life fell into place – a bit like dominos. She felt a lot more efficient, and much less anxious, at work. She knew what she was capable of doing and decided to do her best to not worry about the rest. She decided to change up her exercise routine to suit her mood. She wanted to capture the great days to walk outside with her husband during the summer. She felt that coaching had freed her up to take less responsibility for everyone else’s experience and more for her own.
And she started writing regularly.
So I ask you . . .
Where do you downplay your achievements?
Are there core values in your life that you’re not taking daily or weekly action to express in your life?
What is one small action you can take to plant a seed of creative self-expression?
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