Thursday, 11 July 2013

Living life on purpose

I’ve been involved in a really interesting online conversation recently about what role your ‘calling’ plays in the work you do.  I’ve been clear about my calling for a while, but when I had to articulate how I knew what it was, I had to stop and think about it.  Having had a little think, I’ve identified the two ways I know that what I do, is my calling.  I hope they resonate with you and I hope they’ll help you think about your calling too.  Let me know what you think.

Firstly, it’s not something I can ever see myself retiring from.  It really doesn’t feel like work to me, in the way that other gigs have.  I used to sit opposite a man, who would greet me every morning, with the exact number of days he had left, before he retired.  He had obviously lost his passion and zest for the job and was really just marking time until he could leave.  Unfortunately, he died before he could retire and I felt a little sad that he seemed not to have really been living before he died.  As a violence against women activist, a coach and a trainer, I’m excited at the thought of continuing my life’s work, anytime and anywhere that I can.  Does your 9-5 excite you or are you just marking time? Are you counting down the days until retirement or planning how to keep on adding value, wherever you go?

Secondly, I can always see opportunities to live out my calling. One of the most memorable lines from the film, The Sixth Sense’ is “I see dead people”.  The character, who said that line, was referring to the fact that he saw dead people, everywhere he went.  That’s pretty much my approach.  I remember an incident where my now 11 year old niece laughed and said “men don’t go into the kitchen, only women do”.  I was just gearing up to give her a lecture, before my sister chased me off, saying “she’s too young for your women’s lib lectures!” Wherever I go, whatever I read and whatever I hear, I’m always looking out for the gender angle.  How does this work for women and men? Are women going to be disadvantaged by this approach? I can’t think of any area, where gender is irrelevant and that’s why I do the work that I do.

Knowing your calling or your purpose is essential, because it gives you direction.  There are a lot of good things that need to be done, but they don’t all need to be done by you.  Find your purpose, live out your calling, live life on purpose.

Need some help working out your calling?  Contact us through the website, for your free 30 minute consultation.

Until next week, go well.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Let's walk together awhile

“...alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”-Helen Keller.

I have to confess that I had a moment of pure panic earlier this week.  I was wondering what to write about and I kept coming up blank!  However, once I’d pulled myself together, said a quick prayer and gotten quiet, the word ‘collaborate’ kept floating around in my brain.

When I started my business, I envisaged it being quite a solitary affair.  After all, you can’t really coach by committee! The thing is, I work better as part of a team and so a collaborative style of working is definitely the way forward for me. You know by now, how much I love my definitions, so I went to look up the meaning of collaboration.  The definition that I’ve adopted in this piece is “to work, one with another”. As I thought about it a bit more, I realised that every time I coach a client, I am working as part of a team.  We come together, for a period of time, for the purpose of working out challenges or issues.  So, this week, I’d like to talk about collaboration, coaching and change.  I hope you’ll walk with me awhile and share your thoughts with me, by commenting on the blog.

Like I’ve already said, coaching is collaboration and it works best, when the two parties are being open and honest.  There are a number of reasons why coaching is sometimes ineffective, but a major one in my experience is fear.  It doesn’t matter whether a client comes to coaching voluntarily or is mandated by work or circumstances, there is always some fear about the process.  We invest a lot of time and energy in maintaining the persona we show the outside world.  The idea of showing our real selves to someone else can be quite terrifying.  The more we have invested, the more frightening the notion of being exposed.  The truth is though, that we cannot make progress until we take off the mask and begin to relate honestly.  The most effective coaching stretches us and challenges us to come out of our comfort zone.  Comfort zones are nice and familiar, but no-one ever set the world alight from the safety and security of their comfort zone.  Really challenging coaching can leave you feeling like you’re flying by the seat of your pants and wondering how you got there!

An important caveat though, is that before you ever get to the stage of flying (seat of pants or not), you need to feel safe.  A skilled coach knows just the right amount of pressure to apply.  They know how far to go and when to stop, so that you are stretched, but not in danger of snapping. People have different levels of resilience and so a good coach also needs to know how much pressure each individual can handle.  After all, no-one wants to leave a coaching session feeling worse than when they went in!

Why is any of this important, you might ask? The truth is collaboration and coaching can be very good things. I’m collaborating on a number of projects at the moment and they are energising, invigorating and scaring me in equal measure. Similarly, when you start a coaching journey, you may well feel all of these emotions too.  Whether we are challenged in coaching or stretched in collaboration, both processes change us.  They help us to re-examine the way we see things and the way we do things.

As I end this piece, I invite you to think about the areas where you are coasting along in your comfort zone.  Are you at your best there or do you need a little challenge? Do you sense that you could do so much more if you collaborated with others? What’s stopping you, from stepping out?

If you’d like some help working out where to go next, contact us through the website.

Until next week, go well.