I had a WOW coaching moment today. I was just sitting with the client, being with him and holding space for him. In a moment of quiet knowing, I picked up the crux of the issue and asked him the right question. He was a manager in a large company, usually unemotional. But just from that question he became real, authentic, and vulnerable. Just by asking him a powerful question, his perspective changed.
Letting go of the need for control
I realised that as a coach, the most dangerous thing we can do is to be fixated on only success and outcomes.
When I was a new coach, I was very concerned about whether I was effective. I was so fixated on getting my clients to the end point that I would try to solve the problem for them. I would be so eager to get a result that I wasn’t able to engage the client. I wasn’t able to be with my client.
The most successful coaching sessions I’ve seen are those in which a coach just gives the client space to express and explore what’s beneath the surface. It’s amazing what can happen if we just allow things to unfold, are willing to suspend judgment, and go with the flow.
Just by being with the client, we can catch nuances in their tones of voice or emotion that opens up a deeper layer of inquiry.
I would say, “I notice you feel sad. Tell me more,” and the client would be surprised, because she did not even know she was feeling sad.
The moment I was prepared to be vulnerable, the moment I allowed myself to fail, I started succeeding and learning. This all happened because I was willing to take a risk.
The more we fix, the more we miss out
Human beings like certainty. We like security. That makes us cling to things and fixate on creating outcomes we already know.
For example, we are dating this person and it’s awesome. We want the awesomeness to last forever, so we decide to get married. We want our partners to fit into our expectations of how they should behave.
Or, perhaps we need to be successful all the time and are afraid of failure. So we only stick within our comfort zones. This prevents us from venturing outside to try something new.
The funny thing about life is, the more we want safety, the more we feel unsafe. Because we have become so attached to a particular outcome that we stopped allowing life to flow as it is.
When I first started blogging, I would always be afraid to promote my work. I just wanted to write for myself because I always felt my work was not good enough. But when I started publishing my work, I started receiving good feedback on my work, which gave me encouragement to write more. I would have missed out on that if I did not first have the courage to share myself through my writing.
The battle is first won in the mind. When we can accept failure, we can experience success beyond our imagination.
Life is a constant unfolding
Life is never ever fixed. Only humans try to ‘fix’ things, try to cling to things and make ourselves safe and secure. But life itself is a constant unfolding. That means that for us to be engaged in life we must also be in constant discovery. We must be willing to let ourselves unfold.
Fixed people are robotic, mechanical, in fact they feel dead. Once a person feels like they ‘know’ everything, life starts to become repetitive and boring. When a person is willing to say ‘I don’t know‘, and willing to discover, life starts to happen. Life begins to unfold.
You are a constant unfolding
Each of us is a work in progress. We are always discovering new parts of ourselves.
Each of us is a seed. When we are born, all the great potential we have exists within us.
When I first decided to become a coach, I thought that my role was to change a person. But the truth is that all a person ever is, was, and will be is already within them. A coach simply allows the client to discover himself and allows the truth to be revealed.
One of my mentors said that a coach is a catalyst. We do not change our clients, we simply catalyse something that already lies dormant within them. We provide the space for revelation and discovery to bring forth what lies within.
It is the same for each individual. For you.
You are a seed. If you keep watering your seed, one day you will flower and bear fruit. Are you an apple, a mango, or a pear? It is already within you, all you have to do is to discover it.
The song we’re composing already exists in potential. Our work is to find it. – Steven Pressfield
I used to think we had to change who we are, we had to make ourselves into a perfect ideal human being. But all we have to do is to remove the barriers within so that we can discover what already lies within.
Connecting the dots
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. – Steve Jobs
Since young I’ve always enjoyed writing. I started a blog when I was 12, and then kept blogging throughout university and even during my career break. There was always something in me that wanted to express myself and to share life lessons with other people. All that desire to share, to inspire, to touch people eventually crystallised into this blog and into me being a coach.
So you have these seeds inside you too.
How are you nurturing your seeds?
With each step you take to nurture your seed, you discover more of you. You allow your potential to unfold.
Before you try, you would not know how your ideas and desires take form in reality. Perhaps you have a desire to express joy. How are you going to make that happen in the world?
You could sing, you could dance, you could compose music.
Or maybe you have a desire to teach. Are you going to be a coach? An inspirational speaker? A writer?
Everything you’ve done until now is a dot. The more you do, the more is revealed, and the more things will begin to connect.
Discovering deeper layers of you
The journey of life is also a journey of self-discovery. On the journey of self-discovery, you may discover deeper parts of yourself. Each new discovery brings you closer to the core of who you are.
I’ll use me as a case study.
For the first part of my life, I was very focused on achievements. Like getting good grades in school, and then working in investment banking. So the equation of my life was:
Then, I realised that no matter how many achievements I got, I was still lost and miserable on the inside. Then I started seeking fulfilment by wanting to make a difference to people. I went to Cambodia, I worked in an NGO, I became a coach. I worked in public service. So this was the equation of my life:
Then, I realised that part of me wanting to make a difference to others was driven by guilt for the pain and suffering of others, and non-acceptance of things as they were. So I let that go, and started to realise that I wanted to express beauty and joy in the world. I realised that people don’t need saving. They just need to discover themselves.
So I wanted simply to walk alongside people, hold up a mirror to humanity, and to express all that is good and beautiful in this world. So this became the equation of my life:
So you see, as you go deeper into yourself and uncover things that are important to you, your life changes as well. These seeds have always lain dormant within you, waiting to be uncovered. The layers only fall away when you’ve walked through it, experienced it fully, and explored it to the end. Once the layer no longer serves you, it falls away. And a deeper, more integrated layer awaits you beneath.
That’s why life is an unfolding. Keep exploring, keep going further.
All you have to do is to allow things to unfold. Here are 10 ways to let life start unfolding:
- Do the thing you always wanted to do
- Say what you always wanted to say
- Feel emotions you never let yourself feel
- Allow space for discovery and uncertainty in your life
- When you feel a desire, follow it all the way through
- Do one thing in the direction of your dreams
- Express yourself creatively
- Be vulnerable
- Take a risk
- Do something you’ve never done