I’m a coach… I have worked really hard to be an authentic and genuine communicator. I pride myself on being able to be fully present with my clients. It takes all my energy to hold space for them to do the work they need to do. I’m real, I’m honest… but to be really honest… I’m honestly fake.
Professionally it’s not that hard to be the man I want to be, full of integrity, presence, and authenticity. I want you to feel like what you see is what you get. For the most part, that’s true.
Well… that’s not as easy to do in my personal life. When I get home and the door closes all the insecurities come crawling out, my fears, my assessments. How much longer before everyone sees I’m not really secure, not really confident? I have led a double life in the past. I spent years living with shame and guilt. I’m well past that now yet I still carry the fear that I’m not enough. The idea that I can just be open about what I want, what I need and be comfortable within my own skin seems so foreign.
I’m trying, I really am. There are parts of me that are seeping out and so far I haven’t felt the judgment of my peers that I was certain was coming. It’s probably because they haven’t seen the really juicy stuff, the secret stuff, the stuff that has to be hidden. Okay I know that’s coach bait, I’m not quite that salacious (or am I?)
What it makes me wonder is what are we all keeping hidden because of our fear of judgment? I’ll give you an example. I hardly ever see anyone smoking cigarettes during the day downtown, yet I see so many people smoking in their cars. Smoking has been a social taboo for a long time now and I’m sure a lot of smokers hide their habit as much as they can. Is it because they are ashamed to be addicted to a terrible drug? or is it because of the social pressure and judgment that comes from being a smoker? I smoked for many years and I can tell you from my experience the judgment from others was way worse than a nagging cough and lack of lung capacity.
Would it be easier for smokers to quit if instead of judging them we accepted them and offered support to help them quit when they were ready?
Another example that comes to mind is the recent transgender bathroom controversy in the USA. The amount of judgment and anger that has poured out over an issue that is already very personal and difficult makes me cringe. I think about all the young kids who are just realizing that they don’t feel right in their own bodies. They see this judgment and they withdraw, too afraid to be who they are. Shame creeps in and it could be years before they have the strength to be themselves.
I’m not a religious guy but the phrase “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” seems fitting here. How is it that we are all too afraid to be our true selves in the world? We feel our shame, guilt, and fear, yet instead of supporting, caring and encouraging those around us we judge, condemn and hate?
I’m not building to some grand statement that wraps this problem up. Honestly, I’m just admitting coming to terms with the fact that I am not as honest as I think I am, as I pretend to be. I’m honestly fake…
I am a beginner!
Think about the last time you had to take on a new challenge at work or in your personal life. When was the last time you wanted to try something new like yoga or a spin class? How did you feel about that challenge? Did you tread the line between excitement and panic? The way you felt about this new challenge tells you a lot about your personal declarations. If you are excited about a new challenge you are probably declaring “I got this!” if you are in panic mode, you may be declaring “I’m going to crash and burn.”
These personal declarations are a huge part of our lives. We are always generating new possibilities with our assessments about how things are going to go. Occasionally we are aware of these thoughts, and we can adjust them accordingly. We can give ourselves a pep talk and march ahead. However too often we don’t hear these declarations, and they can inhibit our success, happiness and confidence.
Do any of these assessments sound familiar?
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m not smart enough.
- I can’t do it.
- I’m going to fail.
- I’m going to let everyone down.
These declarations are so powerful; we may not even realize the influence they have on our choices. Maybe you are stuck in a job you hate because you are too afraid to make a change. Perhaps you are resigned to an unfulfilling relationship because you don’t think anyone could ever love you the way you are. When you feel a knot in your stomach, or tension in your shoulders about something and you can’t quite figure out why that could be an indication that there is a declaration you are holding on an issue that needs to be addressed. Have a look, what do you see? Is there a story you have been telling but haven’t been hearing?
One of the most frequent declarations people hold is “I’m not good enough,” this one can come up when we are doing something new that we think we SHOULD be good at.
I’ll give you a personal example. I had always wanted to try yoga, but I was pretty sure that yoga wasn’t for me. For starters I had never touched my toes intentionally, I thought Namaste was some food, and I was pretty sure you had to be under 23 to start yoga (kids today are super bendy). In a general sense, my declaration was I wasn’t good enough to do yoga. What were my odds of walking into a yoga studio and feeling liked I belonged?
I needed a new declaration that would create a new possibility. I took a deep breath and declared, “I am a beginner.” This gave me the permission to feel awkward, a bit uncomfortable and it created the space for me to learn and grow. I’m happy to say I’ve been doing yoga three times a week for the last ten months, and I love it!
What declaration are you going to challenge and replace with something that truly serves you?
On November 19, 2015 I got laid off from my job. I had been with my company for almost 9 years and over that time I had the opportunity to take on so many wonderful challenges and I grew more than I could have imagined when I first started. Given the market in Calgary in 2015 I wasn’t overly surprised when it happened, I had been feeling anxious for months.
However I was shocked, what was so shocking was how lost I felt when I walked out of the building. I didn’t know where to go, who to call, what to do. I honestly felt like a ghost of myself with no direction. I did the only thing I could think to do, I went to yoga.
As I sat in silence waiting for my class to start, I could sense an emptiness inside myself. I couldn’t shake it during the class, it was just there, an empty feeling. Over the next few days it would come and go. So would emotions like sadness, fear, euphoria and panic. As the reality of the situation started to settle in I realized what the emptiness was, it was where my identify had been.
Like so many people I had wrapped who I was as a person with how I was doing in my career. Getting laid off and being unemployed stripped that away and my ego was having a tough time reconciling who I was now. Where was my validation going to come from now? Am I still valuable? I really had to sit and think “Who am I?
There are three things I am passionate about, the first thing is writing. I love writing, it’s my way of understanding myself and the world around me. The second thing I am passionate about is running. It’s not an overstatement to say that running has saved my life and I’m grateful to be able to put on my shoes and run.
But the thing in my life that I am the most passionate about is Coaching. Any hour I spend in a coaching conversation is the best hour of that day. Seeing a person shift through the power of honest, direct and authentic conversation is a gift. I truly feel so fortunate to have found Coaching as a profession. To me it’s more than a career choice, it’s a calling. It’s my calling.
I know that’s what I’m meant to do. I’ve made the declaration that I’m never going to be a salary employee ever again. I am going to work for myself and I want to spend all of my time devoted to the art of coaching. I’m not sure exactly how that looks but I’m excited to find out!