At the end of my recent article ‘Keep Calm and Carry On,’ I said that whilst we might crave to get back to normal, back to life pre-Covid, that we have the opportunity to reach for something better. We can start by focusing on how we can be a ‘better’ version of ourselves.
As a coach, questions are the tools of my trade. New questions open the door to new solutions, so I’ve framed this article around questions that will hopefully prompt some self-reflection.
This question presupposes that we have an awareness of our gifts! Clues to these internal treasures are those activities you enjoy or where you excel. The stuff that comes naturally to you. The skills, talents, the everyday things you are complimented on, or just take for granted because they are so innate to you. It might be a listening ear, baking, a personality trait, knowledge of a subject, a musical ear, resilience, artist flair and so on.
Different gifts, skills and attributes surface at different times in our lives, or when we face different challenges.
When we use our gifts to be our service to those around us, it’s reflected back in the form of fulfilment. I’ve got this quote from an unknown source framed on my desk.
When we feel under threat, or pushed outside our comfort zones, we crave the safety and security of the known and the routine. I know I’m not alone in feeling anxious in social settings after months of lockdown and working from home. On a daily basis, I’m asking myself what can I do to enrich my life (whilst still adhering to health guidelines?)
It’s often when we have our backs to the wall and we have no choice but to try something new, that we find our courage. No longer numbed by old habits and routines, life is inviting us to grow. Over the next few weeks what (calculated) risks could you take?
When working with clients, an exercise I often recommend is dissecting different aspects of our lives such as career, living environment, personal relationships, health, (think of the segments in a wheel of life exercise) to determine what areas are the result of conscious positive decisions on our part, and what aspects have come about seemingly by accident or by default.
For example, a while ago I worked with a client who was feeling less than fulfilled in her career. Pondering her career history, she realised that at no point had she made a proactive decision around what she wanted. She got her first job because of a family connection. Someone else recommended a career change in her early thirties. A contact then suggested her for another role. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it’s difficult to feel fulfilled if you’ve never contemplated what you are seeking, what would fill you up. It’s the difference between being at cause and being in effect, being proactive and living life on purpose, or reacting to other people’s agendas.
We will all experience times when it appears that life is happening to us, rather than being an active participant in shaping our reality. The more proactive we are in our lives, the greater the sense of control and autonomy we will feel. Coming through a period where our freedoms were curtailed, and where we have had to react to economic and societal change, for the sake of balance, where can you seek to be more proactive?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again. Who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
These powerful words by President Theodore Roosevelt are much quoted and the last two words ‘Daring Greatly’ inspired the title of Brené Brown’s wonderful book. Today, in the echo chamber of social media, it’s never been easier to spread cynicism, doom and gloom, scepticism, judgement, intolerance or any other variant of fear. Online, trolls spread their vitriol with conviction. It takes equal conviction and courage to lean towards love, inclusion, possibility and creativity.
In the nursery rhyme trolls lurk under bridges. What the world needs now are bridge builders. If you believe the world could benefit from more compassion, kindness and tolerance, then we start by building our bridges to something new and better.
A quote by another US President, Bill Clinton sums it up best.
I hope you find these tips help you to start some positive reflection on your life. To stay up to date on all my latest posts and news do sign up below to join my community so that you can receive my monthly newsletter and if you enjoy listening to podcasts then make sure to listen and subscribe to mine called Your Time With James Sweetman.