- Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. - Carl Jung
Charting a new course for a business isn't for the fainthearted. Like most things, if you want to see great results, you need to put some sweat into it, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.
Another truth? It's hard to go it alone.
Luckily, being a coach going through continuous training, I have easy access to great professionals (aka quality coaching!). The other day, I finally did that thing I recommend to everyone and rarely do myself. I put out my bat signal on a WhatsApp group and asked for help.
After years of helping other people formulate their strategies and getting them to understand and put out their 'why', it was a big deal for me to admit I was struggling with this. The solopreneur that I am has gone far on my own. That's great. Well done me, I'm padding myself on the back. However, I don't want to fiddle around with this for another two weeks or six months. It may take me a while to get there. I noodle on things a lot. I over-study, thinking I always need to know more. There's always an extra course, an extra certification, more work I need to put in. It's a natural response, or so I hear, to the impostor syndrome, particularly in women. But one thing is certain: when I am ready, I am ready.
Basically, I wanted coaching - NOW.
So I did put myself in another person's virtual hands, so I could attempt to finalise what I'd been working on for a few weeks, so she could get the good stuff out of me so to speak.
It's all there in my head. But you know, whether with my iPad or with a paper and pen, what came out was okay: intellectually clear but also very blah. It's all well and good to have ideas, values, principles, and offers. But the tone, ah, the tone of voice... How to tell real people about what we do, that's more of a struggle.
When it's just me, myself and I, my stuff comes out very business plan-y and while it's okay, it's not very me. For starters, it's not very warm (I'm pretty warm and expressive) and then it's not very convincing. If you know me at all, you know I am very passionate so if that doesn't come through, there's a major issue going on.
Refined statements are only useful for business decks, not to connect with clients and audiences. I'm sure you will agree that most of us when we look for answers or services and take to Google, we go there with direct and simple questions. Okay not always simple (recent attempts at printed forms that are both short and GDPR compliant didn't work out for me).
We, me and my coach that is, decided to record the call, which releases us both from the pressure of taking too many notes and focusing on the powerful questions (for her) and the deep thinking for me.
Fancy that I am, I later processed the recording via an AI transcription tool in order to go over the resulting words carefully. I armed myself with both a pen and a blue highlighter, printed the whole thing and started. I find the process more enjoyable and creatively satisfying if I let myself freely annotate and scribble all over the paper in a colourful way. It may not be scientifically proven as better, but it's more fun.
And here was the first A-Ha moment, staring at me on the page: how (and why) coaching and mindfulness feel like such a good fit, especially for me, and for my business.
Can you tell what is required to practice both?
I have a tendency to be very... fast. Maybe you remember me mentioning that I was a quick-start on something called the Kolbe Index, easily throwing myself into things with the belief that I will figure out how to learn what I don't know as I go along?
Also, I will add that if I was to describe one of my 'superpowers' (and believe me, we all have at least one superpower), it would be that I’m able to connect people, things and concepts, quickly and easily. I can see far and also how to get there. The trouble is, not many people share this gift. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been metaphorically standing next to someone looking at me blankly because I’ve already sprinted to the next step, or way beyond, leaving them behind...
That happens even with people who are highly creative. They just don’t get to where I've gone to in my head so I've learned to be patient, to pay attention, to build context, story, examples, to repeat myself or literally make real-life examples come true. Then I wait for the 'oh, that's what you meant' to come out.
So I mentioned this in passing to my coach that day, that this superpower (because it is indeed useful) has been a challenge in the past.
She gently asked me: 'Is that a problem in your coaching?'
Hmm. Good question.
I paused to have a proper think about it and realised that no, actually, it was precisely the opposite.
With coaching, I strive to be fully present, in the moment, with my client. Like mindfulness, coaching requires this presence, focus and deep listening, not just on an intellectual level.
To be a good coach, you need to be present and use all of your senses, while you hold space for your client. There's a lot of silence involved.
It's only when I am fully present that I can tap into my body's wisdom, and listen with my full self. From that place, I am able to ask the next right question to help the client on his or her way to their own solution.
There is no advice-giving in coaching (not in ICF certified coaching anyway).
But meanwhile, the method thankfully gets me out of my head.
The issue with my fast mind, or my long-range vision problem, disappears. I am just here. Also in this process, in this space, I don't need to know everything. I can drop this safety blanket of 'more, more, more' knoledge, and just hold space.
If I find that there is something I know that could serve the client, I take off the coach hat and put on the consultant hat, and only then offer resources and feedback.
I'm two-thirds of the way through the book Whole Brain Living by Jill Bolte-Taylor, the neuroanatomist of TED fame whose talk 'a stroke of insight' was the first of TED's to go viral in 2008 (check year). In her book, she offers a theory about how our minds are working as four different characters (from 1 to 4), two on the left side and two on the right side of our brains. I won't explain them all to you here, but you can listen to Jill in this spirited interview to discover for yourself.
When I first listened to her, I enjoyed her suggestion that we name our characters. So far, I've only named my Character 1. She’s my A-type: a left-brained, rational and slightly dictatorial character called Speedster. She drives fast and will drive you over if you're not careful. Not the most delicate of creatures, although she certainly gets things done.
When I teach meditation, when I coach, when I am present and mindful, I am in my right brain: curious, creative, connected. It feels like my Character 3 and Character 4 are in full collaboration mode.
It feels pretty wonderful. No wonder I love both coaching and teaching so much.
So here we are. My friend coached me to fruition, I want to say. I was ripe, I’d done so much work and I just needed someone to help me collect the fruits of my labour. It’s good to ask for help!
Now I’m left with the work of extracting the words and choosing where and how to communicate this new purpose. These words are the building blocks of the content and stories that will help you and others understand this new business.
I love coaching, I love consulting, I love storytelling. Lucky me. Now let’s get to work.
Bridging coaching, consulting & storytelling
We like to make magic happen!