People will only do business with you if they want to do business with you. I am turning coaching into my business. I want a coach who is straight with me, and that starts with being straight with me in soliciting my business. I mention this because two solicitations have come to me recently that were anything but.
One, in an English teachers e-mail list inviting me to “Something for the soul - an amazing report that I want to share with you.” The link provided took me to a page promising a guide to a “more peaceful and happier life,” which would be sent to me on sharing my e-mail with the promoter. The 29 page report promised “Happier. Forever!!!” complete with the author's account of his personal journey, some exercises to raise self-awareness, and of course, an invitation to use his services to get more (“20% discount for a personal consultation meeting” “unique for readers of this report” that bring the coupon along.
The second, in my Cornell University Alumni Network on LinkedIn, a Ms. Emily Filloramo shared a post titled “I'm curious... do you ever feel like your life has reached a plateau?” The truth is she wasn't curious, because she didn't set up the comment for people to share and discuss their personal plateaus, but rather invited us to request a copy of her worksheet, a twelve page “Confidential “Get Out of Your Own Way & Unleash Your Full Potential” Worksheet 1.3,” complete of course with invitation to contact her to see if she can help me get to my “highest core loving self.” She's not even a coach, but a Success & Happiness Catalyst, whatever that means.
Perhaps I am old school, but this just didn't play for me. We're a group of alumni all at our own places in life, and this could have been set up as an opportunity to share and support instead of a not so subtle invitation to use the tools of Ms. Filloramo. And she might get some business from this approach, but she might have gotten even more if she had started and moderated a meaningful discussion, allowing people to see what she could bring to their lives. She didn't do this. She offered a quid pro quo.
After a long winded comment by Ms. Filloramo about getting to core beliefs, I added a comment regarding the on-line tools that I find useful. I figure if we're there talking about where we're stuck anyway, I might as well share what helps me get past my blocks:
This is one way of looking at it, but we don't necessarily need to come up with a big why. Rather, I would suggest that we can become present to what we have, and give our all to the work that presents itself, but not like we have to run faster on the treadmill. There is a parable about three stone cutters. A person comes up and asks each in turn what he is doing. The first says I am shaping a stone, the second I have to work to feed my family, the third says he is building a temple. They all may be doing exactly the same thing, but their experience and satisfaction at the end of the day are unlikely to be the same.
Certainly there are negative core beliefs, and they effect our actions, but they are also the most present when we are spending time gazing at our navels instead of looking at the contribution we can make or are already making in the world. If you want to get present to your internal dialogues (i.e. core beliefs) and stop giving them power over you, I'd suggest you take the Landmark Forum. Landmark is expert at this and has delivered its programs to more than two million people, with 94% of customers in independent surveys agreeing that Landmark's programs have made a profound and lasting difference in their lives.
But then get it's not necessarily about the job (though it could be; I also like Scott Dinsmore. James Altucher, on the other hand, takes a more philosophical approach, which is a bit raw but much worth the searching person's time). For a different philosopher's view, I'd also suggest Mike Rowe's A Lesson From Some of the World's Dirtiest Jobs, for another good point about happiness.
So, I have these new friends at Scott Dinsmore's Live Your Legend Creator's Guild. Every couple of days there is new and real connection. I feel particularly old in this group, but that's a conversation for another day. What drives this group of people is that they are passionate about making a difference, in their own lives and in those of others. And they are searching and vulnerable and open, and beautifully human. It could be that Ms. Filloramo is this as well, but I don't get that from her presentation.
Today's new friend is Ms. Sarah Cooper. What I love about her is she is willing to put herself out there. She came to my attention because she was asking us what she could do to get past her writer's block. I challenged her to play a game outside of her comfort zone and she jumped at the chance. The result is here. She's given us both a chance to look beyond our everyday. So we are taking on a challenge together. On her blog she asks:
Where are you in your story? Are you screaming “Don’t go down there?” Are you waiting for the action to get started or trying to make sense of it all? Is there a clear direction? Who is the villain or love interest in the piece? Most of all are you enjoying your story?
We've agreed that we're both going to engage with these questions. We'll be honest and direct and post our response before we have second thoughts about it. I salute you Ms. Cooper for asking these questions and giving us both a chance to grow. So here's my take:
My story is that I have a life of missed opportunities. Where my contemporaries have accomplished and created all sorts of great things (particularly where it comes to business and career), I am still stuck at the same place that I was ten years ago. I've got a great wife and some amazing kids, but other than that, I'm behind the eight ball. I have a few more licenses along the way, but no record of success. That's not exactly true. What I do is that whatever success I have, I chalk up to luck or circumstance, and where I have missed, I say it says something about me. So I have a lot of big ideas, that come and go, that light me up for a moment and then get gobbled up in thoughts of my inadequacy to the task at hand. I rely too much on my wife and our families to support me and have trouble seeing a powerful and independent future for myself.
Where don't I go? I don't make promises. I haven't fully put myself in the games I want to play in life. I say big things, things so big that I don't expect anyone to believe them. I may even start them, but I have a built-in excuse to fail. Where I don't go is that I don't admit I care. I care so much it hurts. I don't want to be with that. So I continue to try to make a difference, but no matter how big a difference I've made, I say I didn't really do it or it would have happened anyway, and I run away. I'm left with results I don't acknowledge and feeling weak and ineffective. Whatever I do accomplish, it's never enough.
So where I have been is waiting. I am pretty sure there is no sense in it all. I'll do what work comes, but I don't take any big initiatives.
There is a clear direction. If I look at what I have declared, there are many lifetimes of actions that could be taken in pursuit of the goals I have declared. I have said that I am about restoring freedom, that I am about creating education that works, that I am about empowering people to fulfil on those things that are important to them. I am a stand for fairness and justice, for better understanding between people, for committed, outrageous, generous and happy people, for a world where people look outside of themselves.
But there is also a clear villain and that is the little voice in my head. I too often let it run my life. It's the little voice that keeps asking me “Who are you to presume that you are the one?” It asks “What are you thinking?” It says “You missed the boat.” It's the voice that lets me avoid all responsibility in my life, and in the end takes my life.
So am I enjoying my story? Of course not. I am suffering it every moment I let it run me. But then it's a familiar suffering, and it's amazing how long we suffer the familiar just because it's not the unknown.
But I am seeing it's a story, and that I am the author, and that it's not the story I need to live out. And the truth is, I'm pretty fed up with it. It's long past time to break out of the holding pattern and embrace the unfamiliar. And I must be ever vigilant, because the villain never will go away. But I've seen that what keeps him at bay is admitting that I care, and denying myself permission to run away.
In my new story, I am human. I will screw up. That's okay. I'll probably hurt people, and might hurt myself, but that's the only way I can learn to be better. In my new story, I take responsibility for the success just as I do for the failures. In my new story I remember, as Winston Churchill so elegantly put it, “Success is the ability to stumble from failure to failure with no lack of enthusiasm.” I am scared. So what? Who isn't? The only question is who I will be in the face of that fear and what I will do anyway.
You want me, you can have me. You can have my heart and my love and my commitment to your success. You can have someone who will believe in you when you don't and remind you why you should believe in yourself. You will have someone who sees right through the façade and doesn't leave space for anything but your best. It will cost you obviously, but what price can you really put on a life of power, freedom and full-self expression. And if you want to improve your presentation and look, that is the work of my wife. She can give you an amazing smile (she's a dentist too) and then teach you to create the ensemble to go with it.