As a Transformational Leadership Coach one of the key focus areas for my clients is their desire for change, one simply cannot transform without it, they go hand in hand.
Transformation is not a coaching conversation, it is not a plaster on an open wound nor is it something we can do purely because we think we should, if this is the case, it will always 100% be a temporary shift and we then revert quite quickly to our old ways. Hence the reason so many of our New Years resolutions fail dismally. Remember change = choice and that has to be yours.
There is a distinct difference between wanting to change & willing to change. Often we want something but are we willing to do the work?
Transformation is not always pretty, it’s usually tough, it’s dirty, it can even be ugly and scary. However, it can also reward us with a deep inner knowing that we are on our right path, the one that is innately meant for us. We can start feeling like we are “in the flow”. Yes that feeling 100% does exist, ask any athlete whose fixated on the finish line, any author whose found the key through their writers block or lovers watching a sunset needing and wanting no one or nothing else. There is an intimate beauty when we start to transform, when we start to realise the drudgery of the hamster wheel is no longer serving our better good. When we see that we are living by someone else’s “should’s” and “musts” and not our own path that will ultimately lead us to the reason, our purpose for being here right now. How can we ever know our purpose when we are walking someone else’s journey? Whether that someone be a parent who lovingly but blindly guided us, an organisation that’s values are not aligned with who we are or merely our own default button that led us not to stop, pause and ask that significant yet simple question.
Am I happy and do I feel fulfilled in what I do and who I am?
So where am I going with this? I am a true believer that as a coach I need to show up 100% authentically to you my client and that means having the desire to walk my talk. I need to be on a transformational journey myself, not sitting on some chair orchestrating from the side lines (or across a virtual screen) comfortably safe in my own stale comfort zone. No, I want to know what it feels like to be scared, ugly, dirty and tough. I want to stretch myself and lean into that really uncomfortable space where you so desperately want to hold on to the safe side of the pool but know that in order to grow I need to let go.
I’ve taken myself off on a solo trip to Croatia for 5 weeks, combining travel and virtual work. For the record we are one week in and they’re have been some Tough moments ! (note the capital T).
Without going into all the traumas (I’ll save those for another day, I have a tendency to be over dramatic) here’s a couple of my take-outs from week one.
- don’t act or book accommodation or ferries or flights when in a state of panic, preferably do nothing or if you have to do something go for a walk and eat lots of ice cream.
- loneliness can suck but it sucks a lot more if you allow yourself to listen to that bitch of an inner critic who is waiting in the wings, desperate to put you down and to tell you what a solo loser you are. Observe the emotion but don’t attach to it and don’t try and fight it, just honour it, recognise it and allow it to pass on by. Miraculously it always does. Reach out to a loved one, listen to a podcast, meditate and maybe even find the enjoyment in the time out.
- learn to check in with yourself and ask “In this very moment, right now am I ok?” 90% of the time the stress is caused by something past or future and the fear is simply something we have manifested and attached to. Our actual present moment is often ok. We may have lost our purse, but we’re not on the streets begging, we may be in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people but a smile goes a long way (unless its a Croatian bus or taxi driver then don’t bother).
- consider these moments as a challenge and a time to learn & not a punishment. Be proud of yourself, and as a fellow solo traveller, a photographer from New York said to me when sitting in a square in Dubrovnik one evening, it’s time to fall in love with being with yourself, become your one true best friend.
Our transformational journeys are all going to be very different and unique and may well not involve the urge to solo travel. Yours might involve leaving a relationship, adapting to a new role at work, empty-nest syndrome, recovering from cancer or all of the above. The scenario is not the primary focus, the learnings and the adapting and how you grow from these scenarios and the golden nuggets you walk away with are where the transformational magic lies.
On that note, I’m off to find some more Croatian Ice Cream.