Last week I was filled with deep gratitude when I completed my Professional Coach Training and certified as an Integral Coach. It has been an amazing two-year journey of learning and re-discovering. Looking back I know that it was the best investment I could have made in/for myself. I was reminded again (as I often am with coaching clients) of the value of making time for personal development.
The past week I reflected on the following question:
Why do we enrol in personal development workshops or coaching processes?
One of the main reasons is to learn new skills. So, why do we need more skills?
Below is a list of ten reasons that came to mind.
We develop new skills to build our capacity to:
stay in the discomfort instead of running away from it.
meet the challenges that life gives us and turn it into opportunities for growth.
have the courage to step into the uncertainty even though we are afraid.
lean more into who we are and have been all along.
trust and love ourselves more.
change in order for new possibilities to unfold.
serve others in a compassionate way
deepen our relationships with others (at home and at work).
connect in a meaningful way with life.
not escape life but to learn how to engage with life.
Learning:We develop skills not to escape life but to learn how to engage with life.
Healing question: How can I embody the skills I learn in order to connect in a more meaningful way with others and life?
When it comes to money matters things aren’t always simple. Thinking or talking about money evokes different thoughts, feelings, and even bodily sensations. Pride, anger, jealousy, anxiety, shame and sadness are among the emotions that frequently occur, accompanied with a shortness of breath, tightening of the chest and jaw. What is it about money, a neutral medium of exchange that was created by humans to make the sharing of our services simpler, that it creates such an emotional and physical response?
A few years ago I was the Deputy Director of Student Fees and Debtors at a University. Hearing the stories of a diverse range of students and parents about why they can’t settle their student account made me aware of the complexities around money. There was always a very personal story behind the request for funding. A story that is born out of a culture that values money more than human life, relationships and the soul. As I heard their stories it touched me on a physical and emotional level. The reason being that a certain aspect of their stories resonated with parts of my story about money. A common theme started to emerge that I could not quite grasp at that stage but only recently understood after listening to the insightful audiobook Unleashing the Soul of Money by Lynne Twist.
In her book Lynne states that money issues are not as personal as we think. ‘We’ve all been wounded in our relationship with money. They are entangled in the lies we live about money.’ She continues to explain that the source of our suffering is embedded in following three unconscious unexamined lies or myths:
There is not enough. We tend to think there is not enough time, money, food, sex, vacation, work, etc. Later we allow these thoughts to come into our soul. We then start to think that ‘I’m not enough’. This type of thinking implies that someone is going to be left out. We start to fear scarcity. Which in turn justifies our actions of only taking care of us and constantly trying to accumulate more.
More is better. We have an unending quest for more. We want more cars, money, bigger houses, more clothes, education, etc. The result is that we accumulate more of what we don’t really need. It is difficult to not fall into this trap as research suggests that the Media bombards us with approximately 30 000 messages a day telling us, you need more and are not enough. More has become a way of life.
That is just the way it is. This type of thinking that ‘there is not enough’ and ‘more is better’ leads to the third lie that this is just the way life is and we stop questioning the myths and start to believe it.
As I listened to these myths about money I could see how the fear of scarcity is at the root of creating a world where people don’t have enough. I realised that I do have a choice how I want to think about money and the meaning I want to assign it. I can change my relationship with money from ‘not having enough’ to sufficiency by changing the conversation I have about money with others and myself.
Life does not always give us what we want but it does give us exactly what we need to learn and grow. Lynne Twist calls it the principle of sufficiency and explains it as such:
When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need. It frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. You start to pay attention to what you already have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands.
In my coaching sessions I became aware that when people speak from a place of ‘being enough’ and tapping into their inner riches, they become more calm, content and their body opens up. The space of sufficiency creates space for possibilities to open up.
I would like to invite you to tap into your tapestry of experiences and relationships, become aware of what you already have. Let go of the unnecessary accumulation of more. Look at the areas where you have abundance in your life, where there is an overflow. Start to explore how sharing some of the things you don’t really need can create a place where there is enough for us all. A new culture that values sufficiency not abundance. A culture that does not determine our value by what we have but the life we live. Wherein we believe that who we are is enough.
This time of the year one looks back at the year and reflect on the challenges and lessons learned. At the beginning of 2016 I started my own coaching business. One of the important skills of a coach is to learn to ask good questions. Therefore, I decided to translate some of the main lessons learned this year into coaching questions so that you can discover your own answer.
How committed are you to you and your vision?
Peter Senge writes in his book ‘The Fifth Discipline’ that a core strategy for any leader is to commit yourself to your own personal mastery and your personal vision. Shared visions for an organisation (what we care about and want to create) arises from personal visions (what motivates me and the future I seek). He writes that ‘ If people don’t have their own vision, all they can do is “sign up” for someone else’s. The result is compliance never commitment’.
But what does commitment really mean? It means that you commit yourself to the process of refining what you truly want. It means that you relentlessly root out the ways you are limiting yourself and continually practise to broaden your awareness. In essence it means that you genuinely care. When you are committed you genuinely care about yourself and what you truly believe you should do. You may think it sounds selfish. It’s not. When I’m genuinely committed to me. I’m also genuinely committed to you. My commitment to my vision is imbedded in my deep desire to serve others. It is not about me. It is about something larger than me but it starts with a genuine commitment to me.
How can you discover your way between the cup and the quart?
The space between the cup and the quart was a metaphor that I kept in mind this year as I held the tension between my current reality and my vision.
In his book ‘The Anatomy of Change’, Richard Strozzi-Heckler provides a wonderful metaphor for the anatomy of change that I want to share with you:
‘Imagine yourself sitting at a table holding a cup. The cup represents the quantity of potential, or energy or responsibility that you are able to integrate into your life at this particular moment. After being with this cup of yourself for some time, you notice that there is a quart container on the table. The quart represents the possibility of even more energy, responsibility, and love. You begin to recognise the quart is within your reach.
Since you have explored the limits of your cup, you feel an urge to move toward the quart. To remain with only the cup of yourself is no longer tolerable. You make the choice to reach across the table and take the “more” of yourself. Realising it is impossible to hold both cup and quart at the same time, you put the cup down and extend toward the quart. Panic!
Part way into your reach, you realise that the comfort and familiarity of the cup are gone, and you haven’t yet touched the quart. There is nothing. There are noboundaries, there is no known sense of identity or self – only emplty space, a strange new land. You are thrust into fear and doubt.
At this point, what usually happens is we quickly retreat to that which is known: the cup. It is safe, familiar, and easily handleable. Or we contract, frozen in our fear of the unknown. Somehow our system of education never teaches us how to navigate these open waters, to trust ourself and our energy in times of change. We need to rediscover the passage between the cup and the quart of ourselves.
The space between the cup and the quart creates emotional tension as well as creative tension. When you use the tension wisely it can be a source of energy. The tension is then exactly what you need to creatively discover your way between the cup and the quart.
How are you tapping into and building your network?
We cannot reach our goals on our own. We need people who care about us and share in our vision. This year I learned the importance of building relationships that nourish you and help to nurture your vision. In her book “Playing Big”, Tara Mohr refers to these type of people as ‘champions’. According to Tara a champion is a person that can see the future that hasn’t arrived yet. They are the people who think that the vision you have is achievable, and even destined. This then helps you to believe it can be done and motivates you to take the next step.
We don’t only need a network of support; we also need a professional network to derive new business from. This is a lesson that I learned the hard way. I realised that these types of networks don’t fall in your lap. You have to be disciplined to build relationships and grow your network in the field you wish to work in. Building that means stepping out of your comfort zone. It also means sharing your vision and making your work visible in a graceful and respectful way.
I trust that the above questions will be as valuable for you to ponder on as it was for me. That it will assist you to bring your unique vision to the world that so desperately needs it.
With the holidays coming up, one would assume that it would be a time of relaxation and fun for everyone. If you don’t feel as joyous as the Christmas carols that are playing in the shops don’t feel alone. Many people are experiencing a lot of financial stress this time of the year, they just don’t always talk about it.
If you can’t afford to go on the trip overseas or treat your family with a summer holiday or spoil your partner with a special dinner, it’s normal. Don’t allow your feelings of inadequacy or feeling like a failure take away the one special gift that only you can give – you. Don’t allow your financial stress to overwhelm you in a way that you can’t be present to yourself and those you love.
In my own life I’ve experienced different types of financial stress and witnessed loved ones go through periods of severe financial uncertainty. I’m not out of the woods yet but what I’ve learned is that money can’t buy everything. Yes, money can buy peace of mind and lovely holidays and lots of things we enjoy doing. But money can only control you if you allow it to. You can decide if financial stress is going to rob you of you. You will be surprised of the abundance of support that is ready to surround you if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to it.
Money can also not buy time or take it away. It remains your choice as how you want to use your time. I urge you to use it to reconnect with yourself and deepen your relationship with others. It does not cost anything. It only asks that you slow down and be present. Use this holiday to take long walks in nature and listen to the wisdom that it has to offer.
You may feel disappointed or bored by the idea of staying at home during the festive season. You may be thinking ‘what can be worse?’ What is worst is if you moan through it and focus your attention on everything you don’t have. I would like to invite you to focus on the things you do have. Even if it is just you! How can you view this festive season as an opportunity to be creative, on how to have fun and connect with others by spending the least money? I’m certainly going to try.
Learning: You can decide if financial stress is going to rob you of you.
Healing question: How can you not allow your financial stress to overwhelm you in a way that you can’t be present to yourself and those you love?
A few weeks ago we did a road trip through Namibia. What struck me most about Namibia was the landscape and the ample space. As far as you can see there is space. It feels as if there is nothing. As if it is just an open space.
After sitting in the ‘empty’ space your thoughts start to slow down and you are stripped of your preconceived ideas. You realise there is no such thing as nothing. Nothing is something. You realise that if you focus your attention on the space possibilities open up.
I became aware of my own tendency to rather focus on something. I would focus on a tree, a structure or a dune rather than the space around it. Not realising that I’m closing down the vastness by doing that.
This time of the year we tend to focus on the overbooked diary and busy schedule. In our life we only see the problem, the sentence in the email that we disagree with, the crack in the wall, the branches of the tree, etc. We don’t see the space between. We don’t focus on the aspects that we agree with, the blank piece of the paper, or the space between the leaves of the tree.
How might things be different if you start to see all of it? How might it open up space within you during this busy time of the year?
Learning: Focus on the space and allow it to open up space within you.
Healing question: How can you start to see space as just as important part of the bigger picture and not as an area that still needs to be filled?