The other day I was asked what my “sweet spot” was in coaching. What I’m really known for and what I really love to do. (Luckily, I think they’re the same thing.)
As more and more people know, I had a childhood that I had to, in many ways, survive. I no longer keep my past separate from my consulting and coaching work for a myriad of reasons. First, if you Google me before or after you meet me, you can easily find out the details (Google me or ping me if you want to know). Since my past is pretty much public knowledge, I no longer feel the need to avoid the way it pivots attention to me. Second, and perhaps even more important, my being able to openly talk about my past allows me to have deeper and richer conversations with clients about their own experiences, as well as to offer them the myriad of practices, realizations, and “solutions” that I’ve found and created in order to “heal.”
One of the main truths I’ve realized over my decades of healing is that I was taught many lies and false-truths, and my brain deciphered my experiences with further lies and “mind-caging rules” – ways that I interpreted my situations and then did my best to control my thoughts and behaviors (and the situation itself) based on my interpretations. I’ve also realized that these lies, false-truths, and mind-caging rules still percolate in my brain and can hurt me.
Another main truth I’ve realized is that, while my life circumstances and childhood experiences may have been unique, I am not the only one with lies, false-truths, and mind-caging rules running rampant in their brain. I am not the only one who is hurt and constricted by lies I can’t see beyond (yet).
The third main truth I’ve realized is that it is possible to see beyond – and get beyond – these lies, false-truths, and mind-caging rules.
That is my sweet spot.
I love to stand with and by my clients as they realize the distorted “truths” they’ve been adhering to and give themselves permission to no longer believe the fabrications they may have been given or may have invented. I love to watch them begin to acknowledge their new possibilities and step into their power. I love to witness and celebrate their newfound freedom and excitement.
For example, my client who was so over-responsible that he stepped in to help his colleagues meet deadlines even when his bosses practically begged him not to so that they could see the cracks in their work-flow and be able to fix things. We briefly discussed why he became so over-responsible and how the need for him to be in charge of everything was a “lie” that was limiting his effectiveness and leadership. With that, he was able to let some projects fall and fail, even though his very psyche seemed to fight back as if for its life. Or another client who felt scarred from her experience with a very difficult boss. She had lost her self-confidence and was unable to make decisions for her team without checking in with her new boss, even as her new boss told her that she trusted her. We worked to help my client recognize what had happened to her and how she had mal-adjusted, and we came up with a plan for her to rebuild her confidence and her ability to lead from her place of strength.
It was a challenge for my clients to change their behaviors because they had to first change their thought processes. It isn’t easy work to see beyond what might be “carved” into your brain or to move past ways you’ve adapted to stay “safe.” It can be, and usually is, terrifying as you take action or make decisions that go against ways you learned to operate, even if those ways are hurting your effectiveness and leadership. There may be alarm bells in your brain and psyche that someone else installed so that you never did see beyond your distorted truths, and it takes perseverance and some potentially intense self-care to change these deeply engrained behaviors. Which is why one should probably not embark on this journey alone.
However, I know from my own life, learning, and experience – and from standing with and by my clients – that this journey is possible. And healing. I know that finding new ways to see and interact with the world is actually the most life-affirming actions one can take.
It’s the surest way to live – and lead – most Thoughtfully.
What lies and false truths might be getting in your way, and how have you moved beyond them?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
To learn how to recognize – and get around – the “lies” carved in your brain, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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