About a year ago, I went on a Principles based program focused on building a coaching practice. It was totally devoid of strategies, and the mentors emphasised that the answer to our question simply lay in deepening our grounding.
But what is our grounding?
In essence, it is what we see and know to be true about life. So whilst the course aimed to help us with building our practices, it was actually more an exploration of how things come into form.
Each week a different practitioner would speak to the group, and tell the story of how their businesses were built. I took one major thing away from this course, but it was big for me. Of all the people that spoke to us, without exception, the only common thing between them was the fact that their businesses all came into form completely uniquely. Moreover, the uniqueness was only able to come through them once they had let go of all their ideas about what they thought they needed to do. Essentially these ideas were the ‘how’s’ that they had picked up from others.
This really spoke to me as I remembered my experience of looking after our newborn son, Max, when he was just a few months old. My wife had bought all these books on parenting, and we were busy trying to implement all these supposedly amazing strategies to get Max to eat and sleep ‘properly’.
In reality it was a ‘proper’ struggle, and Max clearly didn’t care what was written in these books. I distinctly remember one night, when Linda and I were just plain exhausted, and Max just would not sleep. We were pouring through the baby books looking for that magic solution, and the more we read the books the more we just felt plain inadequate as parents, because things just looked like they weren’t working out the way the book said they should.
At some point in the height of this frustration I had an insight. Why on earth should my son behave in the way some book said he should? And why should there be a set way that his life should evolve? And who said that I should be the kind of parent that the book told me I should be?
When I saw this I remember picking up every single one of these books and taking them downstairs. As I recall I was so annoyed that I resolved to ceremoniously burn them all, but I think in the end they simply went in the dustbin!
After doing that I told Linda I loved her, and said from now it was down to our gut feel. We had to allow who we were as parents to unfold through us, rather than be constantly looking outside ourselves and trying to follow someone else’s ideas.
Now Max didn’t magically start sleeping when we did this. But we stopped suffering so much. And whilst we did find ourselves looking in books from time to time, there was a different energy about it. A take it or leave it approach that came from a deeper place of wellbeing. From this place, we found ways to deal with his constant need for food and lack of need for sleep that were far more responsive to how things actually were rather than how we thought they should be.
You see it looks to me like when people ask the question “how do I do something”, mostly they are really not seeing clearly that their experience of life is coming from within. When this happens, they get hooked on some idea that life would be better if some circumstance was different. They begin frantically seeking that magic solution that will somehow help them to get somewhere that is ‘better’ than where they are.
But when we do see that our experience of life is thought, and not circumstance, created, we are far less concerned with our ideas that there is a better place for us to be. We are just here in the moment. In a space of engaged presence. We may still have a goal that we are pursuing, but the energy we have around that goal is what I would call ‘spacious’. What that means is that in that moment we are aware that our wellbeing is intact whether or not the goal we have in mind is created or not.
The result is that our creativity is free to flow, and life begins to unfold through us more effortlessly. We open up to the possibility that an infinite number of outcomes could occur, and are more prepared to follow our gut instinct, even if it seems to be taking us somewhere that conflicts with our idea of how things really should be unfolding, or with some strategy that we have learned.
Interestingly, it was when I saw that this was also true in the case of my coaching practice that it began to grow!
Don’t get me wrong – life will still have it’s up’s and down’s even when we follow that instinct, but we will be much less at the mercy of those up’s and down’s. Consequently what we end up doing will be far more responsive to the moment, and come from a much deeper place of inner resilience rather than fear or inadequacy.
Where are you looking for a strategy or solution to change something in your life right now? Does it look to you like your life would somehow be better if you were able to make that change? What if that wasn’t true? And what if, if you could see that more, you would actually be able to approach whatever challenge you were facing far more insightfully? Please comment below…