"I change not by trying to be
something other than I am;
I change by becoming
fully aware of how I am." Arnold Beisser
The majority of clients consult with a coach or counsellor because they want to change something about their life. Although the following statement may be obvious, it bears emphasis: nothing changes if nothing changes. [See Clare's article on change in Coaching Today, July 2012].
If what you did yesterday didn't work, doing the same today and tomorrow will produce the same results. If THINKING were enough to change behaviour and beliefs, we'd all be successful, fit and confident! It takes more than thinking. Change takes action. Most of us don't like hearing this, we crave an "instant fix" or "magic wand" to just take care of whatever it is we would like to change about our life but here's the truth ... consulting with a counsellor or coach for one hour a week and expecting things to change is nonsense. Committing to a course of sessions and engaging whole-heartedly in homework activity is the only predictor of change.
The good news is that I have years of experience guiding, supporting and advising clients about change and what it takes. Results are always down to what YOU are willing to do, what action you are willing to take both inside and outside of the consultation room.
The action to which I keep referring could also be described as a series of "practices" and here I propose something further - we are our practices.
We are our practices. So what? Well, there's good news and bad news here. The good news is that if we repeat something over time, we get really good at it; the bad news is that if we repeat something over time, we get really good at it. Imagine the practice of flossing your teeth. If you're in the practice of this activity on a daily basis, you'll be congratulated by your dentist; if you're in the practice of not flossing on a daily basis...
If you're in the practice of saying negative things to yourself (I'm so stupid, I'm fat, I'm just lazy, it'll never work, just give up now....), then you'll get really good at this until your daily activities are significantly impacted by a poor attitude. If you're in the practice of saying positive things to yourself - congratulations! You're amongst the few who've grasped the necessity of being complimentary to yourself, thereby enhancing your self-confidence and self-esteem, and improving your performance in every domain!
Another way to think about practices is that we embody what we practice. Let me give you an example.
Suppose someone began playing the piano when they were five because they come from a musical family and that's just what children in that family do - play an instrument from an early age. By the time Becky (or it could have been Ben) is fifteen years old, assuming she's been practicing the piano routinely over the past ten years, she's become quite accomplished. Also assume she's performed on stage at school, church and in front of family and friends on numerous occasions and she's also acquired a level of confidence about public performance.
Anyone meeting Becky today would describe her as 'confident.' Rather than practice 'being confident' she has engaged in other practices which have contributed to a demeanour of confidence - in other words, she embodies confidence.
If you are preparing for an interview to be in a leadership role, practicing answering interview type questions will certainly help. If, however, you've been engaging over time in practices which have other people assess you as a 'leader', then doing well at the interview will simply be the icing on the cake.
The interviewers will be able to see you already have what it takes to be a leader, you embody leadership, you are in the practices it takes to be one. What are some of these practices?
taking care of your physical self (healthy eating, enough sleep, regular exercise, plenty of water, etc.)
taking care of your emotional self (being up to date with people, forgiveness, grieving losses, allowing yourself to experience a full range of emotions, having friends, etc.)
taking care of your spiritual self (meditation and/or prayer, reading spiritual material, being in spiritual conversations and enquiry, etc.)
being in an empowerment practice (for example a martial art, expressive dance or theatre, team sport, choir, etc.)
having a balanced life - work, play, family, friends - all in good measure
Reviewing your practices is rich and rewarding. It can also be challenging - "do I really have to admit to the packets of crisps I sneak?"; "how about the incredibly hateful things I say to myself?"; "what do you mean I work too much?" Yes, yes and yes. It usually takes the objectivity of a trained eye to sit down with you and take a long meaningful look at your life and tease out all the places you're doing the best for yourself and the places where improvement can be made.
I can help you! Having a coach support you through the process of addressing and changing your practices to get you where you want to go is exactly why athletes have their own type of coaches to get them to the Olympics. Question is, are you ready? Now?
I love this poem of David Whyte's about "now" being the right time:
Enough. These few words are enough. If not these words, this breath. If not this breath, this sitting here. This opening to the life we have refused again and again until now. Until now.