One of my favourite places to be is next to the water. There’s something very calming about just sitting quietly and watching the coming and going of the waves on shore.
As I watch the waves surge up the shore they bring a sense of cleansing and renewal to everything they touch. They carry in new treasures with them like shells, sticks, leaves or some little treasure from somewhere far away.
Then as sure as the wave came up the shore it retreats. It’s almost as if the lake itself is shrinking taking back the very treasures it gave me. It can be disappointing to think of the opportunities I missed seizing. There can even be a sense of loss.
Yet there’s something I can always count on. There will be another wave bringing with it new sticks, leaves and treasures I couldn’t imagine. This is just a cycle that will play out for all of time.
I’ve come to realize people are much like the waves on the ocean. In one moment things are going exceeding well for us and we’re on top of our game. New things just seem to come easily to us, and things are always bright and clean. Then without really knowing what happened we’re suddenly finding ourselves retreating. Things which were easy only a few weeks ago suddenly seem to wash away and we dry up. You may even wonder what made you believe you could do this job to begin with.
It’s damn uncomfortable!
In my journey as a Co-Active Coach I have come to experience and recognize this cycle in myself several times now. I have to say it’s not a great feeling when the waters are retreating. OK actually it can feel damn uncomfortable at times. It has left me feeling demoralized and at times a little defeated. When the waters retreat it can feel as if it’s taking with it my confidence and even leave me questioning what I thought to be true about myself.
I’m very fortunate to have lots of incredible coaches I’m on this journey with whom I interact with weekly. They have helped me see the waters are retreating, confront it and grow from the experience. I owe them so much for their part in this journey. What I now know to be true is this cycle is an important and necessary part of growing.
I’ve come to learn the importance of embracing the times when the waters retreat down the shore. Sure there’s that feeling of uneasiness, but what’s always true is I can now more clearly see what is really here. It’s not clouded by the confidence and easiness that seems to cover what is true for me. With these things exposed I am more easily able to see opportunities and grow far beyond where I am today.
What’s possible if …
Over the past month I have had the opportunity to experience this cycle again. I’m not convinced the waters have come back fully yet but there’s no question in my mind they will. This cycle will continue for me for the rest of my days. I’m OK with this although I’m sure there will be times I’m going to wish that’s not true.
What struck me in this experience though is how culturally we run from these low points. We mask it, deny it or try to compensate to avoid admitting it’s there. We may even try to distract others in an attempt to keep them from seeing us in a low.
Imagine what might be possible though if instead of running from the lows we accepted their existence. To acknowledge we will have times when things don’t come as naturally and we may feel like we’re just bumbling around trying to find our way. I’m not saying we should settle with being in a low, rather learn to use it as an opportunity to stretch our own limits more than we could imagine. After all it’s easier to see what’s true for you when the shiny and slick surface isn’t there.
This is happening all around you right now. The people on your team, your peers in a volunteer group, your family and yourself. What might be possible if you were to help those around you embrace this time? What opportunity is there for growth? What might you learn right along side of them?