Over the past year I have been on a journey to find myself. To reconnect with myself. To reconnect with those around me. It’s been a very deep experience and has me exploring things about myself which are not always comfortable to be with.
Nearly a year ago I found myself in a foggy place. Think of it as a hallway without feature or colour, and for which there’s no end. No matter which way I turn everything just seems to be the same. This is why I hired Deborah Preuss as a coach for myself last year. I needed to figure out what this place was and more important go somewhere else. I knew I wasn’t broken … just a little lost in this place.
My first real transformation started when I sat listening to a keynote by Diana Larsen at Agile 2014. Her talk was on The Best Job Ever! I love listening to Diana as her energy and enthusiasm for her work is inspiring. Throughout her talk Diana talked about being able to declare “I have the best job ever!” I thought wow … I want some of that!
When I returned from the conference I kept reflecting on Diana’s talk. I even went and watched the recording again. In my work with Deborah I started to analyze my purpose here amongst humanity. If that makes this journey sound deep … good I’m getting my message across. What I came to realize is how much happens for me inside when I help others.
This is what led me to coaching at a more conscious level. In reflection I have always tried to approach my work from a coaching mindset. I know I wasn’t always effective, and sometimes when I thought I was coaching it was something very different. Last year I decided I needed to become the best coach possible. So I enrolled in the Coach Training Institute’s program and am working towards being a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. For those who don’t know me well the actual certification isn’t the goal … it’s a by-product of being a better coach. Unlike other certifications I hold the Co-Active program is far more than memorizing some stuff and writing a test. This is about being yourself and growing into yourself as a Coach.
The first part of the training is 5 x 3 day workshops which run Friday – Sunday from 9-5 each day. This is very experiential and I describe it as a little bit of theory and a whole lot of doing. I am spending the majority of my time coaching or being coached on these week-ends. It’s been a very transformative experience for me. Which brings me to this past week-end when I was in a module titled “Process”. Process is about coaching someone to be with something they are uncomfortable with.
At the start of the week-end we had to identify something we struggle to be with. What came up for me is I struggle to be in conflict with my wife (not that we have that much conflict). Through a little coaching I came to know it’s actually vulnerability I struggle to be with. I can tell you it hit me like a ton of bricks. I struggle to be with vulnerability in many parts of my life. I often find myself holding my cards close to my chest.
Throughout the week-end (I’ll spare you the details) the common theme I was coached on is vulnerability. By the end of day Saturday my peers had me being present with my own vulnerability. I’ll be honest it wasn’t a great feeling, and I just wanted to retreat back into that hallway where I don’t have to deal with this. There was just so much happening for me.
That evening I went for a run (it was actually warm in Toronto!) I used this as a release after an emotional day with my peers. I ran with more intensity than I ever remember. At the end of the run I felt alive and very present with myself. It was in that moment I became very clear about vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the ability to just be. It’s the ability to do something without a guaranteed outcome. It’s the ability to trust a member of your team as you explain a difference which formed between you. It’s the ability to talk to a stranger on an airplane without worrying about where it will go. It’s the ability to reveal some difficult feelings to your spouse without knowing how they will respond. It’s the ability to love someone without guarantee of being loved in return.
I am fortunate I found my soul mate a very long time ago and I have been married to her for more than 26 years. When I came home from my course this week-end I suddenly became very present with my vulnerability and shared so much. I don’t remember the last time I felt so present.
I have come to understand the power of being present and being OK with my own vulnerability. It’s an amazing place to be and has me curious about what is possible for me and those I touch when I am present with my vulnerability. I know there will be more of these challenges ahead, but now that I’ve experienced the freedom which comes with being present I want more of it!
All of this to share with you that I know I have the best job ever! I know being a coach is what I’m here to do. I also know I have the best soul mate, the best family and best life ever. When I bring those together I know … I am enough.
In my next post I will bring my experience into my work as an Agile Coach. I will explore what might be possible when teams and their leaders approach their work with vulnerability.
Very nice and clear reflection. Obviously it helped you to find “the bests”…
It helped me as well and I will take the following sentence as constant reminder for me:
*Vulnerability is the ability to just be.
Furthermore your comment “… For those who don’t know me well the actual certification isn’t the goal … it’s a by-product of being a better coach. ” will accompany me through my journey also becoming a good coach.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Mike, this is a very beautiful post. I really appreciate you and admire you for sharing your story. I hope everyone catches on to vulnerability. – Michael
Bravo Mike. I know that Bono said the world needs more Canada, but I think right now the world needs more brave people like you! Our biggest struggles always turn out to be our greatest gifts.
Fantastic post Mike – I appreciate your openness, your question has me thinking to. Bravo – Mark