What I wish I knew in the beginning
Sometimes I feel like I've been doing my work for a lifetime and sometimes I feel like I've only just begun. In a way, both are true. From the time I could process the world I think I assumed the role of "helper." It should be such a simple task, one that doesn't require any overthinking, and yet I still harbor doubts about my role as a helper.
If I could go back to when I was a wee little one, back to when I graduated college, back to my first coaching conversation, the advice I would whisper to myself is all the same — trust yourself. Also a seemingly simple task, and yet it's amazing how frequently it can escape me. If you find yourself in a similar place at times, then today's practice is for you.
When I first started coaching, it was a return to myself. Do you ever find that your life just keeps looping on itself? Mine does. I knew when I was 5 years old I was meant to help others, but I would reject this idea for more than 20 years.
I think we're most in tune with who we are at a very young age and will spend most of our adult life getting back to that time of innocence and freedom to be ourselves. Just ask your inner child what she or he would do and bask in their answer. It just might surprise you.
At the beginning of my practice I was super self-conscious.
Am I any good?
Do people actually want to pay me?
Can I really do this?
These questions plagued me for the first 5 years. No matter how many clients or friends would tell me, "You're really great at this!" I simply didn't believe them.
Until October 2015.
That fall I rented a beach house I'd had my eye on for a year and invited 10 others to join me for my first retreat. I charged them $0. This wasn't about a business offering, yet. It was about seeing if I could stretch myself and do something I'd never done before. It was about deciding to take a chance on myself.
This event was lovingly named #retreat. And while I would go on to run it twice more, that first one has a special place in my heart. It's where I finally let it sink in that I am good at this work. That I have a right to be in my industry. And that I do, in fact, belong here.
Why am I sharing this story?
Because we all will have that moment when for whatever reason, we come face to face with our goodness and our ability and allow ourselves to be the thing we were meant to be all along.
I call this moment the pivot.
No one can prepare you for the pivot; the particular event itself could be mundane, like standing in line at the grocery store, or something more enlivening, like having your first child.
The moment isn't predictable, but it's on your path somewhere. I like to believe it's already built in like a light bulb and when it's time, it just turns on.
Your job? Recognize it.
I was the same person in pretty much every way before and after this experience except for one major shift — how I saw myself was different. This changed everything.
Of all the things I've seen in my work and in more than 5,000 conversations, the thing I wish I knew early on is this:
It isn't what you do that matters.
It's who you are when you do anything that matters.
In other words, success isn't just in the action. Success is in who is doing the action.
And there are many different "who"s inside of you at all times. For example, there could be a...
On Purpose Who
You get the picture. If I asked you to pause here and make a list of all the different versions of yourself that come through daily it would be quite long. We are complex and our emotions don't stagnate; they are fluid and move through us every day, telling us what to feel, how to interpret everything, and what to take action on.
Before that fateful retreat I was operating my work primarily from my Small Who: the part of me that didn't think I had the right to be great as a life coach and stayed purposefully small. Never taking compliments, never accepting accolades, and flat-out not believing people who were telling me I was good.
I had to experience it for myself. From a place within. I had to come into contact with a new part of myself — my confident and proud self.
I don't know why or how, but she showed up for those 4 days at the beach and changed the game for me. She showed me I CAN do the work I long for. She showed me what I AM capable of. She let herself be great and it felt incredible.
The people who hire me know what to do. Most of them even know how they want to do it. But most of them aren't. They aren't stepping fully into a new "who." They assume that the lens they have for their contributions in the world is permanent and unchanging.
I will fill you in on a big life secret: you can always change how you see yourself. This isn't the real magic. The real magic is that when you change how you see yourself, the self you see also changes.
From this space you can't help but make different choices. You can't help but show up more boldly. You can't help but make bigger asks of yourself and others. You can't help but take a stand for something bigger than you. And you can't help but take a seat at the table.