“Everyone’s taking control of me, seems like the world’s got a role for me, i’m so confused will you show to me, you’ll be there for me and care enough to bear me?” – Michael Jackson from Will You Be There
I feel like I just walked into technicolour. It’s like I had been walking in black and white, that the world was just turning and I was just there. Almost like The Matrix, with grey and green tinges every so often as I was walking through life, but no depth to what was happening.
Until Friday, September 21, 2o12. That was the day I stepped into colour, the day that everything changed for me. It was the day I started my life coach training through the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) (I highly recommend this program, especially if you are looking at ways to deepen your relationships).
I had made the decision I wanted to be a life coach a few months ago. After some soul searching on my trip to India and realizing that I wasn’t really fitting in the corporate box, it had dawned on me that I wanted to restart my life where I could focus on helping others with the skills that came naturally to me – being curious (I am that why girl), helpful and wanting to give back. I can’t remember what exactly came to me that made me decide it or even how I found out about this profession, but once I did, everything started falling into place. My yellow brick road was finally laid down and I was off on my path. No side routes, no shortcuts, just the path that I felt I was supposed to walk. As the path began, I met my life coach, met a ton of other life coaches, started reading books on the subject and started to open my mind to the possibility of starting my own business with a life coach basis. I was scared, but super excited at the same time.
The session on Friday started with an ice breaker where we had to ask others the question “What are your dreams?”. Whoa. I was finally with my people. Past the small talk, past the superficial questions that we use to define each other (what do you do?) and just diving into a deeper level to really connect and get everyone thinking.
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
I have never been opened up in that way before. Over three days I was cracked open, challenged, supported, pushed….all the things that are the basis of this model – that everyone is creative, resourceful and whole. Double whoa. You mean that I can come up with the answers? That I don’t need a manager leading me to the end? That I am actually capable of making decisions, failing and then rebound to eventually succeed? And that’s ok? Oh mah goodness. I finally found what I have been searching for. The people, the thoughts, the frameworks that I have believed for the longest time was finally out in the open. I had finally found what I had thought to be right all along. And no one was telling me that I was wrong.
Which brings me to one of the biggest revelations I had this weekend, which I will demonstrate through and experience I had this afternoon. I was sitting in the nail salon getting my nails did, and an older woman came in. Her daughter had brought her to get a pedicure only. The daughter said she would be back to pick her up later, so the older woman picked her preferred colour and sat in the chair. While one of the estheticians started on her nails, another one sat and started to give the older woman a hand massage. She continued to ask her how she was feeling, how many grandchildren she has, where does she live, etc. As I looked over, the older woman had such a smile on her face. It was amazing to me how easy it was to make that woman happy just by listening and investing in time with her. I had a smile on my face for the simple reason that there was someone who was able to fulfill the most basic human need of being loved (in this case, expressed by giving her undivided attention).
I then remembered my session from the weekend. How there was an experience where everyone showered me with all of my positive attributes that they observed from me over 1.5 days. Then they proceeded to tell me about what they would like to see more of – that they wanted to see my inner confidence shine. The inner confidence that was just under the surface of my amazing aura and my enthusiastic personality. They saw me – all of me, just by paying attention, by listening. The university student that I have been trying to reconnect with after my brainwashing in corporate, the girl that was fearless and sure of herself that I wanted to see again was there. And they saw it right away.
I can’t tell you the gratitude I felt by being a part of that exercise. Or the support I felt for allowing that part of me that was dialed down little by little because I listened to what was “right” by others to shine. What I can tell you is that the feeling that someone (and in this case many people) is truly seeing you for who you are and telling you it’s ok is amazing, empowering, enlightening….just wow.
Can you take a minute today to really, truly listen? To not think about how many emails you have to answer, or the next task you have to do? To maintain eye contact and listen without judgement, without preconceived notions, without trying to tell the other person how it affects you or what they should do according to your knowledge (Did it occur to you that they will know the situation better than you? They are living it.)? It’s not an easy skill. But I guarantee you that you will be able to have deeper relationships and feel more fulfilled in your relationships. Will you take the time today to listen?