Seeing my clients navigate to their bigger, bolder, brighter future brings me delight. I am endlessly fascinated by the fact that, essentially, we all have the same yearning to be understood and valued and yet we are all different and full of contradictions. I call this being human! Part of being understood and valued is attaching the appropriate labels to ourselves.
Even for the senior executives who initially come to me with highly specific work-related areas for development, our discussions invariably broaden. The minute that we move beyond purely technical skills, then relationships come to the fore. Servant-hearted leaders live and breathe this – they are shining lights in a sometimes unenlightened world.
It is natural for much of the coaching process to be reflective and for it to be centred initially on ourselves. This can be very helpful in building self-awareness. Ultimately though, we need to shift our attitudes and actions to effect positive change. It’s beautiful when we don’t place ourselves at the centre and take action which positively impacts others.
My heart was warmed by a recent coaching conversation. Natalie (not her real name) is a highly intelligent and accomplished creative who has won accolades for her creative work. Nonetheless, she suffers from the imposter syndrome. It was clear from our discussion that the facts don’t support this. We can all be irrational though and what matters is how Natalie truly feels. On further discussion, it emerged that her siblings have highly successful careers in fashion and design. Growing up Natalie’s family dubbed her the “brainy one”. Meanwhile, her sister was labelled the “creative one”. Natalie revealed that in a parallel situation her sister underestimates her own intellect despite evidence to the contrary. Thankfully the two sisters enjoy a very close relationship without resentment. We discussed how we choose our own labels and the ponder point I left with Natalie was “why can’t all three children be highly successful creatives in the big, wide world?”
What action might you have taken? I was touched to hear that Natalie’s response was to call her sister and left the message: “I want you to know that you are as bright as a button”. This seemed a particularly apt phrase for a fashion designer! How wonderful to see the relational outreach of coaching when we go inside ourselves to then reach out to others. We choose our own labels and those we attach to others too.