Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Wanna Wake Up Before I Go-Go

My apologies for such a long break between posts, but my mind has been busy elsewhere.

Starting in April, I participated in an intense performance coaching program that began with an intense weekend, followed by ten weeks of one-on-one coaching, and then finished with another intense weekend. It was an amazing experience and I cannot believe how much I learned about myself and about my life moving forward. (If you think you might be interested in something like this, check out "Leadership" at I won't give too much of the blow-by-blow since it will bore you to tears, but I will share a bit of the "a-ha" moments I experienced.

I enrolled in the program with the idea that I needed some help starting a business and building my law practice. A-ha moment #1: My current business plan is working for me, at least for now, so there's no need to change it. I don't need to waste any energy "worrying" about my career in the short run because it is going just fine and I am happy. When it is no longer fine and I am no longer happy, that's when I need to put some renewed energy into it. A-ha moment #2: Work doesn't feel like work if you're doing it for the "right" reasons (and the "right" reasons are different for everyone). When I was working as an associate in various-sized law firms, I was doing it for the wrong reasons, which explains why I never felt fulfilled, it felt like a grind, and I had no desire to put in anymore time than was absolutely required. (It also explains why I put myself in a position to get terminated!)

A-ha moment #3: My heart needs some attention. Like everyone else, I've had my share of hurts in life, and I always thought I had properly grieved each and every one of them. I thought wrong. What I did instead was bury anything that resembled a feeling deep down inside, throw up giant walls, and then busy myself with "stuff" to run away from anything remotely unpleasant. That's really no way to live a life. I declared at the end of the first weekend that I would live my life with an open heart.

A-ha moment #4: Despite all outward appearances and my tough exterior, I'm a scaredy-cat. I've always considered myself brave, and I am when it comes to outward appearances and external opinions, but I'm terrified to share my internal self with people. I've never really worried about what people think of my behavior - making me unafraid to do things that make other people uncomfortable - because I recognize that most people are so self-involved that they're not even paying attention to whether or not I'm making a fool of myself. I AM worried - devastatingly afraid, frankly -of letting people see my true self. I close myself off - and shut people out - at the slightest hint that someone might see the real me. That's no way to live a life. I declared at the end of that first weekend to live without fear.

A-ha moment #5: I'm not very nice to myself, and if I'm not very nice to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be nice to me?? Though I'm confident in my lawyering skills and have no problem telling people how awesome I am , I clam up when it comes time to applaud myself for the person I am. I "say" mean things to myself all the time, I discount compliments that people pay me, and I focus on my flaws rather than on my admirable qualities. So I've stopped the negative talk and am working on learning to like myself again.

Coaching is an interesting experience. Unlike traditional counseling or therapy, I didn't really look back at my life to explain why I do the things I do. Instead of analyzing why I engage in specific self-limiting (or self-sabotaging) behavior, I learned to identify that behavior, acknowledge it, and then use my newly-learned tools to change it. I was reminded over and over of that old saying about insanity (from Einstein, I think): The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.

I'm not insane anymore. I'm taking small steps, but I'm doing many things differently than the way I did them before. I'm noticing things I never really noticed before. I'm changing the way I spend my days. I'm changing the way I think about my self, my family, and my friends. In short, I'm waking up. How blessed am I that I am waking up in time to enjoy it??