What areas in your life lack clarity? Let me ask you to consider a few questions that may be contributing to the lack of clarity. Pause to consider these questions before you continue:

  • What beliefs about yourself may be holding you back from clarity?
  • Are you operating on assumptions that may not be valid?
  • Is there anything about your current thinking that is limiting you?

I, too, have been stuck and needed clarity.  struggled to find the right title for this blog, but not so much with what I wanted to say. So, in the end, I decided to get clarity around what I wanted to say and sort the title later. Interestingly, writing that sentence down gave me the title – “Clarity.” Well duh! If you look at the tagline on my logo or business card, you see the words “Perspective, Clarity, Results” Many of my clients have found that the very act of putting something on paper or saying it out loud to someone else brings them clarity and that definitely works for me this time.

A few years ago, I was winding down six weeks on Cape Cod and this word “Clarity” came back to me. I am a person who needs to continually grow, improve, refine, try new things. I often sense these needs but do not immediately have a clear path to that growth, improvement, a new adventure, etc. I have found everyone has different paths to clarity, but a great formula for me is by thinking a lot, putting it on paper, praying, talking to many people, and finding people to challenge my thinking.

Let me share a couple of examples of areas of my life where I have been searching for clarity.

The first is my longing to add even more value and serve my clients better as an executive coach. I have been an executive coach for several years and know my clients would tell you I have added value to their respective journeys to accelerate their dreams. Every decent coaching school trains coaches to be totally about the client and not focus on their “performance” as a coach. The training is totally “spot on,” as my British friends would say. But, many times, I find myself completing a coaching call thinking I did not use the right coaching tools, or I asked too many “yes” or “no” questions, or my client was feeling “down” today, and I did not help them feel better. My mind was focused on being a better coach and I needed clarity around how to raise the bar on my coaching.

The second area involves my life as a visual artist. After leaving full-time work in corporate America, I committed to devote more time to the professional artist side of my life. I set a goal to be accepted into a gallery and especially into a gallery on Cape Cod. I went into this fully knowing I needed to expect a lot of rejection before ever getting a yes. Truthfully, the rejection has been even more frequent than I may have thought; but it has really caused me to ask myself to revisit how I approach my ultimate goal. So my goal of getting into a gallery has not changed, but I needed clarity around how to think about it differently.

So how did I approach getting clarity, and what did I achieve?

I took my usual approach of thinking, writing things down, praying, and talking to several people. Sometimes it is just fun to watch how God works. I was invited to work with a highly respected executive coach, Stephen McGhee, who devotes a small portion of his time to working with other coaches. I decided to make a significant investment and hire him. My first call with him led me to find clarity. It was right before me, but I was not seeing it. The lack of Clarity stood in the way of the need to make subtle but critical shifts in my focus.

I am naturally wired to want to do my best in whatever I do, so being a good coach for my clients is important to me. But, sometimes, the mindset of wanting to be a good coach actually gets in the way of being a great coach. You may be saying, how could a very positive motivation not be a good thing? The answer is when the positive mindset is holding you back.

In my case, wanting to be a great coach for my clients sometimes made me focus more on my performance than the client. Working with my coach, I learned being a good coach is being available to meet them where they are in the moment and serve them in that moment. I know that seems like semantics, but many times the words we choose to limit how we think. Shifting to thinking about serving my clients in each conversation allowed me to stop worrying about my performance and be available to serve them in each conversation.

In the artist part of my life, I gained an insight that gives me clarity of direction. My goal of getting into a gallery has not changed, but realizing that the most urgent first step is gaining more exposure. The gallery representation will naturally follow. The shift does not mean less rejection, but it seems exposure is where I need to shift my focus, which is freeing.

The common thread in both situations was that my mindset was holding me back. I was not really stepping back and asking myself questions like the ones I asked you to consider. To my mind, the assumption of being a good coach was holding me back, but getting clarity about serving well takes my mind in whole new directions that will allow me to serve better. Looking only for galleries was holding me back from the great fun that can come from events that give my art more exposure.

What mindsets are holding you back?

My challenge to you this month is that you go back again and revisit the questions I asked you to consider at the top* and then contemplate them over a few days, write down your thoughts, pray, and talk to some great people. I would love to hear if there are any great ah-ha moments for you.  Send your Ah-ha moments to me here.

*Clarity questions:

  • What beliefs about yourself may be holding you back from clarity?
  • Are you operating on assumptions that may not be valid?
  • Is there anything about your current thinking that is limiting you?

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