My wife and I are near the end of our six-week stay on Cape Cod. We love to come here for a whole host of reasons, including escaping the summer heat in Nashville, having some time to slow down and reflect, and for me, as an artist, it is just an inspiring place to paint. Artists have been drawn to the Cape for a very long time because of the unique lighting here. On what we call a perfect Cape Cod day, skies will be clear and a color of blue that is hard to describe. The color cerulean blue is the closest I have found to serve as the base for painting the sky. For a landscape artist, the possibilities here are limitless. There are so many options it’s difficult to decide what to paint, but just knowing there are so many possibilities is inspiring.
Early each morning while we’re on the Cape, I have the opportunity to sit quietly by a pond and reflect. Interestingly, as I think about a painting I may be working on or something I may want to paint, I find myself thinking about how my work as an artist relates to my work as an executive coach. Each summer I am struck by the variety of ways painting informs my coaching. When I am at the Cape, I think about what is possible for me to paint while here that I could not paint at home. This has definite application to leaders. When a leader makes a big shift or reaches a new level, some new things are possible just because they have reached a new place.
Typically, clients come to me because they have a goal they want to accomplish, but seem stuck in achieving it or they are assuming a larger leadership opportunity and know there are some major shifts they need to make to be effective in the new roles. When my coaching clients have successfully made a significant shift or accomplished a goal, I often ask them, “so, now what’s possible for you?” After they are unstuck and moving forward or successfully made some shifts, a whole new set of possibilities awaits them. They have reached a new level and new things are possible that were not possible before.
Let me share the journey of one of my clients to illustrate the point about what’s possible. It is not her real name, but let’s call her Jane.
Jane had been a very successful technical leader in her industry and had also been a great resource to her peers when she was given the opportunity to become the CEO and run the office in which she was based. Jane asked me to work with her to make the transition from technical specialist to leader. She knew who she was to date would need to be different than who she would need to be as a CEO/leader. Once she successfully made the transition, a whole new set of possibilities were opened to her. Examples of the possibilities include: she could now be a role model for other women who wanted to become leaders; she could have more influence over the development of people and she could have a larger influence in her community.
After a few years of successful leadership, it came time for Jane to retire, but Jane was not the retiring type, so we discussed “what’s possible” now as she approached a new chapter. How could she call on all her life’s experiences and the new skills she developed as a CEO in her post-retirement years. Through a lot of research, Jane came to the conclusion she was uniquely qualified to start a ministry for women in the marketplace. This was not possible before. Seeing the possibilities, Jane is off to a great start and thinks this new chapter may well be the best time in her life. God only knows what’s possible for Jane now.
Over the last few months I have been thinking about how to take my executive coaching to a much higher level to serve my existing clients better and to attract major company executives to my coaching practice. One day during one of my times of reflection, I realized I need to ask myself the same question I ask my clients – “what’s possible” now. I am in a much better spot than I was when I started coaching so “what’s possible” for me now? In my work as an artist, I can only get better if I strive to learn from those who have skills far superior to mine. If you think about it, athletes will play at a much higher level when they compete with those who are more skilled. What is possible for me now is the opportunity to take my coaching to a whole new level, but I need the help of a coach who is already at a much higher. I am making a major investment in a top flight executive coach to help me make my new possibilities a reality.
Consider several questions:
• What does getting to the next level mean for you?
• What would be possible for you if were at the next level?
• Who would you need to become if you want to be successful at that level?
• What actions do you need to take to begin that journey?
• Who do you trust to share the goal and to hold you accountable to you?
These are simple little questions, but seriously addressing them could open a world of possibilities for you just as Cape Cod offers me a world of opportunities as an artist.
I would enjoy hearing from you if you now see new possibilities.
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