Are there areas in your life where you are lacking 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 struggled with finding just the right title for this blog and related Podcast, 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 worked for me this time.
This word came back to me in a fresh new way as we were winding down our six weeks on Cape Cod. I am a person who needs to continually be growing, improving, refining, trying new things, etc. Most times I sense these needs, but do not immediately have a clear path to that growth, improvement, new adventure, etc. I have found everyone has different paths to clarity, but mine is usually by thinking a lot, praying, talking to a number of 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 one is in my life as an executive coach. I have been an executive coach for a number of years now and know my clients would tell you I have added value on their respective journeys to accelerate their dreams. Yet, by nature, I have been longing to add even more value and serve my clients better. 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 getting off of a 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. I needed clarity around how to raise the bar on my coaching – my mind was focused on being a better coach.
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 need 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 in 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 approaches of thinking, praying and talking to a number of 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 finding clarity. It was right in front of me, but I just was not seeing it. What stood in the way of clarity was the need to make subtle, but critical shifts it where my mind was focused.
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 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 own performance rather than on the client. Working with my coach created a distinction for me between being a good coach and serving my clients. I know that seems like semantics, but many times the words we choose limit how we think. Shifting to thinking about just serving my clients in each conversation allowed me to stop worrying about my performance and just 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 coming to the realization 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 sure seems exposure is where I need to shift my focus, and that too is freeing.
You see the common thread in both of my situations was 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 better serve. 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, pray and talk to some great people. I would love to hear if there are any great ah ha moments for you.