Several years ago, my wife and I were near the end of our six-week stay on Cape Cod. We loved being there 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 an inspiring place to paint.

Artists have been drawn to the Cape for a long time because of the unique lighting. On what we call a perfect Cape Cod Day, skies are 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 on Cape Cod are limitless. There are so many options that it’s challenging to decide what to paint, but just knowing there are so many possibilities is inspiring.

Early each morning, while we were on the Cape, I had 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 think 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. At the Cape, I think about what is possible for me to paint while there that I could not paint at home. This has definite application to leaders. When a leader makes a significant 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 but seem stuck in achieving it, or they are assuming a more significant 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 completed a significant change or accomplished a goal, I often ask them, “So, now, what’s possible for you?” After they are unstuck and moving forward or successfully making some shifts, a new set of possibilities awaits them. They have reached a new level, and new things that were not possible before are possible.

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 a great resource to her peers when she was allowed 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 whom she would need to be as a CEO/leader. Once she successfully transitioned, a whole new set of possibilities were opened to her. Examples of the options included being a role model for other women who want to become leaders and having more influence over the development of people. She could have a more extensive impact on 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 experiences and the unique skills she developed as a CEO in her post-retirement years? Through much research, Jane concluded she was uniquely qualified to start a ministry for women in the marketplace. This was not possible before. Seeing the possibilities, Jane was off to a great start and thought this new chapter might be the best time in her life. God only knows what’s possible for Jane then.

There was a time when I was thinking about taking my executive coaching to a much higher level to serve my existing clients better and attract major company executives to my coaching practice. One day during one of my times of reflection, I realized I needed to ask myself the same question I ask my clients – “what’s possible” now? I am in a much better spot than when I started coaching, so “what’s possible” for me now? In my work as an artist, I can only improve if I strive to learn from those with skills far superior to mine. If you think about it, athletes will play at a much higher level when they compete with those more skilled.

What was possible for me then was the opportunity to take my coaching to a whole new level, but I needed the help of a coach who was already at a much higher level. I invested significantly in a top-flight executive coach to help me realize my new possibilities.

What is possible for you now?

Consider several questions:

  • What does getting to the next level mean for you?
  • What would be possible if you were at the next level?
  • Who would you need to become 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 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.

What are your possibilities?

I would enjoy hearing from you if you now see new possibilities. Send your thoughts on what is possible HERE.

Using a collaborative and compassionate approach, The Art of Choice: Making Changes that Count in Work and Life offers lessons from business leaders, along with keys for gaining perspective, experiencing clarity, and achieving results whether you are starting out in your career, facing a major life decision, or nearing retirement.

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Author Terry Warren is passionate about helping people employ intention and commitment to achieve what they may not have believed was possible.

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