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Life Coaching - The Propose of a Compass

Life Coaching - The Propose of a Compass

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Life coaching can bring some of life’s grandest adventures. The issues at stake are often monumental and, not infrequently, the results can be life changing. In current times such coaching is frequently requested by individuals at the very crossroads of their careers. One such engagement began not long ago.
Life coaching can bring some of life’s grandest adventures. The issues at stake are often monumental and, not infrequently, the results can be life changing. In current times such coaching is frequently requested by individuals at the very crossroads of their careers. One such engagement began not long ago.

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Published by: Dr. Earl R. Smith II on Nov 20, 2009
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Life Coaching - The Propose of aCompass
Dr. Earl R. Smith II
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.comwww.Dr-Smith.comLife coaching can bring some of life’s grandest adventures. The issues atstake are often monumental and, not infrequently, the results can be lifechanging. In current times such coaching is frequently requested byindividuals at the very crossroads of their careers. One such engagementbegan not long ago.I often receive requests for initial consultations from peoplewho have recently found their current employmentuntenable. Sometimes they simply have decided that achange is required. Perhaps a yearning for greener pasturesor a feeling that there has to be something more to lifedrives them to seek me out. Maybe they have followed apath to its end – or, at least, a plateau – and find that thereis less to be enthusiastic about. Life has a way of bringing usall to those times and places. Others have had their placedisturbed by economic developments or decisions by their superiors. Yearsof work and dedication may have gone into a position that was abruptlyterminated.Initial consultations tend to run according to a pattern – and, if I am able, theperson leaves with significantly more than anticipated. Let me tell you astory.I was recently approached by an executive who had spent a great deal of time, energy and personal resources working with a company that was, by allappearances, very poorly served by its founder. There is a lot of the goingaround – as there ever is. As a result, he had found his way to an ending thatput financial pressure on him and his family. But the biggest blow was to hissense of self-esteem and confidence. He could not believe that he hadallowed himself to be put in such a position.Prior to our session, he had sought out friends and asked their assistance inre-launching his career. The advice he received was predictable. “Pulltogether a resume. Highlight your accomplishments. Focus on the impactsthat you were able to contribute.” He had even gone so far as to draft a newresume plus a number of collateral documents. As our meeting began, helaid out his strengths and began to describe the kind of position he was
seeking his description went into great detail. I brought his ‘elevatorspeech’ to an abrupt halt with a simple question.
“If you could do anything that you wished, what would give you thegreatest satisfaction?”
 You see, he was falling into the classical trap of seeing his next step alonglife’s journey as a minor variation on the ones that went before. More to thepoint, he was focusing on the skills that he had developed and was lookingfor a way to put them to work. In the past he had been an architect of sorts –designing and building solutions to hard problems. But here he was extollinghis skill with a hammer.What was missing – what made his presentation almost soulless – was asense of joyous anticipation that would be a sign of pursuing somethinglarger than himself. He had a compass but not a north star – not a sense of his own ‘true north’. You see, a compass is worthless without such a thing. It is not that acompass has a purpose – it is what it proposes that is important. To quote Yogi Berra, “if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know whenyou get there?” the very meaning of a compass requires such a thing as truenorth.
Finding True North
As we talked, I kept leading the conversation back to those times he felt hehad found his true north. Soon he was describing two times in his life that hehad made important contributions through his understanding, insight,persistence and dedication. Neither of these was insignificant. As he talked,he began to get more and more enthusiastic – more and more excited as hedescribed the work and the feelings that came with solving problems meeting challenges – that others found too daunting.As we circled back to his current situation and mindset, several things beganto come clear. The first was that he was too involved in the details of gettinghis next job to take the time to think about my question. To say it anotherway, he was too busy driving to have any time to stop for gas! As a result, hewas thinking tactically about a strategic decision. The second was that hehad allowed the pressure he was feeling to keep him from thinking about thealternatives which he clearly had. In fact, it is fair to say that he was toomuch about thinking and not enough about dreaming. The third was that hisrecent experience had tested his self-confidence to the point that he hadforgotten those past successes. Finally, he had been seeking direction fromhis friends and business network when the real answer to my question waswithin himself.
 The last half of our session was very different from the first. We talked abouthow he might free his mind from the tensions that were clouding his vision –small things that he could do for himself that would free up the dreamingand allow it to flower. It seemed to me that there was more opportunitybefore him than he was seeing – and, as we talked, he came to see that astrue.
A Most Daunting Question
On the face of it, the core question seems relatively harmless. But mostpeople spend a lot of time and energy avoiding it. “What is it that makes youhappiest to do?” Early on, a friend told me, “find out what you really enjoydoing and do it as much as possible. It is the only thing that you have anychance of being really good at.” But the first attempts at answering such aquestion were very tentative – almost as if I was afraid of finding the answer.It seems silly that such a simple but important piece of self-knowledgeshould be so off-putting. I suppose philosophers and psychiatrists wouldchalk it up to a feeling of inadequacy. But the journey towards its answer isone of the most important ones that any human being makes – and it is aterrible shame to die before the answer is in hand. The truly devilish part of all of this is that the answer – the definition of youown ‘true north’ – is within you right now. It is calloused over by all thosethings your parents, friends and teachers told you should be important –should be central to what you are and will become. It is not a matter of asking others – it is a matter of asking yourself. Maybe this will help:
Advice by Bill Holm
Someone dancing inside uslearned only a few steps:the ‘Do your work’ in 4/4 timethe ‘What do you expect’ waltzHe hasn’t noticed yet the womanstanding away from the lamp,the one with black eyeswho knows the rumba,and strange steps in jumpy rhythmsfrom the mountains of Bulgaria.If they dance together,something unexpected will happen.If they don’t, the next worldwill be a lot like this one.

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