Years ago, during a period life impacted by restrictions placed upon me by a bigger authority, I struggled to find any choice sprinkled throughout my days. My internal radar was fine tuned to seeing only the loss of the things I had measurably created in my life, which blinded my vision from seeing the possibilities created by shifting parameters. I felt powerless.
While my personal life was crumbling beneath me, I dove head first into focussing on my career. It was a distraction from the rest of my life. The growing community at work was outside of everything else - a new beginning to carry me through a harsh ending. I was energized by the growth of a small company and felt empowered to put a lot of myself into helping to build a rocket ship. The results were tangible. I could take on a project and finish it and see very clearly the way that it was impacting the business.
In my personal life, I was giving everything to self-discovery and personal reflection - but little really felt like forward movement until I stumbled on The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino, one of many books I explored to find answers. At the close of his book, he includes a memorandum that he suggests the reader visit for 30 consecutive days. There are several tenants in the memorandum, but the following stuck with me as I contemplated my relationship with choice.
Use wisely, your power of choice.
Choose to love - rather than hate.
Choose to laugh - rather than cry.
Choose to create - rather than destroy.
Choose to persevere - rather than quit.
Choose to praise - rather than gossip.
Choose to heal - rather than wound.
Choose to give - rather than steal.
Choose to act - rather than procrastinate.
Choose to grow - rather than rot.
Choose to pray - rather than curse.
Choose to live - rather than die.
His book awakened to me to the idea that I was surrounded by choice - less so with a choice of action similar to what I was exercising at work and more so on a deeper level of the presence I wanted to bring to the worId. This is still the greatest challenge and biggest reward in my life today.
When I began my coaching journey with The Co-Active Training Institute (CTI), the power of choice was again highlighted - both in action and in being - throughout their entire curriculum. One of the underlying principles of CTI’s coaching model is that fulfillment comes from understanding your values and consciously making choices that honor those values. Coaching brings a client’s values to the forefront of decision making. It allows a client to invite choice that aligns with the person they yearn to be in the world with a coach as an accountability partner to explore the intersection of values and choice. It requires clients' courage to follow their own compass and unhook from the directions provided by others. It creates a path to a unique life that celebrates the unique characteristics of each client as they are in the present moment and with the grander image of who they want to be in their one shot at life.
In running my business and unhooking from the professional path where I’d focussed the last 5 years, I am learning new things about my own relationship with choice, most of which is applicable to my clients in moments of change. Success can also hinder my ability to see choice and the successful career I built blinded me. Again I became powerless. While I operated effectively enough - showing up where I needed to be and doing the things that needed to be done - I started to see everything as a “got to” and little as a “get to.” That carried over to my personal life. Even when I made space for the things I loved, I interpreted them as things I had to do in the tiny windows that I had to do them. Morning hikes started to feel like chores, rather than an active choice of how I wanted to start my day. Nights at home with fresh-cooked meals during breaks of traveling felt like things I had to do to counterbalance the habit I’d built of eating out on the road rather than an active choice in setting aside space for something I love. Even getting together with friends felt like something I had to do to prevent my fear of losing my community as a result of so infrequently being based at home.
Launching this business has illuminated choice from several different angles. Doing nothing through active avoidance or procrastination is a choice. Making a decision against my values for short term gratification is a choice. Operating out of fear rather than faith is a choice. It’s also given me the space to evaluate choices and to separate myself from the old feeling of urgency to fit everything into every available window. I have found release from the guilt of skipping a workout to focus on building my business because my path as a coach honors my values in ways I have not experienced in other professional positions. I am deciding what is in my life and what is not on almost every level - work, activities, relationships, clients - and that is experience is new to me. That kind of choice comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of power. I am energized by that power and grateful for opportunities to guide clients to stand in their power of choice.
What is something you are choosing today?