Did You Ask How It Works?

When I first heard about coaching, my impression of it (as I mentioned last week) was that it was a bit of an inbred profession — coaches coaching coaches and people who wanted to be coaches.  I struggled to find people who were effectively doing it in the real world to change real lives for real people.  Despite that, I was intrigued and insatiably curious about the theory of it — the idea behind it seemed right, and very much in line with my personality and objectives, but I needed to see real examples. I needed to witness it  or at least that’s what I told myself. That’s when I came across the “Wings” seminars in Eugene. These were deep-dive weekend coaching programs, and I decided to attend — purely observationally, of course. I mean, I didn’t “need” coaching, so I wasn’t going because I wanted to “fix” something in my life, I just wanted to study the science of coaching  observationally, you know, quietly from the back of the room kinda thing.

This made perfect sense to me. I’m someone who likes to know how things work. I want to tinker under the hood and see the real connections, how one thing affects another  the art and the science of things. For instance, recently I started drinking coffee in the form of lattes and cappuccinos, and now all of a sudden I just really want to learn how to brew the perfect espresso with just the right flavor, and how to make coffee art (which is really hard by the way). I mean, drinking a perfect cappuccino is fun, but understanding what makes it great, to me, is so much better.  I like to know how things work.

So when I was curious about coaching, I went to these seminars, to learn about coaching — not realizing that the most important lesson I would learn wasn’t about the mechanics, but the experience. I’m not exaggerating when I say it took about 7 minutes on the first day before I was sucked in, all in, hook, line, and sinker. I was engaged, thinking, feeling, exploring, asking questions I hadn’t thought to ask and guided through answers I hadn’t the courage to previously face  I completely forgot I was there strictly to observe!

So what’s the point?  

It’s this, and it’s important:

A lot of people come to coaching asking how they’re supposed to discover their passion, or what they ‘supposed’ to do.  They have to find it, but don’t know how. It feels elusive, which is terrifying, because we’re making major life decisions based on what we perceive to be our passions.

What I learned that day at Wings, and what I can’t help but advise all my clients, isthe answers we seek aren’t conclusions, they’re experiences. 

They say you can’t learn to ride a bike from a book. Sure, you can learn the theories, but you can’t find the balance until you physically begin to ride and to fall. And THAT’s the scary part. We don’t want to fail, we don’t want to risk, we don’t want to experience or practice or experiment, because we grow afraid to make mistakes, to be embarrassed, to get hurt, or to be wrong. Too many of us think that if we just explore something enough, think about it enough, talk about it enough, then we can step out and do it completely and whole. But we can’t do that with the piano; what makes us think we can do that with our life? I would have observed a lot that weekend in Eugene if I had simply observed, but I would’t have felt what it’s like to be vulnerable, to be scared, to take risks, to feel the joy of discovering me, to know what it’s like to evolve. That came from getting on the bike and falling over, from sitting at the piano and trying to play anything, from opening up and trusting the process and me. We find our truths and our passions through insatiable curiosity, and the willingness to simply experience and explore. 

When I stepped into that weekend program I thought I could stay detached, but that’s not what gave me my wings. It was the courage to experience, and not only did it change my life in important ways, I both found and felt a passion.

To really love what you do, you can’t just love the end product, the finish line, or the final sale. You have to love the daily process, the mistakes, the experiences, for a passion to be sustainable. An actor can love performing in plays, but if she doesn’t love rehearsing with her cast she’s going to be miserable. You know you are on to something important when it’s the daily grind that fuels you, when the learning and subsequent mistakes empower you, and when it’s the experience that drives insatiable curiosity.  And the way to discover that is to explore how things work — not reading about how to make latte art, but actually making really bad latte art, then seeing what you resonate with. For me, I have no passion to be a barista, but I do love the learning.

Is there something you’re curious about? Have you figured out how it works yet?

Why not experience it?