Getting out of your own way

It’s difficult to master. I’ve been trying to do so for the past many years with moderate success. Be it coaching, leadership, training coachees in the classroom or in the gym or even relationships, I have been responsible for some of the most significant fuck ups. And that’s putting it lightly.

What got in the way is my own notions about “doing things the right way,” which unbeknownst to me was my way. And I would realize it when it was too late to go back and undo things. Ouch!

The fact that I’m my own enemy became apparent when I took up the study and practice of leadership and coaching seriously, as in a significant part of my life. I noticed how people behave under pressure, how defensive they became when someone questions their intent in the bigger scheme of things and most importantly, how boldly would they own their fuck ups.

The conclusion: our biggest obstacle to growth is, well, ourselves! The sooner we realize that, the better it is for us and the ones who matter to us.

The challenge, however, is that few among us would take out time to reflect on this and even fewer would have the courage to accept this fact. Why? Our Ego. Ryan Holidays says it the best, “Ego is an unhealthy belief in our own importance.” And he also says, “Ego can be managed and directed.”

The question is “how?” How can we manage and direct our ego? While I don’t have an answer for that, I do know how I get out of my way as a coach. Here’s how — I listen deeply and intently, which allows me to ask questions that help me guide the client into a state of deeper reflection. Consequently, this allows them to emerge with answers they wouldn’t have normally thought of, not because they’re not capable, but because they didn’t know how to go that deep to explore and navigate through all the resources they already have!

On the contrary, if I just blabber about the possible solutions or just give them a few tactical steps to combat the situation or challenge at hand, I would never have been able to help the client come up with a solution that’s truly their own.

Trust me, it’s a powerful process and I’ve witnessed transformations happen because clients had the space to reflect and think.

How can we carry this over to our own life? I can’t think of many options but there’s one tool that’s been used since ancient times to allow time to reflect. The journal. All you need is a pen and a sheet of paper or a cheap notebook to begin with (Evernote for geeks).

I believe journaling helps you free yourself (by laying them down in front of you) of your own opinions, prejudices, perspectives and most importantly see the big picture you should actually be focusing on. And the ego prioritizes the BIG picture over anything else (duh?) and doesn’t mind sidling its own opinion (because it’s in control) and/or prejudices to “make things happen.”

Besides stroking your ego, you’ll also gain a unique perspective about your situation and how your actions/reactions/indifference is ruining it.

Wouldn’t that be valuable?

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