As an executive coach, I have the privilege of working with courageous, bright and energetic people. Most often they are seeking a safe space to explore options, articulate concerns and fears, and build muscle as influencers and leaders. I am a sounding board, advisor, and mirror. Always, I am the non-stakeholder in their lives who will hold them accountable to access and harvest their superpower.
Clients come to me when they are at inflection points in their lives and careers. Not always recognized as such, there might be a disquiet and restlessness. Or they might be in a new position and finding their footing. Or they might be challenged to the limit of their perceived capability and power. Always, they are willing and open. That’s the hidden gift of discomfort.
Many years ago, when I opted for a Draconian shift in careers, I sought out a coach to help me make sense of my exit, and begin the exploration of what to do next. In my early forties, my discomfort in my career was unbearable. That’s all I knew for sure.
As I meandered through the early stages of discovery, I began a process that continues to this day. The need for understanding, clarity and perspective for the emotions that I have, the decisions that I make, and the use of my energy and power is never-ending.
Decades ago, as I acclimatized to daytime in my home and neighbourhood, I did a review of how I had been spending my time and energy. It was clear that I was overextended in activities that weren’t aligned with my needs and principles. While I would risk my life for my family, and yearned to live close to nature, I was bound to a desk and dollars. In a red granite tower so far from the ground that my ears popped three times on the elevator ride. And my window view of thick white and grey clouds suspended me in time.
I had to acknowledge that where I worked and what I did added no intrinsic value to me. It rewarded materialism, money and power. Only when I detached from the addiction to the adrenalin rush and ego feed was I willing to look in the mirror. And at my family, and the gaping hole in my heart and soul.
As I came down to earth, I could see possibilities of living and working differently. Life became a kaleidoscope of so many shiny options — then with a slight twist of the barrel, I realized I was short on skills and experience. The perfect template for the excavation of my superpowers.
The impetus to make changes in how we invest our intellect, energy and time comes from identifying our passions and most compelling forces. In my case, I departed to an empty canvas. For my clients, usually a cluster of unfulfilling and irrelevant busyness holds them hostage. Often, their only window into possibilities is during our sessions. We can play in the “what ifs, if onlys, and wave a magic wand.” We can ponder the journeys of achievement that felt effortless and filled with delightful energy. Everyone has at least one.
The process of exploring and humbly declaring our mightiness is essential to finding the sweet spot of alignment with potential. The intersection of living and working in the direction of our moral compass and values, with the opportunity to flex our talents and passions, is where our superpower thrives.
As a leader, it’s why people will want to follow. As a seeker, it’s a playground of potential. As an explorer, it’s the north star.
At least, that is my experience.