1.) Start meditating–yes, daily. This is how you tap into that which is divine, within and without. People aren’t lying when they tell you that it works. Whether it’s sitting quietly and looking out a window or a zafu with incense and your hands in the proper mudra, make time for…Quiet. Silence. Stillness. Do whatever supports you getting present.
2.) Do the work; no excuses. Most people start trying to dismantle core issues while simultaneously feeling terrified that they exist at all. This makes really getting at the root more difficult. Examine your core issues until you’re no longer afraid that they exist (from there, feel free to start dismantling them). Do the work, no excuses. Doubly true for life coaches who want to powerfully support their clients.
3.) Quit assuming you’ve got it all figured out–or pretending to. This is a biggie, especially around the internet, where so many are trying to craft an online persona that positions them as an expert, leaving them painfully narrow choices around how they develop who they are.
4.) Ask for honest feedback. I’ve got a man who challenges me because he isn’t going to settle for anything less than he deserves. I trust my closest friends to not let me play life small. I ask them to be honest with me, to not “spare” my feelings, to please do me the honor of telling the the entire truth because that’s how I’ll get another inch of freedom. ASK for the feedback. Ask often.
5.) Speaking of asking? Listen. Listen to your entire life–and then don’t push back! Danielle LaPorte asks this great question: “What is repetitive or chronically inflamed in your life?” I know what my answer is to this question–it’s repetitive that people think I’m coming off with a harsher edge than I’m internally feeling or intending to show.
I used to fight against that, get defensive, try to convince people that the flaw was not in my presentation, but in their perception.
Now, it’s like–How fast can I apologize? I mean, jesus christmas–how many people would need to tell me that they see this exact thing before I’d stop putting it on them? (Apparently, quite a lot, because I didn’t start doing it with fully integrity until a few years ago.)
Listen to your life and what it’s telling you, to what your health is telling you, what people are telling you, your intuition is telling you, your stomach is telling you. Then–don’t push back. Don’t make someone wrong for their feedback. Don’t make your body wrong. Don’t eat that food again. Don’t subvert your intuition. Don’t make your inner critic the “problem” in your life. Listen. Don’t push back.
6.) Take 100% responsibility for absolutely everything that shows up in your life. Listen to your life, don’t push back, and then take responsibility. That person is pissed at you? Take responsibility for your part. Your body’s ill? Take responsibility for stress, sleep habits, eating habits, all of it that is within your conscious control (and look for the unconscious places, too). Inner critic running amok? Take responsibility–because I know that my inner critic only goes into overdrive when I haven’t been taking care of myself in some way.
Julie Daley shared something her teacher had taught her, recently: “If it’s showing up in your life, you’ve already said ‘yes’ to it.” When she said that, the truth of it went right through me. If it’s showing up in my life–it’s here, so accept it and deal with it.
7.) Embrace dichotomies. You’ll be happier the more you realize that everything that’s wonderful is also terrible, in some way, and vice-versa. When you prop someone up on a pedestal, they have no place to go but down. When you decide that a situation is bad, with no redeeming virtue, you leave no room for what might be good. If you don’t embrace life holistically, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
8.) Stop pretending that other people “can’t tell.” For crying out loud! I can tell when I’m being judged, when someone thinks I “should” or “shouldn’t” do something, or when someone is disconnected, emotionally. I’m not stupid. Neither are you–you can tell if I do this with you. How about we both stop doing this, and just get honest?
9.) Quit thinking anyone or anything “owes” you. We all deserve respect and love, and that’s about it. We’re all more likely to get it when we don’t demand it. “You owe me” is about the least sexy energy imaginable. Oh!–and–note that this energy is another one of those things that people “can tell” about you when you’re in it.
10.) Prioritize joy. In reality, the blog post you need to write, the business you’re trying to start, the deadline you need to meet, or even the friends you don’t have time for or the temper that you don’t bother to control because you’re “under stress”–none of that is as important as joy.
Every pithy thing you’ve ever read about prioritizing happiness, joy, self-care–it’s all true, every word, and the question is just when enough years of neglect will pile up and finally issue you their bill, payable now, no more extensions.
A rich inner life is all that matters. We are here to create these rich inner lives, and when we take responsibility for our lives and get deeply honest, that’s when the greatest potential is available.
Live big. Now.
First, a quick note on what constitutes a “mistake.” There are those who say that mistakes are mistakes–you done wrong. Period.
Then there’s the camp that says there is no such thing as a mistake–that every experience in life is a learning opportunity, yadda yadda yadda.
In service to transparency–I tend to fall into the latter camp. Mistakes are learning experiences, and in the end, I have no regrets. I dig the gifts that have come from the “mistakes” I’ve made.
But let’s also be realistic–the choices we make have repercussions on our lives and the lives of others. It strikes me as a bit too smug, a tad too shiny and glib, to brightly proclaim, “Why, there’s no such thing as a mistake!” and leave it at that. Also worth noting? I do run into the occasional person who uses this to excuse themselves from having a conscience about their poor behavior.
Now, having said all that, you’ll know where I’m coming from: integrity all the way, owning your choices, including making the choice to learn from your “mistakes.”
Here are my top seven “Life Mistakes”–and what you can learn from them:
1.) Staying in any relationship past its expiration date. You know what I’m talking about–when everything in you senses that this is O-V-E-R, and the weeks (or, ahem, months) of girding your loins to end it are just time wasted trying to avoid the “breakup feelings” that you know you’re going to feel, anyway. Doubly true for the time I stayed with this guy.
2.) Keeping anything at all past its expiration date. Same logic as above, and I’ve done this more than once. For instance, I once dumped $1k into an old car that everyone, including my father, was telling me to get rid of. Did the car last? Of course not. Just as with relationships, you can’t resuscitate something that is dying–you can only keep putting time or money into it. Just recently, it was time to either invest money into tuning up my old car, or decide to get a new one. I called my father, who said, “Get a new one.” This time, I listened. Same goes for jeans that no longer fit, jobs that are underwhelming, or anything else that is not a match. Find a way to make it a match, and if you don’t, release it.
3.) Trying to work for myself without having enough money, experience, or collaborative networks–thinking “If you build it, they will come.” Note: What I learned from that experience was not that I should always have a plan, but rather–how to fail, and fail better, and fail better, until I wasn’t failing any longer. It’s a harder road, but it taught a shit-ton of self-sufficiency and really honed my tenacity for picking myself back up, not to mention it being behind the massive success of The Coaching Blueprint, which helps people to circumvent as many of those mistakes as possible.
4.) Repeating gossip about other people–even if it’s not a slam. I once repeated gossip I’d heard, not from the perspective of agreement, but from the perspective of, “Isn’t it shitty that so-and-so said such-and-such about our friend, Nice Person?” Somehow, it got back to Nice Person that Kate had been the one saying “such-and-such” when in fact I’d only been repeating the “such-and-such” and disagreeing with it. The fallout from that experience? Brutal. Many a coaching session went into dissecting that one, and particularly healing the wounds that came from being left out of the social circle. What did I learn from it? Tons.
5.) Not telling that “social web guru” what I really thought of her condescending attitude, and asking her to either make right or send me a refund. Lesson learned? Not speaking up in times like these will make you feel like a sucker. As Brene Brown says, “Choose discomfort over resentment.”
6.) Pulling an “I’m mad at you, so I’m not talking to you” with a few friends over the years. Apparently, the thirteen-year-old in me didn’t quite get over herself until I was in my latter twenties and decided to grow up and let people make their own choices without my judgment. Lesson learned? Self-righteousness is painful.
7.) Losing my temper in big, bad, scary ways–ways that are out of control and completely unfair, even abusive. What have I learned from that anger? A lot about how to work with it and have compassion for myself, as well as the humbling realization that all the self-help work in the world would not justify bad behavior. It’s also simultaneously vulnerable and powerful to own up to it.
Beyond making mistakes, I have more interest in the question of how we learn from them, how we course-correct, and what the mistakes contribute to our lives.
I can see how some of the mistakes on this list had more impact because they were repeated several times–we continue to make the same mistake, over and over, hoping that it’ll turn out differently the next time, that life will justify our old pattern rather than giving us the message that we need to take responsibility for our lives and be the stewards of change.
It’s worth evaluating your life and asking yourself–are there any places where I do that? Where I make the same choice, again and again, and it’s clearly not serving me?
Fear might be running the game at those times, but there’s always the big bold possibility of practicing courage. That’s how you see what’s on the other side of the mistake–by feeling stuck and pissed and sad and worried and alone, and choosing to walk through the fire, anyway.
P.S. I’ll be there, right beside you. Let’s be beautifully, imperfectly human–together.
It was the late 2007 when I had my first aspirations of turning what I was doing with coaching into a full-time practice.
I’m going to buck the trend, here, and be honest–I did everything wrong. Everything. From having a “build it, and they will come” mentality, to not having enough money saved up, to not knowing what in the world I was offering and trying to offer absolutely everything, to having no business experience and zero mentorship–I made every mistake in the book.
Six months later, savings account depleted and feeling duly chastened by the marketplace, I scurried back to full-time teaching.
By late 2009, however, I had recovered sufficiently enough that I felt something burgeoning and I knew that it was time–time to really practice courage and answer the call to take the sort of risks that I knew I believed in.
I had a few more things going for me, at this point. For one thing, I knew what social media was, and how to use it. I had a WordPress blog. As a coach, I was no longer trying to be all things for everyone. And finally, I knew that “if you build it, they will come” was not going to work–
I knew that I needed to hustle on as grand of a scale as I dreamed.
I still struggled throughout much of 2010–but the difference this time was that I was learning.
In essence, I created a learning laboratory of sorts. I tried things, they didn’t go well, I tried them again with slightly different incarnations. It was a huge time of experimentation, and heartache when things didn’t go well (because man, oh man, was I taking things really personally).
When I wrote The Coaching Blueprint for life coaches, I knew exactly who I was writing it for: the “me” that I was when I first became a life coach, not knowing what I was doing, feeling utterly overwhelmed by the information overload that was out there. All of the time trying to “figure it out” had nearly burned me out–and I didn’t want any other life coaches to have that experience.
This is also what I put into The Blueprint Circles for Life Coaches. The idea behind Coaching Blueprint Circles is that I work in an intensive, focused way with a small group of life coaches, to help them circumvent years of reading about things, and struggling to clarify things, and trying to establish marketing networks instead of doing it alone, and on– and on– and on–
–and instead, help 6 unique life coaches just get in there and GO, already.
Life coaches don’t to spend a few years trying to “figure this out” if there are people who have strategic ideas who can help.
When I tally everything up, I realize that it took me from late 2009 to early 2011 to really get a groove going–and I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t have kids, and who had time to really invest in hours of reading, researching–and the money to hire consultants.
The Blueprint Circles are for the life coach who doesn’t have all that time, or all of that money–it’s $350 for a month of business mentorship.
I sincerely believe that life coaches, and coaching, provides value–and that a lot of life coaches who are really talented and willing to be of service are getting lost in the bushes, or investing their time into cheesy marketing practices that make their practice look bad, or sometimes investing time and money into getting something going that they don’t even believe in–but that someone has said they “must” do in order to make money.
The first Blueprint Circle starts on May 3rd.
If you find that you want to join, but now’s just not the right time, head here to get on the mailing list–you’ll be first in line to be notified when a new Blueprint Circle for life coaches is opening.
Courage, revolution, and getting fully behind your practice are only part of the deal–there’s also strategy, feedback, and collaboration, and it’s here for you. If you don’t create this for yourself with a Blueprint Circle, do yourself a favor and find other ways of creating and integrating these pieces–because the world needs your gifts.