A State of Mastery
Early in my professional career I was focused, diligent, perseverant even if maybe a little too much. I always volunteered for the biggest, riskiest projects to demonstrate that I was an employee that could be counted on to deliver results. That was my narrow definition of excellence at the time. Many years later, and with the benefit of being trained as a professional coach, my definition for excellence is far expanded. The addition of the adjective, sustainable, was the last step of breakthrough for me and I have coaching clients who I am always co-learning with for this discovery.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself what excellence means to you. Consider this in any domain of life, for example, personal self-excellence, professional excellence in a job role, community excellence to support those less advantaged, planetary excellence that focuses on taking good care of the earth. No matter the context, what we believe and how we take actions based upon those beliefs determines whether we reflect on the results over time and declare that excellence is achieved.
Sustainable excellence is a descriptor for a state of mastery in any domain of life. The dilemma with seeking mastery is that no destination exists. Mastery is personal, unique, defies formulaic answers and is never complete until our last breath. Longing for a truer and deeper experience of engaging with life – self, family, colleagues, society and the planet -- is common to every level of human development. There are useful practices to strengthen skills. However, the pathway to mastery is internal and requires attention toward learning about our essence. Essence is a synonym for the core or true self, stripped of the convenience of personality. This learning requires bold choices that we feel compelled to pursue. So the question then is how do we discover those choices and ensure our whole self is committed to invite the change that generates sustainable excellence?
Partner with a Coach
The vulnerability associated with seeing the essence of our authentic self is often difficult to be with for extended periods of time. To see beyond our personality to consider choosing something different is sometimes painful. Perhaps the barrier to expressing our full potential is our attachment to how we have shaped ourselves to be in life.
When we focus our attention externally on becoming someone the world expects or wants, eventually we come to feel disappointment. We notice something is missing and realize our choices do not generate the harmony and congruence we imagine or desire. For many people, this noticing is held internally, invisible from day-to-day living. A coaching partnership offers a safe environment and process to evoke the invisible in an honoring and respectful way. Doing so opens a path to transform our relationship with life. Our next choice is to surrender the practiced identity and invite our innate capacity for change. To do so is the genius and magic that evokes when we accept each other as already whole, resourceful, capable and creative anytime, anywhere with anyone, no matter what are the circumstances. This is the promise of an effective, professional coaching partnership.
Risk Being Bold
Boldness is required for both the client and the coach practitioner. When both choose boldness, it is a reciprocal and self-sustaining energy for change. For example, when we choose to respond spontaneously in any relationship exchange, we expand our freedom. Any pause for analysis or evaluation is replaced with bold free expression of our experience in the moment. Humor, laughter, joyous tears or catch of the breath are all forms of this expansion of freedom beyond the chosen words of a conversation. Consider a few recent conversations that generated feelings of vitality, joy and satisfaction. The expectations relax and impulses to perform or prove something to another recede from view. In place of expectations is a deep trust in what emerges from our conversation. Like the bee that pollinates the flowers and is nourished in the process, the reciprocity between a coach and client generates new synergy that is only available through our partnership in the interaction. Here we see the irony of mastery: relationship beyond the self is required to manifest our own evolution.
Invite Ownership and Commitment
Creating an opportunity for sustainable excellence to manifest in every way a client defines and experiences it is a coach’s greatest contribution. We neither predict nor have responsibility for anticipating what serves a client. Bold and unconditional curiosity fueled by trusting our perceiving of the whole of a client is enough. Clients declare what opens the doorway as wide as possible. We create the opportunity for the client to see more clearly what is waiting on the other side of the door. Through our practice of perceiving-based curiosity, we use our whole being to experience our clients. From our experience of the client during the session, we reflect what is meaningful and relevant for the growth clients declare is most important. Since the compelling force for change is inside the client, the ingredients for sustainable excellence also belong to the client. Ultimately, our commitment to unconditional curiosity as a coach is the key to liberate the compelling and inspiring ideas that a client pursues to manifest sustainable excellence in every part of their lives.
Janet Harvey, MCC ,CEO inviteCHANGE, has 30 years of executive and entrepreneurial experience with 12,000+ coaching hours, primarily in organizational and executive leadership engagements.