I am not a guru.
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It has taken to this, my 500th Game Plan column, to realize that it all lies in that statement.
When some people bristle at the idea of a life coach, like we’re putting ourselves out there as experts in something, I get how that could rub them the wrong way. No one has it all together 100% of the time, so where do we get off telling people how to live? Taken at face value, that’s pretty arrogant.
But here’s what I know after a decade of coaching: What I am an expert in is living meaningfully and helping others find their way to that. My meaningful is not necessarily your meaningful, but it might be an example that prompts you to find your way to an existence that resonates more fully with who you are. Most of us with any semblance of self-awareness know when it’s not working, yes?
This doesn’t mean that every day I follow my routine perfectly, have a spic and span home, a nicely-organized contacts list in my computer, a big house and car and toned thighs. I have none of the above.
Here is what I do have:
~ An understanding of my God-given talent and what to do with it.
~ A daily life that is joyful more often than it’s not.
~ A home filled with treasures I’ve collected and created that rises up to greet me when I walk in the door.
~ A MetroCard that takes me from lunch in SoHo to client meetings to exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
~ An appreciation for my body and its capabilities and a strong desire to feed it well and honor its natural inclination to move and be in the world.
You will not find my 12 handy and tidy tips to improve your life written anywhere. Goodness, that would change almost weekly. The way I operate in the world is kind of a learning-as-I-go, staying-open-to-all approach. My writing and my coaching are essentially me taking people along for the ride as I try to figure things out.
I have so many readers who write to thank me for expressing something they couldn’t quite put into words or who look to this column for some light and wisdom. It is not because I put myself out there as a guru. It’s because I don’t. As coaches, we’d find it easier to just be sometimes if we realized that part of our charm is not having all the answers but being super attuned to what they might be. There’s a confidence in being well-trained in listening and bringing an objective eye, but also in being able to say “I don’t know” when someone poses a question.
And then there are the flaws. Copping to them. Embracing them. Sometimes working on them. Knowing which is which.
For example, I flew off the handle the other day. Ugly and big time. I don’t advocate stopping yourself midway through a fit of anger and trying to analyze it, but I do recommend understanding that it does mean something and that the path to being your best self involves going into that dark place when you can get some distance. Suppressing it means you’re not allowing yourself to feel, but expressing it could be penalizing someone you love on the receiving end.
For me it would have felt like ignoring a teaching moment to not take a peek under the surface when the emotional aspect blew over. Because to me the anger moment is saying this – ‘Nancy, you are so close to an insight that will improve your life. Please take the time to read what your emotional, spiritual and physical selves are trying to tell you.’ Some call this navel gazing. I call it the key to unlocking others’ similar issues when they come to me for help.
I love the moment when understanding dawns. It’s exquisite.
Immersed in poetry lately, I came across a Mary Oliver poem that goes a long way in expressing what I see as my purpose:
… Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
I continue with sheer delight to bring you Game Plan twice a week. I am here to tell you how I live and hope to God that something inspires and resonates and brings insight. But also know I am not here to tell you how to live.
I’ll leave that to the gurus.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.