Some of my clients are twenty-something. They call me on their smart phones as they wait in line for their mochaccino with soy milk. Their need is invariably urgent! And when I can, I indulge in ‘laser’ coaching sessions of 15 minutes to fit their youthful attention span (smile). Sometimes it’s a series of 15 minutes spread over a week as momentum is building. Then nothing for weeks, and then an urgent text with the word “Help!” accompanied by numerous colourful emoticons.
What are they seeking from a coach? Most often, it’s to talk through their fear of flying towards their goals, desiring a gentle (or not so gentle) push to go there in spite of it.
We all know this scenario well because it’s repeated at all phases of life, from 20 to 80. It may look different at each phase, but the conclusion can be quickly summarized as Fear of our own potential. Also known as: Fear of failing; Fear of succeeding; Fear of changing; Fear of losing; Fear of gaining; Fear of the unknown.
What’s puzzling to me is that we’re quite clear about what we want to create in our life. We already have the answers we seek. When invited to step into a future scenario where the dream is realized, most everyone can launch into a detailed description of this ideal state. Our imagination fires up and we’re filled with energy, ready to conquer the world!
Then, inevitably, I start hearing static on the phone line. The client’s voice is climbing an octave higher, with rapid fire enumeration of all the reasons why they can’t, and all the ways in which they never, always, rarely, too often….. This self-talk keeps them on the ledge, wings well tucked under their armpits.
If you say you can’t, you won’t. If you keep saying to yourself that you’re too scattered, too accommodating, too perfectionistic, too lazy to go where you say you want to go, you won’t go. If you’re conjuring up every personal, financial, practical obstacle you can imagine, well, we know the result….
Unfortunately, with every negative word and image you believe about yourself, you’re inadvertently creating the reality you don’t want. Your repetition is anchoring your experience in every fibre of your being: A Self-fulfilling prophecy.
What do I do with my clients to gently (or not so gently) interrupt the vicious cycle of fear:
- What if you could fly?
- What would happen if you flew?
- What does it feel like to fly?
- What do you see, and hear when you fly?
- What is it about flying that is most important to you?
Feel free to replace the word “FLY” with any goal you have.
As they re-enter the realm of the possible, they smooth their own feathers and get closer to the edge. A little nudge and they’re off on reconnaissance.
- What is your next step?
- What can you start tomorrow?
A phone call, a search, a small experiment, a conversation. They start venturing out further and further, and their life begins to change.
So the next time you freeze, on the brink of your future:
- Put the brakes on your thoughts, your words. Just stop!
- Take a breath
- Take one step forward
- Then another
And before you realize it, you’re flying.
My young client calls again. “Coach, you’ll never guess what happened!”