If you are not willing to risk the usual
you will have to settle for the ordinary.
If you’ve attended one of my workshops then you’ve probably heard one of my whack-a-do stories regarding my family! My father was a good man who was a confirmed pessimist. He believed that the glass was not only half-empty, but the water remaining in the glass was toxic. He led his life in the sure belief that “we’re not meant for happiness in this world.” Yes, he had an explanation for his belief, but that’s another story!
I resisted buying into his philosophy, but, truth be told, it did seep into my unconscious and so there is a part of me that doesn’t consistently pay happiness much heed. Since the last newsletter, though, I’ve been bumping into so many happy people that I’ve been compelled to reflect on this whole happiness “thing.”
Last month I treated myself to a four-day leadership coaching conference offered by Peter Bregman and his associate Emily Cohen. I’ve enjoyed Peter’s books and articles for years and his retreat was illuminating. I learned dynamic coaching protocols from him and I’m excited to integrate those techniques in future coaching and workshops.
Even more than the technical stuff I was gobsmacked (love that word) with his infectious joy. Peter is that rare creature – a smart, insightful guy who loves what he does and is remarkably generous in sharing that joy.
Each afternoon participants practiced on each other the coaching techniques we were learning. For Peter coaching is all about how the person coaching can help the person coached gain maximum traction on their most important goal.
One of the participants I coached was Deb, an international executive coach who recently rediscovered the joy of dance. When she turned fifty she decided that she wanted more happiness in her already successful life. When she was younger she trained in dance. During the twists and turns of her life, she “walked” away from dance and found satisfaction in the world of organizational coaching. Now, at the marker of fifty, she wanted more and so she became certified to lead dance classes. She admitted she was afraid to embrace dance again. She has no desire to leave her work, but is she being frivolous in wanting to do something with dance?
Through our session Deb realized that she was sabotaging herself with an either/or mentality. She can find ways to embrace the dancer within, and so honor a legitimate part of who she is, without abandoning the career she’s carved for herself. The idea of this “expanded life” is energizing her.
My client Nick, who works in a nuanced technical world, is focused on becoming an engaging presenter. He’s challenging himself to step back from the typical PowerPoint deck and experiment with how he can present material. To his surprise, he’s finding that he’s actually having fun with all of this. In our last session he asked, “I’m not supposed to be having fun, am I?” Duh! How many books are in Amazon precisely on the topic of business innovation / creativity / fun?
Patty recently gave an in-house seminar at her company, helping orient new hires to the culture. She was surprised by how much she enjoyed both the prep work and the delivering of the information. She saw it as an opportunity to give a bunch of Millennials a group coaching session. Now she’s wondering if she can find a place in the company that would let her tap into this skill set. She enjoyed herself so much that she senses she needs to put these skills into more consistent use.
There have been others who’ve talked to me about happiness and satisfaction – trying to find it, trying to figure out what, if anything, to do with it. I’ve felt challenged by these encounters because here’s the thing. . .
I’m in the business of confidence and what I’ve seen with all these people is that their confidence has soared because they’ve been surprised by – satisfaction, happiness, desire. All strong emotions that are not easy to dismiss.
Or is it that they’ve experienced happiness because they’ve grown in confidence?
Each of the people I’ve bumped into these past weeks is marked with the courage and commitment to do something they’ve not done before or to resume doing something they once enjoyed and then carelessly neglected. Each is surprised that in the doing has come a confidence laced with a satisfaction that seeps over into happiness.
And the real surprise is that they show up to all the other aspects of their life with more assuredness. They feel powerful. Embracing happiness is the genuine secret to being confident.
My father was wrong – we are meant for happiness in our relationships and in our work. Life without confidence is nerve-wracking. Happiness without confidence is inconceivable.