Strengths and Struggles

 

“Creative, resourceful, and whole.”

This is how life coaches are trained to see their clients, first and foremost–or at least I know it’s how Christine sees me. She tells me all the time.

In a coach-client relationship, this fundamental framework sets the stage for the client’s strengths to shine, even as they struggle mightily with themselves, their circumstances, and those around them. By making this commitment of attitude, the coach positions herself to call forth the client’s highest and best self, and for the client to answer with authenticity, confidence, and agency. The client’s  fundamental need for psychological safety in this intimate relationship is satisfied up front and
without question, immediately creating space for honest, vulnerable work.

What if we all saw one another this way? What if we at least practiced more awareness of our default opinions, narratives, assumptions, and expectations of ourselves and other people?

As physicians counseling for habit change, as parents guiding behavior and skills development, as leaders coordinating team collaboration and working for collective goals–how often do we look down at those around us, seeing first their flaws, deficiencies, and pathologies? How often with spouses, bosses, coworkers, siblings, neighbors, and people of other races, classes, genders, sexualities, and professions?

Who do we see first as admirable, worthy of respect and reverence? How do we show up differently to these people, compared to others? And how does this impact–no, incite, inspire, or create—how they show up to us?  Don’t you find that a person’s vibe precedes them when they approach you?  You feel it
in your body, no?  Our species could not survive, evolve, and dominate without this instinctive, innate sense.  How much more could we accomplish, how much more potential could we realize, if we all approached one another with the sincere intention to bring out one another’s best?  Or if we each just did it a little more often?

It’s humbling to notice what negative assumptions and narratives I tell about people, and how blind it makes me to their gifts, talents, and contributions.  But the moment I can let go these mental chains,  I’m free, and I free them, from these unspoken yet deeply held limitations on possibility.  If I can choose more often to hold people first and foremost as Creative, Resourceful, and Whole, I know at least my own life will be much better, because I will show up to people joyful and curious.  And I bet I can make a much bigger, lighter, and more loving impact in everything I do.

ODOMOBaaT.