When I coach our clients, I try to help them dig deep to discover their values and core beliefs. It’s always fascinating and deeply rewarding for me to watch their reactions as they work toward their discoveries and understand for the first time what really makes them tick—and the great potential that comes from that understanding. It’s a wonderful thing to watch people realize:
• Why they make the choices they make.
• Why they have the vocation they have.
• Why certain people stay in their lives.
• Why they look and feel the way they do.
• Why they have the habits they have.
• Why they are where they are financially, and more.
Coming to these realizations takes work and it takes time. But not a prescribed amount. And just because they come through a process doesn’t mean that these moments come on a schedule. In some ways, our epiphanies and moments of clarity are as inevitable as a chemical reaction: once all the necessary elements are put together under the right conditions, the realization just happens.
But when it comes to understanding ourselves, we don’t usually know ahead of time just what those necessary elements and conditions are. This means that your big revelations will often happen when you least expect them. And this unpredictability makes these moments all the more powerful and memorable. As a coach, it also makes them that much more special when they happen before my eyes.
One of our clients had one of these unexpected breakthroughs at a recent workshop. I was sharing the story of my daughter Jennifer’s recovery journey after her ruptured brain aneurysm last September. Maybe something in her story was one of the elements he needed, maybe it was something about how I processed the events and my feelings about them, maybe the Comma Club workshop was just the right environment for the elements to finally come together for him. For whatever wonderful reason, as he heard the story in that workshop, he came to a realization:
“I’m full of myself. I always make everything about me. I’ve set the goal to focus on the people in my life, but I’m struggling to focus on others because deep down, I make everything about me.”
What a moment of truth and clarity. What a powerful thing to know. What a truth to be able to tell yourself. Here was a huge revelation he hadn’t expected that got right to the heart of what he wanted to do. Now he could thank his ego for its service up to this point and move on without it to live the rest of his life with the abundance he desires, unconditional relationships, and genuine, no-strings-attached love.
Now, this man is extremely successful in business and in life—and one of the nicest, best friends I have. And when it comes to having the stark realization that you need to let go of your ego, I know very well what that’s like! Just like my client I discovered that my ego blinded me from seeing the truth, the great life I already was living and the realization of what I was saying wasn’t always congruent to my actions! Learning to let go of my ego opened up many wonderful doors in my life. One place it really made a difference was as a speaker.
I can think of a time I spoke for 2 hours to a group of 300 sales engineers. I delivered what I felt was the right message. I inspired them to take charge of their lives and embrace their innate self. At the time, the upper-management team that hired me gave me the sense that they had been hoping for more of a motivational speech. But I’m glad to be able to report that, more than 2 years later, they are still talking about my mini-workshop and are happy with the lasting positive impact it’s had on their sales engineers and their company’s growth. And I am glad to see that the changes that talk inspired in those sales engineers has helped the company to adopt some new company values.
The fact is, I didn’t get opportunities to speak to groups like this when my ego was in charge. The confidence required to give others what they truly need from me as a speaker couldn’t come when I was more motivated to take from the situation what my ego needed. Until my ego was thanked and duly dismissed, it was standing directly in the way of the opportunities to speak to the kinds of groups that I treasure the chance to speak to now.
Working on yourself, telling the truth about yourself and your habits takes courage and hard work. But it’s worth it! Like I always say, I’ve never met a lazy lucky person. I started being professionally coached when I was in my mid-thirties. I have always sought wisdom from others’ experiences so I could learn and grow as a person and a business leader. It’s been worth every minute. Working past my ego was just one of several big breakthroughs I arrived at through coaching that radically changed the story of my life for the better.
The big and small breakthroughs we have on our journeys are some of the important turning points in each of our stories. As my own story continues to evolve, I appreciate more and more deeply the opportunities I have as a coach to see so many stories unfold, and to see for myself the power each of us has to make new choices, change our habits, and make the decisions that move us into the lives we envision and desire.