Peter Thomson has been in the coaching business since 1972. Years ago he developed a simple formula for assessing the potential for someone to achieve success (Success Potential). He has been able to test the validity of this formula and reports that it is still valid. There are only three measurables in this formula: knowledge, skills and personal development. Peter calls personal development Personal Development Training because PDT are his initials.
The formula is simple: (K + S) x PDT = SP.
Get a good education, build your skills and you’ll be successful – true / not true?
Many of us think only of knowledge and skills as a means to success. I place myself firmly in that category. Parents and teachers tell us the importance of doing well at school and getting a university degree. Professional bodies demand that members continually update their knowledge.
From an early age we learn the benefits of being skilled, whether it is the skill of playing marbles, or computer games or becoming skilled at playing a musical instrument. Those with the greatest skill have the most success.
Gaining knowledge and becoming skilled should be the gateway to success. Yet, many people with a great education and well developed skills are not achieving the success they and society would expect. I have always fallen into that category.
I was in the top five of my class at school and also in my undergraduate degree. I have always been the go-to person wherever I find myself. In large part this is because of a lack of self-worth I feel I need to know more than everyone else just to be on a par with them. As manager of a department in a large company I understood the company procurement systems, the accounting practices and people management better than other managers. I was generally able to navigate my plans through the system quickly and easily and other people came to me for advice. I have been a Toastmaster for nine years. During the first four I took the opportunities that presented themselves and, without really planning it, I learned what the Toastmasters program truly has to offer. Now people come to me for advice on making speeches, leadership and how Toastmasters works.
When something peaks my interest I attempt to learn a new skill. I seldom become a master, but I learn a little more than the basics. I first encountered computers during my post-graduate degree when the department felt that we should at least have a smidgen of experience with computers. The university had a mainframe (one of half a dozen in the country). To run a formula meant typing it into a card printer and sending a stack of punch cards to the computer department. Send the cards in the afternoon and by the next morning you would know whether the formula ran successfully. Six years later, in 1988, I had access to a personal computer – one with two 5” floppy drives. It was used to capture data but I wanted to automate checklists and I became skilled at writing macros in 1-2-3 Lotus. I’ve continued to build skills throughout my life in various fields.
Yet, I cannot claim to have had a successful career – I was always the last of my peers to be promoted. My relationship success has been abysmal. I’ve had a lot of wonderful and interesting experiences but none have left a trail of success in my life.
What’s the missing ingredient to success?
So, what is this missing ingredient that Peter Thomson includes in his formula?
I’ve run away from self-knowledge, defining my personal interests, determining my passion, setting life goals, New Year’s resolutions. I generally place myself last and ask: ‘what does the boss want?’; ‘what does the committee want?’; ‘what does my partner want?’ I’ve been a “people pleaser”, for want of a better word.
According to Peter Thomson, if I rate myself out of 10, I might give myself these scores:
K = knowledge = 8
S = skills = 7
PDT = personal-development = 2
Peter Thomson says my potential for success is: (K + S) x PDT = (8+7)x2= 30
Now I look at someone who is passionate about what they do in life and wonder why they have been so successful. I’m not going to try to assign scores to a real person, like Bill Gates, but rather use fictitious scores. Someone who was too distracted by their passion and only achieved a 6 in terms of a knowledge score. Their passion enabled them to develop a very specific set of skills that we could assign a 7. But they were focused, set life goals, defined their passion, knew their values system, managed their time. I could assign them a 6 in terms of personal development.
Now look: (K + S) x PDT = (6+7)x6= 78 – less knowledge and skills but two and half times the success potential I assign myself.
Knowledge plus skills can take you from 0 to 20, but personal development can elevate your success potential to 200, ten times the maximum that knowledge and skills provide.
Yet, like me, many people place personal development on the back-burner. We attend training courses, build our skill-sets and wonder why other, less “dedicated”, people get what they want in life – enjoy success. We see signposts in our lives directing us to personal development training, such as Dr. John F. Demartini’s Breakthrough Experience, and we ask whether it is really worth the money and the effort. We are introduced to life coaches at work or in networking events and we listen to their “elevator speech” with half an ear and think: ‘I’m okay, how can that help me?’
Make personal-development your game-changing priority for 2018.
Personal development multiplies your chances of success with the knowledge and skills you already have. New knowledge and skills only add to your success potential. This multiplying factor of personal development makes personal development the most beneficial pursuit for a successful life. Having a structured approach to personal development with multiple avenues of development such as Coaching Culture Clubs makes this revolutionary program the industry disrupter in personal development programs. The testimonials of current and past members attest to the multiplying effect their personal development has had in helping their success.
Social media advertising is awash with people selling their niche programmes. If your interest is entrepreneurship or marketing or a particular aspect of personal growth you will have been targeted to see the adverts for the programmes that match your interests. Watch one free webinar and with the current propensity for affiliate marketing you will have been introduced to half a dozen other programmes and the people who developed them. Each one a guru. Each one promising you success in life with their programme. And each programme is an introduction to a higher value programme. How many of these gurus have become your guru on your path to success and fortune?
As of 2000 years ago a new potential entered into human evolution. No, I’m not asking you to subscribe to any particular religion. The events of 2000 years ago changed the way we receive guidance. The guidance that until then had been available to humanity only from external sources: The Law given to Moses, Oracles, Sages and initiates, became available to us from within, from our own inner being, our own conscience. This is not a mere belief, through careful research it becomes clear that this is fact.
In the 21st century we have been “given the key to the door” – this faculty has matured – and we see how more and more people are finding their own unique path or way of doing things. I’ll list some examples: Tony Robbins, Louis Hay, Robert Kiyosaki, John Kehoe, Jon Penberthy, Ryan Eliason, Lisa Sasevich, Ted McGrath, Josh Turner, Byron Katie, Rock Thomas and the list goes on and on.
The tendency for the people who find their inner purpose is to assume that this is a teaching that is useful to all of humanity and, in time, to see it as something that can be monetised. The result is that we have more personal and business gurus in the world with a greater variety of teachings than ever before.
The mention of the word teaching brings to mind the origin of the word educate. The word educate probably stems from the Latin educãre or educere. One of the translations of educãre is ‘to bring up’, not as in bringing up a child, but as in bringing up one’s own thoughts on a matter. Educere means ‘to lead out’.
The concept of education therefore aligns with the idea that we have an inner wisdom or inner knowledge that is just bursting to come to the surface, given the right stimulus. Education is therefore not about cramming an empty vessel full of knowledge from outside, which is the understanding that most schools have of the concept of education based on other translations of educãre which are to mould or to train.
Following the teachings of the many gurus in the world today also stems from the concept that we are an empty vessel, at least as far as their field of knowledge goes, that needs to be filled with the knowledge they impart.
However, I propose that we are each our own guru; we each have our own inner wisdom to bring to the surface to enrich our own life. By following the other self-made gurus, we stifle the possibility of ‘bringing up’ or ‘leading out’ our inner guru. Most of the gurus have a story of personal hardship to tell which brought them to “the dark night of the soul” where they came into contact with their inner wisdom and so discovered their message, which has made them a guru. Our hope is that by “sitting at the feet” of these gurus we may spare ourselves the dark night of the soul experience. But by trying to avoid our own hardships we are denying ourselves the opportunity of reaching into our own inner wisdom. The journey the gurus took was long and arduous and part of their sales pitch is to tell us that they hope to spare us the same arduous journey. But our wisdom lies at the end of our journey and not in becoming a disciple of someone else’s journey; that belongs to the past of human evolution.
The hardest part of following our journey is ignoring the voices of the people who love us, who want to spare us from difficulty, from hardship. Their well-meaning advice leads us to believe that we are empty vessels needing to be filled with the knowledge of a teacher in order to be ‘successful’ in life. I say that we are each a deep well of infinite knowledge and wisdom with a personal path that will lead us to the water at the bottom of this well; knowledge and wisdom that is uniquely ours and uniquely designed for this particular lifetime we are living. Rather than seeking a guru we should seek a coach who understands that the individual’s path is long and arduous, but uniquely theirs. Someone who will encourage us to dig deeper rather than to try and fill us up with what is not ours. Someone who will hold us accountable and be there when times are dark and difficult, not to help us out of the darkness but to remind us that the darkness is the beginning of great things.
It may be tempting to jump at the enticing messages of successful gurus that are presented to us as often as we log into the world wide web of knowledge. Doing so prevents us reaching the guru that is our self, the guru waiting in suspense to be discovered when we turn inwards into ourselves and walk our own path. Your guru should be you.
Are you searching for a purpose in your life?
“What is the purpose of my life?” is a question that has come up in my life a few times. I remember that when I was in High School I had a long list of all the things I did not want in a career/job, but I had no idea what I wanted “to become”. I chose a line of study based on a comment by a friend. I chose my future based on friendship with no thought to purpose. When I was about 28 years old someone I’d known as a toddler and we’d been confirmed together asked me to join a study group. The people in the group were all about the same age and were questioning what to do with our adult lives. It raised some useful questions but I continued in the career I was following, because finding someone to settle down with was my main focus. Although I enjoyed the work I was doing, I began to question the value of working for a mining company that removed limited natural resources from our earth. When I was offered a retrenchment package at age 42, I definitely wanted to change the direction of my life and do something more meaningful, something that “gave back to society”. My search for purpose intensified seven years later when everything else I have build in my life began to give way.
My search for purpose has been sporadic. I have met people who have been more determined to find a purpose to their life. And, I have the impression, speaking with people and looking at social media, that most people think there should be a purpose to their life although it appears to be elusive. A lot of advice around happiness and work satisfaction seems to revolve around passion and purpose. This adds to a demand in people to find their purpose.
Yet, I don’t often meet people who honestly tell me that they are living their passion or who have found their purpose in life. The advice provided by the people considered as experts or gurus does not provide a paint-by-numbers guide to finding your purpose.
The first three stages of our life are very obvious and the transition to the next stage is marked with great occasion.
Our first purpose in life is to grow into our body. A baby cannot survive alone, it needs adult care. It can’t eat by itself, or forage; clothe itself and its immune system cannot yet prevent illness.
Then, at the change of teeth or when we touch our opposite ear with our arm across the crown of our head, our purpose changes to growing into our thinking. The event marking this transition is usually the child’s first day of school. Our memory is like a sponge at absorbing information and the foundation of all that we will learn in life is laid by what we absorb into our memory. At around the age of nine the child begins to have thoughts that are not the result of what is heard from parents, teachers and adults in its life. The child begins to have independent thoughts of possibility. Because of a lack of knowledge and experience these thoughts are laughed off as fantasies, but we can detect the purest form of possibility thinking.
The next transition is dreaded by many parents and is marked as an important transition in many cultures. This is when the purpose of life becomes the growing into our emotions. Physical and hormonal changes are apparent, but the purpose is coming to terms with our emotions.
As we appear to begin to master this purpose, another event happens in our lives, an event we are externally oblivious of. Around the age of eighteen the moon returns to the very position in relation to the rest of the starts as it was at our birth. We see the effect of the moon on the oceans of the world and neglect to think how it may influence us. Every time the moon returns to our natal position we feel an impulse to start something new. It is not a surprise that this first return coincides with choosing a direction of study that will lead to a career.
Shortly hereafter and as we master the growing into our emotions, we are “given the keys to the door”. This event is viewed as the end of the stages in our life; we are now an adult and should get on with living until we are old and die. This is far from the truth. The picture created by life up to this point suggests that our entire life may be divided into stages of seven years.
Our life purpose changes every seven years. Even when we have a passion this adapts to this change.
Once we “have the key to the door” our purpose is to grow into our limitation. We feel limitless, able to achieve anything. We are adventurous, travel and try many different things. We find that almost everything we set our mind to is achievable and success comes readily. People who are going to become business people usually make and lose their first million before they are twenty eight. By the end of this stage we usually feel “ready to settle down”; begin to “work on a career”; “have a family”.
After the age of twenty eight things seem more difficult to achieve and success comes slower. Our purpose changes as we grow into our place in the world. This is often the most productive period in our lives: our income grows most rapidly, we accumulate our worldly possessions and we nurture our own family.
Once we are established, our purpose changes to growing our social conscience. It coincides with the next time the moon returns to our natal position and a new impulse is born.
I had a boss once who told me what he planned to achieve by the age of forty, because, he said, after forty your career and life plateau and you don’t achieve much more. The end of this stage of our purpose, as we approach the age of forty two is often marked, in Western Society, by what is termed “the mid-life crisis”. With the development of our social conscience we begin to question the purpose of our life up till now; we question the pursuit of career; and wonder at the purpose of all the material accumulation. The knee-jerk reaction at this process of questioning is to do more of the same. Some people trade in their family for a “younger model”, buy a bigger house and a fancier car. Because this is no longer the purpose of life this new excessive accumulation feels purposeless and empty – hence the title “mid-life crisis”.
When our life purpose is out of step with society, we experience a life crisis. But our life purpose is not in crisis.
With the development of our social conscience comes a new perspective on the world. We see people differently and this usually comes with a desire to give back into society, based on a sense that our life up to this point has been about taking from the world. Often, this point in life marks the need to find “purpose” in life. Looking back, our life appeared to lack purpose, we were selfish.
But, I have clearly laid out the purpose of our life at each stage. If we can accept that purpose then we can reconcile with our life to this point. Western Society as a whole has not yet fully reached the point of a fully-developed social conscience. Much of Western Society still honours accumulation, although it is slowly becoming apparent that this is no longer as easy or successful as in the last century. Western Europe is beginning to grapple with social conscience, the influx of displaced people from outside of Europe. But America is still in the last throes of material accumulation and power. This adds to the sense of crisis for people who have entered this stage of life and beyond: their life is no longer in concordance with the demands of society. Being out of step with the powerful marketing tools in our society leads to a lot of questioning. I believe we must accept that the purpose we feel at this stage of our life is true and ahead of the purpose of our society. The purpose is finding our place in society; balancing the taking with giving back.
All of the seeking for a social purpose to our life comes to head at the next return of the moon to our natal position: we want to start new initiatives based of the sense of purpose that has filled the last seven years, that began to develop with the purpose of growing into our social consciousness fourteen years earlier. Having reached the age of fifty six, the end of the eighth stage, my thoughts on possessions has changed. I could not previously understand older people wishing to downscale. I fully believed that having accumulated all one had, one should, at the very least, appreciate and live with the luxury of this accumulation and not get rid of it. Suddenly, I no longer feel the need to hold on to anything that I have accumulated. I feel that the purpose of my life no longer requires any of it – even though sentimentality still will not allow me to give it ALL away. I know that the purpose of achieving the balance I have spoken of; giving back to society based on the knowledge and talents we have acquired takes time.
Somewhere, as we age, I hope that we turn our knowledge into wisdom and the purpose becomes the sharing of wisdom, rather than knowledge and talents.
Living with my aged mother it is very clear to me that the purpose of old age is to “let go”. The purpose is to distil the essence of this life from the total experience and in so doing release connection with the unnecessary. It appears that twelve stages of seven years is the limit of our development. Thereafter our development goes into reverse. In the thirteenth stage (84 to 91 years of age) we appear to loose the function of our physical body – a mirror to the first stage of life. This may manifest in one or all of a loss of mobility, having to give up driving and losing the desire to travel or explore, even our own town or city. In the fourteenth stage we release our ability to think conceptually, thinking seems to focus on what is rather than what might be. I wonder, if we life long enough, will we notice how we lose connection with the complexity of our emotions; either become a focus of love and joy, or becoming grumpy. Finally, how will we release from our identity as an individual, will we see ourselves as truly a part of the whole of humanity?
Life has its own, very specific and very real purpose and if we honour and support the unfolding of that purpose we are living with purpose.
The cry to live a life of purpose may be a misplaced cry. I have felt inadequate because I had not defined my “passion”. I was not living a higher purpose and I was not developing an obvious legacy. When I look around not many other people are either. Should we all feel our life was “wasted” and “purposeless”. I don’t believe so at all. I am convinced that every stage of our life has its own, very specific and very real purpose and if we honour and support the unfolding of that purpose we are living with purpose. We may have a personal passion or something we feel purpose driven to achieve and we find that it develops as we move through the different purposes that drive the stages of life. We can halt the progress of our life purpose as little as we can halt the passing of time – and there is no plastic surgery for purpose. There is no point to envy the purpose we perceive in another person’s life, nor can we go back to the purpose we felt in earlier stage of our life and the future purposes will arrive soon enough. Living a purpose-filled life is the birthright of every person and it is in not appreciating this birthright – the progression of purpose through the stages of life – that we disconnect with our purpose and create discontent within yourself.
Sources: The ideas that I present here are very true to my own experience of life, but they have their origins in what I have learned through reading Anthroposophy and through others with an interest in Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education.
Post script: When I was forty two I was offered a voluntary separation package from the career of eighteen years. This offer arrived at just the right time and yet I was asked to remain in my job for another three years to finish off a project. Although my work-life remained the same, other aspects in my life began to adjust to the new future. This resulted in me working two jobs, fifteen hours a day. This focus on work gave me a feeling that I was living with purpose, I felt a certain fulfilment. Yet, everything I did in that period had no long term durability and all crumbled away before I reached the age of forty-eight. My personal sense of purpose was out of alignment with the purpose of my life as I have described it at that stage of my life. It is of little surprise then that what I perceived as purpose had no real purpose for me or for the future of my life.
A friend of mine bemoaned mindless killings, mindless violence and associated race baiting in a long post on Facebook. She, like I, lives in South Africa and I read a lot of similar posts from other South Africans and also from elsewhere in the world. What my friend, and others, write is true and of grave concern, but I also note people who write about deeds of great humanity that occur everywhere in the world. The bad things that happen in the world often overshadow the good. The result is that we are less aware of the great good happening in the world around us than we are of the atrocities committed. Sometimes I think this is so in order for us as the human race to learn empathy. However, I’m writing because of the fixation of people on what is bad in the world around them. I wish to relate a lesson of my own in relation to that which we attract into our lives.
You have probably heard of the Law of Attraction. I don’t profess to be an expert or to have the key to attracting endless wealth into your life, but I have experienced one lesson, even though I have learned to apply it in only the one area of my life.
Somewhere in my childhood it appears that I learned to believe that my task is to make other people’s lives more comfortable, even to ‘fix’ what is not working for them in their lives. I did not realise the arrogance of this belief, because it assumes I know what is ‘wrong’ and how to ‘fix’ what is ‘wrong’. In time I became what is termed a ‘rescuer’.
I met someone who professed on first sight that I was the one they wanted to spend the rest of their life with. I felt flattered and made the choice to love this person exclusively. I thought this person had their future planned and we would work at integrating our futures into a combined future life. Working from my assumption without clarifying that it was correct meant that I had a vision and I felt the need to ‘fix’ in my partner’s life any misalignment. Needless to say I endured 15 years of progressive hell. My partner turned from being passive-aggressive to aggressive and turned to substance abuse.
I did not ever blame them. I realised that what I was experiencing I was attracting into my life. The question for me was: “How should I change so that I attract a different behaviour into my life?” Even with asking this question I still felt responsible to ‘fix’ everything that I perceived as being wrong. After 15 years I ended the relationship, taking full ownership of the accumulated debt – in order to ‘fix’ everything on termination.
Ending the relationship did not end my way of thinking and the Law of Attraction works on the energy we radiate through our thoughts and actions. Less than three years later I again met someone I thought I would like to strike up a relationship with. This time I thought I’d go into the relationship with “my eyes open” and yet within a brief period of time I was being manipulated to ‘fix’ their life for them.
This time I took action and joined an organisation called Tough Love and worked on myself through the programme for nine months. I realised I was responsible for creating co-dependent relationships and enabling a problem in the other person to persist and grow, instead of empowering them to work on their problem themselves.
At the same time I became aware how pervasive this need to ‘fix’ people had become in my life. Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, attracts a large number of hopeful people looking for work and a future, many of whom spend a part or the rest of their lives begging, particularly at traffic intersections. I felt overwhelmed by the desire to ‘fix’ their lives for them. Because of the way my 15 year relationship ended I no longer had the financial means to ‘fix’ other people’s lives, I started thinking of other ways. But most important to this article is that I experienced beggars everywhere and I experienced guilt, depression and hopelessness. What I failed to realise was that my energy of guilt, depression and hopelessness simply attracted more of the same towards me.
Over time I took ownership of the concept that everyone is responsible for their own lives and we are not placed on this earth to ‘fix’ their lives and thus disempowering them. Our task is to empathise and thereby empower them to make the best of their lives.
Suddenly the beggars at the traffic intersections stopped begging and responded to me affirming their humanity by greeting me, fist bumping and entering into conversation. The people at the traffic intersections had not changed, only I had changed. As a result my experience changed completely.
I therefore know – at least in this small example – that the Law of Attraction is a real law. I also know that it takes deliberate work to change my thinking, really change my thinking, in order to attract a different experience into my life. I know that it is easy to stay with the thoughts that cause guilt, fear, depression and hopelessness. I also know that they overwhelm and that in that state of being overwhelmed it is difficult to believe there is another way of thinking that will produce a different result. I know that there are many other areas of my life where overwhelm still holds sway and I need to do the work to change my thinking. I also acknowledge that working with a group of people enables the work I need to do in my own life. The Tough Love programme is very much a coaching programme and the meetings are group coaching interventions.
But knowing that thoughts and actions produce reality through the Law of Attraction (or call it whatever you will) empowers me to know that I am never the victim of the world around me, I can change that world, at least my own experience of that world, to an experience of my choosing.
(It is a specific preference of mine to use gender-neutral pronouns.)
Every human being is on their own path.
Each person’s path is unique to them.
I say this because each person is unique. Even identical twins, who have a lot in common – the most that you will find in common between any two people – have different personalities and unique identities. No two children growing up in the same household, or even in the same orphanage, have the same personality or aspirations. To my mind this means that neither nature nor nurture determines a person’s identity or path. There is something else at play that determines these. (This is a philosophical question that I won’t ponder now.)
There are some people who experience a life-changing event and as a result their path in life becomes conscious for them. I’m thinking of the Anthony Robbins, John F Demartinis, Byron Katies and Brandon Bays of the world. When they discover their path they realise that what they have discovered is discovered by very few people in life. As a result they think that part of their mission is to teach their path to others. There is no doubt that what they have discovered is profound and people who learn from them are able to take several great strides in their own life.
Following in a great teacher’s path initially provides personal growth but ultimately results in being stuck, because the path is not your own.
But then a problem occurs. The path of the teacher is not the path of pupil. I began by saying that each person’s path is unique to them. Although the pupil takes several great strides in their own life by learning from the teacher, they are walking the teacher’s path and suddenly they will become “stuck”. The pupil will become stuck because it is not their path. How many Anthony Robbins are there? One! He is on his path. His pupils may think the world of him but Brandon Bays, as an example, discovered her own path despite being a trainer of Robbins’ work, completely independently of Robbins.
The aim of life is for each person to become conscious of their own path, not to try and follow in someone else’s path, no matter how great the teacher may be.
A major purpose in life is finding your (unique) path.
Becoming conscious of your own path either requires a life-changing experience, and we are not all privileged to have one of those, or it requires us to search deeply within ourselves. A personal deep search is a lonely experience and often more successful when having someone else as a sounding board. The best sounding board is a life coach. A life coach understands that this is your journey, your path. Their job is to support you without interfering with your own process.
A Coaching Culture Club makes the support of a coaching environment more accessible as well as providing a group of people supporting your journey and your process while holding you accountable to yourself.
“David lost his job last year when his firm had to cut back, but it all turned out for the best because he now works for a very large Danish company. This means that he no longer has the daily trek into London (one and a half hours each way), he can work from home and also has an office about ten minutes away. His team is in Denmark and he makes frequent visits.”
I knew David when he was a child and I was a teenager: out parents played bridge. Our mothers still correspond.
Why do we stay in situations that not ideal?
I’m thinking of jobs, relationships (non-romantic ones), neighbourhoods and others. We change our motor cars when they no longer serve us, but we hang onto other parts of our lives way beyond their “sell-by date”.
When life gives us a shove we discover how much better things are on the other side of the change. As with David losing his job.
The thing that most often holds us back is fear: fear of loss, fear of change. We don’t want to disappoint our family, risk our friendships, have others suffer because of our decision.
Will Smith recently explained fear (click here). In his case he joined a group of friends to go tandem sky diving. He concludes that once he was out of the plane the experience was pure bliss. His message is that all good things lie on the other side of fear.
That’s nice! But fear is real and most of us struggle to appreciate the good things that may (or may not) lie on the other side of our fear.
We can’t turn to our family or friends to help us out: they are too intimately involved in the consequences of our decisions. Where do we turn?
Realistically, we all have the inner resourcefulness to overcome the “situations” of life. We may not know it, but think back on the last time life dealt you a curved ball; what did you do to get out of that situation. Yes, you have the resources.
But trying to convince yourself is like thinking in circles – and I recently wrote about how effective that can be.
A coaching environment is there to assist you in finding those resources within yourself, affirming that you can see your way through your decisions. It is also there to help you as you take the steps through your decision. So where to find such a coaching environment? Life coaches charge a high price. What if there was a group of fellow travellers on this path of life that were available in a coaching environment to help you as you help them?
A Coaching Culture Club offers this: a group of people who are learning the coaching skills, imparting their life-wisdom, rooting for each other to become the best person each one is capable of being. As this culture (and skill) of coaching grows around the world, no one need feel disempowered to make the right decision when life is no longer ideal. Everyone can strive to improve their life circumstances on an ongoing basis to live a fulfilled and significant life.
“Come to the edge," he said.
Nothing of significance can be born without major discomfort and disruption.
Read it again!
I recently asked a group of people what they thought their life purpose is and the majority wanted to be significant in one way or another; leave their mark on the world.
I found a life vision for myself through the Personal Growth Journal of Coaching Culture Clubs and the group coaching of Bryanston No 1 Coaching Culture Club. A vision is just that, a picture. To become the significant person I envisage myself to be I have to expect ‘major discomfort and disruption’.
I find it rather ironic that I read this quote the day after telling everyone at Bryanston No 1 Coaching Culture Club that in order to achieve my vision I expect a lot of discomfort, but that I allow my saboteur to rule my life because I’m comfortable as I am right now.
How about you?
Have you answered the question for yourself: what is my life mission?
If you are not already living your life mission,
do you have a picture – a vision – of what your life mission will look like?
If you have this vision, what is stopping you living this vision?
Are you like me, fearful of the ‘discomfort and disruption’ that will overtake your life as you start to become and achieve what is significant for you?
Don’t berate yourself! Most people are fearful of ‘discomfort and disruption’, but know that when you look at the “heroes” you hold up for yourself, they achieved what they achieved to make them your “hero” by working with and working through the ‘discomfort and disruption’ that descended on their life when they started out on their journey.
But also be certain that there are people who look up to you as a “hero” because in your life you have already weather ‘discomfort and disruption’ to achieve something others looks up to your for. So, know that you (and I) have the resilience to weather the ‘discomfort and disruption’ to achieve our vision of fulfilling our life mission.
You are a “hero” to people already because you have withstood ‘discomfort and disruption’. You can again!
Now it is up to us to take the next step ...
I think we all wish we were in control of our circumstances. The truth is that the only thing we are really in control of is our reaction to our circumstances (attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, Brian Tracy, Jennie Finch, Tony Dungy and M J Ashton). Tony Robins said that if we try something and it doesn’t work, then try something else. It that doesn’t work, then try something else. Keep trying until something works. Our circumstances may be outside of our immediate control but we can keep trying something new in reaction to our circumstances until something works. It is our actions that we are in control of.
It does mean that we must be flexible to change according to circumstances and according to what is working for us and what is not working. The very thought of “change” bring about a rush of fear for many people. Change and uncertainty bring about a condition of fear, while focusing on action (activity) and monitoring the outcome brings about a sense of control and certainty.
How then can we act when our natural reaction is fear? The first action is not to be alone. Having an ‘accountability partner’ for your activity, someone you trust and someone who will help you find the courage in yourself to take each next step, is a solid first step to taking control of your reactions (actions) to your circumstances. It is not a surprise that Wikipedia defines an ‘accountability partner’ as “a person who coaches another person”.
Coaching Culture Clubs fills this vacuum in the lives of ordinary people: the need for an ‘accountability partner’ who will coach you into action to take control of the circumstances that arise in your life.
Someone I served with during conscription into the South African National Defense Force in the 1980’s, with whom I maintained a friendship for a while after our “army days” and with whom I reconnected on Facebook recently, wrote on his Facebook timeline:
‘I was asked today "What would your advice be to someone who is inclined to become depressed by the worries of daily life?"
I would agree with William Pulles’ response. I can also see why William would give this response. Since our “army days” William has become an international expert on mine water and has run his own consulting company since 1993. He has consulted to international companies such as Golder Associates. For the past 3 years William lives on and runs a gooseberry farm in Montague in the Western Cape.
"My answer - have a dream. Have a realistic but worthwhile dream that is within your capabilities to achieve."
Not everyone, however, has a dream.
One of the members of the Coaching Culture Club I joined in May 2016 (I’ll call him Stuart - not his real name) is a “realist”. Stuart has a good job that provides for him and his family but he doesn’t particularly like his job. He does some acting in amateur theatre productions to relieve the boredom of his life. When Stuart started on his personal development journey in Coaching Culture Clubs he was quite blunt: he had no dreams. When pressed, it turned out he did not think he was worth it.
This is not uncommon. Many people do not have enough self-worth to have a dream.
Many people do not have enough self-worth to have a dream.
We live in a very competitive society where, to be remembered, you must be number 1. Most people know who Michael Phelps is (most decorated Olympian of all time), but very few people, except Michael, will remember who came second – mostly by a split second – in all the swimming races where Michael won Gold. Even when you are competent, people around you will praise the one who achieves best; your self-worth will take a knock.
The world remembers the winner, not the second placed.
Competition starts in school. No only on the sport field, but in the class room. Did your report card at school say: “can do better!” The achievers are called out and presented with awards. You realise that your best is not good enough; you are not valued like the achievers; your self-worth takes a knock.
To have a dream, often begins with building one’s own self-worth.
To have a dream, often begins with building one’s own self-worth.
I’m happy to report that Stuart – the fellow member in the Coaching Culture Club of which I am a member – (not his real name) eventually created a Vision Board that contained some dreams. But more importantly, Stuart recently reported that he has joined up with a few other people to make music again – to live one of his dreams. And Stuart has written a one-act play that is ready for performance by the theatre group with which he acts. We have seen Stuart’s self-worth grow in a coaching culture environment and with it, his dreams.
So to William Pulles I say: “Show someone how to develop their self-worth and they will find their dream to hold onto.”
In this case I’m speaking about “obsessive thinking” and not “circular thinking”. This happens to all of us, probably more often than we care to admit. It happened to me recently. A project for my Toastmasters qualification involved interviewing a fellow club member on camera. The person I interviewed is the vice-president of the recently formed South African Secular Society. After receiving some information from him and reading their website I was struck by what I consider to be a lack of clarity on the main purpose of this society. On the one hand they promote the separation of state and religion. On the other hand they propose a science-based or Naturalistic Worldview. I think the first objective could be of interest to a wide diversity of people while the second objective is far more exclusive, especially as they add that this society supports atheism, agnosticism, non-theism and humanism. I thought about this contradictions of objectives until I was thinking in circles. The result was a very poorly phrased question during the interview to find out whether this society has a main objective, i.e. either secularisation of society or promoting non-belief. After completing the interview and receiving feedback from an evaluator my mind suddenly became clear on what I had perceived as divergent main objectives of this society.
I thought about this contradictions of objectives until I was thinking in circles.
My point is that after speaking my problem out load and receiving feedback I became clear on what I wanted to know. Interacting with other people brings clarity of thought.
Interacting with other people brings clarity of thought.
At about the same time one of the members of a Coaching Culture Club expressed a problem in her life. She is a business owner: hard working and successful. She sells, delivers, installs and trains. She does everything and she does it all herself. She is ready to grow her business. She want to get a partner in her business. Her thinking is that she needs someone who can replicate what she does; with two people doing exactly the same she doubles her business. She has tried partnerships before and each time it failed. Unfortunately, a partner is not a clone. A partner bring a different skill-set and mind-set. Each partner has different strengths and weaknesses and a successful partnership uses these differences to the advantage of the business. Her thinking was going in circles and she could envisage only a clone of herself being of benefit to her business. Having spoken about it and received feedback in the setting of a Coaching Culture Club, she gained clarity on her needs and the potential that a partner brings.
There is great benefit in having good friends, a mentor, a coach or a group of people.
As human beings our thinking does not function particularly well when we do it alone. We think our thoughts are very profound, but we can confirm this only by sharing our thoughts with others. There is great benefit in having good friends, a mentor, a coach or a group of people you meet with regularly in a coaching setting such as Coaching Culture clubs. We should have easy and ready access to people we can speak our thoughts out to so as to clarify our thinking and avoid us thinking in circles.
What were your first achievements? Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, your first word, standing, walking, speaking. When you watch a baby you realise the effort all the ‘firsts’ take to accomplish. At age two we realise we are not an extension of our mother and we assert ourselves. At age three we discover that there are reasons for everything and our thirst for knowledge begins. Then the first day of “big” school arrives with great excitement. Every child in the right learning environment flourishes in their eagerness to learn. After twelve-odd years we may take a “gap year”. Mostly this too means learning new things, discovering the world and its workings, new cultures, networking, earning money, accomplishing the ‘impossible’ sometimes. Should we study further, we focus on knowledge and skills required for a career. And we learn to party (or whatever the term was in your era – we learned to jol)!
Often we look forward to our first job, pay-cheque, no responsibilities so that we can really good at partying. Sometimes we fool ourselves into believing that this is the ultimate achievement in life – twenty-something years of effort in order to ‘cruise’ and achieve nothing more.
Twenty-one years of effort and we achieve adulthood.
Those were not our dreams when we were children. Children dream of being ‘super-heroes’, owning an aeroplane, building a castle, changing the world.
We may bury those dreams, but they do not die. Ignoring them eats away at us subconsciously: we feel “less than”, “not good enough”, “insignificant”. We think these feelings arise in comparison to other people, but I think these feelings arise in comparison to what we set out to be when we arrived on this earth and have set aside, chosen to ignore.
Your buried childhood dreams eat at your self-image.
There is hope: rediscover your dreams and translate them into a vision with a plan for the future. “Not so easy to get out of my rut”, you say.
There is help. The role of the Life Coach is to walk the path with you as you rediscover your mission in life, to ask the questions that will allow you to translate your dreams into present and future goals, to hold you accountable as you plan the steps to bring these goals into the real world, to remind you that you can achieve.
But, it takes effort.
Just as it took twenty-one years of effort in many areas of your life to become an adult with the basic skills in place, so it will take effort to build the foundations for a life’s mission and its fulfilment.
Life coaching can turn childhood dreams into a life’s mission.
Effort is always rewarded and putting effort into the questions that a life coaching partnership presents will be richly rewarded in terms of self-image, achievement satisfaction and even financial rewards. A well structured life coaching programme means that you have the advantage of looking ahead to an outcome. But it is the amount of effort put into every step of the journey that delivers the rewards.
Effort delivers reward.
My message is that a life coaching intervention is always beneficial, but the richness of the rewards that it will deliver is dependant on the effort the coachee (person being coached) puts in. It’s a home truth that will always apply.
We live in a strange world! This world demands of us that we be competitive. Be better than the next person, achieve more and do it yourself. At school we are tested alone – working together is called ‘cheating’ – we are compared to classmates and siblings and judged according to this comparison. Apply for a job and we are compared to others and have to stand out as better than the rest. Yet, have you ever tried to do something big alone: build a house for example? It just works better as a team, everyone performing their task, without competition. Together we can always accomplish more than we can alone.
We all want to be a ‘success’ in life, whatever we define as success. Our upbringing tells us to do alone, always compare yourself to others. My success is mine alone. Yet, we also know from playing a sport that trying it alone is not easy; we do better with a coach. We know from working in teams that teams deliver better results than individuals. Why would success be any different?
What if the person next to you was invested in your success? If he or she was a coach to you when you faced an obstacle? And you were a coach to them? This is a coaching culture! Should a coaching culture spread we no longer see others as competitors, but rather as fellow travelers on their own road to their individual success in which we can play a small part. Ultimately, we are all part of a community coaching each other to success.
Coaching Culture Clubs is a pioneer in creating a coaching culture. Coaching Culture Clubs provides a structure to the ‘road to success’ and a structure to the coaching interaction. Coaching Culture Clubs builds a culture of coaching where every member is a coaching partner in the success of every other member.
How different will the world be when we educate and bring up new generations with a coaching culture to see success as a cooperative journey rather than a competitive journey – a journey where everyone wins and not just one front-runner?
Sports-people all have coaches - individuals and teams - it is a given. People who hold political office have advisors. Anyone who is fast-tracked in their career by their company has mentors. Abraham Maslow tells us that the pinnacle of human need is to feel self-actualised. We could also say that we all want to be and feel successful.
If sport-people, people in high office and career-minded people know that they can’t achieve the level of success they are aiming at alone, why do we think that we can achieve success alone?
No one else has ever walked our path or walked in our shoes; no matter how good they are in their lives and ultimately we have to do the hard work ourselves, no one can do it for us. So, why not do it alone?
However, it is easy to forget what works well for us, to overlook our ‘blind spots’ and to be overwhelmed by obstacles. With a coach on your side you can build on your strengths; dig deeper to find why an obstacle feel overwhelming and then find solutions; and recognise blind spots that could waylay your plans. A coach helps you be accountable to yourself for the goals you set.
In a coaching culture the coach is not a single person but the community that practices the coaching culture. This is a group of people where everyone is focused on their own success and recognises that they benefit from coaching. They become a community of coaches for each other.
Coaching Culture Clubs facilitates this in a structured manner through formalised clubs and with a structured development programme for personal development and soft skills development. The development programme helps the club members identify their areas for success; the club supports the growth of the members on their journey to achieve their success.