For centuries, great scientific and philosophical thinkers have suggested that humans can accomplish anything they put their minds to. Yet with all this promise for possibility, not every person realizes their potential. Here are a few modern day examples of people dreaming of one lifestyle yet living another:
- A discontented pharmaceutical salesperson passionate about environmental issues and skilled in politics dreams of founding an environmental preservation agency.
- An anxiety-ridden lawyer passionate about nature and skilled in art dreams of traveling across the country to photograph scenic landscapes.
- A depressed bank executive passionate about telling empowerment stories and skilled in organizational development dreams of producing a documentary film offering new ideas about advancing women and minorities in leadership.
Many people say they are thankful for their “secure” jobs as they count down the minutes until happy hour, the weekend, or their next vacation. Asked why they don’t follow their bliss, they blame external forces – such as the economy – offering that they cannot trade security for an uncertain and risky dream.
Using “security” as the reason to sacrifice personal fulfillment is a clue that something deeper is going on. People often suppress or fail to create their dreams in an attempt to avoid concerns like fear of failure, of criticism, or of looking bad. They may get caught in a web of self doubt and self criticism, people pleasing and mistrust. They may be constrained by both limiting beliefs and perfectionism, and be consumed with the need for control and certainty. Instead of facing these unpleasant issues, people turn to activities that allow them to numb out and suppress their desires. They watch television, overeat, buy things they don’t need, and overindulge in Facebook. They get comfortable in a life that allows them to say “I am not unhappy.”
There comes a point for many people when “not unhappy” is not sufficient. Change is desired, but change is scary. The prospect of navigating a black hole of unpleasant emotions and fears can feel like a long, intimidating ordeal.
The field of life coaching has rapidly become a recognized answer to these problems. Like an auto mechanic using her expertise looking under the hood of a stalled car, a coach employs her tools of transformation to look inside your thoughts and behavior patterns to identify the non-functioning parts causing your stall. A coach digs in to uncover and show you the “formula” of your life – a unique map of both your full potential and possible limitations – so that you are free to manifest your heart’s desire. In creating the life you long for, you are living the promise of the world’s great thinkers. Not only are you reaching your potential, you are doing it in a way that feels congruent with your authentic self. You feel alive and joyful, and know that your life has meaning and makes a difference.
Consider this: In the most inspiring tales of heroes achieving big dreams against big odds, a wise and experienced guide is often in the background nudging the heroes toward their glory. For Rocky Balboa there was his manager Mickey to help him realize his career dreams; Cinderella had her fairy godmother to help her find love; and Luke Skywalker had Yoda to guide him through his huge save-the-galaxy dream (all while facing particularly challenging daddy issues). These fictional mentors – and who wouldn’t want any one of them – do what coaches do.
Using a goal oriented approach, and drawing from multiple disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, spirituality, and business, a coach will see your gifts and highest potential, believe in you, and cheer you on; help identify and excavate your barriers; and strategize new ways for you to think clearly and then take empowered, creative actions.
Remember how Rocky – a broke, amateur boxer – was offered the biggest opportunity in his career, to fight the heavyweight boxing champ. This was so big he could not have dreamed it possible. Surprisingly, his first reaction was to turn it down. How could this be? He didn’t believe in himself, nor did he see his potential. Too many people stop right there.
Photo by Toby Landesman, 2012
So are coaches mystical figures working magic? Although it can feel that way, a coach is more like a surgeon using her instruments to find and remove whatever is blocking your success. In the process, your self-awareness will be strengthened and turned into a tool for your continued development.
Here are the steps that a coach might take you through on the way to fulfilling your dreams. She will help you identify your strengths, passions, values, and life purpose. Showing you your greatness, your very essence, she can connect you to that deeper sense of self that knows the answers to important questions. Who am I? What do I really want? And how can I contribute to the world in a meaningful way?
With your potential revealed, a coach can help you identify your barriers to success. Together you will uncover negative thoughts and behavior patterns and then transform them to empowering new beliefs and actions. A coach can teach and demonstrate the benefits of living from love rather than fear. She will teach you how to experience self acceptance, compassion, and love. In the process, you will begin to release negative judgments, criticisms, and self-evaluations. This will result in you feeling compassion and love for yourself and others, and allow you to move through your life with greater ease and with more love. As you begin to master these processes, you will find that you are now prepared to live in the present moment and to manifest your intentions as the champion of your own life every day.
Demonstrating coaching in action, here is an example of a modern-day business person confronting barriers that are in the way to achieving his potential:
Dominic, a passionate entrepreneur, excitedly engages a manufacturer to create his new company’s products, Most-Fun-Toys-Ever. Just as the manufacturer, Jackie, is about to begin production, she realizes that her equipment cannot make the toys to Dominic’s exact specifications, but she works hard to find a solution. Jackie tells Dominic of the problem, offering that she can produce the toys if she alters the design. Upon hearing this news, Dominic is very upset knowing in his heart that the change compromises the very character that makes his toys the most fun ever. On the other hand, Dominic realizes that to engage another manufacturer will take too much time and his investors will pull out. Dominic seeks out advice from his coach Angela, concerned that his only options are either to compromise his vision or to give up his dream totally and close his company. Let’s peek in on how this plays out.
In the coaching session, Angela listens closely as Dominic recounts the situation, and watches his facial expressions and body language. Having talked with Dominic at length in past meetings about his limiting beliefs, Angela points out what she sees. Dominic is in a familiar scenario that has played out many times in his life. Time and time again, Dominic has been asked to compromise his creative, innovative ideas in the face of other people offering more traditional, safe views. He always responds by either submitting, believing he is not very smart and others know better, or giving up, experiencing that in life he just can’t get what he really wants. These are limiting beliefs at play.
Angela asks Dominic to consider that he is in the scenario he has faced since childhood. His parents, although very loving and warm, were proud people who held very traditional values and strong opinions about sticking to them. As a young boy, Dominic was very creative and had innovative ideas that challenged this traditional thinking. Rather than nurture his uniqueness, Dominic’s parents thought it best to instill their more traditional beliefs and told him not to question them so much. They teased him and jokingly advised that he should be less challenging and more like everyone else. Dominic’s five-year-old mind interpreted their advice to mean that his creative ideas were stupid and he could never do the things he really wanted to do. He tucked this information away in his subconscious. With these hidden beliefs guiding him, Dominic proceeded through life without developing critical thinking or communication skills to challenge views different than his own, and never built up confidence in his creativity, a gift that would surely serve him to fulfill his potential as toy inventor.
So now Dominic sees that when Jackie came to him with the idea to re-design his product, he was trapped in old thinking that he must either submit to her way of doing things or give up completely. By seeing in his work with Angela that his own beliefs were limiting his life’s possibilities, rather than some actual truth that his ideas were stupid or the world was unfair, Dominic understood that his dreams could actually be realized. While reinvigorated to follow through with his vision, Dominic still felt stuck because he had not spoken up for himself and his creative ideas before.
With this concern, Angela next suggests to Dominic that he look to his strengths and values, the ones they had discovered were most meaningful to him and that made him feel joyful, inspired, and alive. These values give Dominic confidence that he can have a dialogue with Jackie about possible other solutions she has not yet considered. And to prepare for his meeting with Jackie, Angela suggests that Dominic employ another important tool. Angela coaches Dominic to formulate an intention in his mind and heart for his meeting with Jackie. With the intention to utilize his strengths and values to work with Jackie and uncover a creative solution, Dominic sets out to meet her.
Rather than the frustration and fear he expressed at their last meeting, Dominic enters his meeting with Jackie full of passion and love. He opens his heart and shares his vision that his company stands for humanity experiencing more fun and aliveness. He shares his personal feelings around running a company that stands for creativity and partnership and making a difference in the world. He talks about picking Jackie’s company as his partner because he believes her values match his. Dominic offers his commitment and desire that he and Jackie make magic together and find an innovative win-win solution that will bring Most-Fun-Toys-Ever to the world.
Jackie is inspired! Valuing teamwork and innovation herself, she is determined to make the partnership work with Dominic and bring his vision to life. They talk it through. Jackie goes back to her team, examining her equipment. Knowing more about Dominic, his products, and examining how her team can make adjustments, she finds a way to modify her manufacturing process that will make Dominic’s toys exactly as originally designed.
This story concludes with Dominic reaching his potential. To do so, he underwent a necessary process of gaining personal clarity, seeing and breaking through his limiting beliefs, and building up his self-acceptance and sense of worthiness. He began his journey by hiring someone else to see his greatness and be his champion. And in the end, he knew himself as the hero in his own life and as a person whose unique ideas and gifts brought joy and fun to the world.
Dominic’s experience* is available to everyone. Anyone can realize their dream, no matter how big. And if you need a little help getting started, you now know that Cinderella isn’t the only one who gets a Fairy Godmother.
*This story is inspired by work done with one of my actual clients, who is a creative thinker and has shown exceptional commitment to breaking through limiting thoughts and behavior patterns.
Article written by Gina Marotta
Gina Marotta is a Coach, Speaker, Writer & Happiness Advocate. She inspires and empowers individuals and groups to create abundant happiness in the busy modern world by pausing and asking questions about who they are and what they stand for. Emphasizing that the answers always rest inside one’s heart, Gina provides tools for gaining self-awareness to live authentically and overcome internal barriers such as negative beliefs, fear of failure, and concern about what others think. With insight and humor, she helps people deal with their biggest obstacle to happiness, themselves.