Thomas Merton's idea that the best we can do is to be the best version of ourselves—in all our imperfect glory. Here is one of my favorite quotes by him: "Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself."
What I like about growing older is that I increasingly do not care what other people think, and I have less need to prove whom I am.
I often think about some of the early, limiting influences that shaped my path, when I allowed them to. And what I mean by this is consider the frequently heard sayings in your family. They were well meaning when preached to you, however, the result was that they often could and did dampen your desires, enthusiasm and motivation. Sayings like, “There’s no money in that!”, “That’s awfully risky.”, “We are counting on you to….”, and “You’re probably going to fail…and then what?!”
Your family and friends believe they’re providing guidance and preventing you from making bad decisions, but we take their opinions, give them life and fail to achieve things we’re passionate about.
I find when I begin working with prospective clients in my coaching practice that they are often unclear about their purpose and passion, and they go through life feeling disconnected. They question their ability to reach their future goals. They’re allowing themselves to be guided by others as opposed to being self-guided. They often don’t feel any personal reward in the roles they’re playing.
Being compared to your parents can be positive…or not. Many of the traits you have weren’t inherited. You learned them through conditioning, or spaced repetition, by seeing your parent’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. We are products of our past conditioning. That is, if we choose to be.
I’ve acknowledged this and moved on, and I ask my clients to do the same.
The effects of our early conditioning will surface in our adult lives. While we’re deciding what we want to do, our early conditioning tries to sway us towards what we think we should do. It takes a conscious effort on our part to be aware of these limiting factors. If we choose to continue listening to unconstructive input, fear and reluctance to see where our future lies consumes us.
Confident people have a keen understanding of their roles in life, and they are socially well adjusted and strong enough to play the roles of their desires. My clients often report that, after our work together, they receive personal achievement from their newly crafted roles and see the roles they’re in as well suited for them. Those are pretty good indicators that they’ve found a balance between their work and personal roles and have moved past their early conditioning.
You are one-of-a-kind with a lot of unique value to contribute. You’ve already had quite a journey to get to where you are right now and have much more good to come into and out of your life. Take responsibility for the rest of your life. As you do, you will realize that the power and influence you want will come to you. You get to choose to accept or reject the values you were exposed to in your early conditioning.
Success is the continual achievement of your own, predetermined goals. You are responsible for your own success.
Probes: These may be used by the reader to start a dialogue in your organization.
- What is it that you are passionate about?
- How does your current occupation fulfill your needs?
- Is that where you want to spend the rest of your career?