I could have fallen into a pit of bitterness and negativity with no chance of spiraling up, if I hadn’t joined in parallel to my business activities, a group coaching circle (it was not called coaching then), with a workshop called : Recover Your Creative Energy. This circle helped me make the fateful and salutary decision of closing down the business, I’d been putting off for the last 2 years.
My tribulations, during that time, were worthy of a picaro character or was it a personable but ultimately dead Icarus? Only penultimate Icarus: Just in time before complete burnout. Unfortunately, I revisited the lesson of overextending myself to near burnout twice more afterwards, until I find inner guidance and some subsequent measure of inner peace (See Icarus Lessons, in preparation). And that’s how I came to teach what I needed to learn, by becoming a coach.
But first, I stopped worshiping the god Mammon, and began to understand my faulty interpretation of Success. Thanks to my new found wisdom and better English acumen, I have to admit, I started to reconsider the recipe for success.
Doing What You Love is Success
For the next 7 years, I did what I loved for the heck of it. I took back painting which developed into a passion for collage. I wrote short stories and poetry. And I did my most fecund inner work during that very ambiguous period, which I dubbed: my wilderness, in terms of work and career; but also a major existential crisis. Indeed, I also experienced a lot of soul searching and soul drifting. I was going from mindless job to mindless job, from tyrannical under-boss to tyrannical under-boss till I, finally, realize that this pattern was self-inflicted retribution for my failure at business: guilt seeks punishment. Something‘s got to give.
I started to confront unfinished business and unload the excess baggage. I took a detour by University, got a B.A. in literature and language, and then became a freelance translator and accidental teacher. I could have chosen the law, everyone was nudging me to take, but I chose not to run: the sell-out path was already beaten for me. The scholar’s life wasn’t quite what I’d expected in terms of writing, but reading and interpreting great texts from classic to modern lit. taught me to read between the lines, listen to the silence and even, unwittingly, directed me to coaching.
Again I dropped out of school: my English Lit MA studies… to learn coaching. I learnt, then, the hard way, that decisions which have been made can be unmade. Was I a serial quitter or was I responding to important signposts towards my life’s work? ‘Finish what you start’ was definitely a limiting belief in that context, but what with the coaching?
Loving What You Do is Success
Becoming a coach certainly did not happen overnight. Not everyone is lucky enough to make a living at doing what they love and get paid for it straight out. Moreover, didn’t Georges Bernard Shaw write:
Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get. ?
(Man and Superman ,1903 “maxims for revolutionists”)
Obviously I did not take care to get what I love, otherwise, I would not have erred and wandered for so long.
Take care to get what you love… there’s the rub, there’s the rebel not the revolutionist, for someone who struggles with issues of deservedness. When you are ready the master appears, it’s all perfect, it’s all for the best, bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. Hard to digest when you’re in the ditch. Of course, ultimately, I’ve always ended up realizing that I deserved what I got. Reality does not lie. Only then could I really give myself permission to do what I like.
Accepting what is, is the hardest lesson of all for me. And “loving” what is, is really a stretch. As a passionate soul, it has always been a struggle to limit myself: I have always been greedy…and impatient for the absolute. I now know that “accepting what is” is not resignation or passivity, but a process of acknowledging human limits as a springboard to transcend them (a paradox) and, specifically for me, not to bite off more than I can chew (See Icaresques poems and Icarus lessons,in preparation), or bite the wrong type of foods, both terrestrial or spiritual. That’s why I also undertook studies in Naturopathy. One of my niches is Health and Wellness coaching, but it’s always coaching, by taking into account the whole person: body, mind, soul/heart and spirit.
Defining Success Part 3: Taking the Path of Integrity