Values, Creativity and Finding a Path of Balance

Recently The Daily Reviewer honored me with a best of the web, Top 100 Ballroom Dancing Blog. Ted from The Daily Reviewer delivered the notice of award to me via my Values of Dancing post. Which got me thinking, this blog is an extension of my personal coaching practice, so why again I am blogging about my experience in preparing for my own big challenge, a ballroom dance competition? This blog is fundamentally about the processes, experience of and benefits that come from purposeful engagement in strategic action in order to stretch beyond our own expectations. To take risks, be adventurous, and act with courage to face what frightens us. In doing so we uncover the wisdom in and around us, and reach out to people and resources that enable us to be  in motion and grow. Coaching provides a structure and environment for to you create or refine your life to work in harmony with your values, passions and purpose.

Values clarification and living out one’s most precious values comprises much of the foundational work I do with my clients. Creativity, dance, and ballroom dance are often the metaphors I use with my clients because I can speak from a perspective of experience.  There is power in speaking from experience, just as expanding the perimeters and scope of experience in life increases its potency.  This power streams through the voices of my clients as we explore what brought them to coaching, and their innate gifts and past experiences from which they draw throughout the coaching process.

Many of my clients are facing a transition in their lives, personally, professionally or both. Many are considering, in this current economic and emotional climate, what is most important in order that their lives are filled with elements of meaningful work to which they are well suited, time to spend with family and friends that is regular and nonharried, and experiences (hobbies, courses, spiritual paths, travel etc.) that push the boundaries of their personal growth. Very often it is the desire to pursue an experiential route to expand their personal growth that also opens up their array of possibilities for the other elements in their lives to be “better” and balanced.

Sometimes these experiences come as an unexpected windfall opportunity (Congratulations you just won an all expenses paid trip to…), but those are rare. We can each push the boundaries of our lives and the experiences, which knit the texture of our lives, if we are crystal clear about what is most important, most sacred to us, and use those markers to guide us along our individual paths to our desired outcomes. When you know what you feel as well as what you think, and are honest about both, you open yourself to possibility and the ability to follow your passion in an intuitive, natural way. You create a life that is personally successful, satisfying and rejuvenating.

Lucy, one of my clients, holds creativity, integrity and compassion as primary values. For many years she felt stifled by work, at mid-sized State University, it became all consuming and while she had great love for academia, she was increasing feeling resentful towards her colleagues, her students and her University. Everyday was a stress filled experience of too many papers to read, too many students to mentor and too many irritating colleagues and not enough time and energy left over to pursue her areas of research and enjoy her marriage and friendships and other interests.

During the time we worked together Lucy clarified her most sacred, primary values and how she would take action to ensure those were reflected in her life, all areas of it, professionally and personally.  As she undertook purposeful, strategic action to live out her values she first moved to a place of compassion for herself, stopping a cycle of beating herself up for not being “the perfect academic who lives only to work”, then unrestricted compassion to other while rediscovering her interest in fiber arts, leading to a passion for knitting and into a community of knitters.

Knitting can be a meditative process, a place of centering. As Lucy knit scarves, shawls, socks and hats for her husband, self, friends and family, each stitch made with love and respect for the intended recipient she found her resentment towards work melting away. In its place a rejuvenation of her heart and mind was taking root. She rediscovered her passion for why she became an academic and 1.5 years later approaches the challenges of work with an compassionate mind and heart, she speaks her mind calmly but firmly when addressing a contentious issue and is better able to see her colleagues and students as people like, her trying to create lives that are meaningful. She continues to knit, expanding her circle of companions, calming her nerves when frayed and sharing her talents and gifts with all those who touch her life.

Why did coaching work for Lucky or any one for that matter?  It works because we use a solutions based approach that focuses on where you are now and where you want to be in your life.  We work as a team, to make smart decisions that support your personally successful life.  Coaching involves two critical components: 1) reflection, an opportunity to think about and clarify one’s visions, values, goals and hurdles; and 2) action, a commitment to take self defined steps to move towards one’s goals. Coaching actively supports the behavior changes needed in individual to create, reinforce and sustain their “new normal”.

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