The Coach is In…

The Author’s Recipe

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

Empty cookbook on the abstract background

You might think that, based on the title, that this blog is about becoming an author. In some ways it is, but it isn’t the type of author you think. Our ‘conversation’ today is about being the ‘author’ of your life.

I was listening to NPR radio last week when I heard a TED talk by a psychologist. She was saying that if all we ever do in our lives is react to it then we will never be the ‘author’ of our lives. She went on to say that if we never become the author of our lives then we will never fulfill our life’s purpose. This is not going to be a casual conversation is it?

People being ‘authors’ of their lives is a space in which I spend a lot of time – helping and encouraging people to become more of whom they were created to be.  Over the span of four decades, I have come to understand that this is my life’s purpose.  I consider it sacred ground.  To do it well I understand that I must bring the best version of myself to this work every day.  This would seem daunting until you realize that by being in the center of your life’s purpose, you are using all the strengths natural to you.  In some ways it is effortless.  It is the payoff to being the author of your life, and why I’m writing about it – to encourage your own journey and your own ‘authorship.’

During my work, and the course of raising my children, I have long been puzzled as to why/how certain people seem to naturally search to understand ‘their path,’ while others do not.  I have never found an insight that fully explains that ‘why.’  The fact that people don’t find their path saddens me.  I cannot help but think the world is missing something wonderful as a result.

Although I can’t answer that central question, I have lived and discovered one theory that is core to what I believe. I know, from my training as a coach, that when we ‘do for’ others (family, friends, workmates) on a consistent basis, we can lower their motivation and their ability to be more self-responsible.  As a child, I observed my mother working very hard to ‘help’ my brother find a ‘foot hold’ in his life.  He never really did.  As a parent, I have been challenged numerous times to not ‘do for’ my children on a consistent basis.  When I am tired, and maybe frustrated or irritated, it would be so easy to just do it for them.  But I have seen what happens when there is a consistent ‘do for’ environment.  It is easier, it’s just not better at helping our children become a happy and independent person.  It is from this learning that I developed my third rule, “Don’t care more than they (your children, your direct reports, other people) do.”

Being a self-responsible and self-accountable person is not the only explanation for why some people find their path and others don’t.  I believe, however, that it is a significant contributor.  It is my observation that people who have been a product of a ‘do for’ environment often look to others to solve their problems, or to help out significantly, rather than look within themselves.  They are not as self-reliant.  This carries over in their willingness to do a ‘deep dive’ into who they are and why they are here.

We could spend significant time continuing to explore the ‘why’ people do or do not find their path, but I’d rather shift our focus to the “what would you like to do about it now” question.  To me, being ‘author’ of your life has a ‘recipe.’  My recipe includes three parts intention, including an understanding of what you want in life, and out of life; two parts courage; two parts discipline; and two parts introspection.  Finally, there is an understanding that I have the supreme power of ‘choice’ to wrap all these items in.  You might say that ‘choice’ is the author’s bag that holds all the other ingredients.  The cool thing about the ‘author’s recipe’ is that you get to decide how much to add of each ingredient, knowing that the ‘choice’ to add different proportions will alter how it/you turns out.

Life is precious.  We get one shot.  Who we choose to become has a lot to do with who we become, and how we experience life.  Those that I am around who are ‘authors’ seem to be enjoying more of life and what it has to offer.  They also seem to be more at peace.

Being author of your life is not easy, but not being author of your life seems worse.  What have you chosen to this point?  Is it working?

To a better you…