Letting go of BEST- so I could LIVE BETTER!
I admit it, I hate to FAIL and to be WRONG! I shiver, shake, quake at the thought of it! So it is fascinating, that my professional life has been all about helping people (of all ages) to embrace their miss-steps, take strategic risks, and be generally brave and self-forgiving! Proving, once again, that we can support others in areas that we need to focus OUR attention on and grow. Like many, I have always been more understanding of the “Fails” of others than myself. My BEST was rarely good enough for me- I could always find ways to have improved. While I may have seemed brave and willing to accept feedback- and embraced life lessons with humor, I would wake up in the early morning hours replaying how I could have handled the situation in a way that produced different results. If I just gave as much effort as I could, “success” could not help but follow! Of course, my own definition of success was unreachable. I was on a mission, not able to see the impact all of that busy doing was having on my health and life (and the people around me).
Then it happened, like a comic book battle scene- KABOOM!, KAPOW!, BAM! My professional life changed dramatically, impacting every aspect of my world, from where I lived to my core purpose for living. Suddenly the wonderful noise of locomotion, long overflowing days of helping, creative fun and being needed, became silence; profound, empty, and often lonely. It was time to face it… I had failed and I had been wrong… and what was next?
That was the beginning of a journey, that would take me to a new career (coaching), a big move, a divorce, and launching a new life- but most important, a radically different way of seeing myself. I must say, I am still on that journey- as I think we all are, once we are aware of the importance of it! I have learned the incredible power of Living BETTER… and the joy of helping others see the value of those simple words.
Living BETTER reminds me that even small steps do move you forward. Living BETTER allows me to reflect on past decisions with an open perspective, recognizing the lessons learned- and the gift of those experiences. Living BETTER helps me to stay positive and hopeful on the days when the news of the nation, and the world, seems to be so overwhelming that any coherent path forward seems impossible. Living BETTER reminds me that ending a marriage is not a failure, but critical to finding new love and a future relationship that is BETTER for you both. Living BETTER is having a business of my own, where I make mistakes ALL of the time, and now see them as gifts of insight, that have not only helped me, but others around me.
Make no mistake ;) … I believe that BEST is still important in many situations. I strive to give my BEST in my relationships. I begin each client session by preparing to show up as my BEST coaching self- to give clients value and support at my highest level. But, what has shifted most for me, is that now instead of seeing the mistakes, I challenge myself with the simple questions, “What went well?” and “Even Better If?” Powerful coaching questions that have transformed my life. I challenge you to try using them, with yourself- and others.
A few situation suggestions:
Business: One of your staff has just presented a project proposal to you. You know this person tends to be defensive and reactive to feedback, so you often feel frustrated when you give it. How could this feedback conversation be BETTER? Before you meet, take a few moments to consider, “what were the strengths of the proposal?” When you have your conversation, lead with those… then lead into the suggestions by beginning with “This proposal would be even better, if you had included…”
Relationship: It has been a stressful week at work, and your partner is trying to be supportive. You have been coming home late, throwing your stuff down, and she (or he), wants to ask questions about the day. He (or she) wants to offer you helpful advice. You were ok sharing and listening the last few nights, but tonight as you are pulling in- you feel yourself dreading the conversation. You know your partner prefers to talk about things when he (or she) is feeling stressed- but it is not helpful for you. How can you honor her (or his) need to help without having to have another conversation that simply amps up the stress? How could this situation be BETTER? Before heading inside, get clear about what you need. A quiet walk with the dog to clear the day? A long hug and cuddle to feel close to your partner? Some alone time before talking? Greet your partner and share your appreciation for all of the support this week. Consider saying something like, “I know you want to help me, and as I was driving home, I realized that what I really need tonight is (fill in here)- thank you for understanding.”
Leading with appreciation and recognition of the efforts, then making a suggestion for improvement, often helps to diffuse the defensive response from the other person. It also works when you are considering your own behavior and reactions to life’s everyday dilemmas and situations.
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Here’s to sharing a BETTER life adventure with you!