This week launched the beginning of a fresh round of coaching circles at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
A few times a year, I host group coaching calls for current students of my alma mater that have collected from across the globe. I'm joined by students from Dubai, Ireland, Texas, Japan, and many of the locations in between.
I lovingly think of these groups as my Global Coaching Classroom. I'm assigned eight groups. Twelve hours of coaching a week. 40+ women (and two lucky fellas), a cross section of personalities and backgrounds, with a sweet knitting-circle sort of vibe.
We talk business and marketing. We get deep into coaching technique. We roll up our sleeves together and chart the course for the lives they want to create, while deconstructing what having their dreams would do for them.
It's all about extrinsic goals that give us an intrinsic feeling, and employing strategies to make that happen.
I've been coaching these groups for close to 6 years now, but it never fails to feel like the first day of school. The nerves. The expectation. The desire to leave them with golden nuggets and help them reveal their own perfect wisdom.
What inevitably happens in this "first week of school", though, is that I'm brought around to my own golden nuggets— tiny truths and solid reminders of why I love doing this work, how we're all better, more clear, and devoted to our dreams after having spent 7 weeks together.
The students become the teachers. The teacher is a perpetual student. In a container of reciprocal learning, the lines are more blurred than we think.
Here are 4 lessons that I was reminded of last week: Straight from the coaching classroom.
1 :: We all have a story to share. Give people a chance to tell theirs, and we're given an opportunity find the nooks and crannies where we all connect.
Although these groups of creative change-makers span cultures, ages, and locations on the global map, our differences became less blaring than our commonalities once we all began sharing our stories. What brought them to the table? What are their intentions? What are they looking to create and contribute? Who else might benefit from their vision?
Many have come from a path of challenge and healing. Many have a vision of leaving the world a little better than they found it. And all of us are perusing our personal definition of freedom. We’re different, complex, and all strikingly human.
Lesson: When we give others a chance to tell their stories, we're given a gateway to our similarities in return.
2 :: One of the best forms of education is direct experience.
There's the information we read in books, and then there's the knowledge we've lived into our bones.
This is any experience we've had close up, immersed ourselves in, kneaded it with our own two hands in such a way that it's left an impression in our skin and our psyches. Intimacy does that--intimacy with people, experiences, practices--closeness makes an impression.
Much can be said about academics and book smarts, but there’s another form of learning, brought to us by The School of Life, that can’t be underestimated. What have you lived through? What did that experience teach you?
Are there rituals, skills, or circumstances that you’ve gained personal insight into, simply by spending time doing them?
Whether it’s playing the piano, juicing, soothsaying, or motherhood, the learning that comes from practicing repeatedly is what develops our “expertise”.
Studying up on a topic is great, but DOING IT is how we alchemize information into understanding, and develop a well crafted perspective we can share.
Lesson: Step away from the manual. Step into the experience of it. Keep an open heart/mind and you’ll learn along the way.
3 :: Community connection is a healing modality.
As the doyenne of empathy, Brené Brown would say, shame breeds in isolation. It thrives on secrecy. And once it’s spoken, it dissipates. It’s easy to think that we’re the only ones who feel confused, overwhelmed and “not quite ___ enough” when we hide these feelings under the veneer of having our shit together. We’ve all done this on occasion. I know I'm not alone here. None of us wants to be perceived as a hot mess, a failure, a fraud.
However, these feelings need oxygen to heal, and that comes in the form of connection.
Sharing ourselves in totality with supportive, likeminded people reminds us that we’re not alone, and that others feel the same. It’s also a keen reminder that our emotions don’t have to break us, they can come along with us for the ride. And if that ride includes the support of others, it’s bound to be faster, smoother, and a whole lot more enjoyable.
Lesson: Allowing ourselves to be seen, and encouraging each other to shine is a fast track to collective blossoming.
4 :: Feeling grounded, authentic, and at home in our skin is a metric of success.
Recognition. Accolades. A seat at the Lady Boss table. Our name in flashing lights. We all have an idea of when we'll know we've "made it", and a personal inkling of what success looks like. But what does our version of success feel like; even if those external metrics never come to fruition?
Most of the time we're chasing an external idea of success because of the way we believe it will make us feel.
Contentment, freedom, security, confidence, and the limitless permission slip of self expression come from being more at home with ourselves. The next time we take out the measuring stick and ask ourselves what our version of success is, we might also ask what we believe this success will make us feel. It's here that we'll find what we truly want. Often, it's a feeling we can cultivate by becoming more at home with ourselves-- with or without the added bling.
Lesson: The ability to be at home in any situation, because you're at home in your skin is a dazzling, intangible, measureless way of knowing you've "made it".