Joe was in his forties and was a master in his professional world. (Joe is not his real name.) He’s said that leading a board meeting full of powerful people was where he felt most at home.
When Joe contacted me over six months ago to discuss coaching, he was going through the motions at work. He’d been extremely successful, but now he was drained and bored. Something was way off, and he was secretly frightened by it.
As we talked it became clear that his old ways of creating success were no longer serving him. It was time to begin a new journey.
Playing a Role to Be Successful
In the past being “successful” had required him to play a role. And he rocked that role. He was a star.
But the role wasn’t him. Before he slipped into his “success” costume, he would leave his heart and his values at the door. The role required massive amounts of goals and strategizing and planning and maneuvering — much of it fear based. Much of it rooted in how he could beat someone else.
But now playing the role was exhausting. It was severely out of alignment with all of who he truly is. We arrived at the distinction that going forward, playing this role was unacceptable.
But where did that leave him?
Giving up the role meant he would be showing up as his full self. Which meant we would all see who he really was. And this meant he would be vulnerable.
And just who was he really? A powerful guy with a huge heart. A guy who loved his family. A guy with a deep sense of spirituality. A guy with a deep desire to mentor the younger ones working their way through the ranks. In short, he was a guy who really cared about others.
No wonder why the “success role” didn’t serve him anymore.
At the time he was scared as hell to bring this out in the open. His ability to be “successful” and win was built on his ability to care less about others. At one point he asked, “Can I really be successful and have a heart, too?”
No More Hiding Out
My challenge to him? “No more hiding out. Who you really are is far more powerful and remarkable. It’s time to practice showing up as who you are regardless of where you are.”
At the start of the New Year he became itchy. He wanted a big, bold audacious five-year plan for the next phase of his business. Of course he did. This was his M.O. — Who was he without a big plan? Who was he without a game to win? Who was he if he wasn’t crushing some goal?
I shrugged off the plan. Why? Because it was the old role showing through. It was a distraction.
“Stop hiding out.”
We moved forward. Our conversations got deeper and deeper. His volunteer work to mentor others got deeper and deeper.
Freedom and Abandon
On today’s call we went deep again. Very deep. Joe told me how he used to ski mogul runs. Early on he used to stand at the top and plan his route down. If he executed it correctly, that was it – Ho hum. No big deal.
But as his skills got better he learned to simply enjoy letting go. No plan needed. He was open to being surprised about where things would lead. He told me that he loved skiing like that – so free, so fun, so playful. He called it “abandon”. And this was where he felt most alive.
I reminded him that it was his highly-developed skiing skills that allowed him to let go and be spontaneous. And as a master in his professional world, he could now play with this idea of “abandon”, too. He could experience the flow and joy that comes from taking emotional risks.
He didn’t need to have the perfect route planned. He didn’t need to play a role to ensure success. Instead he could recognize that his power went far beyond that. His skills were embodied.
More and more he’s finding flow. He’s finding joy in stretching himself to integrate his heart and values and spirituality — all of himself — into his work. He’s taking his seat from a deeper place within. He’s learning that his mere presence is an invitation for others to join him in a much more rewarding interaction.
He’s moving beyond being “successful”. He’s becoming someone that can’t be replaced. He’s a man that can flow with what is thrown his way. He’s a man that is less and less defined by what he’s doing or building or achieving. He’s more focused on changing lives than winning a game or “crushing” goals.
He’s finding freedom and simplicity. He’s allowing himself to just be who he truly is.
And this inspires the hell out of me.
Here’s to you living as your full self,