My big fat reality check in Starbucks (& what we you can learn from it!)
Isn’t it funny how something can happen that just instantly changes your whole perspective? Stephen Covey refers to this as a 'paradigm shift' in his awesome book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. Such 'paradigm shifts' are at the heart of powerful coaching as rarely the situation in itself that needs changing but rather the way we chose to interpret- and thus emotionally engage with- that situation.
Let me share with you a personal example of this in the hope that it might also inspire you to look at what's going on in your life and business with new eyes.
Here’s the situation:
I was in Starbucks, indulging in a hot chocolate (with cream ) whilst going through my diary and To Do List for up until the end of the year. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes which involves a whole new brand spanking website and repositioning of my coaching work (equally exciting and scary in equal measures!) as well as planning a wedding (overseas!). I was feeling overwhelmed and tense about everything I'd need to juggle and- although I didn't realise it at the time as I had got so caught up in the chatter of my mind- a little sorry for myself with all the stuff I had to do.
And then something happened that changed everything.
Outside the window drove a hearse bearing a coffin and floral tribute that read “Mum", followed by a horse and carriage and the funeral party. Suddenly I went cold, time went into slow motion and I felt a pang deep in my core that words can't explain. Here I was sitting fretting about everything on my "To Do" list and somewhere a family in my local community was burying their daughter, mother and wife.
It was the reality check I needed. My attention shifted to how privileged and grateful I am to have my health, a loving family, a husband to be that I adore and a business I love. That's not to say they're aren't bits that are less than rosy- the point is in that moment, I was choosing to see the bits that's highlighted how damn lucky I am. And in fact all of the above is really secondary as the biggest gift of all is my life.
Steve Jobs spoke openly about how he believed death to be one of life’s biggest motivators. I couldn’t agree more. Too many of us get so caught up with details of life and keeping safe for the ‘future’ that we become complacent with our dreams, dismissive of our hopes and suspicious of our deepest desires. Our energy is consumed by surviving and existing rather than really living. Quite simply, we take life for granted.
In that crazy mind of mine, I’ve often thought to myself that if we all knew when our time would come, how differently- more fully- might we live our lives? If we came out of our mothers womb with a little note detailing the date of our departure from planet Earth-Life.
We tend to recoil from death- the unknown- naturally, but I wonder how much reminding ourselves of our own mortality is the very push we need to make bigger, bolder business and life decisions? Would the paradigm be shaped more by what we have got to gain, rather than constricted by what we have to loose?
The hearse gradually went out of view to be swallowed up by the city traffic. I took a gulp of hot chocolate, savouring every moment, and sent a silent prayer for the mum and the family- and a little thank you to the universe for reminding me of the best gift any one of us can have
PS: Funnily enough, that afternoon I set even bigger, outrageously bold goals for myself and my coaching business. It didn't feel indulgent- rather, it felt absolutely the right thing to be doing to make the most of the life I've been blessed with. It's truly astounding the impact a big paradigm shift can have!
What do you think? Do you agree with Steve Jobs (and me!) that death can be a huge motivator in life? From this perspective, how might your approach to your business and life be different? I'd love to know your thoughts!
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