I turned fifty a few weeks ago and I’d like to think that all those years have brought some perspective and a healthy dose of wisdom about this experience we call ‘life’. And the more I take pause and reflect on all the ups and downs that have made up my journey thus far, it seems to me that life is a collection of ‘happenings’, some of which are good, some of which are bad. In the midst of such moments, we can never really determine which are which. Often, we won’t know until many months or years later.
What I do know for sure is that life will serve us many chaotic moments that we’d rather run from if we had the choice. Leaning into them would be our last resort. I call these ‘crucible’ moments. The hurdles along life’s path. The moments that test our mettle. They also happen to be some of our most transformative experiences through which we grow and forge a new or altered sense of identity. Think about it for a minute, think of a time in your life that was particularly challenging such as divorce, job loss, illness, or accident. Consider who you were before that crucible moment and who you became as a result of it?
One thing we can count on is that we will have many hurdles to navigate in our lives. What if we could actually build a muscle around how we responded to such moments? What if we learned to lean into them and chose to see them as beautiful opportunities to discover more of who we are? And trusting that each moment was divinely guiding us ever more closely toward who we are becoming?
I’d like to propose a new mindset, a new way of thinking, a fresh approach towards our crucibles. What would be different if we learned to lean into them? To be okay to sit in the awkward, uncomfortable, not-knowing that so often shows up amidst chaos? Instead of avoiding this place, imagine what gold might await you if you gave yourself permission to pause there for a while.
As coaches, we face adversities every day. Some large ones and some not so large. We are also in the business of helping others to navigate adversity. At the very core of coaching, we are helping our clients to manage life’s transitions with greater ease. Modelling the way is the greatest teacher.
‘It doesn’t matter so much what happens to you, but how you choose to respond that matters most.’
Let me explain by way of an example…
A year ago my life felt pretty close to perfect. We had moved to a tropical paradise, were engaged to be married, I was as fit as I had ever been and I had a thriving little business and a clear business plan for the coming year. It felt like my ducks were all in a nice neat row and everything was falling into place after many years of upheavals in my life.
It was around this time that I read one of the most profound Facebook posts that would ultimately change my life. The post shared about the time of the Great Plague in London in 1665. At that time, Isaac Newton was a student at Cambridge University and was sent home along with all the other students as a precautionary measure.
He spent a year at home. They call this year in his life ‘annus mirabilis’ which translates to ‘wonder year’. Why? Because it was during this year, confined in his home, that he made his greatest discoveries. It was then that he developed his findings on calculus, motion, and gravity.
Without consciously realising it, I had inadvertently chosen to make 2020 my ‘wonder year’ also. At that point, I was unaware that COVID-19 was about to unleash her almighty pandemonium on our world nor did I know that I was just a few weeks from discovering that I had an aggressive cancer growing inside me. That Facebook post quite prophetically instilled in me a belief, a perception, an optimism that would ultimately carry me through the double doomsday of COVID-19 and treatment for breast cancer.
How might choosing to look for the silver lining in any adversity help you as a coach both in your business and at play?
How might it help your clients?
One year on from reading that most potent Facebook post, having survived chemotherapy and managing to steer clear of COVID-19, I now take a few moments to reflect on one of the most significant crucibles of my life. It was definitely one of the most horrible years of my life but equally, one of the most expansive.
Navigating the year that’s been and truly leaning into the icky, uncomfortable times has resulted in one of the most miraculous, beautiful, defining years of my life. Holding the belief that there was some gift in all of it kept my spirits up and my capacity to endure even the toughest days quite strong.
Resilience Tip #1
Stay a little longer in the icky, uncomfortable moments. Get curious about what might be there in those moments for you. Notice what comes up for you.
Stay tuned to future ‘Bend Without Breaking’ articles where I will be sharing more stories and the six resilience tips that have helped me cope with any adversity. My wish is that they will help you too.
Love and wisdom,
Cindy Scott xx