When Amy Kessel reached out to me to do this interview, I was immediately smitten. I've known her "in this space" as a life coach (and transformational muse) whose work I've appreciated and admired for a while now. It was her warmth and transparency that REALLY pulled me in (am a glutton for warmth and transparency). I knew I was dealing with a woman in her process. In her joy and in her wisdom. Yes, I liked her very much.
And how much she loves her work in the world? Her THING? Shivery goosebumps of resonance. Frankly, it's precisely what we deeply desire for you.
So I asked her to please say more. From the sunshine of Rome, she delivered.
What's your thing?
Amy Kessel: My thing is so much a part of me it’s hard to even call it a “thing”. It’s what others have appreciated in me and what I have sought constantly since I was a teenager. It’s my ability to connect deeply in a no-bullshit, straight to the heart kind of way that enables whomever I’m with to see themselves more clearly than they could otherwise. My thing creates a win-win situation: I find myself most fully at home in that raw space of heart level conversation, and the other person is thrilled and empowered by seeing her wisdom reflected back to her.
The tragedy is that I spent most of my career ignoring this gift in favor of using skills I half-heartedly honed in work I didn’t love. And the pinch-me-I’m-dreaming incredibly good news is that I finally figured out how to turn my thing into a Thing. In other words, I now get paid to do what I love and what I’m genetically programmed for. My coaching practice brings me deep-diving women who are ready to get real with themselves. I connect again and again, and bring to our conversation my innate gift along with my coaching tools. Our work together is fulfilling to me on a level I had no idea was possible.
Was finding your thing the result of a divine revelation, an insane invention, a culmination of insights...or something else?
Amy Kessel: I love this question. When my youngest child was toddling around and I was beginning to think about life after fulltime mommying, I started asking the universe for clues. My hunch was that I wanted my work to be aligned with who I had become since I’d left the non-profit world years before. I wanted flexibility, independence and creativity to be part of my work. I wanted to lead with my values, and top of the list was connection.
I had no idea what that might look like.
So finding my thing was the result of staying true to myself, staying with the discomfort of open-ended questions, and being game to explore. I found my way to life coaching with an attitude of willing experimentation, rather than any kind of certainty that it would be a good fit.
I don’t know if it was a divine revelation, but I do know that I have never looked back.
Obstacles/fears/doubts – what were they, how'd you vanquish them?
Amy Kessel: I didn’t! Fears and doubts are here and won’t be going away anytime soon, as far as I can tell. I have all the standard variety fears, plus a nice selection of my own personal best. I work with them by inviting them to the table, to see if there’s some wisdom I can glean from them. And then I put them where they belong, at the sidelines, and I get on with my business.
It’s absurd to imagine we can vanquish fears. I prefer to see myself and my clients as courageous open-hearted warriors with bellies full of butterflies. Each time I overcome an obstacle in my path, it’s by choosing to believe the reliable voice I have within. This voice may be quieter and less screechy than the voices of fear, but it is true wisdom itself. When I allow myself to hear it, it’s accurate beyond belief.
What questions did you ask yourself to trigger your a-ha moments...and what signs and milestones should others be looking for in their journeys?
Amy Kessel: What am I doing when I feel most at ease?
What makes me thrive?
Why do I want what I want?
What am I pretending not to know?
What wants to unfurl in me?
How can I best be of service to myself and others?
Starting with big questions, especially those that make us squirm, is a great way to find our paths and start walking them. And making peace with not knowing the answers is a crucial aspect of these journeys.
Watch for signs that warn you that you have veered off course, as well as signs that remind you you’re on your way. The best initial gauge is the body. Listen to it, as it doesn’t know how to lie. Heed its warning. Or else!
To me, milestones are less important as stand-alones, and more helpful in reminding us of what we want and why we want it. When we settle on what it is that makes us feel most alive, our job is simply to use that to navigate our way toward it. All roads lead to Rome*, so even a path that turns out to be dead-end is an opportunity to find another route. Use milestones to sustain you on your journey; they provide proof that we’re on course, and they give us opportunities to celebrate our progress. (Champagne, anyone?)
The hard part is finding your why. Once you’ve got that, and you call it your compass, the rest is a walk in the woods.
*Side note: this post was written on a sunny afternoon in Rome.
Ahhhh..."willing experimentation". I think of this trying different remedies to soothe the itch, but holding the scientific method (remember this from grade school?): Ask the question. Do the research. Create the hypothesis. Experiment. Draw your conclusion.
Am also appreciating the "listen to the wisdom of the fears" as well as the call to "listen to the wisdom of the body".
AND making peace with the discomfort of not knowing the answers. THIS. IS. BIG. Not forcing, not white-knuckling. Allowing. Unfurling. UnFURLING...this is a strong visual and one that is important in Amy's work.
So in Amy's honour, let's start there: what wants to unFURL in you?
pssst: if you'd like to share your story (or question!) with Thing Finding Thursday, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.