Right before the first coaching session with a new client, I have them answer my “Quintessential Questions”. Seven power-packed q’s that help to name the deeeeeeep and delicious stuff that gets our work started on the right foot. My favourite questions is:
What is it that seems to be chronic, persistently annoying or that just won’t go away?
It tends to send people into two directions:
- This is what wants attention.
- This is what wants to be released.
Of course, the real honey shows up along the third path.
- This is what needs attention and wants to be released.
I haven’t made a scientific study of this, but when I grab a stack of client files and go looking for the answer to that q, “comparison” rises to the top time and time again.
Which doesn’t surprise me.
It would have been my answer too.
Comparison and its seemingly infinite long-tail have been wound around my legs most of my life. And it’s ensnared me more times than I care to count...in a myriad of ways.
Whipping my head from side to side to see what everyone else was doing only gave me whiplash, not a better sense of what I “should” be doing.
Keeping my eyes on somebody else’s path just made me lose my footing on the steep and jagged rock cliffs of progress.
Projecting my light so brightly onto others just made me forget it was mine to begin with, leaving me to flounder in the dark.
Deferring my expertise and power left me without my sense of sovereignty…and left me flushed with shame…for having done.IT.again.
So yeah, I'm intimate with that particular brand of pain.
In fact, in my TEDx talk, From Impostor to Authority, this piece of content that showed up in the first seven drafts of my talk ended up on the cutting room floor, never to be uttered:
A request: Worship wisely.
- Recognize that no one ELSE is ever THE Authority.
- Those that we want to canonize are finding their own path and wrestle with their own Impostor Complexes. They don’t see themselves as THE authority either…because they are not. (No one is)
- We canonize people and then persecute them when they don’t live up to our expectations.
- We are killing creativity with canonization.
Yep. I cut it from the final version…it felt too raw. Too risky. Too…something.
But my desire to address this topic wouldn’t, couldn’t go away. The narrative arc of how we canonize someone we admire to the point of disconnecting from them, then demonize them, well, that has always felt like the missing piece on our collective paths to actually stepping into our great work. Our starring role.
We fear that once we become too big, too famous, too…something, then people will disconnect from us. Because we’ve seen it. Because we’ve done it.
Ugh. I feel that dead smack in the middle of my heart.
So yes. Chronic. Persistent. Not going anywhere.
But then July 3rd, 2013, Lauren Bacon and I got on the phone for the very first time. And I shared this painful piece with her. I gave it voice, because, well, I knew:
1. This is what wants attention.
If I’m being honest, I think my unconscious intention was to pretty much hand it over to Lauren and say here’s this scary thing…can you take it on for me so that I can be rid of it because:
2. This is what wants to be released.
Well. That’s not what happened. Of course not.
In that very first conversation, it was apparent that this was work deeply oh-so-very important to BOTH of us. Something we wanted to heal for ourselves. For our clients. The goosebumps on our arms showed us that. So we heeded the call. We dug in. For the past year, we have spent 90 minutes on the phone EVERY.SINGLE.WEEK drafting, crafting, sweating, incanting and creating the most fulsome (and complete...for now) work we’ve come across on this topic.
Because it turned out #3 was once again the sweetest path:
3. This is what needs attention AND wants to be released.
Released, but as an offering. And it’s just about ready for you. For your discovery. (Yes, it used to be called Worship Wisely and it used to be a group program. But it told us it wanted to be something else. And we listened. We always listen.)