180907_Choice_Mag_cover smallOver the span of my career, I’ve discovered that anything is learnable. Though it might take 10,000 hours to achieve mastery, I can achieve a certain level of competence.

But it’s not always desirable.

I could learn how to be a results-only, hard-driving command-and-control leader. But that’s not who I want to be.

I could learn how to be a successful criminal. Again, that’s not the direction I want to go.

These boundaries come from my deeply held values and beliefs. I’m about honesty, generosity, and thoughtfulness. So when the world gives me an opportunity which takes me too far from that philosophy, I may well choose to not go that direction.

It would take me too far from who I want to be. I notice that simple fact by being mindful and knowing myself. My coach sure does help me do that.

The day I was laid off from a 31-year career with a global company, I had a big choice to make. That can be a devastating event in one’s life, and I know people who take the bitterness to their grave.

At that moment, I discovered that I was going to move forward with optimism. I had been building my coaching career for a decade based on the philosophy that anything is possible, for my clients and myself.

So I chose to be that optimistic person, focusing on the opportunity. Because it’s based on my core beliefs. I believe I can figure out any problem that I want to focus on, and this exhibits itself as an optimistic attitude. I chose to become a full-time coach.

These days my mantra is: It’s all learnable. I especially use that with clients who are stuck and not feeling confident in their skills and level of knowledge.

Now here’s the fascinating thing: By discovering this within myself and articulating it to others, that has clarified and reinforced who I am in my core. I get stuck on issues just like anybody else, but this personal philosophy gives me powerful direction and access to resources.

With this self-knowledge, I have a baseline to know when I should change my mind. My key questions are:

  • Do my core values help me to make this decision?
  • Looking back on this decisions five years from now, how will I wish I had decided?

Sometimes it’s necessary to change my mind, even to alter my understanding of my core values. Certainly that day I lost my job was a great clarifying moment.

When I work with my coach on a difficult issue, these are the questions I hope she will cause me to ponder and even struggle with. But it’s also a discussion I can have with myself, and usually helps me to make progress and become more confident.

Is this actually changing the chemistry of my mind and body? Sure, probably. We are miraculous beings, each one of us.

What I know is that I think the way I think, and I have more influence over my future than I usually give myself credit for.

How are YOU designing your future?

Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine  of professional coaching www.choice-online.com