Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
A revolving stage, painted as a map of the world, placed the actors at just the appropriate place for them to sing and dance each number. The stage turned every time, perfectly, during each performance for several weeks – until it abruptly stopped during the final act on the final night, leaving each actor out of position and facing every which way but the right one.
My heart sank, as I imagined each actor thinking frantically what their next move would be to adjust to their new stage setting.
Your mind is amazing! It is in the full time business of keeping you safe. It reminds you to be careful. It warns you of not acting too foolish. It points out everything that could possibly go wrong if you take too much of a risk.
It absolutely LOVES to hold you back from anything and everything that might hurt you physically, emotionally or in your relationships.
It’s on the job 24/7, running like clockwork.
As great as that may sound, there is a problem with this – there is rarely a good reason for living a life of safety. In fact, as a newborn you came into the world absolutely fearless! Research tells us that the only 2 universal fears that everyone on the planet arrives with is the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. This means that every fear you possess as adults, and that your mind carefully guards against, is LEARNED.
Negative experiences, painful relationships and distorted teaching all led to the creation of your own unique set of fears, fears that were actually non-existent at birth.
As a child, you accumulated fear after fear which, with each new fear quietly growing within you, led to the disappearance of that outgoing, joyful, fearless part of you that made life so exciting and fun.
Before learning to be afraid and anxious, however, every day and moment was a possibility of experiencing something new and wonderful. If it went well, we loved it! If it went poorly, who cared, because the next thing in our life might be even more wonderful!
Yet, I wonder what happened to that bright-eyed, risk-taking explorer. Where is that creator and adventurer that lived each moment to the fullest? Did the fears that you learned permanently bury, under layers of cautiousness and anxiety, your potential for an exciting life?
Well, I have great news,
As I write these words, I struggle to stay present. My mind wants to remind me of everything I have coming up, things that I should be thinking about, planning, and worrying over.
Yet, as I focus on the future it interferes with right now, with this very moment. In fact, I realize that thinking about the future while living in the present is not even possible.
I cannot live in two places at the same time!
The future distracts me, it leads me down a path where there is precious little under my control. While living in the future, I hear words such as “What if… I should… I need to.” There is very little positive or productive thinking in these words. The future is out of my control.
However, when I am in the present, really in the moment, things get done. Articles get written, art is created, goals are met, creative business ideas are achieved, and real life is experienced.
In the present, I am committed to my true, authentic self. In the future I connect with my fearful self, the one who anticipates, who becomes cautious and who ultimately lives in fear.
There are other times, however, when I let myself live in the past. I remember what I should have done, the choices that might have been better, the creative things I could have gone for. I begin to move from presence to the past, from this very moment that is under my control, to looking back on how I might have lived differently.
Even though I cannot in any way change or control my past, I allow myself to feel guilt and shame. I have plenty of material to feel regret, so instead of gaining wisdom from my past and becoming stronger as a result in the moment, I beat myself up, as if there was something I could do about it today.
As many of you are aware, in addition to my practice of Psychotherapy, I am engaged in the practice of Life and Performance Coaching for High Achievers. I am often asked to explain in what ways Coaching differs from Psychotherapy. I thought I would share my thoughts briefly in this post.
Differences between Psychotherapy and Life Coaching
Psychotherapy has been traditionally based on the premise that:
~ The client has been emotionally damaged by some past event(s), and needs to experience “healing” from the pain or trauma.
~ The concern is with the past and the present.
~ The focus is about excavating and neutralizing negatives.
Life and Performance Coaching rests on the premise that:
~ The client possesses unrecognized resources available to develop strategies that lead their goals and dreams to fulfillment.
~ It is about liberating positives. It is about putting the client in touch with his or her own amazing wisdom and creativity.
~ The focus is on the present and the future.
~ It is for those ready for their NEXT level of achievement, who are ready to lean into their edge and experience growth they never believed was possible.
As one coach has said,
“Life coaching is about designing a future,
not about getting over the past.”
In my work over many years, I have discovered that not everyone who might want life coaching is suitable for it. I provide the person who is seriously interested in Coaching with an initial, deep 90 minute coaching conversation that helps us to decide if he or she is ready for this kind of growth-work.
Because this initial conversation is as important to me as it is to the potential client seeking coaching, I do not charge for this time together. I must believe that I can help move them forward and enjoy working with the person or else we will not be a good fit.
risked themselves and dared to experiment with their own life.”
~ Philosopher Herbert Otto
In my 31 years of coaching and consulting I have had the privilege to work with world-class athletes, executives, writers, pastors, entrepreneurs and performance artists. During all of these years of working with thousands of individuals, I have never had anyone tell me,
“Can you please help me become a mediocre performer?”
“You know Dr. Nick, I am making way too many sales. How can I become a little less effective with my clients?”
“What are some ways to slow down my writing career?”
“I really don’t care if my art makes it to the marketplace.”
“I am perfectly happy staying afraid and playing it safe.”
Not once have I been asked to help someone stay on the path to mediocrity. Yet, we tend to define our lives in terms of safety, lack of risk-taking and just “getting through” comfortably. An outrageous life doesn’t settle. It doesn’t put up with things being just ‘okay’.