My new theory:
People don’t ever really change, and that’s exactly as it should be!
If you’re a coach or client, you may think I’m crazy to type that out loud. You may be grimacing at your computer, coming up with loads of examples that prove me wrong. You stand by to feverishly defend your websites that boast magical abilities to support clients in living into their potential. We are, after all, in the business of evoking transformation, aren’t we? If so, how can this be true?
Last month, I got to hang out with my mother and three of her childhood friends. For 10 days I didn’t really talk to anyone under the age of 83. These are 4 very accomplished, out-spoken, well-educated, liberal, fun women. I was the Sherpa and chauffeur on their annual reunion trip, this time to the Florida Keys. Throughout our trip, I felt I could see them across time at ages like 4, 8, 13, 19, 26, 35, 47, 56, 64, 72, and now in their 80s. I could see how, though hips and bits may get replaced, some things truly never change. Best of all, I could see how GREAT that is!
One day during lunch, I leaned over to one of the women and asked, “Has she always been this bossy?” She replied, “Oh yes! Always. ALWAYS!” We giggled. It wasn’t the fact this one was still ‘bossy’ that intrigued me; it was the fact that this woman had always cared about getting things done. It was the fact she has always had a zest for life, a passion for experiences, a desire to lead, and an ability to see what needs to be done and be assertive in service of that which intrigued me. Since the ‘bossy’ one was my mother, I know very well that she’s not always bossy, and that she’s so much less bossy than in the past, but this awesome, passionate woman — the one who has always lived for a cause, has led and inspired change, and has infused the world with new ideas and great fun — has and always will be who she is through and through. Thank God that will never change!
This morning, I got the most beautiful email from my very first coach, Keri Kuerbis Lehmann. She gushed about me and told me how amazing she thought I am. She tried on the word proud, but it didn’t fit. Instead she just acknowledged me and loved me completely. Sometimes as coaches we feel a little proud, but mostly, we just feel relieved — relieved when our clients peel away the layers of crud they’ve piled on their potential, revealing and celebrating the beautiful human beings they are. Keri began that journey with me, and it’s such a thrill to hear her words 16 years later, celebrating how much more ME I am than ever before.
When I hired Keri, I struggled with time management, money-management, and well… managing pretty much everything seemed a struggle! My husband and I ran our own business as glass blowers, but business was down. We’d gone from 7 employees down to 2 or 3, my passion for my work was all but gone, and all I had to do to keep the business, our home, our family, and the rest of life going overwhelmed me. I was filled with self-doubt and a master at seeing my faults.
That’s all true, AND……. As I look back, I see that I was also a vibrant, courageous, creative, entrepreneurial, caring, honest, well-meaning person. I failed often at the details, but my intentions were always good. I didn’t trust myself much because I failed to meet my own expectations, but we’d actually pulled off a remarkable feat: We had grown a business in the middle of nowhere, making things that no one needed, to the point where we employed 7 people in our tiny town, and our work was in over 700 shops and galleries across the country. I was infertile, yet we were parenting two beautiful children. We started with no money, yet we acquired a horse, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 20 acres of land and a beautiful 3200 sq foot home we brought back to life from its abandoned status.
If I met that young woman today, I would think she was rather remarkable! I would want coach her, because I would want her to see herself the way I saw her. Just like my coach, Keri, didn’t judge or criticize me then for what I struggled with, I no longer judge that younger me either.
As I prepare my books for my accountant here at tax time, I still feel those twinges of “I don’t know how to do this!” and “I’ll never get it done”. I can feel how some of the hard things never seem to change. I’m better at these things now, but it still doesn’t feel easy. I’m not sure it ever will. What’s different now is that I don’t hate myself for it. I look to my mom and her friends and I’m glad they still have each other and that aspects of them will never change. I’m glad my mom was ‘the bossy one’! I’m grateful to the ‘happy, curious one’, the ‘easy going one’, and the ‘one with the exquisite ability to hold onto the entire picture’. I love who they’ve each become with time, and how much they’ve remained true to themselves always.
Of course some things change. Of course we adjust and grow and evolve along our paths. Shifting our perceptions can evoke powerful transformation. However, who I am at my core – who I have ALWAYS been – I can count on that never changing. I have been, and always will be, a vibrant, courageous, creative, entrepreneurial, caring, honest, well-meaning person. Sometimes I’m still harsh, critical, and out of touch on some level. I often feel far from vibrant. When overworked, I don’t feel very creative. My hair went curly, my skin wrinkles, I learn new tricks, and I gain and lose weight. Those things are all on the surface. Like wind across water, the surface changes. A little behavioral nip ‘n tuck never hurts. The core though… That place where our values, life purpose, inner strength and resources live? That will never change. Our relationship with it will evolve. Our ability to express, accept and know who we are will improve and expand. But who we are at our core will never change. And that, in my humble opinion, is a very good thing.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and I’m eager dialogue with you about this. Do you believe it’s possible to change who we are at our core? Would you ever want to? I’m curious……
Still just me,