Take a few moments and reflect on your life. What are the most significant events you’ve experienced up until now? Perhaps you’re thinking about graduation, your wedding day, or the birth of a child. While significant (and certainly not to be discounted), I want you to dig deeper. What experiences have caused you to see life differently? Which have awakened a deep, and perhaps previously untapped, awareness of what brings meaning and joy to life? Which moments were true moments of enlightenment…real turning points for you?
Go ahead, grab a journal or notebook and jot them down…I’ll wait.
Have a few ideas? Great!
As you reflect on your thoughts, you may notice the events that caused you to see your life most differently were the times that were the most challenging. They were likely times that tested you…requiring that you call on your inner-most strengths and resources to get you through. In coaching, we refer to these “oh, sh#*!” moments as “breaks in transparency,” since they tend to shatter the lens through which we previously viewed our world. The break interrupts the flow of our largely unconscious “doing” each day and focuses our reflective awareness on what now exists.
Think about the number of times you’ve hopped in your car and ended up at your destination…with little awareness of how you got there. You were on auto-pilot and, as such, your focus was not on the act of driving. Perhaps you were thinking about your lengthy to-do list or what you were going to fix for dinner that night. How might a flat tire break the transparency of driving? Create awareness and appreciation for the complexity of your car and the value it provides each day?
For me, going through cancer was a huge “oh sh#*!” moment. Perhaps this was on your life event list, too? And, while the experience of going through cancer…the diagnosis through surgery and treatments…was far from a party, it was that experience that caused me to change my life in a powerful and positive way. I discovered, through cancer, that I had been merely surviving life even BEFORE my cancer diagnosis. I came to understand that I was operating at the effect of life v. at the helm of my own ship. Cancer created new awareness and appreciation for what was truly important to me. It allowed….okay, forced….me to slow down and evaluate the answers to some pretty big questions:
• Do you operate with passion and purpose each day?
• Are you living to your fullest potential?
• Are you “being” and not merely “doing”?
• What dreams have you not yet fulfilled?
• Are you leading the life you choose?
You can never change the past, including the “breaks” that may have altered your transparency, but you can change how you choose to think about them … and, similarly, you can choose how to leverage the learning and growth the past provides to create what you want for your future. It’s your life. What do you choose to choose?
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances—to choose one’s own way.” -Victor Frankl