During a session with my coach earlier this year, he felt strongly that I was being inauthentic in my responses to him. He questioned whether or not I was giving him the answers I thought he wanted to hear. I could feel the walls of offense rising, but I consciously pulled them back down. First, I know that he cares about me, and second, as a coach myself, I understand that we listen beyond the words to help our clients see things they otherwise can't on their own.
The call ended and I carried on with the day until the middle of that night when the truth came to the surface. I don't remember what I woke up struggling with, but I realized that I had never been true to the vision in my own heart. I've had some of the most incredible teachers and mentors, and out of the utmost trust and respect for them, I unknowingly allowed them to cast their own visions for my life instead of casting it myself. And my coach caught it!
The problem with this approach is that only the carrier of the vision can cast it with 100% accuracy. To allow anyone else to paint the landscape of your life is to miss details that will hinder you from being fully comfortable in your own skin. This revelation took me on a journey of rewriting the history of my life. It led to insights into areas of my leadership where I had been holding myself hostage for years as far back as a teenager.
Our concept of age is strange. Every time I came into a new level of growth, I was punishing and condemning myself afresh for my mistakes up to that point, adding onto the list of shortcomings the ones that my newfound awareness was now highlighting! I was holding a 17 year old to the standards I hold myself to now, but realized quickly how unfair that was to me. It set me up for continued failure because we don't know what we don't know. Revelation and self awareness can only come when life has readied us to be able to receive. It's why we can look back and realize that even though people were telling us the same things all along, we weren't able to accept it at a heart level.
I spent about 4-6 weeks processing through these things following that 30 minute coaching call. I journaled extensively, literally rewriting the stories in my mind according to the truth I could now see. I stepped back to give myself age appropriate grace. I was then able to recognize and acknowledge positive leadership growth and advancement from one stage to the next of my journey. I spent a lot of time reflecting on my 20s, intentionally celebrating for the first time how many of my failures had opened the doors for a depth of understanding books can't provide.
Schools teach us that failing is dangerous. We're punished for making mistakes with low grades, teacher disapproval, and worst of all, the fear of failing again. Sadly, this creates adults who are afraid to take risks. It keeps us from stepping into our dreams to stay in a cycle of status quo even though it's really no safer. The worst part is how it keeps us afraid of looking deep inside of ourselves because of what we might find. Can you imagine a world of people comfortable and confident to get honest with themselves? Things would be a lot different!
My word for this year, up to six weeks ago, was alignment. Last month, I woke up knowing that the season for alignment was complete and the new focus was to shift towards favor. Without being aligned, we miss the opportunities designed specifically for our advancement and for the fulfillment of what God's placed inside of us for others. And without the courage to align ourselves, we will continue to fail unknowingly, holding ourselves back from open doors of opportunity all around us.
Every so often, as leaders, we need to submit to the process of alignment. It requires great courage to confront our humanity, the grace to accept our inability to know then what we're learning now, and the humility to exchange God's superior version of our identity for our own inferior one. His thoughts about us are so much better than our own!
Best of all, when we're newly aligned, we are positioned for opportunities to land every time. Fail often, fail fast, and fail forward!
Wishing you great favor in the new year!