I had a fascinating call last night from a local woman in need of some help. She had heard of me in the community, and was reading my book Breakdown, Breakthrough and found it resonated with her, so she reached out for some coaching insights about her current situation, which is very dire.
Our conversation brought something to light which I’m compelled to address now, because it’s vitally important to me to be authentic and real in my work, while at the same time offering help, comfort, and hope to people who are suffering intensely right now.
This woman indicated to me that in some way, she was nervous to call me, afraid I wouldn’t understand her, or accept her, because of what she’s going through. She is feeling very lost and alone right now, and she said she felt intimidated because she viewed me as a woman who’d accomplished so much, one who doesn’t struggle, and as one who knows exactly what my passion is, and is “powerful” in living that passion.
This one-sided perception, while highly complimentary, is distressing to me, because it acknowledges only one side of me and my life – the light-filled side. It disregards the shadow side, the dimension of me that is feeling burdened, confused, and hopeless like most everyone else in the country today. I struggle in these very hard financial times and in my life, exactly as others do around me. My business has taken a huge hit in the economic downturn, and I’ve been disheartened by the external view that life and career coaching and breakthrough work for women are endeavors only for the “good” and prosperous times, not for times when we can’t pay our bills.
When folks look at my website, programs and offerings, many see something that isn’t there – they see someone who only experiences success and power – one who, after some problems and challenges in the corporate world, somehow easily and seamlessly found a way to reinvent, and did it to great success. What they don’t see (or don’t want to see) are all my flaws, bumps, blocks, and pitfalls– the challenges (in my personality, approach, thinking, and worldview) that created (and still do bring about) crushing and demoralizing obstacles for me. They see in me someone who is invincible, who knew what she wanted and got it.
For the record, it wasn’t, and isn’t, like that – seamless, easy, straightforward. It’s the opposite. For years, I had no idea what I wanted to do in my life, and spent thousands of wasted, unhappy hours feeling lost and confused – and feeling ashamed and embarrassed that, despite my “outward” success, I was breaking down. Now that I do know who I want to be and what I want to do in the world, the challenge is in doing that successfully.
What’s important for me to share right now is my vulnerable, frightened side – the shadow side of me that works day and night to create in the 3-dimensional world what I need and long to do. I’m clawing through these times like everyone else – to pay my bills, to build a thriving business, to remain a source of light and hope for my family, and to provide uplifting help needed now more than ever – while still allowing myself the occasional time to “give in” and hang my head in my hands over the challenges I face.
So there it is – an authentic, real look at the inner workings of a formerly miserable corporate professional turned passionate life and career coach – potentially supremely happy, but in these times, doing everything in her power to keep the faith and to believe actively what her heart tells her is the truth: that each of us will weather these tumultuous times and find ourselves on the other side some day, with greater strength, courage, and wisdom than we ever thought possible.
Here’s to keeping it real.
What do you do each day to “keep the faith” and keep it real in your life and work? I’d love to hear. Thank you for sharing.