There’s genius lurking underneath your thoughts about how you are doing

by | Aug 25, 2016

The synopsis: There are times in life when we’re doing just fine, even spectacularly, but for our confused thinking about how we are doing. Rather than trying to do better, we can drop our story about how we’re doing and discover the natural genius that’s already at work.

Approximate transcript: I was working with another coach a bit earlier today, mentoring her towards her ICF certification credential, and we were talking about listening, and questions, and how to let go of being in the driver’s seat all the time as a coach. And she made a remark that sometimes that feels so clumsy, that if we really get out of the driver’s seat and listen, as one of my mentors, Linda Pransky says, with nothing on our mind, it can feel like we’re losing the thread, like we don’t know what’s going on. Not sure what we’re talking about, not sure what to ask next. And there’s a sense of disorientation and confusion about that.

And for me that’s the sweet spot. When I feel a little disoriented, a little lost in a coaching conversation, I know I’m in the right place.

And I was reflecting on this, a memory came to mind. Some years back I was involved in masters swimming, which doesn’t mean you’re a great swimmer, it means you’re an old swimmer. (Some people who are masters swimmers are also great swimmers, I was just an old swimmer.)

But anyway, we were working on backstrokes. And I love the backstroke. But I always had the feeling that my backstroke was really klutzy, clumsy, inefficient. I felt like I was moving a lot of body and not much water, that I was flailing.

So our coach had an underwater video camera one night, and I said “Would you film me doing the backstroke and give me some feedback?” So I did my usual backstroke, flailing, or so it seemed to me, down the pool.

I get to the other end, I get out, and I talk to her, and she says “You know, you might have one of the best natural backstrokes I’ve ever seen.”

What? And in that moment I didn’t learn a new way to do a backstroke, I unlearned how I was labeling my perfect way of doing the backstroke.​​​​​​​
And the same thing can happen to any of us at any moment. We feel like we’re flailing in life, we feel like we’re lost and confused. And it’s possible we’re doing a perfectly good natural backstroke, and that the only thing that is keeping us from enjoying the experience, from seeing what’s possible, from hearing the insights that’s bubbling up, or as coaches from noticing the question that wants to be asked, is that we’re thinking about it a lot instead of just being with it.

So, that’s my offer for you this week. Where in life are you doing a perfectly good natural backstroke, but thinking about it so much that it’s taking you out of your sweet spot? Where in life can you simply drop your thinking about how you’re doing, and discover that you’re doing spectacularly well? I’d love to hear from you.