It seems true to me that we coach people on what we ourselves are working on, that we’re best at teaching others the lessons we are most eager to learn for ourselves. It’s such an authentic starting point, the one that gives us the most credibility, to be able to say, LOOK, I lived through this, I was once where you are now, and here, this is what I did, this is what I tried, this is what I learned, this is what worked. The truth of our lived experience is so valuable to others. That experience with its ups & its downs, its successes AND its struggles, gives us such a strong platform from which to lead, illuminate, transform. Maybe it’s the only thing we can ever truly know for sure.
I was reminded of this so deeply recently as I was doing the week’s homework for a new group course I’d just launched. Sure, I created the homework, but still it’s important to me to go through the same experiences as the participants in the program in real time, so I can speak from a place of fresh immersion in the material.
To get ready, I thought back to the instructions I’d provided by video about how to complete the week’s work. I gathered my tools around me: lined up my colored pencils and post-its and calculator and had Quickbooks Online open in case I wanted to dig deeper on the numbers side of things. I set aside a few quiet Saturday afternoon hours to assessing and analyzing my current business model, applying myself with the same thoughtfulness I’d advised for others.
Walked my talk, in other words.
The start was slow, with my mind throwing up resistance like yeah, ok, I’m doing it, so what? There was a (loud) part of me that was like, this is so basic and I’ve done this before, many times now, how could this possibly help me? But the longer I spent in it, the more a faint glimmer started to make itself felt, like there was something tantalizing leading me, and then BAM, the longer I spent in the process, the deeper I went, lights started to snap on – realizations, the beginnings of an immediate action plan, and glory of all glories, new ideas for new offerings, new ways of working that will be more in alignment with what I really want to be doing and which have the potential to shift my earning and my living significantly. Hot damn.
Not too shabby for a little exercise with paper and pencil.
Of course, yes, on one hand, it’s lovely affirmation that the process itself works. That’s awesome. And yes, it gives me that fresh immersion in the material to be able to speak from when we gather next as a group to talk about it. Also fantastic. The clarity I emerged with, about which clients and offers need to go and which new things need to happen? Delicious icing on the cake.
But more than anything, doing my own homework reminded me so hard of the importance of sticking to what I know from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. We’re taught so young to leave “I” out of it -- thinking here of all those essays in high school where we’re asked to write about a story, a historic event or a book, and yet we’re never allowed to state it in the form of “This is what I think,” taught instead to build our thesis on the arguments of others. There is so much around us that leads us away from self-confidence, away from believing our own selves, but I’m convinced, now more than ever (thanks, homework!), that standing tall in our own experience, our own story, is the one true place we need to stay, start from, return to, over and over again.
We need to Talk our Walk.
How you see your work, the world, what’s happened to you, shaped you, what you’ve learned, that’s what matters. Talk the walk that brought you here.
After all, to quote a favorite song from a favorite band, “Examination of What” by The Digable Planets, We’re just Babies, man. The best we can do is keep learning and keep passing that learning on to others, reaching across, reaching back, extending a helping hand. That means building a powerful faith in your own lived experience and a willingness to share it, use it, for good.
Talk Your Walk.