Struggling coaches that reach out to business coaches will usually be told: get clear on what problem you solve. That’s the only thing people are looking for: how can you solve my problem?
Do you help me lose weight? Save my marriage? Get rid of my insomnia? Ease the pain in my back?
And I’m sure there are coaches and other practitioners that help you with those things. Occasionally, I may solve a problem too – accidentally.
But the thing is: as soon as one problem is solved, the next problem will arise.
We are human, and humans have problems.
Well, if we could accept everything and anything life throws at us, there would be no problem whatsoever. But we don’t. We want some things, but not others. We want the sweet but not the bitter. And so we struggle and try to get rid of whatever we find unpleasant.
The problem of all problems, the one that is BEHIND all our other struggles, is of course that we die, and we don’t want to. All our small problems can be redirected to the big one: we don’t want to die. It’s our survival instinct that keeps us in fighting mode. Fighting everything that remotely threatens our survival – either of the body, or the ego.
All in vain though: die we will.
We experience life by way of contrast. You cannot know happiness unless you know the opposite. You don’t appreciate health when you don’t know what it is to be sick. The sun doesn’t have so much appeal when you don’t know what it’s like when it’s gone. And although many people don’t exactly enjoy the actual running, many report how good they feel when it’s over and they’re in the shower.
But not only that, it is precisely through our struggles, that we get our biggest insights, learn our most valuable lessons, become a wiser, more mature, more compassionate being.
When my mother died when I was 24, I felt my world collapsed – yet in that pain and despair I found my gifts. I wouldn’t be the teacher and mentor I am now if it hadn’t been for that dark period in my life.
As zenmaster Thich Nhat Hanh says: ‘No mud, no lotus.’
However, having said all that, there is such a thing as ‘savoir vivre’ – the art of living. It’s not in solving one problem after the other – though we will always be doing that (and don’t get me wrong: having your roof fixed when it leaks is skilful living). It’s in seeing life for what it truly is, and seeing ourselves for what we truly are. In understanding, deeply, lies redemption.
Sometimes we struggle, sometimes we surrender, who knows which is best.
Now this understanding, and the skills to surf the waves of life, I DO help people with.
Perhaps I solve a problem after all.
p.s. Do you know Project Positive Change? It is a beautiful global network of changemakers that I am proud to be a member of. This month (June), I’m giving free workshops on the PPC Facebook page every Wednesday.
The first one is up already.
And here’s the schedule for the rest of the month:
14 June, 12.00 CEST: what to do when triggered
21 June, 16.00 CEST: no mud, no lotus
28 June, 16.00 CEST: dealing with the inner critic
I’d love to see you there!