Joanna was a client of mine - young, vivacious, smart and ambitious - she just had one weakness. She was almost always (about every week or so) thrown off her center - allowing her friends to sway her from decisions that she knew were good for her; allowing her insecurities and unjustified worries (inner critic) to take her off course from what she knew deep inside was the right path for her.
“How do I tell it to stop?” she cried during a zoom session with me one day. “How do I regain my center - my true self? I feel like a ship … a strong ship that is always thrown off course. How do I get back to the true me, my true course and my true destination?”
This is how we (she and I) created a transformation for herself.
1. Better to go for transformation than linear, incremental change.
Change is usually predictable and done in incremental steps and is typically based on what you know from the past. E.g. I know that predictably I could increase my annualized salary based on past years history by about $2,500 per year.
Transformation (versus change) is having a qualitative or quantitative leap - you leap frog in light years from your current state to a state that is desired, but seemed almost impossible or unfathomable to attain initially (but usually upon hindsight, the pathway becomes very obvious.) Doing so requires a bold declaration based on what you would like in the future versus what you think you can do. E.g. I moved to a whole new industry and tripled my income by leveraging my strengths and skills acquired in the previous industry and applying those to this new industry even though upon initial examination, the two industries seemed to be worlds apart. I made the declaration that I would find a way to triple my value, but initially had no clue as to how to do that.
In my experience, sometimes you need to do change and sometimes you need to do transformation. However, the amount of work that you put into change is often about the same amount of work that you need to put in for transformation. The trade-off is in the patience and dedication/determination required in transformation, to think outside the box and to stick to what you really want.
Also, change usually leaves more to be desired in fulfilling an appetite for something different, better and more exciting. This lack of excitement can lead to disenchantment which leads to an inner grumbling/resentment which leads to stress and burnout. So you may change, but it may not change what is fundamentally important to you, leaving you with small improvements and more of the same in terms of the underlying lack of satisfaction.
2. The Steps For Transformation
- The Awakening Awareness
I started Joanna off by helping her to notice her inner critic. That judge that evaluates everything you do. That assigns value to you based on you meeting its requirements. She started observing how the judge has put a zero value on her, her skills and her abilities. The judge was only appeased when there were results. But when there were no results, the judge deemed her useless. This was problematic, as in order to create value, one would have to deem you valuable regardless of your results because when you first start something (anything), there are usually no results.
Interestingly, she started noticing how her inner critic would agree with the inner critic of her friends who would try to dissuade her from pursuing her dreams with rigor and joy.
I also gave her exercises to feel her body and how it responded, especially when she was in the midst of a heavy debate or argument with her inner judge and, especially when she was being judged by the circle of friends she was with.
Noticing your body and feeling your body is not only calming, but it literally distracts the judge.
Distracting the judge as part of your growing awareness is a good thing. It creates a spaciousness for you to find more possibilities - to find and reaffirm the good in you, to validate your skills and abilities and to also stay centered as you depart from the norms that other people may follow.
I hope you are paying attention at this point, for the previous paragraph is the key - most coaching programs try to explain this rather than give you the direct experience of moving through it by feeling your body. (As a result - if you keep experiencing directly, you will also start feeling your soul, inner strength and abilities that you had squashed as your inner judge took over in your past.)
Most people ignore this stage. Mostly because of impatience. But you really need time to absorb and integrate what you are becoming aware of. This can take a while. But allowing yourself to integrate and normalize your awareness - to allow the trauma of the awareness to naturally be felt, digested and integrated into your psyche - leads to a more grounded self - one that is genuinely ready to take on what is next.
- A New Context or Future
Once you are integrating what you are learning as you become more aware of your inner critic, you are more peaceful and insightful. This spaciousness inside you gives you more chances to create or invent from nothing - the future that you want.
It starts with you creating a simple mission statement. The way I do mission statements is very simple. Simple because I want you to remember the mission statement.
Start by coming up with 10-20 words or phrases that inspire you e.g. Integrity e.g. Making a difference e.g. Abundance e.g. Forging Joyful Connections Around the World. Etc.
Pick the best 10 words or phrases - the ones that call to you the most.
Try to string together a maximum of 3 sentences that represent your new future or new context.
- Designing from Your Future vs. Your Past - Structures & Systems
Based on the new mission statement you created, you can start creating the right kinds of structures (e.g. goals and milestones that represent your mission.)
You can also use or design the right kinds of systems that support your structures and your mission.
At this point, you will start feeling a different anchoring in your life. Whereas before, the only anchors you would have would be your past (your past unexamined values, beliefs etc.) , now you have an anchor that promotes your future. E.g. This anchor could be expressed in a question that is always in front of you “Is what you are about to do furthering your future and your mission?” This gives you more direction and less chances to be distracted and to stay above the fray that other people tend to impose on you consciously or not.
- Traction, Momentum and the Flood Stage - Accountability Till Fulfillment
Having a set of structures and systems that are aligned with your mission now creates a focus on the future rather than the past.
The inner judge starts receding to the background and your true self driven by what you really want, moves to the forefront.
Having accountability come from your true self rather than your inner critic, frees you up. I embrace if not love accountability - but I had to first work through the destructive forces my inner critic had left for me, so that I could related to accountability as a real, genuine adult with possibility.
This refreshing style of accountability typically converts into a more relaxed but focused traction - one which still has the inevitable bumps and grinds, but one that is nurturing.
In other words, you get stuff done, while rising above the fray, staying centered and having Peace and Joy in your life.
So the question for you is “When would you like to start creating your new future?”
Since 1991, I’ve been reflecting on, designing, and implementing methodologies and systems for bringing a transcendent, creative and innovative approach to critical aspects of entrepreneurship.