May 20, 2021
By Allison Iantosca
There is no good time to arrive at a high school graduation ceremony. Too early and you’re saving six seats with a tube of Chapstick and the one program you got coming in the door. Just before and you’re left with random one-off seats, too late and you’re parking in the overflow lot taking a shuttle up to the gym. No matter what though, you’re rushing and totally amped up about the start of the longest two hours of your life.
As it is that time of year, I was thinking about what we have to look forward to as these kinds of events can begin again. My last experience went something like this: somewhere between on time and too late, I found myself perched on the edge of a flimsy plastic chair baking from the inside out, thanks to the lack of AC and the close proximity of my co-celebrants, pondering this odd ritual.
My niece was one in a sea of blue. Tears had popped to my eyes as the bagpipes ushered in her graduating class and I caught a glimpse of the back of her head, but that lasted for all of forty-five seconds before the room settled into a numbed state of attentiveness. I struggled to reconcile the surge of emotion– pride, humility, fear of real life ahead, tragedy of passing time, joy of family– with the odd banality of a rote agenda determined by the previous hundred classes.
It is so odd that the benchmark of this major accomplishment, so critical to our human experience, lacks the creativity and uniqueness that got us there in the first place. Nonetheless, we sit through commencements with optimism and anticipation, saving seats and snapping odd angle photos while our hair droops and our suit jackets leak sweat. The “what” of a graduation ceremony is, of course, beyond question, but I wonder if the “how” could be improved upon.
This is the very same inquiry at the heart of our coaching work. Here’s the thing, often you, our client, have the “what” part down pat. You know your industry inside and out. Your process is refined and you consistently deliver high quality outcomes on every project. You know and adamantly follow the generic rules of whichever particular game you have chosen to play.
But every day you wonder if there might be an improvement upon your “how”. Of course, there is a pattern and a comfort to the current how of showing up in your life and for good reason! You need a way to ensure that you know how to conduct yourself with teammates, bosses and clients.
You have been successful this way for years and we all want some level of predictability when we’re working together; after all whatever we’re doing is a pretty big deal.
But what if “how” you did it more genuinely reflected your unique attributes, felt somewhat custom made and special, held a little magic? Shouldn’t your life be interesting, maybe even an opportunity to grow, and, for goodness’ sake, joyful?
Through coaching we try to create some of this magic with you. A chance to inquire about what has worked really well for you to date and if that is still working. A chance to acknowledge everything that is already inside of you including those parts you want to nurture to the surface and try out for a while. When do you feel most in flow? Most centered? Most resonant? How might you find joy in your work and in the process of the narrative you create for your life? Is it possible that what is ordinary for you can become extraordinary?
I guess this is where my thoughts are hanging out these days. I worry that we will lose our joy if we forget to create experiences where we allow joy to fully exist. And to me joy comes from creative and unique experiences, the kind where we notice a smile on our face and feel the dance of energy in our belly. When you find yourself in it without even thinking about how you got there in the first place. And then someone points it out to you. Someone is there with you. To notice.
And, by the way, we’ve got your seat saved for you, so whenever you arrive you will be right on time.
Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston based FH Perry Builder.