October 6, 2022
By Allison Iantosca
Fall. Change and transition. Coaching. Because life is about the whole of you; not just you as the Executive.
So, Fall. For some, I suppose, its beginning is merely an extension of summer only interrupted by the sense of fewer sandal-wearing, bare-leg-baring, swimsuit wearers in line at the local convenience store.
For others it is a full on one-eighty from unpressured leisure to a brain readied for the mental gymnastics required to manage a family schedule when school and activities reengage.
And, perhaps, all of us can sense the deepening of the manic fury of rush-hour traffic, midday road construction backups, any impediment (and there seem to be many) to the haste of our journey from here to there. Running late matters again. Texting apologies and explanations from standstill traffic. An hour no longer leaves enough time. Calculating the ripple effect on the meeting after this one, the appointment after that and again after that.
By the time we get to the end of the day we are somewhat shredded versions of our tidied and professional selves that left the house in the morning. We navigate the day with failure nipping at our heels. Before skill and content, presentation and strategy, we are already questioning what we could have done to not be sitting here, watching the gas light come on, completely impotent to progress or best use of time.
This is where I have found many of my coaching clients these days. Even those who work from home are navigating the internal critic that continually questions why not better? Why are you stuck here? Why can’t you find a better work-around? A harshness to the expectation that you should be there and not here.
And so, much of my coaching work lately is to satisfy and soothe this inner enemy. That part of us that scratches at a desire to feel something different but seems only to find itself wound once again around the same painful pole.
We think the solve is the same as it used to be—goal setting, achievement orientation, getting to the next level. When actually it is much more about healing and that feeling of belonging. Of core strength. Of doing something right. Because you are. Or you wouldn’t be here.
A recent Jack Kornfield quote offered me this wisdom:
“If there is no enemy within then the enemy outside can do no real harm”
I have begun to explore with my clients, more deeply, this notion of the enemy within. Commonalities? Its constant. It’s potent. It’s very judgmental. In fact, it’s the harshest critic in our lives and tends to be very manipulative and overbearing. Yet we seem to welcome it in and wrestle with it, almost like a second full time job. No wonder we are so tired! But its powerful antidote is awareness and a little devoted time inside a coaching session can begin a process of reducing its broad and powerful hold on our spirit.
Coaching provides a platform for exploration with questions like: What is this internal enemy (substitute grind/drive/anxiety/push) doing here? How does it serve you? Why do you tolerate it with such vigor and passion? And, with all sincerity, what would it be like to live without it? This last question sometimes revealing the most exquisite insight as to why we bother at all to contend with our enemy within. Simply put, we are so used to it holding us to task we are afraid we won’t be nearly as effective without it.
Answering these questions helps to loosen the inner traffic jam. We begin to play with choice, not so tragically paralyzed by old patterns of truth we hold so dear. We can begin to ask what would you like to do instead? Who are you, actually, in your heart? What would you gain if you didn’t opt to cater to this enemy? Is it possible you could thrive in a different way?
And then the enemy outside shrinks to a manageable set point. The Fall crazies might become amusements. Extra time in traffic might turn into moments of peace for reflection. And you might discover you are not quite so stuck after all.
Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach certified by ICF with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston based FH Perry Builder.
*Photo Credit: Matt uuBBew6G Unsplash