Finding courage again

I used to be someone with great courage.  As a child, I was brave and brimming with confidence.  Even with gangly arms and knobby knees, I could ride any rollercoaster, jump off a tall pier, ski down black diamonds and was willing to try just about anything.  As I grew older, I discovered that I had courage of heart too.  I loved freely and often.  I made deep and lasting friendships.  I was curious about the world.  I didn’t shy away from confrontation, in fact I often invited debate.  Everyone thought I’d make a great lawyer.  I set my graduating from law school, passing the bar, landing that first law firm job – felt right and felt good.  I liked that my family was proud of me.  I liked telling people that I was a lawyer.

At the time, it seemed like many of my peers were floundering.  They didn’t know what they wanted to do.  They tried this, they tried that.  I didn’t envy them. I liked having a stable job, a good paycheck and a clear career path. The fact that I didn’t love my job was not a big issue.  I liked it well enough.  Expecting to love your job day in day out wasn’trealistic, I felt.

Somehow, time flew by: 12 years, 1 husband, 2 kids, 3 moves and 3 law firm jobs.  As the years went by, I started playing small.  My work wasn’t challenging or exciting but it was comfortable.  I stopped pushing myself, stopped growing.  My job was pulling me down a path that wasn’t what I would have chosen for myself, but I didn’t have the strength to question it or to change directions.  When I moved to London, the reality of my situation began to dawn on me.  I didn’t want another law firm job.  I wanted to work but what else could I do? I had never worked anywhere but in a law firm.  I felt unqualified to do anything else.  And besides, I didn’t even know what I wanted. Unlike many of my peers who had tried out different careers and gained a breadth of experience along the way, my work experience was narrow and confined.  My confidence was shaken.  My ego felt bruised. Cocktail party chatter left me feeling small.  Leaving “current occupation” blank on the customs forms brought out my insecurity. Something had to change, and I knew it.

My husband knew it too.  He kept at me, “what do you really want to do?  What are you passionate about?  What are you waiting for?”. We were in Tuscany, having a cool dip in the pool while the kids napped. Something about the blue sky that day, the beauty of the hillside and my husband’s kind but firm encouragement finally nudged me to think more expansively.  Words came out in floods.  New ideas.  My passion for helping women lean in to their ambition.  My desire to help mentor others.  Something had been ignited.  Something had been unlocked.  I felt the promise of possibility.  Still, old habits die hard.  There were so many negative voices to contend with.  Was it only wishful thinking?  What was I supposed to do with all these ideas?  How would I get started?  What if things didn’t work out?  I questioned and explored and questioned some more.

What I needed was a community.  Allies.  Structure.  Encouragement. Accountability. Coaching brought me some of that, and more.  Coaching offered me the space and time to invest in myself: my values, my life purpose, my  bigger game.  It peeled away the layers that were not useful: layers of self-doubt, overthinking and being small.  It turned me outward again and called forth in me the courage I always knew was there. Coaching helped focus me on the gifts I have to offer others, and gave me renewed confidence to go out and share them.

As a result of coaching, I am much bolder.  I am present and awake to the possibilities.  I use my values as a guide.  I draw on newly discovered resources, like my captain and crew, for support. I see failures as opportunities for learning.  I take risks.  I smile more. I am leaning in to my ambition as I transition into a new career.  I see every day as a gift and an opportunity.  I have found my courage again.