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Awakening Possibility

Today I watched the TED video of a talk by Benjamin Zander again for the second time. Since I saw it a few weeks ago, it has been on my mind. There are so many moments in the 20-minute presentation that speak to me.

Zander is a conductor, teacher, speaker and writer. I find him funny, engaging, and inspirational. He begins the TED presentation by playing a piece of music by Chopin. He demonstrates that when he stops thinking about every note and instead considers the "long line," suddenly the music takes off. He describes this as being about vision.

This got me thinking about the work that I do with my coaching clients. Early on in our sessions, we generally explore questions about vision.

What is my purpose in life and how do I figure that out?
What really matter to me?
Is the way that I focus my energy aligned with my purpose and values?

Then we revisit these questions and the responses over the course of time to ensure that we are thinking about the "long line." In coaching, as in playing music, we put body, spirit, heart, and mind all together to pursue the outcomes that the client seeks.

Zander describes that as a conductor, he realized that his "job was to awaken the possibility in other people." I love that phrase, as that is how I see my job. I awaken possibilities in my clients. Recently, one of my clients has started practicing his music every day. He is excited to be doing his "real work" as he put it. Another client shared with me how she met with her staff to let them know her desire to be more strategic and less tactical. She told them that she would like them to be more involved in setting goals and being responsible for the outcomes. Her staff was excited about this new plan. And a third client said that she has started to take breaks during the day and that has given her more energy and enthusiasm for her work. Her fear that she would get less done has proven to be false and she actually is more productive.

When my clients share these successes, I see their "shining eyes." Zander asks the question, "Who am I being that my child's eyes are not shining?" We can substitute client, employee, or spouse for the word child. Who am I being? What am I saying? Am I creating joy and peace or am I sending a message that puts people down or judges them? As Zander illustrates, "It really makes a difference what we say."

I am trying to be mindful of what I say. It makes a difference what I say to others and it also makes a difference what I say to myself. So, I am paying attention to my thoughts and my speech, breathing and trying to awaken possibilities for others and myself.


© Sue Schleifer, July, 2008

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