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The Blessed Interruption by Dave LaRue

November 19, 2020

The Blessed Interruption by Dave LaRue

How have you been? I’ve had several recent experiences that have caused me to take pause and just take it all in. From playing the amazing golf courses of Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, to hanging out with some incredible friends and business associates, to being in my home in Sedona, it really doesn’t get much better than that! 

I work with several great organizations, my favorite one besides my own is The Siegfried Group. I think the main reason I love playing with them is the congruency between their CEO’s highest values and mine. We have our unique passions but we are each inspired by the other’s. There is great mutual respect and so much great conversation. I had a big takeaway after our recent meetings enough to be inspired to write a few thoughts about it. Something made me think about my evolution in coaching—where I started and where I am now. It made me think about my evolution in understanding the nature of self-work, too. 

In the past, when I was working with someone, I often felt like I cared more about their future than they did. As I pondered my feelings of caring more, it kind of startled me—why did I feel this way? This can't be true, right? Why not feel that I want it as muchas they do? Why not play it cool and say that I love coaching people but it’s their future and not mine? 

I am very much in the center of my being when I coach, but in the past, I channeled my own raw motivation more when helping others get out of their own way to create more meaningful and harmonious lives with more happiness. I felt the need to have a purposeful life as such a driving belief that when I was coaching people who weren’t yet in touch with their purpose, I was using the full force of my being to somehow prove to them the possibility or the importance of waking up each day with enthusiasm to create a great life for themselves and others. I knew there was something off, but things were working well, so I used to figure, I guess this what it feels like to have a passion and a calling. 

But I matured in my thinking and my understanding of people. I understood that not all people wanted what I wanted or what I have to give them, and it’s not true—or fair—for me to think that my way is the only way. Understanding this has saved me lots of energy and emotion. The byproduct is, the less I care about “sharing my ways,” the more I care about helping people discover what matters to them. And ultimately, this is really what they’re looking for. And as a coach, that’s what Iam really looking for. That old saying “to be an interesting person, you first have to be interested” is so true. Letting them lead, share, talk and ask their own questions as I help them through the process is the purer way to express my passion and calling, and the way to be the coach people need me to be.

I know I became a much better coach when I began to understand that as much as I care, what really does the work is applying the technique of being a good coach. And that requires not seeing myself as the generator of change. That will always be the person being coached. I got my priorities straight: the desire to change inspires the person to do the work, the coaching helps this process work more efficiently, and the caring is its own reward. 

I’m so much happier seeing things this way; it keeps the boundaries clearer between the coaching and the caring, between the limits of my caring and the limits of helping another person. It’s made me a braver, better coach, now that I understand the most counterintuitive part of being a guide on someone else’s journey—although you’re a guide, you’re not leading the way. And you don’t own the goal. The goal is the organizing principle, it’s part of the plan. We all know that plans are just our best effort to organize something we really want to do. Self-work is no different. That efficiency that I mentioned before? I have learned that sometimes the way coaching makes things efficient is that I can help someone understand that the detours are actually the point, they are goals we weren't wise enough—didn't know enough when we started—to make. 

What an amazing revelation that was. Now, instead of feeling disappointed when the coaching process doesn’t move in a straight line, we can embrace how the coaching process reveals something about the true journey the person being coached is on. Sometimes it goes deep—their relationship to the journey, how they perceive, how they make decisions. Instead of judging the results as a variance from the plan I analyze the situation this way, gain insights from this, and dig into the newly revealed goals with a new understanding in mind.

I hope that you will take from this that the nature of the journey is such that sometimes that you will be learning how you perceive and learning how you decide. It’s not always just laying out stepping stones to your goal and walking across them. Sometimes, the journey requires that you deal with things you didn’t know you needed to. You set a goal to spend more time with your kids, but you find out that you become anxious and temperamental when you do this, which begins the process of uncovering what’s behind it, which may be easy—you need to get work to a better stopping place before you do—or may be a few layers deep—you have tension with one of your older kids that turns out, after some serious work, to be more about you than them. Perhaps it reveals marital tension, or ultimately represents the fact that your life hasn’t gone the way you’ve been telling yourself it has. Maybe it brings up old feelings from when you were that age. 

Before you can achieve this supposedly simple goal—spending more time with your kids—you may have to wade through some dank personal marshes first. You thought it was just going to be about making more time but instead, you ended up working through something you needed to, and now you've thrown off a weight you hadn't believed was possible to drop without dying. 

There are a million variations, but you know the types of challenges our goals lead us through sometimes. Yes, these are the surprises and the detours when compared to the goals we wrote down, but in many ways, finding these is the greatest benefit of working with goals. These detours and surprises are the real work. I love doing it, and I hope you do, too. 

Let me know how your journey is going and how you feel about the detours you're working through. 

Dave