Staying in Shape – as a professional

I recently went back to Georgetown University for a class reunion of our leadership coaching cohort. It was a fabulous experience. As part of the process, we had the opportunity to attend ongoing classes to build our expertise in the field. Loved this! The theme of our conference was Come to the Edge – stretch, grow, take the risk – and go to the ‘edge of the cliff.’ One of the sessions I attended focused on ‘Staying in Shape’ in our profession and much of what I learned is applicable to all of us, irrespective of our professions. I have tried to summarize and distill what I heard into a few buckets that are relevant. A few thoughts to ponder as you continue to grow, learn, and take risks in your respective fields:

* Find a partner – this can be a mentor, a colleague, a coach or a friend. This partner will support you and encourage you along your journey. They will see you – for you – and be honest in their assessments and observations of you. They will embrace your uniqueness and what you have (and want) to offer the world. We all need a support system who supports, nurtures, and guides us unconditionally.

* Persevere– this can often be the hardest call! Times are tough and many of my clients are entertaining a transition to another job, another field, a promotion, and even retirement.  What I know is that challenge leads to growth and expansion of our ability to hold all sides of the possibility. Transitions, growth, and “jumping off a cliff” require courage and fortitude. There are a few books to recommend here: Transitions by William Bridges, Theory U by Otto Scharmer, and Prescence by Peter Sengeall. Each of these cover the movement to a new opportunity, a new frontier – and the future – each from a different perspective.  Embrace the experience, as much wisdom comes from the dark night of the soul (to quote Thomas Merton).

* Hold your overall mission closely and nurture it. Trust your heart and your intution. Sometimes we may make choices that don’t turn out exactly the way we want them! Remember, we don’t control all the aspects. Yet, what I know for sure, is that when our choices are tied closely to what matters to us – and when we can answer the question ‘for the sake of what’ am I making this choice and the answer is tied to my heart’s calling – it always leads to somewhere good. It may not be where we think it was going to lead – yet, perhaps the new road is even more fabulous than the one we thought we wanted to take!

* Continue learning. Take the reins on what you want to learn. Be unconventional! If you choose a direction which is not directly related to your current field and you find yourself questioning “what in the world am I doing?” Go for it! Take the risk. There was a reason you were pulled to read that book, take that course, attend that conference or listen to that speaker. Follow those instincts. There is a reason you were pulled in that direction.

A poem which was shared with us at the beginning of our conference particularly may resonate with a few of you. I leave this with you:

“Come to the edge.

We might fall.

Come to the edge.

It’s too high!


And they came,

and he pushed,

and they flew.”

Christopher Logue