What gives people strength in the storms of life?
Pythagoras said, “Wealth is a weak anchor; fame is weaker still. What then are the anchors which are strong? Wisdom, great-heartedness, courage – these are the anchors no storm can shake.” This is why I do what I do. This is why I work at being a Strategic Mentor.
When I served in pastoral ministry, I quickly learned the difference between a counseling session and a mentoring session. In the counseling setting, I heard life stories, but we tended to look backward in time. In that environment we worked to understand the who, what, where and why questions. “Who are we talking about? What happened? Where and when did this occur? Why and how is it impacting your life now?” It was good work and hopefully helpful to those with whom I worked. We had to look back to create a platform for going forward
But I came to realize that in a mentoring session we already had the platform built. We could look forward. I was surprised to discover how this sparked a drive in me. These sessions were about moving a person’s life forward. I asked questions like: “Who are you, at the core of your essence? What makes you come alive? Who do you want to become? How are we going to get you there?” “What will it feel like when you arrive?” Sometimes I refer to these kinds of questions as the 3Bs. They are questions about Being, Becoming and Belonging. Look at this with me.
First, I love to help people understand who they are in the essence of their Being. It is the pathway to being comfortable in your own skin. Out of this grows confidence and courage to face life’s challenges. It becomes priceless for a leader when, because they know themselves so well, they can stand with a non-anxious presence no matter the situation. As Edwin Friedman said “I mean someone who can be separate while still remaining connected, and therefore can maintain a modifying, non–anxious, and sometimes challenging presence. I mean someone who can manage his or her own reactivity to the automatic reactivity of others, and therefore be able to take stands at the risk of displeasing.” That is someone who knows who they are.
Next, I love to help people in the process of Becoming their very best version of themselves. Once you know who you are, there is the need to learn how to leverage that understanding into real life contexts. No matter how comfortable a person is in their own skin, there is always room to become better. As I like to say “better is always possible.” Just as we can improve in the many skills of life: work, athletics, music or even attitude; we can improve in becoming healthier, joyful, wiser human beings. The happiest people I know are those who are living on the growing edge. And there is always room for another step.
Third, I love to help with Belonging. The more I have studied this, the more I realize how difficult it is for many, if not most, people to really feel like they belong. This creates an interesting tension. It appears that it is especially true for those who work at Being and Becoming. When people work at Being and Becoming, they tend to move into opportunities and situations that are new and different than where they have been. Doors open to them, and with courage and confidence they walk in. Each time they walk through a new doorway, they enter back into the process of learning to be comfortable in their own skin. They recalibrate their Being. They refine their Becoming and enter into a new growth pattern. And each time they learn to reframe their understanding of how they Belong.
In my next post I will reveal the secret to making this whole process of personal development work. It requires the 4th “B.”