I've heard it said, "We do not see the world as it is. Rather we see it as we are."
What exactly does that mean?
To me, it means that each of us sees the world a little differently.
As such, I think the answers to the most important questions in our lives are less based on the opinions or ideas of others and more on how we see it all and who we are.
If you ask anyone that you meet what makes them happy . . . or what makes them sad, you will undoubtedly hear as many different things as there are people on this earth. Sure there are some consistent themes, family, health, and success, but everyone has their own wants and desires.
I would argue the mistake many of us make is that we look for the answers to life's toughest questions outside of ourselves. We turn to books. We turn to religion. We turn to inspiring leaders. We turn to anything that will give us the meaning and purpose we seek.
But everywhere we turn, everything we read, every story we hear is shaped by our own presence. We are less influenced by the ideas and thoughts of others than we think. But rather the ideas of others that "inspire" us are reflections of who we are and what we seek.
Each thing we read, hear or experience is shaped by the perceptions we have stepping into the situation. We aren't observers in life, we are participants.
When you read a story, it's not the first story you have ever read (or experienced), you bring to the story your own perceptions and you take away from that story only the memories that you choose to take away - usually those that align with what you already believed and accepted.
When sitting in a church, everyone is listening to the sermon that is being spoken, but not everyone is hearing and understanding the same thing. We'd like to think these things are all the same, but they aren't. Each of us is only hearing and absorbing into our consciousness, the elements that align with what we believe. If we are hopeful and happy, we will hear hope and happiness. If we are sad and wanting to feel self-deprecation, then we will find it in the words spoken before us. If we are looking for salvation, then we will find salvation. But none of these ideas came from outside of ourselves, they came from within us - because of who we are, not what was said.
The answers aren't in the sermon, they are in our own hearts.
If you wonder about this, see for yourself. Stop any two people who have listened to the same preacher, witnessed the same event, or read the same book, ask them what they took away from it. I suspect they will be stronger reflections of who they are than what was said.
So stop looking elsewhere for answers - they are inside of you already. You just haven't found them yet. But make no mistake, they are there.
Some people are able to find their own voice . . . their own vision. Others struggle with it. It's not an easy task and it often takes quiet solitude to hear your own voice. Truth is, many people can never stand the isolation or silence long enough to hear their own voice and have to hear it or see it in others to find it themselves. That's ok, but give yourself the credit you deserve - accept inspiration, but own your own vision and ideas.
Just because you might need inspiration from great writers or artists to be able to verbalize it or visualize it, doesn't mean your answers came from those individuals, only that you found your answers through their words and images.
Four years ago, I started coaching because I wanted to help people - I wanted to change the world one person at a time. But as I learned very quickly and have been reminded time and again, coaches (be it executive coaches, life coaches, or any type of coach) don't provide answers, they help people find their own answers. They ask questions that will help others find their voice and help them use their voice to be who and what they want to be.
I know it's been about nine months since I last wrote anything in this blog, but tonight I felt inspired to write down these thoughts.
As it turns out, my last entry was actually about writing a vision - what I believe is the guiding light of who we are and the source of most of our answers. I truly feel that our vision holds the answers to most any tough question we face.
Every time I see a client struggle with what to do next, how to take the next step, and they want me to provide them answers, I ask them to look inside themselves - tell them to look at their vision and see if there answers are somewhere there, staring them straight in the face.
Below, I share my personal vision with anyone who is reading this. I share it as part of my growth and invite those in my life to challenge me to become everything that I have set out to become. I wrote it nearly nearly seven years ago and, except for a very few, small changes, it still holds truth for me. With everything that has gone on in my life, it still guides me and gives me purpose. I share it because I can't be my vision without doing so.
- I will be trustworthy and I will be impeccable with my word.
- I will love Garret and Turner always – being the best Dad that I can be. I will honor their spirits as they grow and mature – providing both roots and wings for the rest of their lives.
- I will live a loving life – caring for those whose lives I come in contact with, today, tomorrow and forever.
- I will be open and honest in the way I conduct my life and invite others to open up to me through the establishment of trusting relationships.
- I will be a better leader for myself and a better leader for all whose lives I touch.
- I will focus on maintaining spirit in my life – focusing on the energy that spiritual thoughts bring to my life.
- I will live an honest life – honest with myself and those around me – and I will work everyday to stamp out the lies that hurt me.
- I will treat others as I wish to be treated. I will respond to others actions the way that I wish they respond to mine.
- I will live in the now – I will live for today – not focusing on the past or worrying about things out of my control in the future.
- I will be open to trusting those that I choose to be a part of my life.
- I will grow – taking the time necessary to develop the whole me – physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
- I will treat each day like it is the first day of the rest of my life – and live it like it could be my last.