Someone I coached was unemployed. They were stuck financially and at this familiar crossroads: they weren’t sure if they should go out and get a job or start their own company. They had a ton of doubts and were asking questions like, “What if I start my own company and it doesn’t work?” and “How will I satisfy my values of stability, reliability, and success?”
To me, those are worthiness questions. Even if it takes a long time for someone’s business to become successful, questions of worthiness become the primary issue because almost nobody starts a business that becomes immediately successful.
Success in business is a process of:
Investing in yourself
Believing in yourself
Creating habits that will work for your future, and
Sticking to that even when it doesn’t seem like it’s working.
The foundation that holds this process together is the belief that you are worth investing in.
Exploring Worthiness To Live A Life By Design
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” ~ Marianne Williamson
I have discovered that there are lots of people who choose not toexplore worthiness and do the work that is required to live a life by design, not by default. One of the many reasons they do this is because they want to be left alone and live according to their current habits and patterns. Consciously or unconsciously, they ignore the consequences of doing that.
Personally, and as a coach, I am much more interested in the person who feels unworthy and has some awareness around it, rather than the person who is so deeply in denial that they have no awareness around it and therefore no felt need to address it.
A lot of coaches are not focussing on worthiness, but worthiness is a huge block to living your ideal life, if not THE block to people choosing to live the life that they want.
A Short Cut
When the people I coach see worthiness as something that is too difficult or even impossible for them, I like to discover with them, “How do we create worthiness and make it easy?” If people are willing to work with you and do the difficult and potentially painful work of worthiness, it actually turns into an incredible shortcut to get to where you want to go.
How Do We Overcome The Difficulties Of Doing Worthiness Work?
You have to look at your story of unworthiness – the things that you have allowed yourself to believe and what you have allowed yourself to feel towards your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and roadblocks thus far. Get curious about the narrative you’ve been telling yourself by asking, “Why do I feel unlovable? Where did this story that I’ve been telling myself originate?” Spend some time in that place without numbing it or do whatever you do to distract yourself from doing this kind of work.
Another other thing that’s difficult to do is actually taking ownership. In order to do anything meaningful with worthiness, you need to be willing to let go of your excuses. You can no longer hide behind things like it’s the government’s fault, or corporations, or someone in your family. None of that stuff matters in the worthiness journey. As much as people will love you and support you on this journey, almost all of the difficult emotional heavy lifting is yours to do.
I listened to Brené Brown‘s podcast the other day and she was interviewing her guests about their experiences with childhood abuse and addiction. Her guests said that eighty percent of people who experience childhood trauma end up being addicts. Eighty percent! At the same time, they said that was the hand they were dealt, but the part after that, you are in charge of. All three of them said what they decided to do about it today was their business and their responsibility.
You can do something about the way you view your worthiness, and I would take it a step further and say, you are worth doing something about it; by facing the issue of worthiness and not ignoring it or numbing it in whatever way you choose to numb it, you are saying to yourself, I feel worthy, I am worthy of this deep self work.
Imagining A Better Life
In my early coaching years, I felt like the problem for a lot of people was that they couldn’t imagine a life that was better than the life that they have now. Then I found that for most of those people, unworthiness blocked their imagination. Once that block is replaced with worthiness, imagination can still be an obstacle.That’s where I can help; my imagination for others has all kinds of flexibility and creativity.
A Client’s Time At The Cabin
I worked with someone who hit the pause in their life and spent time in a log cabin to map out their ideal life and how to implement it. I coached them along the way and we discussed questions like:
What is your ideal life?
Something doesn’t feel right. What is it?
I treated that client as if their dream was within their grasp. After leaving the cabin in the woods we created really small steps to grow their new business. Eventually the business grew into several provinces and they became less stressed and they trusted their employees more.
Worthiness is The Groundwork
The groundwork for this client was worthiness, even though we didn’t necessarily use the word “worthiness” at the time. Worthiness work is foundational to the imaginative work. Once that’s done, the whole world is your sandbox.
How Do Habits Impact Worthiness?
Healthy and unhealthy habits Impact our worthiness indirectly; when you practice healthy habits, from prioritizing sleep to [insert 1-2 more examples], you are saying to yourself, “I am worthy of investing in.” Conversely, when you get into unhealthy habits you are making the opposite statement about investing in yourself.
What we put our energy into causes change and growth, and the habits we implement are how we leverage our energy; this past spring I found that I was consistently finding myself overwhelmed and unfocused, and so I introduced a regular practice of walking to the ocean near my house and office and meditating for twenty minutes. By investing my energy in a habit that helps me refocus my day and check in with what might be causing me stress, I am creating a daily structure that invests in my wellbeing. Habits are not specific to worthiness, but they work together with coaching and creating a life by design.
Worthiness Impacts All Aspects Of Our Lives
If you are holding on to difficult clients, that is absolutely a worthiness problem; whether you are conscious of it or not, holding on to difficult clients suggests that you don’t believe you’re worthy of attracting great clients, and it is what stands in the way of your life by design. I invite you to reflect and if you find you are clinging to difficult clients or bad business practices, ask yourself the question, “Why am I hanging on?”
There is no area of life that worthiness doesn’t touch; all of these worthiness reflections and practices can (and should!) be applied to your personal relationships as well. When you believe that you are worthy – of success in your business, of supportive, healthy relationships, of a life filled with intention and design – you are able to construct a life for yourself that is filled with purpose, vision, and intention.
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Terry Barkman is the founder of Sailboat Coaching International, and he is a seasoned and passionate one-on-one coach. He is currently available for a limited number of introductory coaching sessions. If you suspect that worthiness might be holding you back from living a life by design, contact Terry today!
One of my favorite thing to do as I wander the docks before heading out on a sail is to check out the clever boat names and ponder over thier story. This boat was moored next to us recently, and I LOVE the name About Time!!
Was it a dream deferred for years? So many people are working for the weekend, or working for retirement. What are the sacrifices you are making, and which ones are worth it? Was it “About Time” the owner finally learned to sail, or gave themselves the gift of being a boat owner after years of dreaming? What dreams can you give yourself now? What are you doing to make your now dreams your future reality?
Or was the boat named after how we spend our time? Increasingly, I am valuing how I spend my time over how I spend my money. Is this name about About (how we spend our) Time? Certainly, whenever I can, I choose to spend my time at sea, with a handful of close friends who value adventure, meaningful conversation, and quality time.
“What is freerange coaching?” People keep asking me to explain free range coaching. Let’s start with basic “industrial” coaching. Whether it is life coaching, executive coaching, or even transformational coaching, it usually happens every week. A client will get an hour on the phone, or on a video call with their coach. Lucky clients get to see their coaches face to face. My clients in this type of engagement are seeing the power of long term change, and there is tremendous value in that.
There are a few coaches out there who want to give more to their clients, and we find that an intensive or an immersive experience creates ten times the results!
When I first began to settle into coaching, it was in the alpine, and we were using back country skiing, mountain biking, and ice climbing as the experience to contain the coaching. After percolating with that, it became clear that I was meant to use outdoor activities in a focused on the specific agenda of the client sort of way. In that intentional shift into #freerangecoaching, I thought I would do it all. All of the adventures in all of the countries proved to be a bit much. The commitment to focus in on Sailboat Coaching was the right alignment for me, and still, all forms of freerange coaching hold fascination for me. I am inspired by my friends who are coaching on Canoe trips, in the tree tops, and with medieval swords! People are coaching through forest bathing, with horses, and actual wolves!
“What is the magic formula” for creating an excellent team? As I was laying awake one night wondering how to create the best teams, ACT popped into my head in near finished form. The importance of teamwork to sailing, and indeed most organisations, can not be overstated! Three simple ideas create teams that can do great things.
Since that fateful night, this poster has been fixed to the bulkhead of boats I am captaining, and to the walls of conference rooms where I am leading. What does it mean? In it’s simplest form, it means that if we get these three things right, the work will (almost) do itself.
In any complex and collaborative project, it is so easy to focus on the skills. When someone asks me where sailing skills sits on my list of requirements for Co Leaders at Sailboat Coaching International, it is an easy answer. Skills are forth. Skills are complex, and take time to teach. Compared to Attitude, Communication, and Teamwork though; skills are the easy part.
If someone is an Olympic level sailor, and a world class coach, will they be welcome on our team? That depends, if they are also strong in priorities 1, 2 and 3, absolutely!
The same holds true of something like making a movie. You have a team of ~200 people who are all working to create the same vision, which keeps changing and adapting personal competence very quickly becomes a really small part of how WE come together to create the science which will render the art. But don’t you want the best specialists? Sort of. You want the best specialists you can work with.
What does Attitude, Communication, and Teamwork actually look like??
ATTITUDE: When you sail long enough, and far enough, something will eventually go wrong. One day someone made a mistake, and emptied the holding tank overboard… into our dingy. (The holding tank is the boat’s is where all of our sewer waste is stored until we get to a place where it can be emptied responsibly.)
SHHhit! Everywhere! Did they blame, delay, or complain? Nope. They immediately assumed responsibility, and said, “It’s my mess, I’ll clean it up.” It would be hard to find a clearer example of the right attitude than this. It not about never making a mistake, it is about taking responsibility, and ensuring that your mistakes don’t become everyone else’s problem. There is always SOMETHING to complain about, but unless there is a solution, complaining just wastes your, and everyone else’s energy. Attitude is about more than positivity, although that is part of it. It is about taking responsibility for your actions, your words, and your IMPACT!
COMMUNICATION: The first thing you can do to earn my trust on a boat, is be willing to ask when you don’t know. There are some people, and it is surprising how often they are business owners, who will come back to me and say some version of “Here is the obstacle I encountered in learning how to do the thing that you asked me for, and this is how I handled it.” This is really asking 2.0.
Communication has many components. Brene Brown says that clear communication is kind communication. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t use “I was just being honest” as your excuse to be mean.
Clear is Kind. Brene Brown
TEAMWORK: There are many times when I could literally sail the boat single handed. Getting everyone involved, and doing it together makes it more fun though! And sometimes the jobs are really simple. I’m just going to hold this, and pass it to you when you need it. Just like on land, two people can cook a meal, and two different people can volunteer to do the dishes and clean up.
Oh, AND, ACT spells act. Whether the thing you are trying to do, whether it is building a building, creating a movie, or racing a sailboat, the act of doing is made up of Attitude, Communication, and Teamwork. In many ways ACT…ion is a stronger word. Will there be an I O N added to this system? Stay tuned!
Does Attitude, Communication and teamwork mean you’ll never have to work again? Probably not, but give it a try, and let me know how much easier and more fun your work is!
*My research has shown this idea not to to have been borrowed from any known sources. If in fact Brene Brown or Shawn Achor said it first, I would love to know where!
How does the end of the industrial economy effect life purpose? Just like Industrialism brought massive increase in employment diversity over the agricultural economy, so has Post Industrialist economy exponentially increased our vocational options!
Perhaps it is early to start speculating about what the time we now live in IS, but we are starting to see what it is NOT.
The time for complaining about the “good manufacturing jobs” being shipped overseas has past us by. Those jobs won’t exist for much longer anyway. Before we know it, most of us will be in careers that haven’t been invented yet. This revolution of vocation has happened before, and each time it happens both sooner and faster.
Very long ago, humanity made the shift from a hunter gatherer economy to an agricultural one. We still have hunters and gatherers among us, and I were to hazard a guess, I would say they make up between 0 and 2% of our labours.
By the time of my Grandparents, 60% of North Americans made their living farming. Any guesses what that number is now? 2%. At least twice in history (that we know of) we have set 98% of people free to pursue vocations that did not previously exist. And it is happening again. People who are alive today, will live to see 98% of all humans working in ways that had not yet been imagined when they were born.
So what does all of this mean? It means that vocation has changed. What we look for in vocation also needs to change. We have been sold a bill of goods. Let’s call this the industrial package. You finish school, you go to work, you retire. And I’ll tell you, if my job were to work 92000 hours on some assembly line somewhere, I’d be excited to retire too!
All of this is coming to end, and when it started coming to end was by best guess 1974. It is hard to say exactly, since I wasn’t alive during the industrial era, but all my research points to the mid 70s as the tipping point.
So why are we still giving out advice that revolves around a bill of goods that is evaporating underneath us? Whether we call it the information age, the gig economy, or post industrialism, we are now more likely to create our own “job” than to find one. Our imaginations for what life could look like can also change in ways we have not yet imagined.
So open your imagination, if you retired from your industrialist job today, how would you spend your time? What matters to you? What space would you love to create and occupy? What is your purpose has gone from multiple choice to long answer creative. What purpose do you imagine for your life?
How many REALLY good life coaches can you name? What sets them apart from the thousands of other coaches out there? What do you love about your coach?
A friend of mine is fond of saying, “In Vancouver, you could throw a rock in any direction and hit a coach.” Please do not try this at home. The point is, with coaches seemingly everywhere these days, how do you distinguish between the good and the bad? More importantly, with so many options available, how do you determine the best fit for YOU?
Does your coach have relevant training? There are coaching “Schools” which are handing out “Certifications” to anyone with a mere weekends worth of training. The flood of under qualified people into the industry is not doing anything to help the credibility of the field. The top institutions offer programs that a year or more in length, and some of them are backed by major universities.
Is your coach credentialed by the International Coach Federation, or other recognized body? If they are, it means they have documented their hours, have undergone live coaching exams in front of a panel, and are bound by a code of conduct.
What relevant life experience does your coach have? I mean, no one is saying that there isn’t at least one coach out there who is 20 years old and whose first job is coaching. For my money though, I’d rather bet on someone who has had time to have more than one job, start another business, and has tasted failure at least once.
How have they helped other clients? Were you referred by someone who has been a client? How were they helped?
Are you looking for a coach or a consultant? It happens so often that someone is looking for a “coach” with a very specific set of experience in their vertical. You know, someone who can help me integrate my custom software systems… Rule of thumb, if you are looking for someone who has more specialized knowledge in YOUR own field than you do, that is a consultant. Consultants tell. Coaches ask.
Is your coach offering an experience that is unique to YOU? So many coaches offer the same brand of over-the-phone sessions. Now I am not saying that this industrial style can’t be helpful on some occasions, but as the industrial age draws to a close, less clients are looking for an experience that is efficient and easy, and more are looking for an experience that is effective and personal!