How can we progress from knowing what kind of person we want to be, to actually becoming that kind of person? I am asked that question a lot in my coaching practice. It comes from people’s perception that they are not satisfied with their current reality, and a need to be better, or the feeling that they can improve. I have found that the key is to shift our point of view from trying-to-get-to-where-you-want-to-be and, who-you-want-to-be, to (coming from the perspective that) I-am-already-that-person. For example, if I want to become a mindful person in a place of always being present in conversations, then I just need to “be” that person. To coin a phrase, “just do it”.
“By choosing the person I want to BE, what I need to do becomes evident. What I HAVE will be directly connected to the person I chose to BE and the actions I take to support that” (Coaching Out of the Box: Personal Groundwork for Coaching, p. 129).
How can that happen? How does one simply just “be”? It takes time—it isn’t easy and there will be more “fails” than “wins” in the process. But it can happen. In an introductory comment to the book Search inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan (2012), The Dalai Lama stated that, “If you change the habitual patterns of your mind, you can change their resulting attitudes and emotions and find peace and inner happiness”. It is a place of being.
Once you have the attitude to BE what you want to be then it is time to ensure that this becomes your reality. You need to take action of some sort. For example, sometime ago I realized that I needed to “be” a better listener. For me, that meant that I needed to stop talking. How did I do that? I needed a “cue”, something I could remember, or do, to remind myself to stop talking. My solution was to sit on my hands. When I do that, I find it difficult to talk – silly I know, but that is what happens. The fails were that I forgot to sit on them because I was not fully aware all the time of the need to do it. The wins were that once it became a habit, I can now do it “virtually” (I don’t actually sit on my hands, I just imagine doing it). Over time the wins came more often than the fails, and my self-awareness of “being” a better listener improved significantly.
For the people I coach, it is for them to find the “cue” that works for them. I also suggest that they journal each day their wins and fails. This keeps them mindful of what they are trying to become, by being that person. Over time they experience more wins than fails. An effort becomes a habit and they are who they want to be.