“How whole is your ‘whole life?'” is the name of the 8th Chapter of Susan Jeffers’ book Feel the Fear and do it anyway. The chapter serves as a reminder to us about perspective – about giving more attention to select areas of our lives, and far less to others. The areas that we focus on can become so significant that we base out identity there. We say ‘My work is my whole life’ or ‘My relationship is my whole life’. The risk we run is that, if we lose the thing upon which our whole life is based, our whole life might feel like it is falling apart. Along side this, even on a smaller scale, we can be absorbed, preoccupied and lose ourselves in select dramas of life that serve to distract us from other important areas.
One of my clients, a CEO of a large family-owned manufacturing firm recently become preoccupied by a family drama. It absorbed both his waking and his sleeping hours. He told me he was neglecting his leadership role because of hours spent worrying about the outcome of this drama. Another client developed a love interest which she felt completely distracted her from attending to business matters. I have myself disappeared from my daily duties, totally absorbed by a challenging drama that was playing out in another area of my life. Of course, there are some unexpected life events that require us to shift our focus and immediate attention – health issues for example. But preoccupation is an engrossment that distracts, and we’d do well to hold a perspective of the bigger picture in mind.
One technique that helps to keep preoccupation at bay, is to consider all dramas in our lives as ‘one of many’ projects. A new love interest is not our whole life, it’s one of many exciting spheres of life. Remembering that hobbies, leisure, career, family, friends and personal growth deserve as much of our attention too. A ‘family drama’ might fall into the sphere of life we call ‘family’ but we’d be wise to not let it distract us from continuing with our exercise routine, launching our intern development program and whatever else is necessary for a full contribution to a whole life of significance. And herein lies one of the powerful value-adds of a coaching relationship; conversation with a non- attached (non-attached to your drama) individual who intends to provide you with space to reflect and strengthen perspective in all areas of life.
Michelle Clarke is an Executive Coach based in Cape Town. She works locally and internationally with Leaders, Executives and Executive Coaches, helping them to navigate the complexity of 21st century leadership. To learn more about her work please visit her website www.motivcoach.com, and be sure also to subscribe to this blog for future updates. If you enjoy Facebook, please join Michelle’s Business Page
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