There’s an old story I used to tell myself which is that I could work on things outside of myself. That I could work on my business, work on my life through actions and habits. Through experience, I’ve learned that that is not true. Everything I do on the outside is just a reflection of what is happening and conditioned inside of me. The places where I cling too hard in my relationships are reflections of where I cling too hard inside, often viscerally in my belly, my chest, my neck. Where I’m tender and generous to people is where I’m tender and generous within and to myself. It’s all just a mirror, there’s no separation there. My experience has been that if I don’t go inside first, the outside changes tend to be short-lived.
I coach some of the most successful and extraordinary people that I know and when they come to me with a similar old story, the most powerful thing I can do is to help them see that story is not true. When their business is not working in the way that they want it to, the easy way out is to go looking for reasons why that is. And those reasons will be plenty: Your product isn’t good enough, you don’t have enough investment, you need a better team, a better office, a better, bigger, newer whatever. It’s all bullshit I say. That’s not the problem, you are! Something inside of you is stuck, blocked, not being in touch with the truth and authenticity of why you’re doing what you’re doing here. When we go there, turn right past the initial irritation and anger over my comment, then most of the time, we’re getting somewhere.
That is when the guard comes down, when they say there’s a deep unhappiness in the marriage that’s been creeping in. A sadness about the lack of free time and time with friends. A guilty admission that there’s not a lot of joy in getting up every morning to work. The world looks groggy and unfriendly, everything is a chore. Thinking of opening that email is already dreadful. Ah, what a sweet relief for me when that happens. We’ve broken through the veil and into the depth of what’s happening on the inside. This is where we go, to hell, into the underworld. The treasures there are the most valuable I tell them. And most powerful to create the change they are looking for.
Whenever people bring me business problems, I tell them that I can’t help to solve business problems. That business problems are like the sun, you can’t look look at them. And instead, I know a way more efficient and effective way to solve it. And that is on a personal level. I tell people that the most powerful agent in the room to affect change in the company is them. In part, because they are literally the CEO. And since they are so powerful in affecting change, the easiest way to do it will be to change themselves. And to then just let things ripple out. This is the simplest path. It’s also the scariest, hardest and most painful. I don’t blame people that don’t want to go down that route or after our first session and never message me back. I’ve done that too. But those that do want and do it, boy, they fly, I’ve seen it!
The question that remains: When things are not going well around you, what’s not going well inside you?
Leo Widrichcoaches extraordinary people. In his previous life, he co-founded Buffer, a $ m revenue software company . He also lived in Buddhist monasteries for close to two years, trained as a trauma therapist and now lives in Vienna near the forest. He tweets @leowid. To learn about working with him,go here.
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