Inspirational Coach

Raw and Real from the Wild Field Episode 5: To Reveal or Not to Reveal?

That is the question!  At least, it’s the question that was asked of me this week:  Should I be revealing so much personal experience in my Raw and Real blog?  Is it okay for someone in my position – a self-development professional  – to display vulnerability?  My answer: You betcha!

That’s what I believe anyway.  I recognise that it’s not everyone’s approach to coaching and teaching, however, it is totally and absolutely mine.  Sharing myself with you like this feels like the ‘signature dish’ of my delightful vocation.  I’m just not the aloof, out of reach, theorist type.  I’m interested in the applied stuff – the real stuff that makes a difference, that moves us to the core, the stuff that I know from the inside out.  As far as I can make out, sharing my own trials and tribulations and the wisdom that I learn from them, helps and inspires you far more than mere academic ideas.

Just the other day, a coaching client said to me “I find it so helpful to know that you struggle too.  It gives me hope.  If it seemed you were all sorted and I wasn’t, I’d just feel like I was a lost cause.  Knowing that you go through it too – and come out the other end – shows me that I can do it too.”  And I’m delighted to say that I’ve had such a surge of appreciative and supportive comments and clicks onto my website that I just know that my ‘brave, honest accounts’ are hitting the mark.

I’ve always looked up to others in my field who tell their revealing true stories.  Their vulnerability and authenticity inspires me.  I can relate to them, to the challenges they face, to how they feel.  I can follow in their footsteps as they traverse the wilderness, climb up and down mountains and run for joy through meadows.  Their story is not just a dry, dusty road map.  The colour and texture of their account becomes a 3D virtual reality experience that I can breathe and pant and sigh within.  More importantly, in the process I become equipped to go on in my own life’s journey.

One of my inspirations is Oriah Mountain Dreamer who wrote The Invitation.  This little poem, published in 1995,  rocked the world with its piercing depth and quickly developed into a best-selling book.  You can read the poem and find out about Oriah’s amazing work at www.oriah.org , however the poem begins…

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.  I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.  I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.  I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.  I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it…

Reading the book had a profound effect on me back in 2001.   I’d just moved to Devon from London and it gave me some crucial inspiration that led to meeting my (now) husband, Pat.  I wrote about this incredible experience in an article called Meeting My Match. (Here’s the link: http://wp.me/ps0N4-9U )   Recently, Oriah herself thanked me for sharing this article on her Facebook page.  I was thrilled to be personally acknowledged by such an awesome role model!

Ironically, I’ve actually been holding myself back from splurging all to you this week.  It’s been very quiet and settled here in the wild field, and I’ve been absolutely loving the retreat-like lifestyle.  For the last 10 days or so, I’ve been working on a personal spiritual development programme.  However, this programme requires me to “haud ma wheesht”, which is old Scots (“hold my quiet”) for keeping my mouth shut!  Now, I have to admit that this is a bit challenging for my personality.  When I’m excited about something, I find it hard to contain.  But contain it I must as it is vital for the process to work properly.

It’s a case of practising what I preach.  As I often advise clients, there are times when we must keep things to ourselves in order to thoroughly internalise a change and contain the energy of our endeavours.  Should we share our stories too soon, we risk dissipating our focus, or worse still, invite the shaking heads and wagging fingers of the nay sayers.  There’s nothing worse than a negative Nelly to undermine our tender new attempts at positive change.

Anyway, to satisfy the part of me that wants to document my inspiration and teach it to others, I’ve been quietly journaling and filming my progress with this exciting new programme.  (I’m also already getting juicy ideas for presenting fabulous future workshops with this material, but I know I need to be patient!)  One day, all will be revealed in the ‘Raw and Real’, but not until the time is right!

So, to reveal or not to reveal?  Well, with the exception noted above, I say reveal.   It is my experience that I am being spiritually guided to be personally revealing in the way I write and speak in order to fulfil my vocation.  And I’m not the only one.  I am so enjoying meeting and collaborating with a growing network of like-minded authentic colleagues worldwide.  One of the kings of authenticity, in my opinion, is the lovely Nick Williams, author of Discover of the Work You Were Born to Do, collaborator in The International Association of Conscious and Creative Writers www.iaccw.com  and founder of www.inspired-entrepreneur.com

So, I will leave you with some inspiration – a couple of short videos of Nick and I talking about the role of authenticity in our coaching work. 

Part 1

Part 2

8 responses

  1. Premanand

    Don’t mind letting the world see this. Thanks so much for your help and loving concern, really most touching I feel Vindhya Varsini Ma is truly working through you, “Don’t worry my son, Mataji is looking after you..” as wonders unfold
    Love to Holy Cornishman
    Ram Ramji

    August 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

    • Thank you, dear Premanand.

      August 23, 2010 at 11:04 am

  2. I loved this Srimati! You are a refreshingly honest and open professional and your approach is perfect. I worked for years in the health service where you could not divulge any of your personal experiences and now I relish my freedom to share my story when the time is right. How can you connect if you don’t share this vulnerablity as an ability to overcome and shine? The interview with Nick Williams was great too, what a lovely guy. It flowed so naturally and echoed many of my fears of the business world! Fantastic!

    August 22, 2010 at 11:48 am

    • Thanks so much, Kate. I’m so glad you think my approach is right. And, yes, Nick is such an inspiring guy – very successful and yet so down to earth and ‘real’ and prepared to share himself – which is my point really! I believe we are entering a new era of authenticity in our profession and not before time! x

      August 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm

  3. I was very influenced by the great Carl Rogers’ “On Becoming A Person”. There’s a school of thought that says in order to help another person, you must appear solid and consistent and unshakeable, but we also help by communicating acceptance and authenticity. By showing that you, too are vulnerable, you are showing your clients that it is okay to be vulnerable, and the acceptance of our feelings and our situation is the grounding of our resolve, and the starting point from which we move forward.

    August 23, 2010 at 10:23 am

    • Thanks, Gordon. You put the dilemma and the solution very well. What is of help to others is being solid and consistent and unshakeable – in the sense of being congruent and confident – even in one’s vulnerability! Carl Rogers has some great insights about our human nature.

      August 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

  4. I think you are right to and I congratulate you for doing that as I know for some coaches/change workers it can be a scary to share such personal info. There is often a belief that they should be perfect because of their job.

    Yet as you demonstrate clients can find honesty refreshingly inspiring. For a coach I find it also boosts their confidence because that truthfulness means there not pretending to be perfect and there is no fear that anyone is going to find out that they are “a fake.”

    August 29, 2010 at 10:44 am

    • Hi Jen, thank you for your thoughts. It’s great to hear that you agree and very interesting what you say about honesty helping a coach feel authentic (as well as inspiring a client). It seems that the ‘perfect persona’ thing doesn’t really serve anyone!

      August 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm

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