Some of my most interesting clients start out as “mountain-climbers”: they move from one career peak to another, a higher one each time, planning to find more satisfaction with each climb.
“When I get that SVP title, then I’ll know I am on the right track. Can you help me get there faster?” Well, in the process of “getting there faster”, we figure out why we only find on top of the mountain what we bring there with us, and how to make it happen.
When we climb up the mountain, there’s a view from the top, but the appreciation for it – we need to bring with us. If we don’t, that view can cause more turbulence than joy: “Is this the right view? Should I be higher up? Is this all there is? Am I too late? Is this the right peak?”
This mountain-climbing metaphor has been working beautifully for career and relationship development in my executive coaching practice.
Then, enters a beautiful metaphor from Kurt Vonnegut. He said “Life is a garden rather than a road”. He continues that as we enter and exit the garden through the same gate, what matters is not where we arrive to, but what we notice (I’m paraphrasing, as I have not seen the quote in Vonnegut’s book with my own eyes).
Can you see your career as a garden? Can you see your relationship as a garden? How would this view change your perspective on what’s working well and what needs to be adjusted?
If your career is a garden, you can experiment with what you plant and harvest. You can change, gradually or suddenly, if you are not pleased with the aesthetics of your garden. You can enjoy the harvest from what you planted years earlier. Improvise with what you plant, and if it doesn’t work out, try something different. Borrow ideas from other “gardeners” or design your own unique career. You can also choose to what you pay attention in your garden (because whatever you focus on – expands). Notice the shade and the light, and which you enjoy more at what times; notice the scents, the touch-and feel, notice the birds and butterflies that brighten up the garden, the chipmunks that are munching on your fruits… Observe, enjoy, modify, knowing that no one wins or loses at gardening, and each garden is unique. Yours is here for you to work and play with.
If your relationship were a garden, what would you do in it?
- Picture your relationship or your career (pick one) as a garden in which you spend time.
- Explore it: do you like being in your garden? Do you want to spend time in it? Do you want to work on this garden? How does it “land” on you? What emotions and sensations does your garden evoke in you?
- Come up with what you would change or enjoy about your career or relationship within the garden metaphor. For example, “burn the whole garden down, and let the emptiness just sit there before I plant anything new”, or “attend to the garden more, enjoy it, weed it”, or “plant a greater variety”.
- Transfer the metaphor into life. How would your action in the metaphorical garden translate into action in your career? In your relationship? This does not mean that you should immediately start breaking things or doubling your efforts. This experiment will just show you a tendency for what feels harmonious to you in your career-garden or relationship-garden.
- After you get a feel for your course of action, you can think through it and plan.
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ON my MIND
If you’re looking for something interesting to feel like you’re expanding, here are two soulful and smart podcast episodes I can recommend:
One Head, Two Brains episode with Ian McGilchrist, interviewed by Shankar Vedantam on the Hidden Brain podcast. It offers a level-headed explanation for why our brain is divided, and how each of the hemispheres do what they do.
To my friends who are in South Africa, in Cuba, in Belarus, or have family and friends there, – I see you, I hear you. If you ever want to talk about it – email me. It may not be enough to change the world, but we will do what we can, where we are, with what we have.
NEWS and UPDATES
While much of my work time is now dedicated to completing the PhD dissertation, I still love making time for coaching and consulting. If you would like to connect about working together, let’s do it. It may seem like ‘just talking’, but you already know it is waaaaay more.
My advisor and I co-authored a chapter on Intuition for the SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in STEM, and it has just been accepted for publication (forthcoming in 2022). It is an easy read (although long-ish), and a fair summary of what is known in academia about Intuition. Please, let me know if you’d like to read it or learn more, or just download it here.
This year, for the Academy of Management conference, we contributed a paper on Intuitive Wayfinding, which is about figuring things out as you go, not before you go. Want to talk about wayfinding in your personal or work life? Drop me a line.