Wisdom Over Coffee

“Learn to pause … or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.” Doug King

I was having coffee with three coach colleagues at Starbucks the other day. It’s a ritual I look forward to. We get together twice a month to share our wins and our challenges, support each other and have a good time deepening our connection.

We go around the table, each taking a turn to share our news or receive coaching on whatever our challenge may be that week. It’s a valuable, two-hour investment that always proves to be fascinating and energizing.

This time, as we were completing the round of sharing, I was struck by an awareness that suspended my ability to stay focused on the conversation. I let myself follow my own meandering train of thought for a while and then decided to share my question with the group.

My query was this: Why are we so often fearful and continue to get in our own way when we are striving to live a bigger life?

Even coaches, individuals who are trained, practiced and experienced at negotiating fear, doubt and disempowered thinking get stopped and stuck. Although this wasn’t a new thought for me, my curiosity was building about some bigger phenomenon at play.

I kept coming back to the thought that regardless how educated, self aware, or evolved someone is, they still exhibit behavior that prevents them from stepping fully and effortlessly into the biggest life they want. Why is this? I finally wondered out loud to my interested and wise friends.

I began to think about the primitive part of our brain – the “reptilian brain,” which is programmed for survival. As human beings, we all share a need for security, and this part of our brain generates that need.

Further, as my coach Kimberly Fulcher states, “If your need for security is not satisfied, whether the threat you perceive is real or imagined, you will live each day of your life focused solely on how to protect yourself. In this state, there will be no room for the risk taking and courageous action that is required to pursue your dreams.”

Fortunately, there’s a more evolved part of our brain that’s responsible for creating the advanced society we live in today. When we see our life through this part of our brain, we feel few restrictions. We can do almost anything. The world is a limitless playground waiting for us to step in and play our part.

I began to realize how these two critical aspects of the human hardware are in stark opposition. Part of our brain wants us to grow, take risks and get out of our comfort zones; while another wants us to stay home and be safe. It’s no wonder most of us run into roadblocks when we are trying to grow.

To add one more idea to my theory, most of us are members of the first generation that’s been encouraged to grow beyond our parents’ edict of “do what you’re supposed to do, not what you want to do.” In other words, very few of us have any role models for living a complete life of passion and fulfillment.

After spinning this theory with my colleagues, it became obvious that, as a species, we’re doing pretty well, despite our physical and cultural limitations. We are continually growing, evolving and modeling a new way of living for future generations.

On an individual level, it’s easy to get lost and stuck in what’s scary and moving too slowly. But when was the last time you paused for a moment, shifted your perspective and reminded yourself about your accomplishments? How far have YOU come in your life? I invite you to take a minute right now and think about it.

Yes, keep taking risks and moving forward toward living a complete life, but respect your very human need for security. You can do this by routinely acknowledging what’s working well and by reviewing your past accomplishments.

As you practice this you will begin to experience less time in the stuck, fearful places and more time in the moving forward and living your dreams places. What’s stopping you? Go ahead and dream…

It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!

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