If you’re like me—alternating between your laptop, your Blackberry, and your iPod at any given moment—you may feel like you have batteries, not blood, in your veins. Our fast-paced, high-tech culture has programmed us this way. Babies born in the last few decades have been brought up to operate like well-oiled machines, geared to overachieve and hyperproduce. The implication is that the best of us do it all on our own.
And it’s a big, bad lie.
So many of my life coaching clients come to our sessions with skepticism, burdened by the troublesome belief that reaching out is a sign of weakness or an indication that they have somehow malfunctioned. They hope that our work together will “repair” what is broken so they can go back to being completely self-sufficient and I end up being the only support in their life.
But I don’t work alone.
You see, to put it simply, people aren’t machines and I’m not a mechanic. We are born and bred by Mother Nature not Microsoft. Thus, life coaching isn’t about tightening a few bolts and sending your clients on their way. It’s a lot more like climbing a mountain—a feat that only a fool would do solo. Think of it this way. If transforming your life is like scaling a steep ridge, a life coach—your Sherpa—should only be one member of your team. For safety’s sake, you need a few fellow hikers at your side, preferably mountaineers like you—people who are fit and ready for the journey, not out-of-shape complainers who will slow you down. You also need a band at base camp, waiting with food and first aid in case something goes wrong. In other words, the various people in your support system must possess diverse strengths and play different roles as they help you trek through life.
Too often, when we do accept company on our journey, we select the wrong people as our mountain mates—people whose eyes are everywhere but the summit. They distract us and lead us away from our route, many times into harm’s way. For example, as much as you may love and adore your family and friends, you must be willing to ask yourself if they’re the best ones to accompany you on your climb—or if they’ll only gripe about the cold or snicker at your speed. I encourage my clients to choose fellow hikers with a similar skill level and drive—the ones heading to the same spot who will encourage them along the way. Building a support system is about surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Entrepreneurs should hike with entrepreneurs. Artists with artists. Parents with parents. (The list goes on…)
And, as you trek through life, you should expect your company to change while you adjust your pace to the local conditions and your personal ability. Changing partners isn’t an insult to those who are at a different spot on the mountain. You can wave to them, wish them luck, and say, “Hello! I hope you like the view! I’ll see you back at base!”
Life is a series of hills and valleys. A sherpa like me can help you chart your course and steer you away from danger but a hiking buddy will keep you laughing, focused, and motivated. More importantly, you should never underestimate the value of having someone at your side to marvel at life’s beauty and celebrate your success once you’ve reached one of many destinations. Then, when you return to camp, you can surround yourself with all those who weren’t fit to accompany you on that particular climb and entertain them with tales of your adventures.
Remember, you’re not a machine, you’re a mountaineer. And even the best climbers must have company.