May Blog 2018
This month, I thought I should start the blog with some inner thoughts with courtesy from Mukudi Nkanza, my son, friend and my in-house intellectual sparring partner. Mukudi and I discuss many things and of late he has been a stable sounding board on some ideas I am developing around my coaching course. Unbeknown to me, he has been doing some reflections of his own. Coaching in my view is fundamentally a reflective activity. Reflect on what is going on in your life and how you are keeping up. It is also a reflection on your relationships and how that is influencing your external behaviour. Mukudi has just been on his reflective exercises and the clip below is exactly the type of outcomes we expect. These are Mukudi’s thoughts….
‘Who are you? A question that appears deceptively simple. But ruminate on it long enough and you will begin to appreciate just how loaded it truly is. What things instantaneously came to mind when you first read the question? Your name? Your occupation? Whether you’re a parent or not? Whilst these things are useful starting points from which one can begin to shine a light on what, to many, seems to be an unascertainable mystery (i.e. who they are), they are just that…starting points!
The question “Who are you?” encapsulates so much more than your name, occupation, marital status etc. By being a member of society, these attributes, if you like, are something one is imbued with to enable them to assimilate within the fabric of a “tribe” (i.e. society), where they perform a specific function and bear an identity, which distinguishes them from other tribe members. Consequently, telling me your name or occupation, amongst other things, fails to adequately furnish my understanding of who you are. They just tell me what role you perform in the societal machine.
So, divorced from your societal function(s), your titles, accolades, achievements (and failures), I pose this question to you again –” Who are you?” Are you currently in the position to credibly answer this question for yourself? If not, then you’re in luck because today, I am going to outline some of the things you should be thinking about when you formulate your bespoke answer to this all-important question. //
The sentiments in this introduction coincide with a conversation I had with one of my fellow coaches later in the day. She explained to me that for a long time in her life, she did not know who she was. Yes, she had an identity (name) like everyone else, as well as a husband and children. She had siblings and a job. But what was her driving force, that engine that raved slowly in her heart unceasingly but was unable to be heard? It was shrouded by motherhood and all the drama that was going on in and around her life. She admitted to me that all that drama was not her hustle. She was not consciously into it as her passion kept her aloof and detached from engaging with it. At the bottom of her heart she wanted to be an actress. That is what really brought her joy and abandon. But all the while she was in company of people she did not really care about. She had goals that did not motivate her. She was in a place she would rather not be. How many people are in her situation? Some are in such a situation because they are afraid to be themselves. Others would be in that situation because they were deaf and blind to what their inner soul was saying to them, or playing to the tune in the gallery which everyone was listening to. It was too loud and powerful and domineering for their own tune to be heard. There are too many people playing to the gallery. Well, something happened to my friend, she found herself!! As a result, she wants to share this new discovery with everyone out there who needs to find themselves. She believes her calling now is to help others to take courage. To find who you are is a constant reflection of what you are doing and what you truly believe in. After the soul searching, accept who you are. No matter what you discover about yourself, that is who you are, and you must pursue that truth until it becomes your, reality, your identity, your character.
Remember character is described as ‘something we constantly do!’ When you do something constantly, you become good and great at it. It comes easily and no matter how many times you do it, you enjoy it! No dread or regret.
Many of us are defined by our associations. The job, family name or our marital status or the children we have. Why are people not connecting with who they are?
Beliefs are a major impediment to this process. We grow up facing many man-made beliefs, norms and tradition about how we, our families and communities operate and how we as members are supposed to interact within it. The situation is already dictated to us. We are trapped by these boundaries. We are expected to conform without question and if one dares to go off course, society shuns such acts and one risks being an outcast. Therefore, these beliefs put paid to any innovation or autonomy that we may seek, rendering any soul searching impotent as we stall whatever we discover about ourselves. If it runs contrary to our beliefs or community guidelines there is no way of satisfying our inner voice and follow our passion. Acceptance on many levels is therefore a good starting place
The result of suppressing oneself from what or who we really are is brokenness. This brokenness shows up in our various behaviours. Others exhibit this in rebellion against parents, authorities in general or religious teachings. It is not true that recalcitrant behaviour is a result of people suppressing their inner selves, however, it is true that there are many people out there who are unable to come out and be their happy self. When this does not happen there is some casualisation of sorts; unhappiness, depression, anger and other social ills. Help is on the way. Coaching interventions will help people verbalise these dilemmas and find a friendly ear to listen to you.
To know who you are is not a random event. You don’t wake up one morning and know exactly what you are about. It is not a hunch, it is your whole DNA makeup that’s who you are. I guess even our DNA is designed in such a way that our calling should facilitate that. If I am not made like Serina Williams or Usain Bolt there is no way I will succeed at tennis or athletics. If I tried, I would have a harder time trying than if I chose something else for which my DNA make up is designed. When you ignore your inner voice, no wonder we have nurses who have no business in the hospitals and teachers who should be farmers.
In conclusion, what should one do to find who they are and what to do about it?
Like I mentioned earlier, knowing who you are is not a random discovery. One must be observant of their actions and reflect on the behaviours that they are exhibiting. Try to get feedback from people and reflect on them too. Try to find alignment between words and deeds. Your deeds are your character. Remember the saying ‘talk is cheap’. It is easy to say what you are but your behaviour is what demonstrates who you are. Watch and notice everything about you and your environment and how the environment influences your actions. Like a scout, we will notice who is doing what; who is adept at what. What comes naturally to whom. By the same token, people will acknowledge that even though you are a nurse, what we see externally is that you are good with your hands and you can play that piano or indeed a guitar. Watch the behaviours, that is all we have to fall back on. Behaviour reflects what we feel inside.
While as adults we have our own issues and may not be paying attention, we overlook these signals and continue to impose constraints on our children. Society is the poorer by it. If a child, boy or girl wants to sing and be a performer, encourage them. Society will be more beautiful with their genuine energy and performance. Let people follow their dreams. Such people are self-motivated, patient, persistent and pursue excellence. Imagine a world where everyone takes pride and love in what they do so much so, that they would do it for no pay. Just imagine that. In my mind this sounds like Paradise. Maybe just maybe, this is what God is saying to us all the time!! Find your truth and you will find excellence!