I’ve been thinking more about what I meant last week by, “If there was one thing I had to unlearn, it was to not categorize my coaching as something specific like business, executive, leadership, career, life, etc.” And part of it comes down to me wanting to help people find what brings them joy rather than what makes them happy. David Brooks put it this way:
“Happiness is good, it’s the expansion of self. You win a victory, you get a promotion, your team wins the Super Bowl, you’re happy. Joy is not the expansion of self, it’s the dissolving of self. It’s the moment when the skin barrier disappears between a mother and her child, it’s the moment when a naturalist feels just free in nature. It’s the moment where you’re so lost in your work or a cause, you have totally self-forgotten. And joy is a better thing to aim for than happiness.”
Happiness is easy to find, because it’s what right in front of our eyes. But joy is deeper. Much of the advice offered to us these days is to help us aim for happiness, not joy. But after what we’ve been through this past year, happiness is just not enough. Because even in all the suffering, death, and division, there was still joy.
Joy takes into account what’s unseen—what’s underneath our wants and goals, down to our beliefs. Beliefs determine our mindset, which determine our actions, to form our identity.
It’s like that scene in Inception where Fischer talks to his father, that dream within a dream, within a dream, that’s where our beliefs are. And when we go up each level and finally awake, we find ourselves a different person.
Different doesn’t mean you have to upend everything you do and change who you are. A practical example is when clients come with an either/or decision. They’ve thought something through and they need help deciding whether they should do this or that. The choices are right in front of them, but what if neither is correct?
Many times it’s a third choice, one completely from left field they would have never thought of on their own. That’s how the idea of coaching was introduced to me. I would’ve never thought of doing this if it wasn’t for Kenta, my coach.
That bit of insight, wherever it comes from is what I can do and what i’ve found to be the most helpful for my clients. How do I categorize that? I’m not sure. It’s taken this past year for me to understand the edges of my role as a coach.
It’s been my own winding and uncharted journey to find what makes me joyful. Or as Buechner calls, my deep gladness.