The Five-A Plan for Success
Founder & CEO
As an executive coach, most of my day is about creating something new a the future that does not exist today. This can be in any domain of life from career ambitions or organizational strategy to personal relationships. Rarely am I supporting a desire for “a little improvement” – my clients are looking to make big transformations. So how do we really create something new – how do we reinvent identities, lives, and futures within our organizations?
Unfortunately our historic models of reinvention are often experienced as difficult work, at times a real struggle, complex, impractical, and even as a fantasy that we will do “someday.” For the most part we look outside of ourselves to find the “answers” to our desires, develop complex strategies that require a decent amount of will power, and more often than not, give up in the long-term implementation of those strategies.
In 15 years of leadership coaching, I have found that successful transformation doesn’t really work that way – and instead can be done powerfully with ease and even joy. It does take courage to listen and live one’s own voice over time as contrasted with relying on other’s validation and answers as many of us learned to do in childhood.
Taking back our voice and our power to create new futures for ourselves requires five steps: Awareness, Acceptance, Allowing, Aligning, and Action.
“Many visions are doomed from the outset because those who articulate them, whether consciously or not, are coming from a place of powerlessness. If we believe that someone else has created our present reality, what is the basis for believing that we can create a different reality in the future?”*
It is considered an extreme stance to say, “everything in your life you have created.” Especially in cases of those who face traumatic or tragic events in life, no one wants to be accused of saying that the victim created the crime. At the same time, when we think of anything in our life as created by something outside of ourselves, we give up the power to manifest something new. So while it is not “true” or “false”, it can give you enormous power to reclaim authorship for your life.
The more awareness we have about our part in creating our life, the more power and choice we give ourselves. Awareness extends beyond our circumstances to ourselves – to awareness of what drives us, of our patterns of action, of those with whom we are entangled, what we count on, the limits in our thinking, what we have concluded about life, others, and ourselves, etc.
Take the stance that whatever you have in your life you have created and become aware of the possible sources of that creation: identify your thought pattern that created this situation. What have you decided is or is not possible for you? For your gender? For people like you? What seems to have a magnetic attraction to you?
Answering these questions will open up a greater space for something new to emerge.
Until we accept our own authorship of that which we experience, we are powerless to manifest anything other than variations on the current theme. The more we accept, the more space we have to truly create. Acceptance is not tolerance, and it is not saying that we are okay with something or even that it should be that way. Acceptance is simply allowing a thing to be itself and relaxing into the way it is. Ironically, it is only those who “cannot accept” who can never move on.
What shoulds/ shouldn’ts can you let go of today?
Acceptance is inversely proportional to the number of shoulds we have in our life. Look for the places where you have a mood of resistance to the way it is and a narrative of “it should be this way” or “it shouldn’t be this way.” Practice replacing the should or shouldn’t sentence with “it is this way” and “it is not this way.” See if you can bring about a mood of acceptance as you do this and relax into it as it is.
Once we have achieved a level of acceptance, we will experience an empty space, a new freedom. If we allow ourselves to be still and listen to what is emerging, something is calling us. In other words, we are not figuring it out but rather listening. For example, simply ask yourself, “What is it that I need right now?” or “What is it that this situation needs?” or “What is it another person needs?” and then pay attention to what enters your awareness. Don’t discount what shows up. The more patient you are, what is needed will get louder and more persistent.
There is no force, just a “tuning in” to what is there for us. What you hear might surprise you, or it may have been there under the surface for a long time. Listening to our own voice is something that few of us have mastered. This is actually more of a way of life than a one-time event. The more we allow for things to present themselves to us, the better we get at noticing them.
Sit still, take three deep breaths and simply be open.
What is calling to you in this moment? What want’s your attention? If you give up all expectations, all predictions, and all “shoulds,” what is left? If you don’t second guess yourself, what do you know to be true?
We will call what you hear from this practice to be “what’s emerging.”
Aligning ourselves with what’s emerging is what will allow it to come into being. Everything in our lives is designed to manifest what we currently have and experience. We will need to re-align the way we speak, whom we speak with, our idle thoughts, our daily schedules, the way we eat, spend money, present ourselves, etc. with this future that is now calling. This is not always easy as we often have practiced the way we already live our lives for quite some time, and creating new patterns and habits can sometimes prove difficult.
Sometimes what is emerging requires of us to shift the entire organizing structure in our lives. In this day and age of instant gratification and quick fixes for anything in life (making money, weight loss, getting educated, etc.), we are less practiced at the endurance required to create lasting change. At the same time, when we are aligned with what is naturally calling to us (instead of forcing an outcome of what we think we should do), we may find this part to be natural and fulfilling.
At frequent intervals throughout the day (maybe set an alarm clock), look around you to answer the following questions for yourself in the moment:
· How can I align what I am saying right now with what is emerging for me?
· Are my relationships aligned with what is emerging?
· How well does what I am doing right now support what is emerging for me?
· Are my short term and long term plans aligned with what is emerging?
Take note of any impulse for action that shows up for you.
It is now time for action.
Ultimately, what produces results is action, period. While we have an unlimited supply of complex models, theories, and explanations about what produces the results, at the end of the day results come from the action we take or don’t take.
At any moment, we will have the choice to act consistent with our current life and trajectory (and therefore extend what we already have) or act consistent with what is emerging and therefore manifest something new for ourselves. Because we don’t live our lives moment to moment like we have choice (we just live), we need to increase our awareness of our unconscious patterns of action and the choices that are truly present in the moment. It helps to imagine oneself in certain predictable situations and think about what it looks like to act consistent with a new reality and what it looks like to do the same old pattern of action – then the choice can be made.
At frequent intervals throughout the day, notice the choice you have in any given moment and ask yourself what it looks like to act consistent with the old (current) reality and what it looks like to act consistent with the emerging reality. Practice acting consistent with what is emerging for you.
Creating a new reality is not something that happens in one day; it takes dedicated action day after day, practicing a new way of being and acting in the world. Awareness, acceptance, allowing, aligning, and action are five principles that enable a natural and enjoyable pathway for “creation,” a new model that gives up the notion that it has to be complex, forceful, and hard.
* Senge, Peter, Scharmer, Otto, Jaworski, Joseph, Flowers, Betty Sue (2004). Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future. Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group: New York. Pp.132.