A Coaching Power Tool Created by Anthony Hadeed
(Life & Career Coach, TRINIDAD)
“Passion (from the Latin verb passio, meaning to suffer or to endure, also related to compatible) is an emotion applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. The term is also often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love.” –Wikipedia. When we think about someone we know who is passionate about their career, their family or life in general, we picture someone who is truly alive and full of vitality. Their inner and outer energy is contagious and we secretly wish we could be more like such people about some if not all areas of our lives. What do they have that other people do not have? What have they discovered that has allowed them to be their “authentic selves”? Is this something that can be learned or discovered by anyone? These are all burning questions that need answers if our world is to be inhabited by people who all believe that they were put here for a purpose, and that they are part of a higher plan to make this world a better place.
“Resignation is the acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable: a shrug of resignation” – Oxford Dictionary. We all know people who have essentially given up on having a fulfilled life. They have resigned themselves to simply getting by and biding their time until something better comes along, or even until death knocks at their door. It is true that many people in our world are not fortunate enough to change the circumstances or fate they have been dealt. There are billions of people in our world who live in underdeveloped countries and are well below the poverty line with no foreseeable way out of their plight. But there are also many people who live in developed nations who can change their circumstances for the better, but who simply choose to be resigned about their unhappiness and lack of passion.
This is a true story about a young man named Jonathan who lived in one of the Caribbean islands with his parents and family. He graduated with top honors in the island in 1979 and was granted a scholarship to study anything of his choice with all expenses paid. His lifelong dream was always to become a medical doctor because of his deep compassion and empathy for others, and also because he saw his father suffer all his life with various heart-related illnesses. Because of the similarity between the education system in the Caribbean and Britain, Jonathan applied to Britain to study medicine. Unfortunately that year the results of the Cambridge ‘A’ Level exams were sent late to the island’s education board and Jonathan could not get into one of the British Universities to study medicine. To further complicate matters, Jonathan’s father died of a stroke when he was just fifteen years old, and just one year shy of his graduating from high school.
Jonathan’s brother Andrew was attending University in Canada and he advised Jonathan to come to Canada for a year and to apply to the British Universities on time for entry to the medical program. Jonathan did this and because he had been awarded the top spot in the island’s Cambridge ‘A’ Level exams, he was accepted into two highly renowned Universities, one in Scotland and one in England. Jonathan could not apply to medical school in Canada because the Universities there had closed off their medical programs entirely to all foreign students. The emotional and social upheaval of Jonathan travelling to Canada from this small Caribbean island and still suffering from the recent loss his father, made Jonathan abandon his passion of becoming a medical doctor. He stayed at a University in Canada and majored in Physics. After seven years in the Physics program with a postgraduate degree, Jonathan found himself unable to get a job in this field. He finally accepted a job offer in the Information Technology field as a software programmer, and excelled in an IT career for twenty-five years. However, because he had abandoned his earlier passion of becoming a medical doctor and using his gifts of empathy and compassion to help others, Jonathan experienced a mid-life crisis and suffered a nervous breakdown, as well as various health problems and family crises.
What can we learn from the above case study? We see a clear case of Jonathan knowing what his passion and life purpose were at an early age, but succumbing to an attitude of resignation when faced with challenges as to how to pursue his medical training at an appropriate University. All that Jonathan had to do was to express to his mother his deep desire to go to one of the British Universities that had accepted him, and also his fear of another social and emotional upheaval in travelling from Canada to Britain. His mother would easily have arranged for another member of the family, perhaps an uncle, to accompany Jonathan to Britain until he settled in, and he would have happily completed his medical training. He would have had a successful and passionate career in medicine helping others and using his gifts of empathy and compassion. The long-term consequences to Jonathan of too easily yielding to resignation and not following his passion were nothing short of devastating! The moral of this and many similar stories is: do not yield to resignation when there may be other unexplored ways of pursuing one’s passion. As the old saying goes, “where there is a will, there is a way.”
We all too often yield to an attitude of resignation in situations that require some maneuvering, determination and perseverance to pursue our passion. We convince ourselves that the difference to our lives won’t be that noticeable. After all, others around us don’t seem to be jumping through hoops to find their passion. We fall prey to the belief that we are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and whether we live a passion-driven life or not, the world around us will continue to tick along. The problem with this type of resignation is that if everyone did the same thing, we would have an awfully dysfunctional and inefficient society, not to 5 mention a lot of unhappy and unmotivated people! To find and live our passion, it takes courage, determination and a belief that we all have specific talents to use for the benefit of ourselves and others in society.
Another major problem with passion vs. resignation is that our educational systems are too heavily focused on academics and sadly lacking in career guidance. Young people need to be taught and guided from the start of secondary school that they have talents and gifts that are linked to their inner passion, which is most commonly lived out through their life-long careers. Most young adults become despondent and bewildered at the astounding number of careers to choose from, and with little to no career guidance and passion discovery processes, they often develop an attitude of resignation which can become ingrained for the remainder of their lives! The US Department of Labor in 2010 listed over 820 various types of careers from which people can choose! Thus if people are assisted in discovering the vocational careers that match their interests, intelligence types, values, and work-styles, they are much more likely to develop better self-efficacy and passion, which will last for the remainder of their lives.
- Are you currently living a passionate and purpose-driven life?
- What areas of your life do you think you need to have more passion about?
- Do you have unfulfilled dreams that you have simply let fall by the wayside?
- If so, is there anything that you are willing to do in order to rekindle those dreams and to live a more passionate and purpose-driven life?
As coaches, it is our desire to help people live happier and more fulfilled lives. After all, coaching is all about the client’s self awareness and self discovery process, and assisting the client in making progress along the path to self actualization and achieving vision-oriented goals.
Consider this scenario: A concerned couple contacts you and says that their teenage son is very confused about where his life headed because he does not like his current program in University, where he has already spent two years and over fifty thousand dollars! They say that their son has become despondent and resigned to the fact that he may never find that elusive career that will lead to a purpose-driven and fulfilling life. They ask if there is anything you can do in your coaching practice to help their son find and develop his passion, and to get out of this state of resignation he is currently experiencing. What would you suggest to this couple? What first steps should be taken to turn their son’s life around before it is too late and before the attitude of resignation becomes deeply ingrained in his psyche?
The first step as a coach is to have a meeting with the parents and their son to discuss and understand the current situation more fully and to inform them of the services you offer in your coaching practice. This will be a good opportunity for you to discover how willing their son is to commit to the process of life and career coaching, and to make some changes in his University program if necessary in order to move onto a career path that is more aligned with his interests, intelligence types, values, and work-styles. Once a good foundation is laid for the coaching relationship, you as the coach should explain your coaching model, process and expected timelines to the client (the son in this case), and once the coaching agreement is executed, a schedule for the upcoming sessions should be established. The client should commit to these sessions by diarizing them in his calendar or mobile device (Blackberry, iPhone, etc.).
Using the Coaching Model
As the client becomes familiar with your coaching model, it is good to give him a brochure with a visual of your model so that he can picture the entire process in his mind. As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Your model may include some type of Psychometric assessment that helps the client discover his values, interests and passions. It should provide a good starting point for the self discovery process and should help to reignite some passion in his psyche. As the coaching process moves along the model’s timeline and structure, the client should start to get a clearer picture of his passion and “life purpose”. This in turn should lead to a shift in the career path he is currently pursuing. An action plan should be constructed by the client to move from his current career path to one that is more aligned with his passion. Of course, this process may take a number of months to complete and approximately four to eight coaching sessions. Finally, the client must be held accountable to his coach if he is going to successfully make the shift by applying to Universities for the newly discovered career path.
- How would you react if a client came to you with the dilemma of his or her teenager in a state of resignation over their life’s path?
- How would you encourage them that all is not lost and that there is a solution to turn resignation into passion?
- What if they could only afford a few coaching sessions with you, but you estimate that their child would need more sessions to uncover his or her passion and to make the necessary changes toward a more passion-driven career?
- What would be the core of your coaching model that offers your client the most “bang for their buck” in helping them uncover their passion and purpose in life via their career?