A Coaching Power Tool Created by Michael Seelman
(Executive Coach, UNITED STATES)
What’s your dream for your life? If you haven’t thought about it before, ponder it now. Thought about it? Ok, write it down. Yes, write it down now – don’t just think about it. Got it written? Good. Study it until you can recall it clearly with your eyes closed. Can you remember it? Excellent. Now, let’s do a visualization exercise…
Imagine what you wrote is inscribed upon a puffy white could above you in the sky on a warm, sunny day. I want you to picture it — visualize this cotton-like puffy cloud with your dream inscription — set against a clear blue sky.
Because this is an imaginary puffy cloud, you can always look up and see it anytime you want. Once it is clearly visualized, it is there everywhere you go. All you need to do is look up. Now, look up. Read the inscription. Reread it S-L-O-W-L-Y. How do you feel when you read it? Go deeper into that feeling.
As you are experiencing the inscription, bring some awareness to your body. Where are you in relation to your dream cloud? Are you able to reach out and touch the cloud? Or, are you on the ground with the dream cloud seemingly out of reach?
If you can’t touch your dream cloud yet, you can choose to “Soar” or “Settle.” The first part of our exploration will be soaring.
Part 1: Soaring
Imagine an eagle perched up in a tree nearby. Look closely at the eagle. See its majesty – powerful wings, noble bearing, far-seeing eyes, sharp beak and talons –its whole was body crafted for flight.
Now imagine that you are that eagle. Feel your talons’ grip on the tree branch. Flex your wings — feel the muscle, the sinew, and the feathers that are entirely under your control. Tilt your head and look through your eagle eyes up into the sky. Focus in on your dream cloud. Read the inscription.
Feel anticipation build and ripple through your body. Adjust your talons’ grip on the branch as you prepare for flight. Spread your wings, flex your muscles, and leap into the air. Rise higher into the air by pumping your wings. Revel in the exhilaration. Rest your wings in an open position as an updraft of airlifts you up and closer to your target.
As the winds change direction pushing you off course, resume pumping your wings. Strain against the turbulence, call out with the confidence of knowing your magnificent body is being employed for its precise purpose.
Refocus on the inscription as you close the distance between you and your dream. Enter the outer mist of the cloud with your talons outstretched. Feel your excitement rise as you zoom in on your goal.
Reach out with both talons outstretched and grab hold of the inscription. Fly free of the cloud with the words held securely in your grasp. Soar through the sky. Allow the sense of fulfilment to infuse your whole body– from wingtip to wingtip– for you have achieved your life’s purpose.
Reflection on Soaring
- How did it feel to describe your dream and have it down on paper?
- How much ownership or sense of responsibility did you have once it was written?
- Could you picture it inscribed on the cloud?
- How did it feel when it was initially beyond your grasp?
- What was your experience inhabiting the eagle?
- How did it feel when you obtained your dream?
Part 2: Settling
For the second part of our exploration will be settling. Imagine reaching out to your dream cloud and falling short. Visualize your arm and hand outstretched towards the sky. After a while, feel the strain of reaching beyond your grasp. Mentally measure the distance between your fingertips and the cloud.
Look down and see your feet solidly planted on the familiar ground close at hand. You have not yet walked the path ahead, but it looks akin to the one you have travelled in the past, and others have anticipated your following. Let your arm fall to your side and immediately feel release from the strain as you also become aware of a new feeling of disquietude stirring in your chest.
Glance back up at the inscription in the sky and feel the disquietude grow. Shrink back from it, push down the sense of yearning, and stare straight ahead. Move forward with your head down and stay focused on the path ahead to keep the longing at bay.
Settle into a sensible walking pace. Along your journey, feel the comfort of similar people travelling close by along the well-worn path. Grab hold of shiny trinkets that fill your pockets if not your soul. Over the years, occasionally glance to your left and right to see some novel things that are visible without straying too far. You are careful not to overexert yourself.
Toward the end of your journey, slow your pace as you are prone to become more easily fatigued. Take some time to look back at the distance you have covered. Notice how the path behind stretches into the distance, yet the way ahead is finite. Resume your walk forward until you come upon a flat stone jutting from the ground near the edge of a cliff.
The path appears to have come to an end. Look around for signposts or some guide for where to go next. Feel the discomfort with the uncertainty that arises when you find none. Bring awareness to the familiar ache in your chest that has been your constant companion these long years. Prompted by a faint memory, glance up into the sky to catch the last glimpse of a beautiful inscription written on a puffy white cloud just before dark clouds come roiling in dissipating it.
Bring your gaze slowly, reluctantly back down to the ground and the stone at your feet. Pause and gather yourself. Now, read the message etched into the stone’s face: “May the person who lies here find the inner peace that was elusive during life along the well-worn path.”
Reflection on Settling
- When you measured the distance between your fingertips and the dream cloud, how did it affect the seeming attainability of your dream?
- How did it feel when you first set out on the path?
- What was it like to encounter others on the same path?
- What sensations did you feel what the dream cloud was dissipated?
- How did you feel after reading the stone etching?
Thank you for your participation in this exercise. I hope it helps you reflect on the path for you.
Henry David Thoreau’s wisdom was the inspiration for this visualization exercise. In his book Walden, he wrote: “the mass of men leads quiet lives of desperation.” Unsatisfied with the fate he believed most people quietly settled for, he experimented with a rustic life in the secluded woods by Walden Pond because he “wished to live life deliberately… to live life deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
He spent time observing nature, including eagles soaring, and contemplating the meaning of life beyond materialism, the pursuit of status, and the expectations of others. He concluded: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”