A Coaching Power Tool By Lilly Turner, Lifestyle Coach, SINGAPORE
How Do You Apply the Concepts of Remarkable vs. Sustainable to All Aspects of Your Life
Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story. John Barth
We live in a world that constantly asks us to be the heroes of our stories. To be more, do more, be extraordinary.
If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney
The world is pushing us to believe that happiness and dreams realization is only and exclusively in our hand. The happiness industry thinks that our well-being is a matter of individual effort and personal responsibility; if we put in enough elbow grease, if we read enough self-help books, practice mindfulness and think positive, meditate and keep a gratitude journal, we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps from misery to joy . We can stand out from the crowd and be heroes.
A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is someone who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage, or strength . Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hero as “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities” .
Nowadays the concept of the hero changed from the classical hero, a character who possesses a great talent or ability, to the modern hero, a figure, a famous or everyday individual, who fights to make a positive difference and is selfless in a good way [4, 5].
Classical and modern heroes have some affinities, but they also have their differences.
Classical heroes are well known for their bravery, determination, and legendary actions. They live and die in the pursuit of honor. They are known for being the best in what they do.
They are known because they are remarkable.
But what does remarkable mean? unusual or special and therefore surprising and worth mentioning .
As I previously said, society is pushing to stand out from the crowd and be the best in what we think can make us special. We are led to believe that dreaming and wanting something as much as we can, plus a lot of commitment, is enough to pursue our dreams. And if we fail? It’s our fault. We didn’t put enough effort and sacrifice. We did something wrong.
Like for the classical heroes, we are responsible for the results of our actions and to prove that we are enough, the result must be remarkable.
Modern heroes, on the other hand, are known because they care for others and they try to help, even with tiny actions. Modern heroes are people who make a difference every day.
Their actions are sustainable.
In contrast with classical heroes, they try to do their best without being the best.
Sustainability sometimes is not even visible but it’s able to be continued over some time, able to be maintained .
Do our best, becoming the best version of ourselves every day is a change that needs time and is made millimeter by millimeter.
Remarkable vs. Sustainable Case Study
I want to bring a case study, my story.
Since I was young, I was always amazed by remarkable people, people who gave the world a reason to be remembered. Even now, if you ask me who are my heroes or the people I admire, the names I’m able to think of are always “big” names like Alessandro Magno, Gandhi, Steve Jobs, etc… I admire each one of them for a specific reason and quality I think they have.
Since I was young, a lot of people told me that I should have known what I wanted to become, how I was going to become that person, and when.
For years, I have tried to answer those questions without any success. I was frustrated because I was pushing myself towards a direction that didn’t belong to me. I was living my life trying to give answers to other people’s questions, not my questions.
I completed my study in Biology and I’ve started working. I’ve spent 7 years working in the same company; I would say that my life was happy but not fulfilled. I was waiting for a change, waiting for something that can make my life colorful. But I was waiting for Godot, I was not moving. I was trapped in the concept of remarkable.
The statements that were accompanying my life were
- I’m not sure about which direction I want for my life
- I’m living with inertia
- I’m drifting
- I’m waiting for something different
- What I’m not doing to have a change?
- Is this the life I want to live till the end?
Then I got pregnant and that event was the catalyst of my change, my remarkable event. I quit my job after I gave birth and we moved from Italy to Singapore. Another two remarkable changes.
I stopped looking for the big change and it happens naturally.
The remarkable events that happened to my life gave me the push to start again, I was the hero of my story because I was able to recognize and catch the opportunities that life was giving me.
But, as on a rollercoaster, there are highs and lows; so suddenly, I felt I was drifting again. At that moment, sustainability entered my life.
My first approach to the word sustainable was through an annual challenge called Veganuary run by a UK non-profit organization that encourages people to follow a vegan lifestyle for January . Out of curiosity, I’ve started this challenge and it was the first brick of my deep change.
“Let’s see if I can do it!” I said to myself.
I tried to do my best every day; sometimes I did great and sometimes not but, since I didn’t have any goal and expectations, I felt that I was doing a good job. Most importantly, I was not blaming or pushing myself to be amazing, I was listening to my body and following what it was asking me to do, I was playing by ear.
I was not looking at the end of the journey, I was and I’m still enjoying every single part of it.
I became the modern hero of my story trying to make a difference every day.
I wake up every morning asking myself:
- What can I do better today?
- Which tiny improvement can I have?
- How can I “be the change I want to see in the world?” (Gandhi).
My mind flipped from “I need a goal! I need to understand who I want to be” to “I’m enjoying my journey and let’s see who I’ll be at the end”.
I’m applying the concept of “sustainable” to many aspects of my life and I’m feeling that I am my everyday hero. I’ve learned that a remarkable change is not always at the beginning of the story, it can be in the middle or at the end of a sustainable journey.
Remarkable vs. Sustainable, How to Apply to Coaching
Remarkable and sustainable, how can this power tool be applied to coaching?
Thinking about my story, when someone comes to a session saying sentences like:
- I need a change
- I’m living a life that is not mine
- I think that I’m not enough
- Everything I’ve tried didn’t work
- I feel frustrated because I don’t know what I want to achieve in my life
- I don’t have a direction
I can imagine that the clients are “trapped” with the concept of remarkable. They might think that it’s their fault if they are not able to change their life because they are not putting in enough effort, they are not committed enough. They are not moving, they are passively waiting for something and sometimes waisting energies in trying to find shortcuts or they have just failed so many times that they don’t have the energies to start again.
The coach can help them to understand their point of view and help them to move the goal closer to themself by asking questions like:
- What’s the first tiny step you can do?
- That’s your big goal, but what can you do today?
- Where are you? In which direction do you want to move?
- Who belongs to the life you are living?
- What is going to be different if suddenly you become enough?
- How do you think your life will change once you will know what do you want?
Through the coaching process, clients can find their way into sustainability. They might discover that between them and the change they are looking for, there is an amazing journey made by tiny steps, big adventures, and astounding discoveries.
Clients can understand that they can be the hero of their story not because they have achieved something unique but because they are changing every day, they are enjoying their journey. To grow and expand, they must be willing to let go of who they are — their limiting beliefs, harmful habits, and negative self-talk to make space for who they are becoming.
Helping them to improve their self-awareness and being an accountability partner, we can do part of their journey together. A journey towards a sustainable, remarkable change.
I would love to end this power tool with two of my favorite quotes that always help me to remember to believe in magic and that things are not straightforward, changes need time and courage but, would it be that nice otherwise?
As you start to walk on the way, the way appears. Rumi
Nobody queues for a flat rollercoaster. Anonymous
Ruth Whippman “It's not your fault if you're unhappy – and it won't make you sick either”
Gölz, Olmo "The Imaginary Field of the Heroic: On the Contention between Heroes, Martyrs, Victims and Villains in Collective Memory".
6 Common Hero Archetypes in Literature
Classical Hero vs Modern Hero Essay