Who Am I?
Updated: Feb 1
An introduction to me that evolves into a brief look at our happiness, purpose, inner wisdom and identity.
Originally, the idea for my first article, was to give you all an introduction to who I am. This was going to cover a more in depth look at my past and career, as well as looking at the type of person I am and where I’m going in life.
Then I was hit with a tidal wave of questions in my head; how do we know who we are? What determines who we are? Do we like who we are? What sort of person do we want to be? How do we change into that person? How do we find our purpose? How do we align that purpose with a career?.... the list just kept going on and on.
These are all questions that I have faced and continue to face in my life and that’s actually the beauty of it. We can change the answers, as we have choices. It’s more about our ability to deal with change in life, or getting stuck in comfort zones that stops us from leading the lives we want.
Many of these questions always surface in my coaching clients, as ultimately it doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re the CEO of a major corporate company, someone working the checkout at a super market, a parent, a student, we all have 1 thing in common, we’re all human beings. We all have our own thoughts, feelings and realities and we’re all looking for happiness.
There’s a weird paradox between the type of person we become and our happiness, so many people look at happiness as a destination. That typical phrase I hear all the time “I’ll only be happy when….”. It blows my mind that people put a price tag on happiness. The classic one is:
"I’ll be happy when I’ve made enough money to retire!"
That may be 30 years from now, so are you saying you won’t be truly happy for 30 years?
This type of approach to happiness is extremely common. It makes us goal orientated. It can make us extremely successful in business. It can make us into control freaks as we’re micro managing everything in work to achieve success, to make more money, so we can retire with more money. All sound great?
You wouldn’t believe the people I have either worked with, met or coached that are so successful. They’ve got more money than they know what to do with, but they’re just miserable. They work every hour under the sun, they’re so stressed out, on their days off (if they take them) they can’t unwind or socialise as they’re burnt out.
Let’s say they continue on this path, they make a boat load of cash and retire a few years early. Now they’ve reached their goal. Are they happy? Maybe, for a bit. This is where they expected life to truly begin for them, however their sole purpose has been to make money and retire and it’s now done. I’ve seen it so many times where people become lost after retirement. They go into a tailspin about what to do next as they have no purpose. There’s only so much relief nice wine and holidays will give. What next?
Now I’m not saying that it’s then too late as people can discover their purpose and act on it at any stage of their life. I suppose what I’m saying is...
What can you do today that will make your 80 year old self proud?
If you were 80 years old, full of all your wisdom from your experience of life, what advice would you give yourself now. Would it be to continue to stress and work so that you can enjoy the later years of your life, or would it be something else?
I’m sure if you asked, many of you will get a cliché answer like I did: “Al, don’t waste your life working a job you hate, there’s more to life than money. Do what makes you happy everyday”. For me, it was a really frustrating answer. My defence mechanisms kicked in with counter answers such as “it’s not as simple as that, I’ve got a mortgage and a family” and then after further thought “what the hell actually makes me happy” and then even deeper “how do I align that with a job” and then hit the big one “for me to know these things, I’ve got to know what my purpose is”.
My tiny brain couldn’t handle this level of questioning. I got super frustrated as I like to work with facts, I like to know exactly where I’m going and know exactly how to get there. In fact, I won’t even take a step towards a goal if I don’t have a detailed route, so that makes me….. holy shit….. a control freak! Even worse, it makes me risk averse!
My previous boss had always said that I was too calculated and that it stopped me taking risks and learning from my mistakes. He was right and this made me mad at him. Not for reasons you might think though. I was mad because I love extreme sports! (tedious link coming up, hang in there).
Surfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding, mountain biking…. If there’s a sport with adrenaline, sign me up! I do these sports as they light me up like a Christmas tree. I love the challenge, I love the adrenaline, I love pushing my limits, I love……. taking risks! I didn’t realise it but I was mad at my boss, because he had trampled over one of my core values. I perceived myself as a risk taker because risk taking allows me to do some of things I love and do for fun. He had indirectly attacked my identity.
So what now? It was obvious that something was completely out of alignment with my work and my values. I felt like two different people. The “work me” where I was a Senior Manager, acted important, but didn’t take risks. Then the “real me” where risk taking was fun for me and I didn’t put on an act. One drained me as it was an act and one was liberating.
I’d love to say that I was self-aware of all of this at the time, but I was totally clueless. I just thought my boss was an arse and I became more confused than ever. However, around this time, I was given a few meetings with a coach. These meetings were about establishing what I really wanted to do within the company as there were potential structure changes on the horizon. Ironically, what came out my sessions was the power of coaching and that I wanted to coach and help people like me. I immediately pitched the idea of me being an internal coach for the company and… landed on my face! However, this did not deter me, I felt such a pull towards it that I forked out a considerable amount of money to self-fund my own coaching qualification.
I figured that whilst training to become a coach, I would find a great deal out about myself along the way and be able to apply it my own life. I was very much in the mind-set that I would nail becoming an amazing coach by working on myself to be a perfect human before even getting a client. I wanted to “walk the walk” so that I would be a shining example to my clients of what people could be. Do you see my goal oriented mind set popping up and a slight risk aversion? i.e. I won’t coach people until I have nothing left to be coached on myself!
Boy was I wrong! We are never the finished article. We’ll have great days and pants days. As humans, we are naturally programmed to be in comfort zones. This is what stopped us, as early humans, getting into trouble in the wild. However, with those comfort zones comes a strong internal voice of self-sabotage. “Don’t do that as you’ll get hurt” or in terms of me “don’t put yourself out there as a coach until you’re the finished article or people won’t hire you”.
The first thing I learned was that all good coaches have a coach! Again, coaches are humans and we’re working on ourselves all the time to be the person we want to be, live the life we want to live and hence, to serve our client’s in the best possible way. How can we be coaches if we’re not prepared to put the work in on ourselves?!
However, the best thing I’ve learned about coaching, is that people don’t need one. I know that sounds weird but I truly believe that people are naturally creative, resourceful and are the whole package. All the answers to their questions, wants and desires come from themselves. The beauty of coaching is actually making people realise this and then show them how to speed up the process of answering those questions for transformation.
All those questions that I asked at the start of the article can therefore be answered by you. They probably just seem daunting questions as you’ve never taken the time to ask them. Maybe give some of them a try and see what comes up. If you get stuck then they can always be unlocked through the power of coaching.
So, do I have my life all sorted and am I a beaming ray of sunshine every day. Hell no, just ask my wife! What I have realised though is that life is too short. Again, I know it’s another cliché, but through various situations such as becoming a Dad, loss of loved ones, being unhappy at work, experiencing redundancy, questioning my future 80 year old self and many other situations life throws at me, I have a hunger to create a life that excites me every day. One that eventually leads to me earning a living from helping others unlock the lives they want too and that’s my dream. Yours will be totally unique to you.
Is it easy? Hell no, or everyone would love what they do. Is it worth it? On the days that I devote to coaching and writing these articles. I love it! It feels effortless. Do I have bad days, for sure, more than I care to admit. There’s never enough time or I get stressed by my screaming toddler. The point is that being self-aware of what makes you tick and what you really want are the bricks to building a happier life.
"We’re human “beings” not human “doings”
We’re only around for a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. Make the most of it and find a way to enjoy every day doing the things you really want. Don’t spend time doing stuff that doesn’t interest you or serve you.
This article was originally an introduction to me, but it’s grown into something completely different. I’m going to practice what I preach and take a risk that this will serve you in some way. This article created itself as every paragraph led onto another insight I wanted to share. All I want you take away from this is that you have a choice about the way you look at everything in your life.
I stand by the fact that you have the inner resources to answer these questions yourself, it’s just about giving yourself the time and having the courage to do it. Or, if they seem to daunting, ask these two simple questions: What do I love doing? How can I get more of this in my life? Then act on it!
If you struggle with these types of questions or want to make a change in your life but don’t know how, the chances are you’re ready for coaching. If you want to know more about me, my approach and background, feel free to contact me through my website and I’ll be happy to chat to you.
Thanks for reading and being part of my first article,
p.s This is where i'm going to stick a bunch of hashtags so that this article can serve as many people as possible:
#change #transformation #coaching #lifecoaching #corporatecoaching #wellness #mindfullness #whoami #livingthedream #clearwatercoach #purpose #ambition #life #happiness #wisdom #identity #personaldevelopment