I recently watched an episode of Super Soul Sunday where Oprah interviewed Shauna Niequist, author of the book Present Over Perfect. During the show, they talked about this quote from her book, and it has been tapping me on the shoulder ever since.
“The very thing that makes you, you, that makes you great, that makes you different from everyone else is also the thing that, unchecked, will ruin you.”
Being a frequent visitor of the personal growth section of the bookstore and enthusiastic taker of all means of personality tests, I have found my greatest gift is seeing the potential in other people. I love nothing more than trying to find ways to help people understand themselves better. I have this deep belief that everyone is worthwhile and that if they could only see their own greatness, they could do amazing things in this life.
It is this very thing that makes me a good friend, a good boss, a good colleague and someone easy to get along with. It’s also what draws me to coaching.
But just as this gift giveth, so it taketh away. When, as Niequist puts it, I let it go “unchecked”, I go from being a support to people to being an idealistic fixer. I stick my nose a little too far into their business and try to force a fix that I see for them. That common saying, “you can’t fix other people” is sage advice. Because it’s true.
The most valuable learning I have gained in my coaching education is that the coach is NEVER the expert. As a coach, I am not expected to diagnose anything, teach anything, fix anything or be the authority on anything. My role as a coach is to simply listen. And then I help people hear what they already know within themselves to be true. I continue to stand with them as an advocate and accountability partner as they take the steps they want to take to better their life.
And you know what? It’s so freaking refreshing to do just that. The unnecessary stress I would cause myself trying take on someone else’s emotional responsibilities was frankly just exhausting, not to mention completely ineffective.
I believe the state of our world today is not because we’ve lost the ability to see the good in others, but because we’ve lost the ability to see the good in ourselves. And so I will continue to see the good in myself and be grateful for the gift I was given to see the good in others. I will be more aware of the shadow side of my unique gift and listen to and care for others without adding my own agenda. I am the only one who can limit my own suffering. I am the only one who can keep my greatness in check.