A Dialogue with Intent

I have had the privilege of spending this past week with a friend/client who is visiting from nowhere. Yes, from nowhere and from everywhere. He is a constant traveller working in some pretty neat places meeting some really cool people doing what he loves. For the purpose of this blog and to keep his anonymity, although he game me full approval to post his name, I will call him Chef, as that is what he is referred to professionally.

I met Chef for the first time as a client in September 2011. We sat on a bench just outside of Starbucks in Burlington. As Chef unveiled his story and the crisis he was facing, it was evident he had hit rock bottom. It was an easy decision for me to accept him as my client. He had lost everything – his home, his business and his woman. He was not only at a crossroad he was in a place where he NEEDED direction and I gave him support and guidance.

Chef stopped by. The purpose of his visit was to have a dialogue with intention. Our dialogue was completely different. He is at a crossroad again and this time he WANTED to define his direction. He is not in a Crisis. He has a vision, is planning towards it in order to avoid the next crisis, he is looking at options and possibilities.

He explained it as follows: “Now, I know I can do anything and be hired to do what I really want to do. I don’t feel beat-up. I have gained confidence and self-worth, things I had lost”. He added” I can only describe my state of mind three years earlier as: Feeling like a complete failure, being made to feel like failure and accepting that it might be my reality. I could not see past my nose. I was filled with turmoil”.

What is most interesting is that he had the same skillset then as he does now and yet his ability to use it was compromised by his state of crisis.

Although his new path is not fully defined, he has over the past few years gained new tools through our work together, that he did not have before his crisis, such as insight into himself including limiting beliefs, better coping mechanisms, understanding behaviours that lead to patterns, and most importantly, self-assurance and self-worth. These have helped him continue working towards his vision, although this is also evolving as he grows himself.

Peter Senge wrote: “Personal Mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively … The discipline of personal mastery starts with clarifying the things that really matter to us, of living our lives in the service of our highest aspirations”. Chef has embraced this view and continues to question and validate his desire for personal mastery and to be happy in life and at work.

Since working with him, Chef has moved on to work as an Executive Chef in some extreme north remote locations in Manitoba and BC. He has been cooking for high profile VIP’s who have more money and assets than most of us could dream of. In Chef’s newfound confidence, he shares that he treats these patrons “as normal” which they value. He is back to doing what he used to do at a more intimate and personal scale. “This is who I am now – I am the REAL DEAL” says Chef with a smile. His patrons describe him as follows: “your style of cooking is so current you can blend in with the culinary landscape of Chicago”. Others have embraced him as a friend.

To get here, Chef shared that he first needed to pick some short-term opportunities to validate himself and test the waters ”to see if I can do it again”.

Chef is in the midst of visually designing what his habitat will look like once he finds the right place to settle – a place that will embrace the Real Deal and allow him to continue to grow personally and professionally. There is no age for redefining your path or vision, crisis or no crisis. At 58 years of age Chef sleeps well knowing his journey is far from over.

This has been Chef’s realization: Just because you were in a crisis and worked through it does not mean you stop there. More often that not you will go back to your old habits, so, don’t wait for a crisis to create a vision and direction, and keep them alive by working towards them and obtaining the support you need along the way.