What If We’re Only People Trying To Help Other People?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I had the most amazing experience this afternoon. Here’s what happened….

Yesterday afternoon, I got my second dose of the Moderna Covid Vaccine. I had heard from lots of folks that got it that the side effects were, let’s call it, substantial. Me, being the super macho guy I am, had it in my head that this wasn’t going to happen to me. First of all, the first one wasn’t that bad. And more importantly, I had some PRETTY IMPORTANT stuff scheduled for today. Nothing was going to stop me!

In reality, I didn’t have that much on my schedule today. First a coaching call with a client I’ve spoken to a few times. But after that was THE BIG one. I had a first session with a new client I was very excited to work with. One thing I knew for sure: I didn’t want to let him down or make a bad impression in this first coaching session.

As it happened, the night was bad and got worse into the morning. The combination of a sore arm and alternating heat and chills meant that I got very little sleep. As I got out of bed, I felt soreness well beyond what I’ve felt after doing some of my more difficult marathons. But I was determined to push beyond.

Things started to move in the right direction. I was smart enough to skip my morning run (but just barely smart enough!) Then, I headed into my morning ritual. I meditated. I read for ten minutes. I wrote what seemed to be a potentially interesting post. I was then able to start my daily activity of inviting people to coaching conversations.

Yet, I knew I was fooling myself. As I moved forward, I felt achy and unfocused. I got a bit lucky as my first client — the one before the new client — had rescheduled. All I had to do was power through that one call and then I could just relax and recover. As the time for the session got closer, I put on my best Zoom shirt (I had been walking around in a t-shirt) and got ready to wow my client with my smarts, invulnerability, and ability to help him towards a truly transformative experience.

Three minutes into the call, a very ironic thing happened. My new client asked how I was doing. And I found myself being quite honest. I’m about 79% there, maybe a bit less, I joked. I shared that I got my second shot yesterday and as long as I didn’t have to move my arm, I was good to go. I even shared that I had considered postponing our meeting. My client mentioned that he and his wife had really gotten wiped out by their shots and understood. He went on to say that it would have been no problem whatsoever if I had wanted to reschedule.

A warm feeling came up and suddenly, I felt unguarded. My armor, as Brene Brown would have put it, had fallen away. I said that if that’s the case, I’d love to reschedule as I can’t give you 100% today. I’d really love our first session to be one where I’m giving you well beyond that. I even joked that I had been concerned I’d make a weak impression if I had to cancel due to a health-related reason. We both laughed, picked a date, and are looking forward to meeting later this week.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

If you’re still reading, perhaps you identify with some of what I’ve described. It could be anything from the pain in the arm to the feeling that you don’t want to share your vulnerability. But regardless, I’m glad you’ve kept reading.

You see, beyond my fear of vulnerability, this story is a great example of the magnificent genius and creativity of our thinking. The part I left out of my story was that I hadn’t spoken to my client for two weeks since we agreed to start our work together. Nothing bad had happened. In fact, nothing had happened. But my thinking had invented a thousand reasons why he might think poorly of me if I had to cancel. The truth is well, whatever his truth is. But my thinking had created one helluva story about why I had to show up come hell or high water.

It was also a great reminder about who we are as coaches. I remember early on — well, two years ago in my case after I had done my training — thinking I had to be the infallible expert. I had to crush problems in a single coaching session. It’s been really good to learn that it doesn’t work like that for even the best coaches out there. The willingness to be real, human, and flawed — our truest selves — IS the value we bring to the coaching conversation.

Ultimately, we’re just people trying to help other people. No need to overthink that.

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Robert Grabel

Robert Grabel

Robert Grabel is committed to serving and does so through his practice Nonprofit Now! Learn about him at www.yournonprofitnow.com.