Through a rather strange sequence of events, I began thinking about how an emergency maneuvers clinic for paragliding can actually be a metaphor for transformation. This post is partly about flying, partly about life, and partly about professional coaching.
When I started paragliding, I was instantaneously in love with the sport. Literally, within the first 15 seconds of flight, I knew that I was in grave danger of spending $3-5,000 getting deeply into a new passion, and that’s exactly what happened.
At some point, however, I encountered some very large turbulence, and it frightened me something fierce. As we know, the air is invisible, but I found myself wanting AWAY from whatever it was that scared me so badly. Except that after 30 seconds, I knew that despite my fear, that I had to learn to deal with that environment if I was ever going to be a better pilot. So I tried returning to where my wing went all haywire, and soon found the turbulence again. This time, being ready meant that I would not be as surprised, but in truth, that did little to make the turbulence any less scary. I experienced an asymmetric collapse or two and my adrenaline was maxed out, so I left. I was willing, eager, and motivated to get past my fear, but at that moment, my fear won out and I returned to lower, more comfortable air.
So here’s the first parallel to making a major change in life. Things may be going along as normal, then through circumstance you get an idea to do something new, bold, and adventurous. Perhaps its starting a new business, or revitalizing the one you are in. Perhaps it’s changing careers, or changing the dynamics that suck the life out of the one you have. Perhaps it’s a renewed sense of personal commitment to taking better care of yourself, or re-connecting with deeper spiritual beliefs. The particulars are entirely unique to each of us, but the commonality is that something happens that triggers the need to make a significant shift in life, and we start out with all the enthusiasm of a new pilot hooked on the passion of flight.
But then we run into more serious challenges with our resolve (turbulence). We get scared, we begin to doubt ourselves, and we question our earlier motives. All too often we turn away from something that not long ago held great promise and meaning for us. That earlier goal may still hold all the appeal of climbing to cloud-base or of traveling to a distant point on a cross-country trip, but between here and there the obstacles suddenly seem too big, our skills too light, or the risks too great. Whether that’s actually true or not is hard to say, but the fear is real, and so we turn away from our earlier goals, even if just for a while.
In my case, I recognized the need to take an emergency maneuvers course. I knew what it was, and my peers had all spoken highly of its value. In that course, I experienced things far worse than what I had ever encountered on my own. The fact that most of it was self-imposed through my participation in the course was secondary. The fear was still every bit as real, and the consequences of failure only partly reduced. So although the dangers were still present, I gained the confidence to risk and to try new things from the comfort provided by the safety net of flying over water, from the emergency reserve inside my harness, and from my coach on the radio. With those in place, I performed maneuvers that I would not dare contemplate under different circumstances, and which would have incapacitated me had I run into them “in the wild.” As a result, my skills improved and I became a better pilot.
Moving back to major changes in life, where does one go to find the personal or professional development equivalent of an emergency maneuvers course? To whom does one turn upon recognizing the need to learn new responses to present and future dangers in one’s career or life? How does one find the support and coaching to navigate through or around major turbulence rather than having its presence disproportionately limit or control one’s options to fly through life? In a nutshell, this is precisely the service that I provide through personal and professional coaching. I help people focus on achieving their primary goals in life, whatever they may be.
My background is in adventure education (outward bound), psychology (B.A.), and applied behavioral science (M.A.). I’ve worked with the King County Crisis line, and the King County Dispute Resolution Center (mediation work). I work with clients by meeting them wherever they are in life and charting a path towards personal achievement, accountability, and authenticity. The lenses I typically look through focus on play, relationships, creativity, teaching and learning. If you or someone you know is interested in making significant progress toward achieving their primary goals, then contact me for a free introductory coaching session to see for yourself the value that professional coaching can create for you.