Have you ever thought that someone with an entrenched idea or belief will never change? Maybe someone has a habit that they just can't seem able to break ... Maybe it's you, that we're talking about here!
I was recently offered some work, after a couple of fantastic former employers had provided references for me. It recalled to mind another time just after Dad passed away, when a new employer rang to tell me I had the job for which I'd interviewed, and that I had "glowing references".
Gosh, we take a lot for granted!
We take it for granted that our former boss will be happy to give a reference, let alone a good one. We take it for granted that our referee will instinctively know what to say, when called up. We take it for granted that they'll be in the country when the prospective employer calls. We take it for granted that they'll be available, willing, and prepared!
I mention all this for two reasons.
First, we should check in with prospective referees prior to them being called upon, to make sure they'll be available and prepared to say the best things possible about us, that are relevant to the job for which we apply. If any of these conditions cannot be met, for whatever reason, then we waste the time of the prospective employer (as well as ourselves and our referee). I was pretty lucky, in that my prospective employer hadn't called me to say they'd be checking references, but my referees knew me well enough to respond positively. They were all on holidays though (and one was overseas!).
Second, this all brought me back to one of those referees who gave me a "glowing" reference, all those years ago.
You see, that person was one of my postgraduate supervisors, and I had gone through a period of resenting their lack of support once I finished my doctorate. Back then, it seemed to me, that all my peers had support from their supervisors - they had publications, grants, and paid employment - while I didn't. I felt like I had been left to flounder, and I believed this for some years. I also had incredibly low self-esteem because of it.
I had pushed out of my mind the fact that this supervisor had actually supported me in all these ways, from the first day that we met. I had ignored the vocational and personal challenges that they had been facing when I finished my doctorate. I focussed solely on myself, and my own victimhood. I directed blame toward someone who behaved differently from their peers, but totally within their means at the time.
Before I started my doctorate, my supervisor and I had a chat one day at work. A colleague was approaching the end of his PhD, and shirt-fronting my supervisor (who was my boss at the time). I was informed that, when you finish your PhD, you are expected to go away and work for someone else or establish your own lab.
It was clear to me, that I should not rely on any of my supervisors when I finished my own PhD.
But, I had trouble finishing my thesis, with many re-writes and re-analyses. I was exhausted, and felt like a total failure. I believed that I must be a terrible writer, because I was instructed one year, to write chapter drafts for my supervisors, followed by another year of drafting manuscripts for publication (my preference, but I was never advised to submit to any journals), and then another year writing a full thesis in one go. Each required very different writing formats, which meant I had to re-write everything (which also meant I had to re-analyse all my data, because the versions of software changed each year). This, after I had actually drafted all my manuscripts for journals in the year prior to all this merry-go-round!
I began to believe that not only was I a terrible writer, but that my supervisor might have been delaying my completion for a reason. Maybe they were struggling in their own career, and had begun to see me as a threat for funding - scientific research is a notoriously competitive field. It didn't make sense, I know! How could I - a terrible junior scientist - be competition for competitive grants against an established scientist?
When you feel unhappy feelings, and think negative thoughts, they all tend to coagulate and suffocate your natural reason.
A few years ago, I re-read some scientific journal articles that I did get published. I was so surprised to discover how articulate they were! I've had people who have read my blogs and books (yes, friends and family, but also others!!!), tell me that they love how I write.
It finally dawned on me, that maybe I wasn't so terrible at this after all. I found a funding application the other day, and I had to agree with my reviewers from when I lodged it - it really was brilliant!
So, my sense of self-worth changed. Where, before, I had low self-esteem; I began to view myself very differently.
But there's more (because you really should want more!). The other day, when I received the call that I was successful at this new position, I thought about how much I appreciated my lovely referees. I had such warm feelings of gratitude, and I sent them blessings for their generous gifts of support.
And then something surprising happened. I thought about that boss/supervisor from so long ago, and I felt those same feelings for that person too. You see, I realised (or rather, I remembered) that this person had believed in me from the moment we met. They saw my potential, and nurtured it, over many years. They had offered me a summer scholarship, followed by a casual contract, and then about 14 consecutive part-time contracts. They had even offered me promotions and another scholarship (which I used to buy my home). All this, and postgraduate qualifications with paid employment. They had nominated me for a number of fantastic positions, even before I had finished my thesis.
If that's not a glowing reference, in itself, I don't know what is! All that consistent support was testament to how well they regarded me. And I simply took it all for granted. (Did a penny drop for you just then?).
They say that hindsight has 20/20 vision. Sure, I don't know who "they" are, but it's certainly a cliché! It's true though. When you're removed from a situation or an interaction, for long enough, you just might see it differently. Sometimes, you need other conditions to take over, before you can see that situation or interaction more objectively. Sometimes, you need both the time and the distractions!
I had a meditation today, that I thought would be good to share with you, because it really sums up this whole concept nicely.
Imagine, you are a trapeze artist.
You have a new trick that you'd like to practise and perfect. You climb up the ladder to a platform that's way up high. You can hardly see the net below.
You pull a rope toward you and catch your monkey-bar that's attached to it. Swing it out over the net, and catch it again on it's return. Now, launch yourself off the platform.
As you swing, up there, up high, thread your legs through and bend them, and let go your hands, so you are dangling upside-down.
Feel the blood rush to your head. Feel the gravity pull you, this way and that. Now, allow the swing to become still.
From your trapeze, dangling upside-down from your monkey-bar, look down toward the earth. Your net has been removed. What do you see? Do you see your present self, down there in the middle of your field of view? Do you sense the past behind your present self? Do you sense the present, surrounding that person all the way down there below your trapeze-self?
Look out over the expanse around your present self. See the infinite possibilities that could have been your paths in the past. See the infinite possibilities for your future paths. Now, look at the potential directions for your present.
You may think you are stuck. You may think you are trapped. But, from up there, way up high, you see nothing but infinite possibilities.
You're not stuck. You are suspended, pausing to admire your own reflection in a pool below.
You probably know at least 3-4 people, who have come to mind while you've read this post. Why not buy them a gift certificate? It doesn't matter where they are, because coaching can be delivered over the phone just as well as in person (possibly even better over the phone).
But, what about you? Just ask yourself, "Do I want every aspect of my life to be a 10/10?" Well, it's never too late (unless my diary is full). All you need to do, to book in for your first coaching session, is choose! And there's the absolutely fantastic 8-Week Breakthrough Results Program, if you are really committed to living your most authentic life.
Now, maybe you need some other tools - such as books, meditations, meditation school, a tarot and oracle card reading, or to consider what kinds of strategies you need in your life (Ahem. I am Certified Results Coach, and you can book a free strategy session over the phone, anywhere in the world).
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