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Coaching Scenarios: “Balancing a Busy Lifestyle”

Professional Development Comments Off

John started his business a few months ago and has been extremely busy since. He approaches with the following question: “I’m so busy at the moment. How do I start to get more balance in my life again?” As the coach, what can you suggest to this client?

Terry Neal, LCI Master Coach, answers…

The desire by a client to get their life into balance can come from a realisation that they are feeling tired, irritable and/or on edge a good deal of the time. 

It could also be because they have started to notice that they’re not being part of activities that they have done in the past with family and friends that they used to do regularly or because they feel that they don’t have enough time to do what they enjoy doing for themselves by themselves.

It could be simply that some aspect of what they do whether its work or otherwise related, has become the predominant aspect of their life (in this case, John’s business start-up) and they’d like to change this. However, whatever the reason is for this client coming to you, one positive feature is that they have recognised their situation and hopefully will be more easily motivated to change it.

Questions and Exercises

As the coach here I suggest you start by asking your client some questions that will help both of you to be clear about what your client sees as the problem at this time and how your client views their possible “balanced lifestyle”.

Questions like: “What do you want that you don’t seem to be able to achieve?” “What kind of person would you be if you had a more balanced life?” “What would you be doing if you were living the life that you wanted to live?” Your client’s answers to these and other questions will give you both a clearer picture of what a ‘balanced lifestyle’ means for your client.

You could then follow up with questions like: “What prevents you from having this balanced life?” “Do you really want to change your life to become more balanced?”

If the response to the second question here is YES then an activity you could do with your client is the Absolute Yes List. This involves asking your client to list activities that they currently feel they need to do on a regular basis, then deciding what activities they feel are really important to them and then to note which of your client’s current activities are not considered important and which can either be stopped, or have the amount of time allocated to them reduced.

The exercise itself involves asking your client to sit comfortably with a note book and initially to write down their responses to the following questions: “What activities that I do now are important for me to do on an ongoing regular basis?” Encourage them to write and not judge whatever they feel is important at this time.

Next ask your client: “What activities need my attention at this time in my life?” “What activities do I used to do and now haven’t done for a while?” Once again encourage them to not judge what they write down. Also ask them to consider as many different aspects of their life as they can – areas like relationships, work, community, hobbies and so forth – and to write down whatever comes up.

Once they have finished this list, ask them to nominate the top 5 activities that they feel they would like to put their energy into on a regular basis. If 5 feel too confining, they could list 10 but I suggest that this needs to be the upper limit. This list could be a mixture of those that they feel they ‘need’ to do on a regular basis and those that they feel they would like to devote time to again.

The point here is that while there will probably be some areas that your client will feel that they will still need to devote much time to, for example their career, there could be others that have not had any prominence before and now potentially will be given a higher priority by your client in their daily or weekly routine.

You could encourage your client to write out these top 5 activities on small pieces of paper and to place them in strategic positions around their home, their work area, in their car or wherever they spend amounts of time. This is because the more times they see and read them, the more likely they’ll say yes to these activities and no to a request from either someone else or even from themselves to do an activity that’s not on this list.

Conclusion

Encourage them to review this Absolute Yes List every 3 to 6 months and to note how they feel about this list of chosen activities. They could ask the questions: Is my life more in balance? Am I holding to my list of absolute yes? Do I need to amend this list?

This review will help your client to decide if a change of activities is required or if this same list can continued to be worked with until the next review time.

This coaching case study, along with many others, is available from Coaching Club’s article category ”Case Studies”.  To access these cases, start your 30-day free trial at www.coachingclub.com.au.

Inspired To Be an Entrepreneur

The Contributor Forum Comments Off

This is part 5 of the special series “Discover the Work You Were Born to Do”, by author Nick Williams.

By the end of this article, you will have explored:

  • Be inspired to the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur.
  • Discover the four major business types.
  • Learn the difference between being a practitioner vs. being an entrepreneur.

The spirit that inspires us to the work we were born to do is deeply aligned to our entrepreneurial nature.

… It embodies a call to be the master of our own destiny – and thousands of people have discovered that running their own inspired business can be a fabulous vehicle for achieving this.

You may be attracted by ideas of becoming entrepreneurial – being your own boss – and gaining control of your own life – but how might this translate into a real business?

The Four Major Types of Business

What different areas of businesses are there? Below are four major types of business that our ideas could give rise to:

1. The creation and manufacture of physical products.

We might decide to create products that we love, such as jewellery, art, and inventions of all kinds. Obviously these items will need to be sold and marketed in shops, at exhibitions, one-to-one, or via the internet or mail order. We might wish to do the marketing ourselves or get someone else to do it for us.

2. Personal Services.

This is when we perform a service on someone else’s behalf, that they could do themselves, but would rather not do; such as decorating, cleaning or gardening. Alternatively, we provide a service in which we offer specialist knowledge or special skills, for example, in the areas of: coaching, massage, healing, consulting, plumbing, building, public relations, marketing and selling, etc.

3. Information.

This is known as being an infopreneur. We can package our wisdom, ideas, experience, knowledge and expertise and share them with people who’ll benefit from it.
 
We can make this an in-person exchange by giving talks, workshops, tele-seminars and courses, or we can achieve it via the creation of ‘information products’. These products can be physical items such as books, articles and CDs, or digital products such as e-books and MP3s. We can also package other people’s knowledge for profit.
 
If this appeals to you, click here to enrol on a free programme that I have developed with my friend and business partner Niki Hignett to help you understand how to create a successful information-based business.

4. Renting, leasing or becoming a landlord.

This is when we own something and let others use it in return for income, such as dress hire, car hire, a house or flat, or the props used on film sets.
 
Whilst the type of business we become involved in may be an important consideration – a more pressing issue involves the reasons why we enter business in the first place – and how it can become a vehicle for our personal freedom.
 
Creating a business of our own is not just about escaping employment or boring bosses, but relates to our freedom to create, express ourselves, make a difference, fully utilise our talents and earn money.
 
Business can be a creative enterprise in itself. When we are trying to create something that is original, that stands out from the crowd and that will, hopefully, serve some useful purpose, our efforts have meaning.
 
Above all we want to bring into being something that we can be truly proud of! I suggest that nobody goes into business purely to make money or to escape employment – if those are your sole motives then I believe you are better off not doing it. A new business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts and cause you to keep growing.
 

Being a Practitioner vs. Being an Entrepreneurial Business Owner

It is important to recognise the difference between being a practitioner of something we love and becoming an inspired entrepreneur in our chosen area.

We may love being a coach, designer, recruitment consultant, plumber, homeopath, therapist or artist, and we may be talented and very good at one of those jobs. But it is something else again to want to start our own business and generate independent income from doing what we love.

Being talented, or even brilliant at something, is no guarantee of our building a successful independent business in our chosen work.

To succeed, we need to have the mindset of an entrepreneur.

… This means knowing how to find and attract the clients whom we can best serve with our unique talents, so that we can build a sustainable business around our services. We must remember that we are running a business, even if we are the only person in that business!

About the Author

Through his books, and live talks, workshops, personal coaching and on-line learning programmes, Nick Williams has inspired tens of thousands of people to discover the work they were born to do.

Website: www.nick-williams.com
Blog: http://nickwilliams100.typepad.com

Basic Web Metrics

Technology Centre Comments Off

Sadly, many business owners don’t maintain and monitor performance indicators. As true as this is for offline businesses, it’s even more so the case for online businesses.

Tom Peters said “You can only improve what you measure”. If you’re operating blind and not measuring the performance of your website, there is no way you can improve its performance.

Only by understanding the metrics can you develop strategies to improve them. Many website owners focus on some metrics, but usually to the exclusion of others. For instance, they may implement some strategies to improve traffic to their site, but they don’t improve the QUALITY of traffic; their sales process; offer; or copy writing; so their sales remain low.

In general, the most important statistics are called “conversion rates”. These are ways of measuring how successfully you are achieving the goals of your site, such as converting curious browsers into buyers or converting first-time buyers into repeat customers.

You’ll likely have several conversion rates to focus on as you guide your customers through your sales process, but here are some key formulas (in this article we’ll look at some basic metrics of your business. In the next edition, we’ll discuss some more advanced metrics):

1. How many visitors are you converting into customers?

Your Visitor-to-Customer Conversion Rate is one of the easiest stats to gather, but also one of the most powerful. It’s a quick indication of how effectively you’re convincing visitors to buy from you.

# of sales/ # of visitors x 100 = Visitor-to-Customer Conversion Rate

So if you get 10,000 visitors a month and 472 of them become customers, then your conversion rate is 4.7%.

472/ 10,000 x 100 = 4.7%

2. How many visitors are signing up for your newsletter?

Known as the Visitor-to-Subscriber Conversion Rate, this metric tells you how attractive your call to action offer is. Keep an eye on this figure as you test different positions and copy for calls to action.

# of subscribers/ # of visitors x 100 = Visitor-to-Subscriber Conversion Rate

If you get 10,000 new visitors to your site in a week and 2,730 of them subscribe to your free newsletter, then your conversion rate is 27%.

2,730/ 10,000 x 100 = 27%

3. How many of your newsletter subscribers are becoming customers?

Your Subscriber-to-Customer Conversion Rate is a good test of how effective a sales tool your newsletter is. This is especially important if your main product is a paid newsletter.

# of customers/ # of subscribers  x 100 = Subscriber-to-Customer Conversion Rate

If 120 of your 2,730 subscribers end up buying something from you, then your subscriber-to-customer conversion Rate is 4.4%.

120/ 2,730 x 100 = 4.4%

4. How much revenue are you making from each visitor?

Very simply, this Revenue per Visitor stat shows how much you’re earning from your average visitor. This is particularly valuable since this number helps determine how much you can spend to acquire a new visitor while still earning a profit.

Sales/ # of visitors = Revenue per Visitor

If you sold $6,000 worth of inventory this month and had 39,000 visitors to your site, you would know your revenue per visitor is about $0.15.

$6,000/ 39,000 = $0.15

5. How many people are clicking where you want them to click?

Your Click-through Rate shows the percentage of people who “click through” from your sales letter to your order form (or any other link you want to measure).

clicks on link x/ # of visitors to page with link x 100 = Click-through Rate

For example, if you get 10,000 visitors to your sales letter, and 650 click on the link to your order form, then your sales letter has a click-through rate of 6.5%.

650/ 10,000   x 100 = 6.5%

Quick Tip: Unless you have a custom-built system, you won’t be able to view all of your stats in one place, so you should set up a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel, where you can plug key sales numbers and stats into one “dashboard” to track all of your key metrics over time.

Once you figure out all of the formulas, you can just type in your new details each week to track your progress. In the next post we will look at more advanced metrics.

Don’t Plan To Fail

Business Development Comments Off

Well, you’ve no doubt heard the cliché dozens of times, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail”. This cliché has stuck around for so long because it’s true!

It’s simply staggering the number of business owners that don’t plan. It’s not limited to coaches, it’s prolific throughout small business, and possibly most prominent in service (as opposed to product) orientated business.

It may be that business owners: don’t know how to plan; don’t place a high priority on it and hence apply their time elsewhere; or they just don’t see value in it. Whatever the reason, the number of business owners that actually do plan is extraordinarily low. Maybe that’s a contributing factor to the reason so many businesses fail.

As a coach it’s imperative that you recognise and respect that you’re operating a business, and plan accordingly. And we’re not talking about ad-hoc planning. We’re talking about thorough, considered and consultative planning.

To plan effectively you should firstly identify professional resources (such as business consultants, accountants, lawyers, etc) that can assist you plan, and dedicate the necessary time and energy to the process. The time you invest in planning will repay itself many times over.

As all industries have their specific nuisances it’s also highly recommended that you seek the advice of other professional coaches. What works in one industry is not guaranteed to work in another.

An important aspect of planning, particularly when starting a business, is developing a business plan. Two fundamental elements of your Business Plan are:

  1. Identifying strategically how you will operate your business in the context of your stated objectives; the competitive environment; and the resources you have at your disposal.
  2. Forecasting your anticipated business development and requirements and then mapping your forecasts against actual quantifiable performance indicators.

Your Business Plan will assist you with several critical operational objectives including:

It will assist you build crucial commercial relationships with key operational professionals such as your banker, accountant, business affiliates, etc.

It will act as a roadmap to guide your operations and provide structure to your business. Your goals and operational objectives contained in your Business Plan will direct your daily and weekly task management and hence add structure to the way you manage your time and operate your business. Businesses that operate without a comprehensive business plan are exposed to being reactive, rather than proactive, and tend to end up focussing too much on day-to-day tasks rather than big picture objectives.

It will assist you to identify and prepare for risks and uncertainties.

It will assist you resource your business and plan for growth. If you fail to develop a Business Plan you may get caught trying to expand too fast and hence mis-apportion resources. This is a common problem with businesses and can severely impede growth. It also leads to disappointment and disillusionment.

You’ll be amazed at how the process of developing your Business Plan will assist you to: think of things you would not otherwise have considered; access critical resources and networks; seek immeasurably important advice; and frame your mindset for positive structured growth.

A good business plan will also assist your chances of success by assisting you focus on the five areas in which small business operators often get lost. These are:

Realism. If you don’t do a full business plan it’s very simple to get caught in the common trap of over-optimism. Planning should help you view the future in a realistic context and prevent you from viewing the future in ways the facts don’t support.

The need for outside advice. Planning assists you to grasp the diverse skill set required to successfully operate in business. This process often highlights to people the need to get outside assistance in areas where they may lack skills.

Recognising change. Consumer needs and markets change rapidly. Whilst planning is not a crystal ball to the future, it does assist you attain a better and deeper understanding of the market in which you operate. Regular review of your business plan also forces to review the market and trading conditions. In this manner you are better equipped to respond to market trends and possibly innovate services based on emerging trends.

Balancing Growth. Small businesses traditionally grow too fast for their capital base, or too slow for their cash flow requirements. Planning assists you to identify your performance trends in real time and resource your business accordingly.

Result orientation. A detailed business plan allows you to monitor your results against a predetermined set of goals and performance standards. Without this you will operate in the dark. 

This article is an extract of the UCBBP (Ultimate Coach Business Building Program) eCourse. For more information, including how you can start a 30-day free trial TODAY, visit www.coachingclub.com.au.

The Nine Signposts of the Work You Were Born To Do

The Contributor Forum Comments Off

This is part 4 of the special series “Discover the Work You Were Born to Do”, by author Nick Williams.

By the end of this article, you will have explored:

  • The nine signposts of the work you were born to do.
  • Why discovering the work you were born to do is a gift to us all.

1 – Your inner voice and your inspired ideas.

The idea for the work you were born to do is already within you…

… when you look into your heart, you’ll recognise the still, small voice that calls out to you – as it has many times before – and speaks of the vocation that is yours and yours alone. You know its truth and no one else needs persuade you of it.

The most natural way that the work we were born to do shows up in our lives is through the things that most inspire us, thrill us and excite us. It lies in whatever we’re passionate about. It is the activity that we are most drawn to, dream about, are curious about and uplifted by.
 
It is what we know in our heart we are here to do. When we really trust ourselves enough to listen to that inner voice it all becomes obvious: we are meant to extend what is in our heart to others.

Some people are blessed by being raised in families in which they were encouraged to listen to and trust themselves. In certain cultures, it is actually assumed that each child is born with particular gifts and talents for their own joy and the benefit of the community.

There, children are mentored to help them discover and develop their own gifts. However, many of us today have been encouraged to listen to the guidance of others at the expense of our own instincts. If we find that we are overriding our own inner voice and intuition, we have probably been taught to work for money, not for love.

Question: What do you know in your heart you are here to do and be, even if this presently exists only as an idea or thought?

2 – Behind your resistance.

I find that whatever is most important to us and most significant to our personal evolution is often the very thing we most resist and fail to follow through on…

… anything that involves a commitment of the heart or a response to a higher calling will most likely stimulate our resistance. Indeed the more important a project is to our own personal evolution and calling, the more likely it is we will experience some resistance around it. Resistance is how we try to blot out our soul’s call. We do this through sabotage and by stopping ourselves from setting out in the direction that is the most authentic for us. Resistance is the dragon we have to duel with – and defeat – in order to reach our personal treasure.

We may put more energy into distracting ourselves from our sense of calling than in following it and we may even keep ourselves busy so as to avoid it. We may tell ourselves we could “never do it” and become terrified at the very thought of it – justifying the many reasons why we simply can’t proceed. Or we may procrastinate and tell ourselves that we will pursue it “one day”, or just “not yet”. Some of us fall into the trap of studying our calling to death – but never taking action.

Sometimes our resistance kicks in habitually, in a heart-beat. For each great idea we generate, within seconds we come up with seven major reasons why it would never work and why we could never do it.

Here’s the bottom line: your callings often will activate your resistance.

But here is the trick: recognise that your resistance is often a pointer to your personal North Star, showing you the true direction of your life. The work you were born to do will regularly invite you to encounter your resistance and to grow beyond it.

You can learn to starve your resistance and feed your inspiration!

Nevertheless, it’s very important that you understand that your resistance is not a personal character defect on your part – but simply part of the software of being human. Practically everybody experiences resistance, and unfortunately, most people wait for their resistance to subside before they try to follow their heart.

You might be waiting a very long time before this happens!

Successful people are not necessarily those who have somehow become immunised against their resistance. Rather, they are people who have made a commitment to act in the face of their resistance and despite it.

In doing so, they connect with something in them that is greater than their resistance – their spirit, their creativity, their passion. You may have come across the quote from writer and diarist Anaïs Nin (1903-1977), who wrote, ‘Then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to blossom.’

… Remaining tight like a bud is a kind of death when you are being called to blossom into a fuller life. Overcoming your resistance is about beginning to act in faith without the need of guarantees of success or approval, and creating your own path as you go.

Question: What are you aware of that you are resisting the most and keep talking yourself out of? What brilliant idea(s) of yours do you keep trying to dismiss, but which won’t go away?

3 – In your shadow life.

Your shadow life will usually show up in two ways: in situations in which you are involved on the fringes of a creative activity that interests you, yet where you are not being fully creative yourself; and in instances where you are supporting the creativity and success of others, but neglecting your own. It might also be expressed in an area of your life that is flourishing in some respects, but that you nevertheless keep hidden away…

Joan was a coaching client who told me that her long-term goal was to paint and then put on an exhibition to see if anyone would buy her art.

As we talked, it emerged that she already had nine finished canvases, and so, with my encouragement, she organised an exhibition at her home just six weeks after our session. She was terrified but willing to give it a go!

She followed through on our discussions and held the exhibition, selling four canvases and receiving lots of positive feedback. When she moved her talent from the shadows out into the light at the centre of her life, she was quickly rewarded with an extremely positive response.

When we are living a shadow life, we are hiding out and not showing up fully in the world. It could be that we are investing our energy in other people, their creativity and their success, whilst neglecting our own needs and creative expression because we don’t think we are good enough, talented or important enough.

Let me share an example from my own life. For ten years I was involved in the Alternatives programme at St James’s in Piccadilly, London, where I helped to organise events for the likes of Dame Anita Roddick, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and Susan Jeffers. I loved the work for a long time, but then started to become a little bored and critical, thinking I could probably perform just as well on stage as many of the guest speakers.

… Then one day it hit me – I was judging these people for doing exactly what I didn’t have the courage to do myself: writing, talking out and inspiring others to lead more creative and fulfilled lives.

They embodied the very qualities I had largely disowned in myself and which I had relegated to my shadow life. Whilst this was a scary and painful insight, it also opened the doors to my taking my own speaking and writing more seriously, and I began to put them at the centre of my work.

I gradually moved from being a promoter to being the one promoted, from supporting the creativity and spirituality of others to finding and expressing my own creativity and spirituality. I moved centre stage in my own life.

Question: Where are you hiding out or supporting other people more than yourself?

4 – Under the statement ‘I don’t know’.

When I ask people what they would love to do in their work, they often respond with the words, ‘I don’t know!’

For some people, this is genuinely true – they simply don’t know – and if this is the case for you, the guidance in this series will help you to gain some clarity. However, although we may not consciously realise it, a part of us always does know what we want to do – we just need to learn how to connect with that deeper part of ourselves.

We can achieve this through contemplation, prayer, meditation, or anything that puts us in touch with our own soul or spirit.

Whatever works for you, do that!

When faced with the statement ‘I don’t know’, I often find that (when I delve a little deeper) these words hide at least three other dynamics.

Firstly, they may mean, ‘I do have an idea – or several ideas – about what I’d love to do, but I have no strategies for making them happen. I don’t know how I could realise them or how I could earn a living from them.’

So don’t fall into the trap of confusing ‘I don’t know what’ with ‘I don’t know how’.

Secondly, ‘I don’t know’ can mean, ‘I’m afraid to know. Unhappy and unfulfilled as I am, this situation is familiar to me. Becoming clear about the next step would be scary for me, so I’d rather stay confused, thank you! If I became clearer about what I want, I’d have to do something about it.’

Thirdly, the phrase can mean, ‘I want a bolt of lightning to come down and make it really clear for me. I am waiting for God and the Universe to write it on a twenty-foot-high billboard in words I understand, which will then give me permission to act. I don’t want to have to go out looking, or research, explore and then trust myself to make a decision. I am afraid to know myself and take greater responsibility for my life!’

‘I don’t know’ often signifies fear-masked, confused thinking, indicating a need for us to take a clear and honest approach.

Question: What are you pretending you don’t know or are afraid to become clear about?

5 – Through your naturalness, which shows up in other people’s eyes.

Each of us has our own blind spots, and one of the most common blind spots we have is for the very talents that come most easily and naturally to us. They feel so natural we can’t imagine they are anything particularly special; or maybe we don’t even notice them at all.

We may have been doing something for so long we’ve become really good at it and it feels easy for us. So sometimes we need the perspective of others to show us the special facets of ourselves.

Whilst there can be a danger in letting other people tell us what they think we should be doing with our lives, there is also a great wisdom in listening to – and filtering – other people’s perceptions of ourselves. They can often recognise more clearly those talents and skills that are so close to us we fail to spot them ourselves. It may take courage, but asking other people what they think your talents and strengths are can be very enlightening and help you to learn a lot about yourself.

Question: What comes easily to you and what abilities or characteristics are you most appreciated and acknowledged for? What can’t you stop yourself doing because it just flows from you?

6 – Behind the words ‘If only I could find someone to pay me to do it’.

Other variations on the statement above include, ‘It’s what I’ll do when I’ve been successful and made my money’, and ‘When I’ve won the lottery, then I’ll . . .’

You may have been brought up with the belief that you can either sell your soul for a salary, or follow your heart. Many of us believe that if we choose to do what we love – whatever comes easily and most naturally to us – that we shouldn’t expect to earn much money…

… we fall into the trap of being virtuous but poor.

We may have trouble imagining that anyone would pay us to do what we’d love to do; or perhaps we think that if we really love doing it – then we should do it for free. Thinking this way means that every time we have a great idea about what we’d love to do – because we can’t immediately see how we’d earn any money from it – we don’t pursue it.

My teaching is very much about a third way: not to work for love OR money, but to work for love AND money. When you have discovered the work you were born to do – you’ll often be paid very handsomely for it – because you’ll be using your unique combination of talents to make a real difference in the world.

Question: If you knew you could earn all the money you needed, what would you most love to do?

7 – In your lost and neglected dreams and your unutilised talent.

I believe that when we are children we often know what we’d truly love to do, but we either talk ourselves out of it, or someone else convinces us to “play it safe” or “be more realistic”.

We hear our true calling, but for some reason we don’t answer and become distracted.

… We may be afraid of going against the wishes of family, peers or school, or afraid of breaking with the social conditioning we’ve grown up with in order to follow our own path. We may fear loss of approval or rejection, and so go on to make choices that were never really ours. But those dreams are still there, even if they are buried! There is a tremendous amount lying dormant in us which we can still activate.

During a coaching session, Muriel talked about how she had loved sewing and making blouses when she was a child, but that she had stopped doing this when her mother discouraged her. Now she was in her mid-forties and a mother herself, and had not done any sewing for thirty years. I offered her a coaching goal: to get her sewing machine out, then to design and make a blouse by the next time we spoke.

Hesitantly, she accepted the goal, and the next time we talked she explained, ‘It was so emotional! I cried my eyes out as I started to sew. It was like I was reconnecting with that fifteen-year-old in me who I’d neglected and ignored. But I felt so proud and energised when I finished it.’

This was the beginning of a whole new dimension of her life – creating blouses and getting involved with fashion. She said, ‘My kids have remarked how I am better with them; and they like seeing me happier and more fulfilled.’

Sometimes reconnecting with lost or neglected dreams can initially be painful, but it can also be a poignant and energising experience, leading us in a new direction. The psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) wrote, ‘The greatest damage to the child is the unlived life of the parents.’

I don’t say this so as to guilt-trip you – just to encourage you to realise that your being happier and more fulfilled does not represent a selfish act on your part, but is a real blessing to you and the people around you.

Question: What did you dream of doing when you were a child that you’ve let go of? What talent of yours is underutilised and itching to be expressed?

8 – Behind a wake-up call or even a crisis.

A life’s calling we choose not to pursue can often ‘go underground’ in our psyche – but it never completely disappears. Our deeper Self is always speaking to us, and perhaps never more loudly than when we have stopped listening to it.

Our calling becomes an unlived life within us, forever trying to get our attention. At some stage that unlived life, talent and potential will surface and attempt to gain our attention in a number of ways: through our curiosity and what we are still drawn to; through our jealousy of others doing what we know in our heart we’d love to do too; through our shadow life.

At other times, a brush with death – our own or others – or a significant loss can wake us up to our deeper Self. Similarly, mid-life is often a time of questioning and of redefining ourselves – although we seem to be having mid-life crises even earlier and more regularly these days!

And if we miss all these warnings, a full-blown crisis might finally claim our attention. Crises often represent an attempt by our deeper Self to move us into a more authentic way of being and working. One purpose of a crisis may be to bestow an implicit permission on us: now things are so bad, it’s OK to change.

The pain of the crisis can justify our desire for change; making it appear more socially acceptable than if we were simply to declare, ‘I want to change my life!’

A crisis can literally open us up to new aspects of ourselves. You may well know people who have said to you, ‘My illness is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I appreciate life so much more now.’ Such difficult times can be the very ones that break us open into all that we can be; a heart-break can become a heart-opening.

Things don’t go wrong so we can become bitter and give up. They happen in order to break us down and open us up so that we can be reborn and re-build ourselves. Sometimes we need to lose a part of ourselves in order to grow anew and rediscover our potential.

Question: What part of your unlived life is trying to get your attention now? What looming crisis could you head off by taking positive action now?

9 – In a greater sense of yourself and a new sense of identity.

The work we were born to do is often found when we begin to think about ourselves more highly and recognise our significance in ways we may have previously overlooked.

Research shows that by the time we reach adulthood, most of us will have received nine times as many negative messages about ourselves as positive messages. So we may well have a few negative ideas about ourselves, our significance, our worth, abilities and talent!

Yet we each have the capacity to shine in our own unique way, and that includes you – although you may feel that you have lost some of your sparkle! You may have had a thorough conditioning in ‘thinking small’, belittling yourself or always putting yourself below others. Consequently, perhaps you dismiss opportunities and possibilities as being ‘not for you’.

But even though I haven’t met you, I’d like to guess that you are more than you think you are, and probably more than your parents, teachers, partner, children and colleagues have told you that you are. I know that there is brilliance in you, even a genius – something that you are really good at – because there is in everybody. You are greater than the definitions of yourself that you have inherited.

Are you afraid of showing off? I suggest that your next step should be to show up more, not show off. Somehow we think it is bad or wrong to ‘blow our own trumpet’. Yet there is a calling within each one of us to be the whole of ourselves, to play bigger and stop diminishing ourselves. It is a reverse arrogance to have skills, talents, wisdom and experience that others could benefit from, and then to deny them.

So it is a disservice to the world to hide away what you have.

At present your sense of who you really are might only be embryonic, but it is still within you, and as you shed your layers of conditioning you will win through to this greater sense of yourself. Then, your work life can become an adventure in satisfying your curiosity about yourself and discovering all you can become.

So, instead of praying that you will find a brilliant job, career or business idea, pray that you will recognise – and be delivered – to your unique brilliance – your Self.

Your positive desire for the work you were born to do

Your desire to discover the work you were born to do is not a selfish act on your part, but a natural – even spiritual – impulse. Think of it this way: you were put on this earth to bring a little more joy and inspiration to it; to inject some more love into the world and make the planet a little better for your existence.
 
When you don’t do what you came here for, when you don’t become who you were meant to be, you rob yourself, you rob me and you rob everyone. We are all a little diminished.

You were created with your unique gifts so that you could help nudge humanity one millimetre further along its path home. Your work is your gift to the world and everyone in it. Please don’t rob us of your contribution.

Give us what you’ve got!

About the Author:

Through his books, and live talks, workshops, personal coaching and on-line learning programmes, Nick has inspired tens of thousands of people to discover the work they were born to do. Nick then helps them to live that either through employment or by being entrepreneurial through their own business. He also helps them develop the wisdom and courage to harness their inspiration, talent and their fears as forces for growth and creativity.

Website: www.nick-williams.com
Blog: http://nickwilliams100.typepad.com