Most of us know the original saying that I’ve altered is from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Why have I altered it? Read on dear friend. It may be something important for you!
To Be or To Do – that is the question that I have been asking myself lately due to a tragic event. I’ve been coaching full-time since 2009. I’ve had many clients from all over the world with many different scenarios going on in their lives. I connect and bond with my clients as a lot of us coaches do. Some of them have become lifelong friends. That connection comes from that sense of purpose that drives us coaches to make a difference in the lives of the people that we coach. We know that they must do the work and find their own answers but being that “guide along the side” of them can be a tremendous bonding experience. An example of this is an executive I was coaching, and I asked a powerful question that caused him to gain a huge insight. After realizing what he had come up with his next statement was “Ed, you and I are going to be friends for life!” The bond was instant in that moment.
Last December I began a new coaching engagement with a senior executive. We connected immediately on the chemistry call, and I knew that he and I were going to have an incredible coaching journey based on his goals, attitude, and motivation. He had a lot of politics to navigate at his company and he was looking for a way to navigate those and at the same time focus on his well-being and get back some of his life he had given away to the company over the previous 18 months. I flew to meet him as I often do to kick off a coaching program in a meaningful manner. We had a great dinner and then the next day we spent over 6 hours together really diving deep into many different aspects of his personal and work life. I left that visit even more convinced of the powerful transformation this leader was about to have.
Six days after our last virtual coaching call, I received a call. The person calling said, “I have some news to give you about Joe. Last Friday he had a heart attack and died.” To say that statement shook me to my core is an understatement. My knees buckled, and I almost fell to the ground. I was in a state of shock especially knowing his family situation and how hard this was going to be for his family much less those that he had been leading. I had just left the gym when I received the call and was heading back home to conduct four coaching calls that day. Still staggering as I walked into the house, I fell into the arms of my wife sobbing about the loss of Joe. After gathering myself I cleared my calendar and sat with the loss and grief the rest of the day. There wasn’t any ability for me to be an effective coach that day as I needed to process the news.
Why am I writing about this? In the grieving process and trying to make sense of Joe’s death, I had to confront my mortality as I’ve had to do the past two years since I’ve had some health issues. This question of “being” versus “doing” kept coming back to me over the next couple of weeks. It has even come up with some of my coachees. I’m not sure that I’ve arrived at a solid answer, but the main theme is how do I continue to do the work that I love to do but focus more on being versus doing? What does that look like? What I do know is that don’t want to be driven by DOING any longer. I want to BE. I want to BE the man God made me. I want to trust in Him for my provisions more than my own DOING. I want to BE a more intentional human about making a difference in the world. What I do know from this experience is what we all know but we so easily forget – life is here, and then life is gone….in an instant! If that is the case, then I want to be a human being and not a human doing! I haven’t figured out exactly what that looks like, but I’ve got some good ideas. One that I’ve already implemented is that I don’t do any coaching calls on Monday now. That is my day to BE….whatever that means for that day and in this case it was writing this blog!
Life is short. There are no guarantees. We need the reminder from time to time. Have you thought about this question? The question of what would this look like for you to be more of a human BEING and not a human DOING? If not, maybe some quiet, quality time just to sit and think about what that looks like for you might be a good item to put on your To-Do list!
Onward & Upward!
Ed Chaffin, PCC