I have the good fortune of having two friends who are certified coaches, and I spoke to both of them recently. I was struck that they both asked me the same question and that, weeks later, I’m still working on the answer.
The story I tell
Both of my friends have that coaching gift of saying very little while letting me know they’re listening with various nods and grunts of affirmation.
When they asked me how I was doing, I went on a monologue about my plans and aspirations. They listened patiently as I rattled off a long list of activities and my thinking behind them. When I finally paused for breath, they each asked me a variant of the question:
“Is it true?”
Starting with why
The question caught me off guard, even the second time. I didn’t say anything at first. We talked about what “true” would mean.
Is this genuinely what I want to be doing, or a story for others?
Why am I doing it?
How does it feel?
The first time, as I tried to articulate what motivated me to do what I’m doing, I was uncertain. It’s tied up with making a living, so any noble aspirations quickly get mixed up with other goals, and can easily conflict with them.
The second time, having had more time to think about it, I was able to relate my goals to other events in my life. There seemed to be some consistency in terms of philosophy and values, a narrative thread. But is it just a good story to tell myself and others? Is it true?
My guess is my coaches weren’t expecting an answer as much as they wanted to help me to pause and reflect. The question wasn’t meant as a test, but as a guide, one that I could use throughout my life to help me be authentic amidst the frenetic busy-ness.
What about you? Perhaps you’re trying to pursue some goal or perhaps your everyday is already overfull. Try pausing long enough to reflect on what you’re doing, what you’re planning and hoping for.
Is it true?