I spend no small amount of time talking about what coaching is, how it differs from therapy and defending it as it gets mocked (life coaches on Craiglist do make easy targets). Around this time of year I notice the world seems torn between people who love resolutions and those who mock the idea of self-improvement. A few weeks ago, I read this from Glennon over at Momastery: "self improvement is just another hiding place. DON’T TRY TO BE BETTER. JUST NOTICE THAT IT’S ALL GOOD ENOUGH ALREADY." I'll admit it, I actually do want to be better.
One way that I'm tackling this in 2016 is adopting three words to help me get better: patient, kind and uncomfortable. Patient because both the people I love and total strangers deserve it. Kind because I need to see and hear more good acts. And uncomfortable because what I've always done has been good - and usually socially acceptable - but it could have more meaning, ring truer to who I am.
I'll take self-improvement because when I'm better, everything is better. Honestly, I don't know any one of us who can't step up a bit more in her own life. I'm not talking about working harder, leaning in or taking on more activities. I'm talking about acting more inclusively, remembering our local shelter who houses families when we hear of the plight of international refugees. I mean being kinder to absolute strangers, putting the teachings of your church actually into practice in the real world and being more tolerant of others (I don't mean your partner/family) choices. and beliefs. Being better includes how I show up at home and outside in the real world.
Big, generalizing statements are easy to make but usually dangerous. Dangerous because individual responsibility and privilege (who gets to say what) are completely ignored. What I'm realizing is that my work as a human (and isn't that, at the core what all of our work really is?) needs to spring from the sweet spot between "I'm good enough" and "I can be better". One without the other keeps me only half a person. Self-acceptance doesn't equal complacency, as my friend Coco said to me last week. We don't live on islands, ladies. We exist in this world with others so how we show up in that world does count.
So "good enough already" isn't enough. For me anyway. Kindness, patience`and discomfort are about improving myself and in doing so addressing my own privilege, because that goes with the territory of being better in the world. So of course I believe in self-improvement but I also think it's a life practice for anyone who's game.
Maybe I'm not alone.