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Coaching to Flourish #096: How and Why to Lean into Your Mission

December 29, 2023 by Coach Training EDU

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On this episode of Coaching to Flourish, host Raj Anderson and CTEDU founder John Andrew Williams take a deep dive into the realms of abundance, scarcity, and the entrepreneur's journey of leaning into your larger mission. Drawing inspiration from Lynne Twist's insights on the Soul of Money, the discussion highlights the transformative power of shifting focus from external challenges to internal capacity. John and Raj also explore resilience, provide practical tools and daily practices for staying intentional, and how to make friends with pressure. Join us for these important coach reflections!

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Raj Anderson: Hi everyone! Welcome to the Coaching to Flourish podcast. And I am your host  Raj Anderson, executive life coach and coach assessor. And as always, I'm delighted to be here with John Andrew Williams, the founder of Coach Training EDU. And John and I have been just having a great conversation while we've been waiting to go live, there's some technical things going on. But John, you shared a beautiful message at the beginning, which I'm taking with me today - around sometimes, we might not get the energy that we desire externally from places, and we have to look to find that energy within us. And I'm finding that in certain aspects of life at the moment. But what would you add to that message for the listeners today? 

John Andrew Williams: Yeah, it's a lot. So my daughter, she was a lead in a musical here in high school,  and she did really well. I mean, her voice soars and she takes it seriously.  And a lot of what we as parents lean into is growth mindset. This idea of, you know, effort, really putting your attention on what you can control and doing the things that you can do. And even to the point of, okay, so there are other people who might not give you the support you need, or do things. But if you continue to put in the work, you will find people who support you, and you will find people who you connect with on a heart level. And those are your people, and those people are enough.  

And then so, a lot of it becomes heartwork. You know, like where are you at with your own heart? Where are you at with your relationship to yourself?  How are you giving energy? How are you receiving energy? I mean, these are the conversations that we're having. And I don't know if there's any one answer for everybody, except just to have these kinds of conversations, from a curious standpoint, from a standpoint of, what's really happening. So some of the conversations are amazing. They're changing lives. 

But you know, when you see high school kids singing like this - I mean all of them are, they're putting themselves out there in big ways. They're young and I feel like our society does a pretty good job of celebrating them, and they're always going to be people who are detractors, who have weird comments and things like that. I mean, it's just part of that part of the game. But I would encourage everybody to support your local high school musical. You know, find it, go attend it, celebrate it, bring flowers - do it, do the thing. It makes a difference. And it's one of the biggest community building things that you can do.  

Raj Anderson: I love that John. Thank you for sharing that. And I know you've been learning a lot, you've been sharing with me, and you've been sharing with us. And it reminds me as I've been celebrating Diwali - so happy Diwali to anyone who might be listening - it's Festival of Lights, and we think about how light prevails over darkness. Some conversations I've been having is around how do we continue to shine this light bright within ourselves, and it makes me think of what you're saying of, how do you find that energy within you? You know, because sometimes there are things that pull on you or bring you down, or, there is a lot of darkness kind of happening in the world at the moment. 

So I've been thinking about continuing to be resilient and resourceful, but as a leader as well, shining that light bright. What tips do you have for kind of keeping your own light bright?  

John Andrew Williams: Yeah, there's something I read - I have a Soul of Money workshop. It's titled - Lynne Twist wrote this book, it's a lovely book. And one of the passages in there talks about this idea of, what you appreciate, appreciates. And this idea, she's talking about if attention is on what's not working, on what's broken, on not getting enough externally, like, if attention is on, you know, this external thing is happening - and there's a reality there too, I mean, I'm not painting rainbows and flying on butterflies and feeling, having unrealistic ideas. I'm very clear eyed with data, and you have to be if you're - you know, it takes both a romantic and a scientist.  

But the idea that if the external is, the orientation towards the external is there, we're playing in the abundance and scarcity game. And that's okay. I mean, it's useful. The challenge with abundance and scarcity is that even abundance is problematic at times, because you have too much and you have to deal with it. So it introduces waste. And the idea of scarcity is hard because our brains are wired for it and it produces anxiety, and we're even scarcity in terms of social events and FOMO, and all of the things that happen. 

So what Twist is talking about in this book, which has been blowing my mind recently - and has been saving me a lot of perspective work, you know, using different tools to get to certain perspectives, this one has been like, gets me right there - and it's the idea that if, I'll read this part, I’m on page 121, “If your attention is on the capacity you have to sustain yourself and your family, and contribute in a meaningful way to the wellbeing of others, then your experience of what you have is nourished, and it grows.”

So the shift point is away from the scarcity, or away from the, whatever that is that you feel like you want or need to be okay. So you take your attention off of that, and you put it on your own internal capacity to contribute to others. Even everyone listening, right here right now, there's a capacity, there's a container. And capacity comes from capex, which literally means to hold. So if you're holding this, how are you doing it? You're holding-it-ness right now. How much can you hold? And not even just hold, but how much can you flow? What's your capacity for flow? And this, if you put your attention on that, then yeah, you can feel it.  

So what I've been practicing the last month, two months, has been moving away from looking at the outside as judgment, but looking at the outside more as information of, okay, like this is what still needs to change, or there's still more work here, or this needs to shift. But really putting my attention on, how can I increase my capacity? How can I nourish my capacity? How can I use my capacity to be even more giving to other people? That's a really cool question.  

Raj Anderson: It really is. I want to hear more around all of that. And I know you'll be digging deeper into it, John. I'm curious as well, when you're talking about the abundance mindset and the lack mindset, how do you see it affecting coaches and entrepreneurs?  

John Andrew Williams: Yeah, I just had a conversation last week with someone who's thinking about jumping into coach training. And the idea of, you know, being of service to other people. And the whole, like everyone has a pretty intense relationship to money, myself included. And you looking at making that relationship, bringing it to a conscious awareness. You know, and then be mindful of it. What are the things that help you feel safe? What are the things that help you feel excited? What are things that hook you, that you can't get off of, that you really want to get off of?  This is, this is pretty deep work. 

And what's cool about this work is if you do it in one area of your life, like money or relationship, or you name it, it helps you do it in other areas too. And I think, anytime you're in an entrepreneurial path - and what I was telling the person I was speaking with earlier was - it's going to grow you. If you want to grow as a human, entrepreneurship is one of the most intense ways you can do so. And there are days, believe me, I dream of getting that w-2. I'm like, they call them w-2 days. And I love those days. Like those, I mean, it's not a bad deal. But you just gotta know what you're signing up for. And so if you're signing up for entrepreneurship, you're signing up for a brutal experience at times - exhilarating, sure. 

And then really, the thing that gets me going is the larger mission of what this organization is up to, and I believe in it. You know, I believe education needs to shift. I believe that coaching can make a bigger difference in the executive world. I know it can, it's obvious, and the same with health and wellness. So I believe in what we're doing. And I really do feel like we have more work to go. As humanity, we have more work to go. And this is part of the important work that needs to happen. That's what keeps me going. And so when you're really in that space of entrepreneurship, yeah, it's entrepreneurship for a deep purpose.  

Raj Anderson: Yeah. And I know, I like the way you always keep it real, right? You're not sugarcoating any of this. Because it is hard work, it is a challenge, right? You have to build that resilience. And as you say, the belief, there is this element of building belief in self and self trust, and also having that bigger why and mission. And you've shared with us before, John, you know, the beginnings of this. And there were times when you know, it's like you had a whole family you're responsible for and you are attempting to generate that income. And then sometimes you win contracts and sometimes you don't. How did you stay and face that resilience?  

John Andrew Williams: That's a good question. Coaching sessions are so cool. I just got to say it. Being in a coaching session when you're a coach, and you're working with a client, and you know with utter certainty that this session is changing their life. That feeling is, it's exhilarating. You know, we've talked about this, the idea of even executives, you know, people who have huge budgets, big teams, they seemingly have a lot figured out, and there's still more to go. There's always more to go. So I think that, that to me is huge. That's a really big help. Because even when I was really struggling, really, I got two weeks left of cash - being like, all right, here we are.  

Being in a coaching session, I know I can put my active listening on the other person, be over there on the other side. It's like, I called it my island of peace in a sea of turbulence, is what it felt like. Doing two or three of those sessions in a row and then coming back into it would always get me going. And then I had pretty strong vision recordings, where I would say, ‘this is where I want to be three to five years from now. This is why I'm doing this. These are the action steps that are going to make the biggest difference. This is the type of team that I think will help make this difference. I would make those and listen to those at least a handful of times a day. And the combination of the two really helped me go through even the toughest times. 

Raj Anderson: That's real intentionality there, isn't it? I'm thinking about vision recordings and I'm also - Oh, we could do something in a couple of weeks to help people get ready for the new year. What do you think, John? 

John Andrew Williams: Yeah, we'll trying to get it done. You know, there's a lot between here and there, for sure. Yeah, I think, and then all the things, you know, drink water, make sure you're exercising, you know, find an athletic flow state at least once a week, all the good things.  

Raj Anderson: Gratitude as well, isn't it? That really can shift your state.  

John Andrew Williams: Yeah. We have a pretty tight practice. But I'm curious, Raj, what are your tools you use when you find yourself, or, what are your favorite tools? 

Raj Anderson: So I think like you, there is the daily practice. I was actually going to talk to you about systems today, but this conversation was just too interesting, I was too curious. So we will talk more about different kinds of systems next time. I was thinking about some of the systems that I have for myself to stay grounded. I have daily practice, you know, I meditate every day, I do practice gratitude. 

We talked a while back about the dreaming and the doing, and I actually actively plan in time for dreaming as well. Because it's so important, isn't it? There's always the doing, but that dreaming time, which is a bit like what you're talking about, the vision recording. That I like to sit down, and map out, or draw out things. I am strategy focused too, so I use Asana for project management. I will actually email myself ideas and things that come up and then capture them in Asana, even if it's an idea that I'm probably not going to execute for five years, just so I've captured it. It's just so that I've got it there. 

So I think for me it's emptying my head. Because what I find is overwhelm comes, or fear comes, or that lack of control over a situation appears for me when I'm carrying too much in my head. And ideas come at all time. I think when you're a coach or you work for yourself, and it's not like a nine to five, is it? I mean, I'll be in the bath, right? And it's my relaxation time, and it's like, ping!  There's an idea that has appeared. What do you think about that? 

John Andrew Williams: Yeah, I mean, yes. It’s all of it. I think people, anyone invested in the work they're doing, knowing that this work is making a difference in my life and the lives of other people, it's not a 9 to 5. There's a work-life integration. And I think some people push away from it, other people embrace it. I feel like the - you know, each has its use. Some people I think get almost too involved sometimes, you know, some of the coaching sessions I've done with executives, they get deep in it and then they sacrifice a lot. 

All I know like for right now, for what I know to be true right now for me is, I'm just extremely thankful to have found a mission that I believe in, and also to do work that I know is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of people. That's amazing.  And me as a person, I've grown so much from the pressure. I've learned the biggest tipping point for me in running this organization, for me professionally and personally, was to make friends with the pressure. To make friends with the challenge, and to accept the challenge and say, yes, I am choosing this challenge. 

Not like, Oh, poor me entrepreneur, you know, in this space. No, you're choosing it. This is, no victiming this out, you can't victim your way out of this one. So it's that deep breaths, yeah, you know, negative things will happen. People will take advantage of certain stuff, sure. All part of the cost of doing business. That's just the cost of business. That was a huge tipping point for me, when I started to make friends with the pressure. Do I like it? No. Do I feel pressure now? Yes. Do I like it? No. Do I wish it were gone? Yes. But that's not going to make it go away. 

Raj Anderson: It does make me think what you're saying there. I think, you know, I mean, diamonds are created from pressure, aren't they? And great things are created from that pressure. And I was asking myself even recently, because, you know, you do have these conversations with yourself, and it's like, this is a choice. Why am I choosing this? And then I was thinking, there must be something I enjoy about the pressure too. Because there are times when I know I really could make my life easier, I could have made it easier, I could have made different choices. You know, nobody told me, there was no demand on me to go away and start up my own business, and you know, be a freelancer and all the rest of it. 

So I'm asking myself these questions. What do I get out of it? What do I enjoy about it? And one of the questions that helped me recently when I was looking at taking some risks as well is that future self, but future self way out. And what would she say to me looking back, right? And what would my response to her be? I would rather take the risk. I'd rather take the risk and the risk of failing, the not try it or risk it at all. And that has motivated me too.  

John Andrew Williams: You know, it’s the person in the arena. You know, at least you failed by valiantly doing what you're doing. And I have one more idea that really helps a lot, it's this idea of assistance resistance. And this is from Steven Pressfield and others who have gone into this field. There's a book, Do the Work, that talks specifically about it.  And the idea is that if you're trying to do anything, that you're going to face external/internal resistance. And it's a useful barometer to know whether or not you're on the right track. 

And when you face resistance, it's like, okay, cool, what do we make up about the resistance?  And you know, we'll say option one is, Oh, I'm facing resistance, I should stop. Sometimes yes. And then other times it's, Oh, I'm facing resistance, it means I'm on the right path. It means there's assistance around the corner. I'm going to start looking for assistance too. And it's just so useful when junk comes up, or things don't go the way I want them to go for me to go. Okay, assistance resistance. I'm in, I'm here, what's next? Let's go. So yeah, that helps a lot. I can't tell you how much, that's a big one.  That's at least a daily conversation.  

Raj Anderson: Well, thank you, John. I'm taking away a question for myself from that. I'm going to take away the question of, what is this resistance teaching me, and what is the resistance asking of me? Two questions I'm going to take away for myself. So thank you, John. Really beautiful messages today, they're very meaningful and timely for me. Is there anything else you would add to close us out today?  

John Andrew Williams: The idea of enoughness, you know, not seeking out overabundance, not seeking scarcity, but finding that place of enoughness within yourself first, and then letting that extend through your work. That's what we're going to be exploring.  

Raj Anderson: Brilliant. I'm looking forward to it. Very grateful for you as always, John. Grateful to our listeners as well. Thank you. 

John Andrew Williams: Thanks everyone. Bye.  

Raj Anderson: See you soon. Bye.

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