Thursday, October 5, 2023

Put Me In, Coach.

There is hardly a day, a night, or a wee still hour that goes by when I don't find myself paraphrasing and thinking about a couple of sentences by the Taylor Swift of the 19th Century, Henry David Thoreau.

The words are these. And please, don't tar Thoreau with a gendered brush. He used the word "men." That does not make him a misogynist or part of the patriarchy. It just makes him, like all of us, a victim of his era.

"The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them."

That's how people like me remember, or dis-remember Thoreau. What he really wrote was,

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..”

But all that is academic and therefore besides the point.

The point is that feeling whole, feeling confident, feeling (in the parlance of today) that you are leading your best life, well, in any era, in any language, in almost any circumstance, that is damn hard to come by.

Last night, my wife, a friend and I traveled to the new city they built on the far west side of New York City to attend an event at the One Club for Creativity.

The event was on Coaching for Creativity and my good friend, Rob Schwartz and his colleague, Karen Crane were speaking.

I learned two things last night. 

Both of them important.

One: While it's easier to avoid getting off the sofa and going someplace and seeing people and being inspired by something, you're almost always better off dragging yourself out of the house and electrifying your brain.

Doing nothing, settling into a routine is also quiet desperation. And it is to be fought as vigorously as any other sort of sad complacency.

I've spent too little time at the One Club. Events aside, even just as a nice space with books and "kin" it is worth visiting. The events are the cherry on top. 

Two: We are never finished. We are never complete. We are, in an ontogeny replicates phylogeny sort of way, always evolving, always changing, always shedding new skin for old.

Introspection is one part of that ongoing process. 
Guidance, prodding, an outsider's loving view is another.

That's where coaching comes in.
Karen and Rob led us through an exercise. Not that kind of exercise. Neither of them is the Richard Simmons sort. 

But we were asked to complete a Creative Values Wheel. We were to evaluate ourselves on eight values. An eight in one category and a four in another, a ten in one, a three in another leads to a wobbly wheel. 

Most people have wobbly wheels. It's hard to get to where you want to go with a wobbly wheel.

Hence, coaching.

The business, at least through my wizened eyes, is a demanding and frustrating one. As is the human proclivity, the era we're in is always a tough one and we all, at least at times, are buffeted by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

All of us.
All the time.

The best way to handle those slings and arrows is to handle them. Not to become a victim of quiet desperation but an adversary against it.

That's where coaching comes in, I suppose.

That's where anything that helps you grip your own personal tiller comes in.

That's where the spark of "what about me? I matter." must be fanned to a fierce fire.

That's all for now.

I was up at five to write this. And I'm not sure how well my fingers are typing and my synapses are working.

That's ok.

I tried.

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