A Different Path
October 19, 2023
It was a long time ago that I was trying to negotiate an especially low point in life.
Work was demanding and often frustrating, finances were “hand to mouth” tight, and my wife and I had a couple of small children to clothe and feed. I was into playing that dangerous game of comparison—so and so’s life seemed easier or better, they were able to afford certain things, one or both spouses were successful in their careers, occupationally stimulated and well rewarded.
An older, caring gentleman, recognizing my demoralized, depressed state intervened and introduced me to a counselor friend of his, Gary. My friend, Jack, further said, “I so believe that what Gary may have to say to you will make a difference that I’ll even pay for the session.” Somewhat embarrassed, yet desperate for some relief, I acquiesced.
It’s been 25 or more years since the encounter with Gary, a conversation for which most of it I’ve forgotten. What I do recall though, is one very important exchange where Gary asked me to describe what I felt, saw, and heard metaphorically. I characterized it as “feeling as if I’m in a wilderness, lost, silent, and afraid. I am pleading for rescue, escape from this place. One thing of certainty is that through this time of despair and hopelessness I am leaning on and talking to God, more than in about any other point in my life.”
I will never forget Gary’s response. “Although you may not relish where you are, if you are relying on God, then He has you exactly where He wants you.”
I would like to say that was a turning point moment, that things instantly took a turn for the better, self-esteem and confidence returned, darkness lifted, finances improved. That just didn’t happen and trust me there more difficult times ahead. What did change was perspective and maybe the start of a process whereby bit by bit my need for so much control diminished. What began to be aroused was the beginning of a journey that began a deviation from the path I had been on.
Soon thereafter I transitioned to a different job in another city. It served to mark a new start, a time for reinvention and trying some things professionally I had not attempted before. A further development of personal “brand” so to speak led to less concern about what others might think and a greater focus on what would yield results. After only three years, another career opportunity presented itself, offering another laboratory for evolution.
By then I started enjoying a good career and augmenting it with other vocational activities delivering a higher level of reward and satisfaction. Yet through that I realized I had still not reached the capstone; there was “more” I felt “called” to do.
It was ten years ago this month that I hired a Career and Life Coach to help me define what would come next for me. I had no designs on retirement, per se, and I tossed around some
ideas of other possible vocations. It was about our third meeting, when I reached an “a ha” moment of clarifying, “I want to do what you do.”
Thus, that journey began.
I was 60 by the time I launched my coaching practice and was by no means a spring chicken when it came to learning the nuances of operating my own business: marketing, advertising, networking, “selling.” Eventually a little bit at a time construction of an enterprise commenced. The building project continues.
I absolutely love what I do and am often asked if I wish I had started up earlier. For a moment, there’s a regret, but then I instantaneously realize “I wouldn’t have been ready.” There was more that needed to first be experienced and observed and different connections to be made.
Perspective was critical.
For me, I find that my journey parallels the possibilities also experienced by many of my clients. It is like we are on an exploratory hike. The trail is clearly marked, but there will be alternate paths and tributaries along the way. What might they lead to?
In 2007 I backpacked the Grand Canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. Along the route there were some options. We detoured to one leading to Ribbon Falls. Green, wet, cool, a welcome oasis in an otherwise hot, dry, dusty setting. Worth it!
What is your alternate path? What might you discover there? What is holding you back from taking it? In the middle of the wilderness might the start for your answer await?
The Seed Sower