It’s Wise Wednesdays!
It was a month away from the end of my twelve year career in the National Health System. I hadn’t applied for a job and wasn’t planning to…A colleague looked at me and said: “How can you stay so calm?”
Well, I had the benefit of 20 years of training in containing a fiery Algerian temperament within cool British social norms…
Although, granted, the younger me wouldn't have smiled back so easily. Several acute medical jobs, a humanitarian mission, a Master’s, a PhD, several public health policy positions and a lot of meditation and coaching hours later, I had a strong sense that everything was going to be OK. I didn’t have to jump through the hoops of a job or climb the ladder of a career that didn't work for me, anymore.
You could say it was irresponsible of me; or from another perspective, that I didn’t really have any big responsibilities, so no one would be affected if it all went wrong.
But I had put a lot of thought into it.
After a visit to Alaska the previous year, I experienced a shift in perspective that reconnected me to something bigger. The power and impermanence of the awesome landscape and the spirit of those who lived (and fought for their livelihoods, freedom and rights in the wilderness) resonated deeply with me. As a result, fear loosened its grip on me.
On the surface, I wanted to move on because of the typical reasons employees leave (see here https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-reasons-why-employees-quit-their-job-1918985). At a deeper level, it was time for a step back and update to version 2.015 of Dr Amina Aitsi-Selmi.
This month, two and half years since my colleague quizzed me on my stoicism, I paid another visit to the American West – California, this time – to be on the leadership and coaching team of the Rich Litvin Coaching Intensive. Rich is a Brit settled in California. He's a highly experienced and skilled (and successful) Transformational Coach who led the 3.5 day experiential coaching event with a large but intimately felt gathering of 200 participants.
It was a pleasant validation to be invited to coach in his community of high functioning professionals and coaches. I’m told that less than two years in, I’m in the top 10-20% of coaches.
Photo: Rich Litvin Coaching Intensive, Santa Monica, California, April 2018
What’s really great about having a role model?
Rich modelled how to transfer the service ethic, passion, analytical skills and professionalism I had as a doctor to coaching. I learned how to create a professional coaching practice by using ethical business principles and doing the daily work required. Messy, at times. A labour of love, just like in medicine, but with an extra sprinkle of courage because of the absence of an institutional safety net. This wasn’t a training scheme…
A role model can show you what's possible and help you fill in parts of the million piece puzzle you're playing. Sure it’s not as glamorous as a flashy C-Suite job title or as clean as waiting for your boss to hand you the juicy carrot they’ve been dangling while you play nice for them (negotiating your role and the salary you believe is right may leave you with a bloody nose...) But as any migrant will tell you, their new life wasn’t built on glamour and clean lines. It was built on blood and sweat…and the freedom of pursuing a dream.
I don’t know how the story ends but I know that life is more fulfilling and vibrant when lived from passion and possibility rather than from fear.
What about you?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver. The Summer Day.
(Excerpt from The Success Trap book draft)
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