Have you ever felt that your struggles just never end? That no matter what you do, how many positive techniques you try, you always end up feeling that you barely survive the next minute? Have you felt your energy dripping away and no amount of conversations would help you see your better self? The days when your whole life makes absolutely no sense?
Tell me about it.
I usually get back on my feet fairly quickly after a knock-down and I was determined to do the same this time when I faced some particularly difficult challenges in my life. Then I thought something must be wrong with me! Something must work against me because I feel like going backwards, rather than forward in life. On come my walking boots and I was whizzing through the traffic to reach a place of quiet- Highgate woods with its musty and dew drenched leaves. I was angry and I was kicking the leaves. No one could see that “this girl was on fire”. After a few minutes of my anger outburst, I stopped. I thought. I thought some more and slowly my life started to articulate itself. There was nothing wrong with me; I realized that I led my life from Coping, not from Character (a leadership technique I highly recommend). The symptoms were showing up: I was tired. I was needy. I became clingy. I wanted to know the outcome NOW. I wanted to act. I wanted to have a response. NOW, NOW, NOW! I want to know that the struggles I am going through now will be rewarded in the future! I was impatient. I was angry. I was really angry…
You see, it does not make a difference whether I am a coach or a “girl on fire”. What makes a difference is that we all have the ability to lead our life from Coping or from Character. Here is a short description of both; you choose how you want to live.
When we are caught up in Coping, we seek solutions outside of ourselves. We are seeking solutions in Whats instead of How. Coping is a reactive, survival mode. We see the problems of life as existing outside of ourselves saying “If I could change this or that person or situation, everything would be fine…”.
But life is never resolved by changing external situations. To illustrate this, as I thought of great personalities in history, I imagined one of the most famous ones, Nelson Mandela saying: “I think I need to leave South Africa, the situation here is just too difficult. I need to go to a more comfortable, accommodating country”. On the contrary, he stayed and transformed not only his life but the life of millions by acting from Character.
When we are in Coping mode, our initial response is to leave or escape the situation that is making us upset or irate. It is easy to leave but we take our stuff with us. No matter where we go, we carry the baggage until we solve the puzzle.
Character is the essence or core of a person and is deeper, broader than any action or achievement. It springs from the essential nature of the person. Character works to transform and open up possibilities and potential. Character has the ability to transform circumstances and create values for ourselves as well as for others. When we act from character, we use authenticity, purpose, openness, trust, courage, congruence and compassion.
When we are leading our life from Character, we are open to love the situation in front of us. We can forgive, we can love our enemies, we can love a tough situation and we can transform difficulty into bearable. When we work on character and polish our heart, we work our way through to solutions. We switch our mind of and open to our heart space, where all solutions reside.