Teachings Of The Years

August 2003

This month, I will celebrate one of those “Big Birthdays”. All birthdays cause us to pause and reflect a bit on our lives, but turning 50 seems an especially appropriate time for reflection. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation that “the years teach much which the days never knew.”

When I consider what the years have taught and brought me, several things stand out in my mind. First is perspective. The years enable us to see problems, challenges, and opportunities in new ways. Nothing seems quite as daunting as before, which is paradoxical as life does bring more changes, as we grow older. Second is patience; I am in far less of a hurry than I was as a younger woman. I have more patience with others, and also with myself. I’m kinder to myself; I give myself time to be still, to be silent, to wait and see how things unfold. I push less, worry less, and stress less.

Another teaching of the years is compassion. My childhood and early adult years were joyful, uncomplicated, and without much awareness of the challenges that life brings us. The past couple of decades have not only deepened my understanding of what we face in life, and how every individual has their own unique challenges, but also strengthened a sense of oneness with others. It is both the understanding (sometimes only a glimmer, as we can never know fully what another feels, dreams, or endures) and the connection that enables me to feel compassion for others..and myself.

Finally, the years have taught me courage. The courage to take risks, to push outside my comfort zone, to say what I think and believe and care about. Sometimes I have had just enough courage to get through a day (or even just an hour), but over the years I have seen my courage grow.

Each of these teachings I bring to my work as a coach. I help my clients to see situations with new perspective, and have patience as they, their employees, and their work changes and evolves. Compassion, which at first blush may seem out of place in the workplace, helps me to remember how uniquely and exquisitely made we each are, and to approach each client with respect and gentleness. Finally, courage enables me to take the challenging or complex client, and to relish the stretch. Thank you for the opportunity to bring each of these teachings into our coaching relationship.

Sharon Keys Seal

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