Updated: Nov 27, 2019
2019 has been an investment in me; the seed funding round or the prologue, if you like, of what is to come.
And yet, what is to come feels like it is still forming - just as the caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis in its cocoon and the bud of a flower remains tightly wrapped in its calyx, I too am still going through a deep process of letting go, mental defragging and genuine transformation.
One year ago I started to work with this process called Quest. One year later I can only just start to truly understand this new frame as a lens through which we can appreciate life, not as a series of sprints, marathons and milestones; rather to Quest is to be in the adventure of life - where each unfolding is like the great Quests of books and movies we know and love - The Wizard of Oz and The Alchemist in particular come to mind here.
This year’s best work has been unexpected insofar as it was not entirely what I expected. The things I thought I wanted have taken on a slightly different shade, some things have been left behind and others have evolved into something new and beautiful. In one year, new friendships have formed and flourished and others have been sloughed away take make room for this new life.
In my best work I have been in service of others. Not in a way of servitude though. The service has been powerfully supportive of the best work of others and it has had two elements or flavours if you will - I have led a team and I have coached people from all walks of life; and in a sense it can be hard to separate the two - to lead powerfully is to coach and to invite those you are leading to show up for their best work. So why was this unexpected?
The revelation came when I stepped aside and up(?) so that someone else could lead ‘my’ team and I could move into something more technical (and supposedly value adding) and in that changing of the guard I realised two things:
Leading is serving, inspiring, supporting and coaching, and it adds enormous value - I miss that context at times. And now I know why I recreated the circumstances to experience it again, racking up 10 years of leading people. (Yes this is a Groundhog Day lesson).
Within the narrow confines of these ‘jobs’ we are boxed into, I had taken my team as far I could in that context and with the insight I needed it was time to shift gear.
So in a different sense, everything turned out for the best, as it often does.
While in the cocoon of change this year my best work included coaching willing individuals on a formal basis. Taking my years of learning and practicing in other arenas and channeling it into a skill and a trade takes the dedication of an apprentice and the wanderlust of an explorer to look at it all, leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of what it means to explore, experiment and create the business of Tim Snell.
In all I was pleased that they left our coaching as challenged and changed humans singing my praises about the impact this work had on them - in truth they did the real work (and that’s how it is in coaching).
It feels good, enlivening and inspiring to know that I helped them, one conversation at a time.
In the course of the year I rekindled my love of public speaking and being the wise sage on stage - just for a while. There’s no ego in that - the whole process of preparation leaves me overwrought and my Maestro tendencies kick in leaving me little time to enjoy it in the moment - it shows in the before and after photos.
I relish it afterwards when I can see the change and receive the feedback that says once again - thank you, that really helped me. That’s what it’s all about, this thing we Quest for, isn’t it - to serve, to help, to add value? In 2020 I’ve opted to take a rest from speaking at those events to recharge and re-create anew.
My website became my canvas for the year where strips of narrative and imagery gave form to the dreams in my mind. A client noted that my website continued to evolve during the 6 months we worked together.
Like a seedling sprouting from one of the seeds I planted exactly 1 year ago it has slowly matured to the sapling it now is; ready to be seen and to stand free for a while as new layers of experience are put down. Like any living project, new shoots will arise and old ones will be allowed to fall away as needs must but the canvas remains. We too are like a canvas, shaping our lives with new materials, colours and textures.
In reflecting on the work I overlook the incredible friendships I have been cultivating - once distant colleagues are now close, authors and writers, healers, former executives, academics and people like me (us) who have shifted their attention to human potentialism. A week at Lake Tahoe felt like a rite of passage in a vortex where each of those present returned to the world deeply changed.
It is in those forges, those incubators that massive change is possible, and so I Quest to deliver my own version in 2020 and 2021 where people can benefit from the wisdom I’ve been coalescing and dreaming of sharing with the world. It will be awesome - #WeQuest.
If there was a best friend this year, his name is Change. I have stretched myself by digging deeper than any retreat, therapy or healing modality by having the courage to go into this evolutionary, life-direction changing process willingly. Not a tornado in sight on my road to Oz.
If all this sounds rather blissful, the dark side of it has been the grind. While I worked full time I coached In the evenings, weekends and early mornings. I investigated, read, experimented, learned and created; and all the while I laid down the cornerstones like a stone mason laying the foundations for some grand building that he cannot yet comprehend. I cut back on travel and socialising to focus on weaving this new dream from inside my mind and spin it out into the world.
In Quest 2019 I set down some goals and all were achieved bar one; but I’ll come to that in a moment. It was only last month that I checked back to see what I had intended and it included:
Create 5 clients - the 2019 list easily surpassed that in the first 6 weeks
Restructure my work - I resigned from my job to pursue a bigger dream
Practice my new skills at industry days - I taught coaching at the international industry conference and delivered two workshops instead
Complete a certified coaching course - nailed it, added 180 hours of coaching experience and applied for accreditation
I also had a reading list. Although I didn’t read all the intended books I read a helluva lot of other ones - life shifts like that and we can’t be too rigid about these things. If there’s one book that resonated at a Soul level it was Soulbattical, which I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of.
The one goal I let go of this year was to do with being involved with Men’s Work. I was offered ‘London‘ through a newly forming collaboration to introduce a new version of men’s work to the U.K. and I declined. It was tough to say ‘no’ to something I’m deeply passionate about, but this year, of all others, I’ve learned the value of saying No when the timing isn’t right.
Letting go is a habit I’ve needed to learn this year, just as the need to be right is one I’ve had to relinquish and I’m glad for both. As I split my attention into a kaleidoscope of activities I saw first hand, and perhaps for the first time, how a deficit of attention leads to more stress and increasing risks of burnout. It’s possible I had known this before, but not in the visceral way I do now. Ithas become part of what I teach, treading lightly in the footsteps of Greg McKeown’s Essentialism which I read in 2011 - again the dawn breaks on its real meaning - and I keep discovering on this Quest.
As this year finishes and I begin to emerge ever so slowly from the chrysalis of 2019, I can look at my life anew and with the higher perspective that comes from being able to get above the fray.
This year has been a forge of sorts, but one where support has been abundant, even in those moments when it hasn’t felt like it - people have been there ready and willing to listen and help.
In those moments of doing my best work I’ve felt truly alive and that’s how I intend to feel as I go forward. Some of those moments have been sitting on a cliff and meditating because those moments are my best work too - when I’m slowing down to reflect, create and contemplate how best to serve those I want to impact in a most hearfelt way.