I’ve feel like I’ve had a long and fascinating life, despite a wobbly and rather unpromising start. I’m now at the age when people are starting to ask when I plan to retire, or when I plan to give up competing on my horse. This is a challenging thought, giving up when I feel like I’ve just got going and getting a handle on what I love in life?
Coaching and supporting people getting to grips with business and career pressures feels like a vocation, something I was born to. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t had to work hard to acquire the skills and professional status I now enjoy, but I’m having the ‘ride of my life’ doing it and I’m not about to give up for many years to come.
Similarly my relationship with my horse and competing in the very demanding niche western sport of Reining, it just feels ‘right’ when the penny drops and our training starts to pay off. It’s intellectually stretching, physically demanding for us both and utterly fun. We will continue so long as we can maintain our capacity to learn and progress, or until my horse and I run out of ‘puff’.
I can honestly say that when I’m coaching or competing, that I’m ‘in my element’… the boundary between ‘work and life’ disappears and the notion of ‘work-life balance’ becomes fuzzy.
According to the internationally renowned expert and University of Warwick Emeritus Professor Sir Ken Robinson, “The Element” is when people are doing things that they love to do and seem their most relaxed and authentic:
“It’s long struck me that all sorts of people never discover that. They live lives they don’t really enjoy, they kind of get through it and wait for the weekend. But I also know people who absolutely love what they do and they couldn’t imagine doing anything else… they say ‘this isn’t what I do, this is who I am’.”
So who are YOU… really? How is that real YOU expressed in your working and home life in a way that signals to you when you are ‘in your element’?
If that positive feeling of both skill and driving fascination hasn’t come together for you yet (and by the way, it’s absolutely NEVER too late!), reflect on the following:
- Is there something you’re naturally good at, that you would love to keep developing?
- Is this ‘something’ an activity, profession, leisure pursuit, or business idea you feel you have ‘a calling’ for, but also something that you are prepared to work at?
- If so, what are you going to do about it this year?
The last word goes to guru Tony Schwartz:
“If you do what you love, the money may or may not follow, but you’ll love what you do. It’s magical thinking to assume you’ll be rewarded with riches for following your heart. What it will give you is a richer life. If material riches don’t follow, and you decide they’re important, there’s always time for Plan B.”
 Interviewed on BBC Radio 4, Saturday Live, 12 March 2011