“LIFE IS A JOURNEY, NOT A DESTINATION.” –RALPH WALDO EMERSON
And on this journey, if we each map out 3 high points in our life, and three low points, we would most likely recall the JOY of the high points and the PAIN of the low points. If I were to ask you what you learnt from the LOW points, you might rattle off a list of lessons you took away from it. But, what if I asked you what your lessons were from your HIGH points?
If you could take a moment to just reflect on one high point, and one low point, you might notice a difference in the lessons you take from each one. No doubt, the low points can offer LIFE ALTERING insights, but SO can the high points.
Reaching the peak of Mt. Kinabalu at the age of 10 way back in the 1980s was unheard of. It is really something to be the youngest climber (at that time) and to be recognised for it. I learnt that TENACITY and a NEVER GIVE UP attitude get you to the top of mountains. The journey to the top began with 2 whole weeks of pestering my father to allow me to go. He finally caved and said that if I trained with him every day he would consider it. So I did. I almost wanted to give up so many times, but I refused to be proven wrong and lose my opportunity.
Some called it stubbornness, I saw it as equality. If my brothers can go, I should be allowed to go as well. If they can do it, so can I. The so-called stubbornness has served me well over the years.
source: personal collection
This one WIN registered itself deep within me. I have never thought much about it till this moment now as I write this blog. But, looking back I see just what a powerful HIGH point it was in instilling the belief that anything is possible if you are willing to work hard, have the determination to overcome any obstacles, and are willing to do WHAT it takes.
If I could go back and coach that 10-year-old self, and ask her what did she learn from this experience, she might be more of AWARE the win, the learning points, and celebrate her strength of tenacity and determination!
I didn't have a coach back then, but I was reminded by my parents as they regaled the story of a stubborn 10-year-old who made it to the top of a mountain. It still registered deep within me and gets pulled out every time I take on a mountainous task/challenge - I just remember to take one step at a time, and before you know it, you will reach the top!
It is quite serendipitous that this piece of memory came up in writing today. It serves as a good example of WHY celebrating WINS are important. When we win in life, be it a marathon, climbing a mountain, acing an exam, getting a house, getting married, a promotion, having a child etc. we feel GREAT. Our brain has a pathway that lights up when we WIN. It is the same pathway that lights up when we eat sugar, take drugs, and have sex. Call it an inbuilt motivation pathway.
Celebrating wins not only makes us feel good, but it builds on this positive feedback regarding our choices and behaviour. It builds resilience and motivates us to make the "right" choices that move us towards our goals. As this momentum is built up, it propels us forward for years to come as it is in our SYSTEM.
Celebrating wins give insights to both our innate strengths and the new skills we picked up along the way. Sometimes we are not aware of these things, and forget, especially when adversity hits and we fall into despair. Having conscious awareness of our strengths and skillset reminds us of what we are capable of, giving the much-needed support from within to move forward.
Our brain, as mentioned in an earlier discussion "re-Wire for Success" is designed to look out for threats to keep us safe. MORE so than celebrating the wins. Sure the wins light us up for a while, but the rumination over despair is far longer than our lingering bliss/ecstasy of success.
This is why in Yoga and much of the Eastern philosophies, one is encouraged to bring oneself into a state of BLISS at all times. A lot of the literature mention peace and calm, but at the highest state of peace is actually bliss.
Since we haven't quite reached that state of eternal bliss, the other sure-fire way to "hack" and re-wire our internal system is to celebrate wins regularly. Anchor these in with an awareness of the learning point and the takeaway from the experience. Build clear links between the choices we made and the outcomes. Keep looking out for the positives and strengths not just in ourselves, but in others.
Much like teaching a dog new tricks, we can teach our brain to start thinking and feeling differently. This is not to say, we ignore the adversities. Not at all. This, in fact, builds resilience to view adversities as positive challenges and appreciate the feedback we get (no matter how negatively it is framed). Feedback and self-reflection become EMPOWERING as it helps us align ourselves with our goals.
The goal in coaching is to build such resilience in a client to propel them forward to reach further, higher and unlock greater potential.
I love this sentence from our mentor coach,
"There is a time for everything, a time to Rest, to Reflect, to Recharge, to Recalibrate and even a time for a Revolution." - Mel Leow, Catalyst Coaching Certification
because, coaching done right, not only unlocks the coachee's greatest potential but keeps them going to impact the world around them in revolutionary ways, through their innovative ideas, passionate involvement to uplift and serve as an inspiration to their community. It is not one drop in a sea of 8 billion people, it is a drop with multiple ripples that expands into waves that hits humanity in the far corners of the world.
Celebrating wins, self-reflection and this overall practice of resilience building is not a one hit wonder. It takes practice to make it a habit, and it helps when we connect with trusted people who will celebrate WITH us, and give feedback that helps us grow. Because it is a JOURNEY of growth and celebration, not a DESTINATION.
So what is YOUR takeaway from this article and what is one realisation you had from your high point in life? What will you do with this realisation?
**Note: This blog entry is to meet Catalyst Coaching Certification course content of FLOW5 C.O.A.C.H Process on the High-Point module: "HONOUR LEARNING & THE EMPATHY MAP"
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