“Don’t confuse what you do with who you are”, my words landed on the desk between us like a dropping anchor.
Patrick, a co-worker was sitting in my office lamenting a set of circumstances in his work life that were recently changed and the choices he was now faced with. He was informed earlier in the day that his position was being eliminated. The good news was he did have a choice of three different positions that would be made available to him. Understandably, he was confused, certainly surprised, and a bit angry. Patrick had taken an experimental position with the company and by all measurements done quite well with it. He now had a change in circumstance. But as we spoke it became clear that Patrick was having a struggle of ego not identity. He carried on, what would he do, how could they simply throw away the work and the processes he created, not to mention the good customers he nurtured and grew in service to the company? How DARE they not recognize him for what he had done!
I understood the conflict and disappointment, I’d been in the same situation. I listened with intent and understanding posing the following; “If money was not an issue, what would you do?” Patrick’s eyes brightened, a slight smile turned up the right side of his mouth, “I’d go back to coaching football”. He lingered with the thought for a moment but quickly dismissed the rationality of the idea. “This is the worst time of year to get into coaching as all of the coaching rosters have been filled and spring workouts are about to start,” he continued “I would have to move my family, it would be too much to ask of them.” I could see the light is his eyes dim as quickly as they brightened. In a flash his mind took him back into the captivity of “good reason.”
My bit of advice to Patrick lingered with me. Was it accurate? How connected to who we are is what we do? Are we what we do, or the choices we make? Are we something completely separate yet connected to both of those things?
The answer to the true self can only live in one place, our soul. It is the place that the creator made for us all to connect back wholly and completely to creation.
Patrick had, if but for a brief moment, a soul encounter. Coaching for Patrick was not a pipe dream, he had been a successful coach at both the high school and college level. He married, had children while living his souls job, why did he quit? I’ve not asked this question of him but I can guess, life and circumstances moved onto the scene and he made choices that moved him from his soul to the “good sense” of his ego.
I hoped to help Patrick understand that the work we do has very little connection with really who we are. I asked Patrick if he could just let himself sit with the fact that his soul is still convinced that he is a coach. “Are you coaching in any aspect of your life now?” “Yes” he sat up, “I help the new guys that come in all the time with processes, and my son is seven, so we do allot of back yard coaching.” I asked what I thought was the obvious question, “If you know your soul knows you as a coach, what does that look like now?” “More importantly what does that have to do with any of the job choices you are faced with today?” Patrick relaxed and chucked slightly, “It really doesn’t matter does it? None of the options are who I am, just what I do.” I shrugged a bit and replied “Maybe you should pick the job that feels right in this circumstance, but consider putting your brain time and choices in the place that your soul lives…coach”.
There was a time in human history when communities valued who the individual was and nurtured, through ritual and ceremony, the awakening of that true self and its application to the community.
We have become a process and production centric society, valuing only what a person produces and how efficiently. Sadly we have aligned who we are with this very narrow production view. We are tested and graded and categorized from a very early age to push this production identity. We exalt the producers in sport, business even religion. We create the new Gods of an ego based society with such a loud common cadence that we can barely notice the ever suppressed voice of our soul crying to be heard.
Where is your soul calling you?