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When my job in IT was made redundant, I welcomed the opportunity to change my life and do something different. But for a couple of years I felt as though I’d lost part of my identity. I was no longer the “expert”, a role I’d played for many years. I used to be able to walk into a meeting with someone I’d never met before, and feel confident I’d be able to understand whatever business problem they had and be able to come up with a technical solution.
When I first started coaching, I felt daunted by the fact that there were already so many life coaches, executive coaches, corporate coaches – you name it – and they obviously had far more experience than me. Then I realised I’d actually been coaching people in my team for years. I just didn’t know it was called coaching.
In the film “The Bourne Identity”, the protagonist has lost his memory, so he has no idea who he is. He has an eclectic range of skills, but he doesn’t know where he learned them, or what use he can put them to. He feels totally disoriented. It’s only because the person he used to be has left behind clues for him to follow, that he starts to piece his life together again.
Roughly every seven years, with or without some type of enforced lifestyle change, we tend to get itchy feet and feel the need to move on to pastures new. If you’re at the start of this cycle, you probably feel you want to shed some of the roles you’ve been playing in the past, and take on new ones. You might even feel that a role you’ve been playing has been a waste of time, because it hasn’t got you to where you want to be.
First of all, everything you’ve ever learned, everything you’ve ever done, and every role you’ve ever played has a purpose. Nothing is ever wasted. It all adds to the rich tapestry of your life and gives you stories you can tell to your friends and family. However, some things also have a time limit – a ‘best by’ date – and if you’re clinging to a role you’ve outgrown, or it’s no longer relevant, you need to let it go. Otherwise we’d all still be hanging out in nightclubs, with our friends, well into our nineties!!
If a long-standing role has come to an end, you might go on a quest to find yourself. But what if you’re looking in the wrong place? Where can you go, to find the ‘real’ you? Your ‘born’ identity? In fact, you don’t have to go far at all. You just need to dig deep, like the protagonist in Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”. He travelled all over the world to find treasure, picking up clues along the way, only to discover it was buried beneath his home.