Unlived Lives

What makes your heart break? 

Martin asked me this question last month, when we sat down in Granada for a weekend to connect, and to talk strategy for 2023. 

It was a surprisingly difficult question to engage with for me. For once, I’ve always despised the I-have-a-solution-for-your-pain approach to marketing, and this felt like it was going in that direction. And then I’ve always been driven by what excites me and what I’m passionate about, not what causes me pain. 

But I was up for an experiment, and I trust Martin enough to take a leap sometimes and follow into uncharted territory, and what I found was…. 

The sorrow of the unlived life. 

The regret that many coaching clients have expressed to me, about not having had the courage way back when, to make this or that decision, which would have altered their life and likely avoided the situation they now find themselves stuck in, or suffering from. 

I thought about a scene in the TV show The Crown, where Queen Elisabeth II, with what felt like a heavy heart and melancholic undertone, talks about her passion for horses and how she would have loved to have worked with them if she hadn’t been thrown into her leadership position. 

I thought back to reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and how it took 6 coincidences for the protagonist’s life to be unimaginably altered. 

It struck me that the difference between these three examples is about having an awareness of finding oneself at a branch point, where a choice presents itself for us to alter our life. We can’t know for sure where it’s going, but what coaching offers – and existential coaching in particular – is to create more of this kind of awareness, combined with an encouragement to dig a little deeper and to actively and courageously choose – to take the wheel and alter our lives. 

And yes, it does pain me to hear stories of coaches who give up on being coaches and practising coaching because they couldn’t make it work. 

It pains me to listen to the regrets of not having taken a chance, back when the opportunity arose, whether that’s out of a lack of awareness, lack of courage, or otherwise. I do very much feel the sorrow of the unlived life. 

And while, yes, there are indeed infinite unlived lives, and only one that is lived, for each of us…

What I want for people is to choose with awareness, to own their choices, and to be able to bear the inevitable not-knowing of how all of these other lives might have turned out. 

So in this spirit I invite you to have a think about the opportunities that this year, this month, this day offer. What life-altering choices are on the cards for you? What might you, in 20 years, regret not-doing this year?

New event series: 

A 6-session Coaching Lab in partnership with the Association for Coaching

The AC asked me what I’d love to do in 2023 and given that they’ve got over 10.000 members and I’m passionate about the Coaching Lab format, I immediately pitched them the idea of a full-journey Lab, from Chemistry session to ending, with the same coach and client, over the course of 12 weeks. 

This is as real as it gets, and nobody knows what’ll happen. What I do know is that whatever happens, we’ll learn loads from the reflections on the session and conversations with the group, and we’ll invite the client back to a 7th session to share their feedback and reflections too. 

I’ll be the coach in this scenario, and the potential client I’m talking to at the moment seems amazing and definitely going through something quite existential, which will make for excellent coaching material. 

If you’d like to be a fly on the wall for an entire coaching journey with me, you can sign up here. And if you’d like to know more about the format and structure of these events, there’s a 30min interview on LinkedIn, a short promo video on YouTube or you can check out the event page

Would be nice to see some of you in the audience and talk about coaching with you!