Just over a year ago I was in Boston, Massachusetts taking the third of my five core coaching classes. This class was focused on Co-Active Training Institute’s principal of Balance: how to make choices in our lives instead of reacting to our lives. At the beginning of the training, I was convinced that there were times where someone truly had no choices (when you’re stuck, you're just stuck!). But Stevie Nicks proved me wrong.
Some background - I had borrowed a friend’s car to drive from NYC to Boston (thank you so much Viv!) the day before the 3-day training started. Another friend had offered to let me stay with her family during the weekend (Maurya, I’m so grateful!) and I went into my 3-day training feeling both supported and excited to be back in coach training with a room full of curious, playful, committed coaches!
As I headed to the training on Day 1, I noticed the gas tank light had come on. Judging by google maps, I thought I could make it to the training venue in Seaport without running out of gas. Most times that there’s a risk involved, I tend to just go for it (YOLO, right?). During the training I was so engrossed in the conversation, experiential learning, coaching practice with my wonderful coach peers, and learning from our amazing Front of the Room leaders, I had completely forgotten about the gas tank. We were learning about the concept of choice - my favorite part was getting to play with a giant grid created in masking tape on the ugly hotel meeting room floor. The tape divided the room into slices (I think there were six) that looked like big pie slices. Each slice represented a different perspective. We did exercises where we looked at topics like money or relationships from different perspectives by physically moving into different slices on the floor (different geographies). For example: how would ACDC see it? How would a 5-year old see it? What if you looked at it from the perspective of your favorite houseplant? I was amazed at how many perspectives could be true at once, even ones I didn’t love (or even like), and I could find the tiny bit of truth in each one if I was willing to try it on. And by trying it on, it wasn’t just in my head, I embodied that perspective and imagined what it would be like in that “geography” (colors, smells, sounds, even temperature). As Day 1 came to a close, I was starting to get it, but I wasn’t so sure about the whole Balance principle - I wasn’t quite ready to “buy” the idea of choice no matter what. I also thought it seemed too formulaic.
At the end of the day, I got in Vivian’s car ready to head back to Maurya’s home. I started the car and saw the little gas light. I felt a little twinge of worry about finding gas but also felt confident that I’d explored Boston a little bit the month before and that I’d be fine. I had google maps on my phone, I could navigate to a gas station, no problem. I got in the car and started to follow google maps’ directions back to the highway. The thing about Boston is that there are a lot of tunnels. The google maps GPS doesn’t work in the tunnels. There’s also a lot of traffic at 6pm on a Friday. Ummmm oops. About 5 minutes into my drive I found myself at a dead stop in bumper to bumper traffic inside a tunnel. Gas light staring back at me. My phone had lost its signal. I glanced back down to the gas light and my stomach dropped. The usual signs of anxiety set in, my palms got sweaty and my heart started to visibly pound out of my chest. I was STUCK. No cars were moving around me. I was sure I was going to run out of gas in this tunnel and I could even picture myself trying to redirect traffic around my stopped vehicle with no orange cones or traffic flares. I checked my GPS again, no dice.
And for some reason, at that moment it hit me, what if I could change my perspective? Can I try what I learned today right now? I turned up the radio, 100% open and ready to take my cue from whatever song was on. It was Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy”. I turned up the volume and asked myself what Stevie Nicks would do in this moment. I decided to relax my shoulders and sit back in the car seat. I loosened my grip on the steering wheel. I even started to sway my torso and my shoulders a little bit. Stevie would trust exactly where she is. Stevie would tap into something greater than fear and worry and that damn orange gas light, she’d trust magic. And when I tried on the Stevie perspective, everything shifted. The cars around me started to move. My phone’s GPS still wasn’t connecting and I decided to just toss my phone onto the passenger seat and look around for a gas station when I got out of the tunnel. As I drove towards the (literal and figurative) light at the end of the tunnel, there was a gas station on my right. Perfect, because I was in the right lane. I pulled in, couldn’t help but laugh to myself, and I thanked Stevie.
I’ll never forget what that moment taught me about the power of perspective. All the “evidence” told me I was shit outta luck. Stuck. And my nervous system was convinced I was in trouble. But by accessing my imagination through the doorway of Stevie Nicks singing “Gypsy”, I could tap into my creativity and intuition. I could trust and locate myself again even though my GPS couldn’t find me. Borrowing her perspective brought flow where there was stuckness. It reminded me that while I couldn’t make the traffic disappear, I couldn’t get my phone’s GPS to work, and I couldn’t know where the closest gas station was, I could still CHOOSE how I saw it.
A lot has shifted for me thanks to Stevie’s perspective. I’ve leaned on her multiple times before important professional and personal conversations. I have a Stevie outfit that I wear when I need to tap into that magical, rock star, courageous, confident energy. One of the front of the room leaders that weekend became my Coach (thank you Valerie!) and helped me reconnect with Stevie when I needed her.
Is there a place in your life that could benefit from a new perspective? I’ve had multiple conversations in the last week about being quarantined at home (with folks who have the privilege of not being essential workers or sick right now). Some clients have pointed out that having to connect virtually created opportunities that weren’t there before...one client is going to start being more visible on social media, one client is going to “dip her toe” into dating, and one client is going to learn how to teach classes online. What else might be possible? Not “when this is over,” but right now?
Image by @buckinghamtusk