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My Selfish Nobility

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A few years ago, whilst in Las Vegas, I went with a friend to a local church and was very amused by the words to one of the songs the congregation sang. It was very jovial and upbeat, and the words were along the lines of ‘Our God is greater, our God is bigger.’ Those words of separation and division struck me as being totally misaligned with everything that church stood for.

Ideas of division are often used as an attention grabber on social media. ‘Great coaches do this’ or ‘not so great coaches do this instead. ’Great leaders do this’ and ‘not so great leaders do this instead.’

By the same token, we also see people sharing their vision of God as a truth. Now of course, we don't say at the start of every post or article ‘this is my opinion,’ it goes unsaid. And whilst that is all anything that we write or share can be, it is also often forgotten. This post is another of those “This is how I perceive it’ or ‘This is how I see it.’ It can be helpful to keep this in mind. ‘This is how I see the world.’ That’s all I’ve got.

Some of the things people share look like absolute baloney to me, probably at times to you too. Yet I recognise they are sharing an opinion that is no less or indeed no more valid than mine. Other times I think something is genius, ‘Yes! That’s how it is! Truth at last!’ What’s actually happening is I am noticing their thinking and beliefs are similar to mine. That’s all it ever is. Personal thinking, personal perception, personal understanding.

I was recently discussing a post with someone, a post that ignited much debate. Yet if I read these things and keep in mind that much of what is said really comes down to a persons beliefs of what and who God is and the role that God plays in the universe, it becomes easier for me to look at such posts subjectively, as all these things are.

In a similar vein, this morning I see an idea that if you ask God, or the universe, or spirit, for something that is personal, for your own benefit, it is much less likely to be fulfilled than any impersonal request that is for a greater good, or for some benefit other than my own. Our requests and prayers, apparently, are more likely to be met and fulfilled if they are for an impersonal good. Again, the premise here is a belief in who or what God is and the role that God plays, and whilst to some it may seem so true it is worthy of a fist-bump or high-five, they are only ever an opinion based on that person’s thinking and beliefs, in turn perhaps based on their own observations. ‘Here’s how it looks to me.’

I ask most of my guests on my podcast, The Coaching Life, ‘for you what is the purpose of your coaching?’ I asked this to my dear friend Mark Silverman recently, and he gave the most beautiful answer.

He said ‘My job is to introduce people to God, whoever that is for them.’

Those last five words are absolutely crucial as a coach. Those five words are what differentiate me as a coach, facilitator and explorer from a preacher and teacher. I have nothing to teach you, only to offer myself as a tour guide on an exploration and journey of discovering of what is true for you. Sure, there are things I have ‘seen’ that you may also like to see, but whatever that is, whatever you see will be very personal to you. It may look the same for me, sometimes, but it will always be personal to you.

It may look like a universal truth, but your experience of that truth will always be personal to you.

My opinion will be irrelevant. And I notice my own opinion around this idea that personal requests are less likely to be fulfilled than impersonal requests is also heavily laced with my own experience and beliefs.

As far as I can tell there is no such thing as an impersonal request. Despite the extent of people’s understanding of the inside nature of life, in my twenty years of studying human behaviour and twelve years coaching, I’ve yet to meet anyone who ever does anything for a reason other than to feel better. Often very noble reasons are given, ‘I want to coach because I want to change the world and make it a better, safer, more loving place.’ Yet the only reason, underneath all those noble ones, is always a desire to feel better, most often to feel better about ourselves.

Underneath all the nobility, we do stuff because it feels good to do it. Therefore, all impersonal requests are personal.

But then, my feeling better, happier, more in touch with love, vibrating at a higher frequency, however we want to describe it, makes the world a better place. Howard Thurman said “Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” In that respect, there is no such thing as a personal request. All requests and prayers are for a greater good.

To suggest there is a difference between personal and impersonal requests implies there is a judgment made by God, Spirit, the Universe. The idea of a God passing judgment on prayers and requests to ascertain if they are worthy seems like an archaic idea to me, and is not one to which I subscribe. It in no way aligns with my own belief of what many call God - Love. Love is the absence of judgment.

There is no need to preach separation and division in this respect. This is my opinion. Through my own exploration I have got more in touch with what God, Spirit, Love is to me. I’ll not preach that to you, only share how I see it. That is all any of us can ever do. Hence I could never suggest that if you don’t see things the same way as me, you are not a great coach, or a great leader, or a great teacher, or indeed a great anything. You too are an expression of Love. Some would say an expression of God.

As a coach I ask many ‘What if?’ questions. ‘What if that were not true?’ ‘What if that were true?’ What if greatness is not something you are but something that channels through you? What if there is no difference between personal and impersonal? What if you are always an expression of God? What if you asking is indeed God asking of herself? What if? What feels true for you?

Coaching, for me, the way I see it, is to help you explore and discover, not what is true for me or indeed my version of God, but what is true for you, and who God is for you. As a coach I’ll help you create whatever you want to create in the world.

And I’ll do that with love, as an expression of Love, because doing so feels good, really really good, however great, personal or impersonal that is.