When my friend and spiritual director Art Stevens asked me the question, “What are your hopes?”, it stopped me in my tracks. No one in the 46 years of my life before that time had ever asked me about my hopes. Discussions with teachers, prospective employers, and colleagues typically focused on what job I wanted, where did I expect to be in the next three to five years, or what others with my training and experience accomplished. I remember saying something lame but acceptable as I might in a job interview, “I want to be leading a growing organization that’s helping to improve people’s lives.”
Art’s loving and piercing blue eyes didn’t let me wiggle off that easily, however. He asked, “Why is that important to you?” Aw, come on, I thought. He’s serious. Since I had worked hard to become the CEO of Silicon Valley company and felt very invested in the career path of what a Stanford MBA/JD “should” be doing, I didn’t want to be rocking my boat. Yet, there was something about Art’s questions that stuck with me. What were my hopes, not someone else’s expectations of me, but my hopes, my aspirations, my unique calling?
What was great about how Art asked these questions was his unconditional love regardless of the answers I offered. He didn’t judge my responses or explicitly or implicitly push me to say more, do more, or be more than I was willing to offer. As a result, I could live with the questions rather than try to defend my current perspectives and commitments. I could be open to whether there might be a better, more rewarding path for myself and my family and explore the possibilities.
These questions helped me look more deeply into myself and tap the wellsprings of my own aspirations and motivation. They helped free me from the seductive sirens of Silicon Valley that called me in directions that were not mine. They gave me and my family something solid that we could discuss and build upon to find fulfillment together.
It’s this experience, this freedom, that we want you to have for yourself, your work, and your family. That’s why the Talent Catalyst Conversation beings with the core questions of “What are your hopes for your talent?” and “Why are they important to you?” It’s also why we invite your Talent Catalyst to be a generous listener for you. A generous listener holds forth your deepest hopes and reflects what you say without having an “agenda” for you. A generous listener has a spirit of unconditional love for you that encourages expression of your unique abilities.
We’ve learned through decades of coaching and the latest neuroscience and psychology that when people are in a hopeful frame of mind, they do their best and more effective thinking. So, while exploring your hopes may feel risky, it’s a proven path to freedom and fulfillment. Find a Talent Catalyst and enjoy the journey!
Photo by: Darren Tunnicliff