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How to Live an Integrated Life

If the thought of working with a Co-Active Coach® conjures up images of being goaded into action, you’re not alone. While it’s true that there often is a good deal of action that takes place within the context of coaching, sometimes that action consists of designing and building a life that integrates “doing” and “being.”

I use the word “integrate” rather than the word “balance” because, whereas the latter is defined as “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions,” the former involves “combining (one thing) with another so that they become a whole.”

While it can be a useful exercise to look at the various aspects of our lives as different elements (see Figure 1 below), an integrated life combines these elements into a whole life (see Figure 2 below); it is for this reason that I refer to myself as a “whole life coach” rather than merely a life coach.

Figure 1: The Balanced Life

Figure 2: The Integrated Life

Within the context of coaching, “being” can be conceptualized in a couple of different ways. Whereas “doing” is often associated with accomplishing tasks—making things happen, so to speak—“being” involves allowing things to be just as they are and letting them unfold just as they will.

Imagine that you’ve just planted some sunflower seeds in the ground. Aside from seeing to it that those seeds have been planted in nutrient-rich soil, and given the right amounts of sunlight and water, it’s up to those seeds to germinate. You’re not going to make those sunflowers grow; they will do that on their own, and in their own time.

Another way to conceptualize “being” from a coaching standpoint involves clarifying your vision, mission, and values.

If you’ve worked or volunteered for an organization, chances are you’ve seen its vision, mission, and values statements. But have you ever contemplated what your personal vision, mission, and values statements might look like? Here’s one way to think about it:

  • Your vision is about what you ultimately want your life to look and feel like, and who you ultimately want to be as you live that life.
  • Your mission is about doing what you need to do in order to bring your vision to fruition.
  • Your values are about being who you want to be as you carry out your mission.

So you see that, even as you are doing, you are at once being. To be or not to be? Well, for as long as you’re alive, you’re going to be, whether you like it or not.

Incidentally, if you find yourself feeling disenchanted with the organization for which you are currently working or volunteering, chances are there’s a mismatch between the organization’s and your vision, mission, and/or values.

For those of you who are starting to realize that you haven’t given your personal vision, mission, and values a whole lot of consideration, you needn’t worry. First of all, you’re in good company, as many people live out their lives without giving much thought to what their vision, mission, and values might be, at least on a conscious level. Secondly, unless you’ve just drawn your last breath, it’s not too late to get in touch with the vision, mission, and values that, like fingerprints, are uniquely yours. And you needn’t fret if you haven’t a clue how to begin this process, because I, as a Co-Active Coach®, am well equipped to assist you with this endeavor.

While many coaches administer various assessments, such as the Strong Interest Inventory ®, or present their clients with a list of values from which to choose, approaches such as these put certain constraints on clients and prevent them from thinking outside the metaphorical box. My Co-Active Coach® toolkit contains an interesting array of exercises that will circumvent the rational mind in order to tap into the vast reserves of the intuitive mind. Why is this important or even necessary? I believe that Albert Einstein put it best when he asserted that “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant.” In other words, getting to the heart of your vision, mission, and values requires a deep dive into the essence of your being in order to truly understand and appreciate your authentic self.

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