shiva - my trident of happiness

Coaching the Coach: A Process of Self-Reflection

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Today I took a free 30-minute phone call with another life coach. I wasn’t really committed, even though I marked that on her intake form. She showed up in the Zoom chat smiling before a fake background and said she remembered working with me several years ago. She looked attractive but unfamiliar.

“Are you ready to just jump in?” she asked.

“Sure. I’ve got three creative drives (writing, music, a tv series from my single dad blog) and I need to figure out which one to give my full attention. I feel like the trident approach is not serving me.”

We dug in. She used the coaching phrases. She reflected me back to my own self-revelation. And while we processed together, she was laying out her value proposition. But there were a few flaws in her logic. The process, however, gave me some powerful information.

  1. I am quite content. I write a lot. I’m motivated.
  2. My long-term relationship status is YES, and I’m very supported by that development.
  3. Money at the moment is a bit more of a concern but manageable.
  4.  I am not hesitating to make a commitment, I am continuing the process of working on my craft as well as earning a living.

What am I after? Do I really want to be writing poetry, prose, and music all the time? Can I replace my digital marketing career with a creative output career? What would have to happen for that to become a part of my reality? And is that really the goal?

And what about that “day job?” What if I like working? I’m transitioning at the moment back to a consulting role, so I’m not beholden to a sour manager for 8 hours a day. And my team for the new venture is coming together with experience and enthusiasm to build a new work path for me.

So, if money is not the objective of making music or poetry, what is? Is there something holding me back from writing my “projects” as many hours as I like? Nope.

A college professor told me one evening over beers, “If you want to be a writer write. But, keep your day job. These students (It was a Creative MFA program at Texas State University) are living a dream. There are no jobs for MFA’s in the real world. Not even the kids graduating from The Iowa Writer’s Workshop.”

Check. Write because you can’t not write. Make music as if the money or hits make no difference to you. Create what pleases you. What gives your creative muse energy and enthusiasm? Go there. Do that. And keep doing it, even if you never get paid or recognized.

My Trident of Happiness

When I am creating I am happy. In the zone, the flow, zen. I’ve been creating stuff my entire life. My mom was one of those parents that encouraged reading, drawing, and writing. Cartoons, short stories, etc. Kids should be de-iPhoned frequently and asked to entertain themselves. It’s a huge part of self-soothing. We ALL need to be good at self-soothing.

My trident of creativity involves these crafts:

  • Writing
  • Music
  • TV series producer

And during the course of a month, I work on each of these. In my metaphor, I am moving each of my chess pieces around on the board. In the course of the coaching call with this “visionary – design your future” coach.

As she began the sales portion of the pitch she began saying things like, “Focus. Choices.” As well as, “Just like the last time we spoke (she never did reveal the time or subject of our previous session) you’re at a point in your life where you have to make a choice.”

She was right. The choice I made was to listen to what I said to her. Find my focus. And pick a tip of the trident to focus on 80% more in 2024. She was well into her pitch on packages and all the great benefits I was going to get. And the internet connection glitched. (I laughed when Zoom reconnected us.) She looked pleasant, but she was frustrated.

Here’s what I learned from answering her question about my goals and dreams for the long-term as well as this present moment.

My long-term goal is to have “poet” on my wikipedia page, defining my life. The writing for me is the part that I leave behind. Yes, it would be amazing to say, “Creator of Game of Thrones” franchise, but that’s not what I’m seeking. The tv series prospecting and creative work is on-going. And, while I respect “musician” as my ultimate label, I’m not sure the longevity of that creative legacy has much chance of materializing. I’d love to be Bono, but…

Finally, she kept talking about “what changes you need to make to unlock your dreams” and I understood her point, as well as the generic nature of all that she had said to me. If we did infact meet earlier, why didn’t she say anything about it. Not the date. Not the issue she remembers I was working on.

Guess what, I was working on the exact same issue.

And in the close she kept saying things like, “you’ve got to commit to this change, or spend another few years chasing after your success.” Again, I appreciated the motto but it does not apply to my current life.

I am 100% happy and fulfilled right this second. I’d like to be famous, I think. But I don’t want crush my ability to go out for ritas.

Reset the Goal

Here’s the part she didn’t understand, as business-focused as she was on me and (more importantly) herself and her success. I am not chasing the dream. I am living it. My decisions now will affect my workload for the next 12 – 24 months. But, overall, my current daily life is sweet. Thanks for asking.

What I discovered is not much different from what I already knew, but telling someone else, a coach/therapist/friend, gave me this clarity.

If I’m looking for release from my day job, I should probably change my day job. If I’m looking for 100% to dabble on my creative pursuits, I’d better pay attention to the path that would give me FREEDOM.

But I don’t want freedom at the moment. The gap between me and my freedom dream is part of what fuels me up in the morning. Not to be famous, but to create. It’s what I do. And while I’m feeling the pressure of my recent job change, I use that energy as fuel. Fuel for writing posts like this. Fuel for continuing to create regardless of the recognition or fame.

I am full. I am happy. I am writing and creating music at the highest level available to me. If you find my writing or my music, great. I’m going to keep putting out more. And in the dessert of this fame quest, I’m going to alter my goal.

I don’t want fame, I want tenacity and creative inspiration that keeps me lit up and firing all of my guns at once.

What do you want?

Let’s go get wild.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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You can find my books on Amazon. Including this one:

the little red book of mindfulness - john oakley mcelhenney

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