Last week I celebrated the 2nd anniversary of Aspiring Growth, and two wonderful years of learning, inspiring, and serving as a coach, facilitator, consultant, and as an entrepreneur.
I must confess that it does feel odd to write about celebrating myself. If you are anything like me, you may spend the majority of your reflection time looking at what you could do differently next time.
As a (slowly) recovering perfectionist, I have long-standing habits focused on “what’s wrong?” instead of “what’s strong?” I am used to asking myself lots of questions like:
What am I missing?
What didn’t I do?
What can I do better?
It is interesting as a coach to look at how you show up and support clients with the lens of “what’s strong?” and then show up with a loud dose of inner critic for yourself. How might this be limiting me in my business? What impact might it have on me as a coach for my clients? How might my tendency to “be hard on myself” impact what I am teaching my own children?
Well, I can truly hear my inner critic putting on her party pants as I invite those questions into my reflection space. Let me take just a moment to thank her for showing up, invite her to take a quiet seat in the corner, and return to the purpose of this post – the importance of celebration.
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Three weeks ago, I volunteered to be the client in a tag-team coaching exercise during a workshop. During this session, the absence of celebration of myself and my accomplishments surfaced through the exploration process. This wasn’t what I thought I was bringing to the coaching conversation, but like many coaching sessions what lies underneath our issue is where the real work happens.
At the conclusion of this coaching conversation, I crafted the question that I have been asking myself and reflecting upon every evening for the past three weeks “What do I want to celebrate about myself today?”
If you feel some resistance as you read those words, you are not alone. I felt resistance crafting them. And I have experienced resistance in fulfilling my commitment to myself to include this question in my daily reflection practice.
I have no difficulty celebrating other people’s achievements, both big and small. What gets in the way of me acknowledging my own accomplishments?
As I coach, I often notice the tendency we have to “make meaning” of things based on our own values, beliefs, and experiences. I believe I have created meaning for celebrating myself.
When I look closely at it, I see that over time I equated self-celebration with arrogance or conceit. I built that belief from my experiences with others I labelled “arrogant,” “conceited,” or even “narcissistic.” And my belief has been reinforced over the past few years by politicians and celebrities in the media. When we have a bias or belief, we tend to look for and only see things that strengthen our belief, don’t we?
But consider the impact of this belief. This negative association has prevented me from focusing on what I do well. I tend to downplay my strengths, rather than celebrate them. What might I be missing with this limited lens? How do I represent myself when I focus only on “what’s wrong” and not “what’s strong?”
I see many of my clients doing the same thing. Downplaying strengths, and focusing on weaknesses, in greater pursuit of growth. At what cost?
What would happen if I chose to change my belief?
How could I redefine the word “celebrate” when thinking about myself?
All sorts of possibilities appear.
I don’t need to make “celebrate” equal a big, public party. It doesn’t need to mean arrogance or conceit.
I can choose to look at “celebrate” as an acknowledgement. I can choose to celebrate the little things, such as reading a book I’ve been meaning to read. I can redefine my meaning of the word “celebrate” to align with my values and have that meaning excite me. I can choose the meaning I make of things in my life, like celebration. I can choose, and you can too.
What have I learned over the past three weeks during my evening reflection?
What insights have I gained by asking the question “what do I want to celebrate about myself today?”
There are three main things that I am taking away from this experience:
- Understand the roadblock – Before we can start to see real change happen in our lives, we need to first identify that there is something standing in our way. Once we can see what may have been in our blind spot, we can take the steps necessary to reframe or change our lens.
- Build a daily practice – We can change anything for a moment, but to see long-lasting, sustainable change, the most effective way to build a new habit is to incorporate it into our daily practice.The daily evening reflection journaling with the same question “what do I want to celebrate about myself today?” not only increased my awareness, but also made me start to feel more comfortable with the question and the answers I was uncovering.
- Look for opportunities – With this new insight, I am now looking for opportunities to showcase my strengths in ways stretch me outside my comfort zone, without my old labels surfacing. I am considering questions like “How can I more effectively articulate my strengths when communicating with prospective clients?” Through my daily practice, I also found words that I was comfortable using to express my strengths and accomplishments that aligned with my values, and I could deliver in response to the expressed needs and goals of my clients.
Here are some takeaway questions for you to consider:
“How often do I take the time to celebrate my strengths and accomplishments?”
“What could the impact be if I started to build reflection time into my daily practice to celebrate me?”
“How might this habit support how I communicate with my clients, prospective clients, peers, and leaders I work with?”
You may be surprised by what you find through your own exploration of self-celebration. I certainly was and continue to learn as I embrace this daily practice.