Show your work

I've been reading @austinkleon's book, Show Your Work (he also authored the wildly popular, Steal Like an Artist).  One of the things that has stuck with me is the push to focus on your process rather than your product. We operate with the illusion that people, especially people in creative professions, explode onto the national or international stage with a body of work that blows everyone away.  Welcome to fame, fortune and a life of riches.

But that's not the way it works, and it's a struggle to try and operate that way.  What really matters for anyone operating in a creative profession, more than anything, is staying true to their vision, and being seen.  The former usually becomes much more challenging after the latter kicks in, so let's look there for now.

I was thinking about coaching as a profession.  It's a very unique profession.  the canvas for my work is myself.  The more I work on myself, the more I develop my own life, the more I learn to accept myself, the more I take on my own struggles, the more I own the things that I personally struggle to be with and take them on, the better coach I become, and the more I draw the people that are really my clients to me.

So as a coach, my unfinished work — my work in progress — is really myself.

That's awkward.

Theodore Sturgeon famously created his eponymous law when he stated that "90% of everything is crap".  Kleon suggests that the problem is, you're not so good at determining what parts of your work are crap and what parts are incredible.

That's why you have to share your work.  I'll take Sturgeon one step further and create Quiney's corollary to Sturgeon's law:

99.99% of everything you create will feel as though it's crap.

Kleon suggests that, as a result, our focus on process must include showing our work.  By providing everyone out there a glimpse into not just our finished product, but the actual process by which we create that product, the public can help us determine what it is about our work that really passes Sturgeon's law; and we can avoid falling victim to Quiney's corollary.

Let's get back to me.  The hard part about all of this is that I'm a fragile human being with fears and an ego.  I don't want to share the stuff about me that I'm embarrassed of, and I don't like showing you the parts that are dark and dirty.

Yet as a coach, I must.

This is the process to show; it's how I actually make my work seen.  So, if you're interested in what it looks like when a high-bar perfectionist, neurotic, a-type personality taking on his own life (and, hopefully, you're interested in doing the same), you've come to the right place.

So in that vein, I'll share more of me, with you.  More parts I don't like, more parts that appear dark to me (and may appear the same to you), and less lecturing.  Lecturing is ultimately boring anyhow, and most of the people I work with don't need another 10-step process to create wealth, success and happiness.  (Seriously, how many processes, blueprints and programs are out there now?).

What I'll share right now is that I've been working through Tim Kelley's fantastic book, True Purpose (which includes a reference to the program through which I train new coaches and one of the tools we use in coaching people).

True Purpose provides a large number of exercises designed to have us get out of our heads, out in front of our ego (almost impossible to do by yourself), and to get clear on your purpose.  Here's the first exercise I completed, with more to follow.

What are the times you've felt most passionate (be specific rather than general)?

  • When sharing about dancing with people I think are interested in it
    • Sharing with Piper, Ceri and Jesse about various techniques in popping, locking and hiphop.
  • When teaching and passing on my knowledge
    • Teaching kids to dance (eg, at Belmont high school, going in and teaching dance students popping and locking)
    • Teaching kids and other students popping, locking and grooving at Vibestreet Dance
    • Sharing coaching with Jay, Tyler, Cole and other people that are passionate about the profession
    • Sharing coaching and what I know with the participants that we train
    • Anytime I'm training people in coaching, dancing, or anything else I love doing
  • When coaching a client and they generate a breakthrough in their lives
    • (I have a number of specific examples that I won't share here due to confidentiality)
  • When sharing myself by way of talking about what I do
  • When speaking in public about my work
    • Speaking at UVic Law's alternate career night
    • Speaking to UVic's B. Comm. students about coaching
    • Speaking at bcIMC about coaching and leadership
  • When I'm developing people's (and my own) leadership
  • When writing and blogging about stuff that I love
    • Coaching
    • Dancing
    • Fighting (video) games
    • My own breakthroughs