It is eight years ago this week since I started my coaching business, and I have been thinking about some of the coaches who have helped me, in these last 8 years.
I remember one of the first, and best, coaches I have ever met telling a story about her childhood. As I remember it her sister was encouraging her to step up, to do more and to perform at a higher level. The teenager sulkily replied “Why should I?” and the sister replied simply, “Because you can”. In the story the elder sister was killed in an accident and so the words had a special resonance for my coach, as I am sure you can imagine.
Often clients spend quite some time and effort searching for their own personal “why”, their purpose, their mission, the reason for them to perform at a higher level. Knowing your why is important, it gives life more meaning and it is a natural part of growing and maturing as a person. It is what Abraham Maslow was talking about when he spoke of self actualisation. Friedrich Nietzsche said “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Sometimes the answer we are looking for is so obvious that we just aren’t able to see it;- “because you can”.
I don’t believe any of us were born to be mediocre; we weren’t born to be anything other than magnificent in whatever way that is for each of us.
On my office wall there is a poster of the athlete Steve Prefontaine and these words “To give anything other than your best is to sacrifice the gift”. Now I am not particularly religious but those words resonate with me. We all have a gift and not to perform at our best does seem somehow disrespectful. My work is all about helping people to perform at a higher level, to be the best that they can be and the beauty of that is that it means different things to all of us.
So for each one of us when we start thinking about why; why we should do the right thing rather than the easy thing, why we should help someone else rather than just help ourselves, why we should step up rather than step back, why we should perform at our best rather than at anything less than our best, it may be that the answer is simply “because you can”.
John Wooden defined success as “peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable”
So success is not about winning, there can only be one winner. Success is, in fact, within reach for all of us.
And when you know you can, why would you ever not?