“Grace” is one of my favorite words. On Sundays I watch a little girl named Grace as she walks up the aisle at church, personifying her name. And Grace is the middle name of a beloved granddaughter. Lovely word, I think – and one with many meanings. I tend to like these: inherent excellence; easy elegance of manners, motion or action; perfection of form or the disposition to benefit or serve another.
Who would not want to sail smoothly through each day exemplifying these?
When I began training as a coach I was fortunate enough to work with Thomas Leonard, who founded Coach University – and who left the planet way too soon. Thomas was a prolific writer, full of wisdom. Some of his teachings seemed a little hard to swallow, ’til I chewed on them a bit. For instance, I used to wince when he talked of the “Perfect Life” until I got it and then became licensed as a Perfect Life Coach.
Part of that training was learning a list called “The Guiding Principles of The State of Grace.” Thomas developed this list of 12 principles and expanded on it until we understood what he was talking about – almost. It has been nearly 20 years since I trained with Thomas, and each time I look at his materials about the State of Grace, I get in touch with a deeper meaning for some of the principles.
The first is: “Nothing is personal, even if it hurts.” Miguel Ruiz, in his little handbook for living called “The Four Agreements,” includes as one of the four, “Take nothing personally.” Thomas said, “It might feel like it’s about you, but it’s always about them, or life itself.” This is a tough one to integrate into our lives, but every step along the way will move us along the path toward grace.
Another principle is: “There is beauty in everything and everyone.” In the years I was doing psychotherapy, and even currently, as a coach, I am grateful for the ability to see that beauty readily. But still this is a tough one to practice consistently in all walks of life. In many instances the inner beauty, if you will, is well hidden behind fear, hostility, piles of resentment or other barnacles collected through life. As viewers, too, we collect similar “junky” filters and unconsciously or consciously use them because we think they will protect us. In extreme cases, or in our worst moments we can be blocked from seeing beauty in anything or anyone, including ourselves. A good principle to keep refining, though, and well worth it.
Another is: “Others may never, ever be enough.” Thomas coached us to let people be themselves and enjoy them where they are. As managers or coaches we can guide others in professional and personal development – as long as it is the development they want. This principle can help in parenting as well I’m sure. When I was smack into raising children and teaching at a university, my Dean once passed on a quote about kids, one from George Bernard Shaw. “Have them, love them and let them be.” This advice still comes in handy.
Here’s a tough one of the principles: “Grace is the absence of ego.” How difficult it is to reach a higher state, and keep ourselves there for even a few hours each day. Thomas believed our lives and the lives of our clients would be tremendously enriched if we all transcended the need for self-referencing and moved on to a much bigger place. I’m still working on this.
Here I’ve mentioned only a third of the Guiding Principles, and may return to them in a future column. In the meantime I wish you many moments in a State of Grace. You may well remember Ernest Hemingway’s statement on this topic: “Courage is grace under pressure.”
Jo Gorissen is a certified transition coach and a former Milwaukee area resident. Her web site is www.coachingconbrio.com and she can be reached at (414) 305-3459.