This month marks the two-year anniversary of the beginning of This Fearless Life and this upcoming February 3 will mark the two-year anniversary of my first This Fearless Life newsletter post.
These dates have been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks as they offer a chance to pause and reflect on the evolution of what has become part of ‘what I do’ (and it gives me a chance to end my 3-month hiatus from writing posts like this).
These milestones also provide an opportunity to look at how much has happened in the space of two years, and offer a reminder of just how unpredictable and rewarding life and work can be when we allow them the space and freedom to evolve, while resisting the temptation to plan, manage and control everything (something very new to me).
In honor of these milestones and what they represent, I’d like to share an update and offer some reflection on how my life and work have evolved over the past two years.
Note: I’ve never been the subject of my posts in such a direct way, my hope is that the reader might get a bit of inspiration to do that thing they’ve been thinking about and I’m equally hopeful that this doesn’t come off as conceit or ‘humble-bragging’.
In no order, here are some observations from two years of learning, growth, new opportunities and doing meaningful and fulfilling work:
- Coaching and Trying: I’ve continued to do more and more coaching and through the work I’ve done with many different clients, with diverse backgrounds and unique challenges I’ve realized that my perspective on coaching has changed from ‘something that I thought I’d enjoy’ to ‘something I’m passionate about and am good at’. I would never have made this discovery if I hadn’t made the decision to declare myself as a coach (I still struggle with that moniker) and just start creating – a website, a LinkedIn profile, newsletters, even business cards. By making it official through these simple channels, I was officially trying – which sometimes is all it takes.
- This Fearless Life and Pivoting: I’ve found myself developing my coaching business in two distinct areas: career evolution and leadership development. 90% of my clients have been focused on the former, allowing me to build a methodology supported by meaningful exercises. My leadership development offering isn’t as mature but it’s coming along too. These two areas of focus are a bit different from when I initially started things. I had this idea of going deep on fear – sources of fear, how it manifests, ways to offset, etc. But this wasn’t how it came together as I would work with clients. So, instead of pushing the fear thing, I integrated it into the areas where I saw demand but also held meaning for me.
- Doing and Learning: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the process of building my coaching practice has to do with trusting myself. Starting out, I worried that I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to be a great coach. I wondered about training, certification, practice – I was searching for ‘permission’. I even reached out to a well-known coach I had been following, not because I was interested in his services but because I wanted him to tell me I could do what he does. Then, I just started doing things. I got some of my first clients (by nearly giving away my coaching in exchange for feedback/recommendations) and tried stuff. Sometimes it was helpful, others not. I paid attention to what was working and began building a process. I was learning by doing, which goes counter to how we’re taught it’s supposed to work. It feels risky, but that’s the great thing about doing your own thing – there’s no right or wrong.
- Chance and New Opportunities: Over the past six months or so, I’ve had two amazing opportunities come my way that I could never have predicted. No amount of searching, strategizing or planning could have had the same result. The only way I can explain how things like this materialize is that some people put themselves out there, they see what happens and sometimes they’re lucky – an opportunity meets their preparation and interest.The first opportunity, providing coaching and facilitating learning and development programs for McKinsey & Company consultants, came about because the work I was doing with my coaching business – namely publishing content – reached someone with whom I had worked in the past. We had kept in touch and she made a connection on my behalf. I couldn’t be more grateful, the work allows me the rare opportunity to share my own experience so that other’s might benefit from it while teaching topics that are meaningful to me as well as being an objective voice from the outside that can challenge and inspire.
The second opportunity has me working with a fantastic local small business called Move Mountains in the Lake Tahoe area. We provide guiding and facilitation for outdoors based experiential learning programs and it all came about from a chance meeting and subsequent conversation (during my brief spat as a bartender last summer). It’s connected me with an amazing community of people in my new home and allows me to explore the intersection of nature and development, something that’s become a keen interest since I participated in a similar program years ago.
- Values, Time and Intention: If there’s a key to happiness, I think this is it: spend as much time as possible doing the things that are important to you and limit the amount of time you spend doing the things that aren’t. Of course, we all have to do things that aren’t all that important to us – that’s life. The trick is knowing when we’re making those trade-offs and why. For too many years I operated in some grey area between knowing what was important to me and juxtaposing what I thought was supposed to be important to me. It wasn’t until I examined my own experience in the context of figuring out how to be a coach, that I realized this.
Since exploring my own values and developing comfort with them, and then subsequently working to align them with how I spend my time – I’ve never felt more energized and excited about life and work. It’s just so much more fun when you’re doing stuff you’re really into.
- Iteration and What’s Next: How much is enough? This is a question I struggle with. How many clients are enough? How much work is enough? How much time spent building / developing things is enough? There’s always more that could be done. When I think about the future and what I want to spend my time doing, I have to get a feeling about it – it has to be exciting. So, what are the plans for the future? Well, for starters things are getting a bit more formalized. I’m establishing an LLC for the business, launching a redesigned website (there, it’s launched!) and continuing to build out my core service offerings. I’m committing to publishing more content regularly and hopefully building out my client roster with fun, inspiring and committed people who want more from their work.
Beyond that, who knows!? New opportunities are always around the corner, I’ll continue to be vocal about what I’m interested in and let the rest take care of itself. If I’ve learned from the past two years, it’s that life and work are unpredictable – doors open and doors close – it’s all about enjoying what you’re up to and maybe doing some good along the way.
The process of refashioning a career and building a business around something that has meaning to me has been incredibly rewarding. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with my great clients and I feel humbled by the support I’ve gotten over the past two years. Thanks to everyone who has been along for the ride.
Neill Beurskens is Founder of This Fearless Life and creates profound change for incredible people looking to get more out of their life and work. To explore the possibilities of a life lived fearlessly visit www.thisfearlesslifecoaching.com