A Framework for Transformation
A Framework for Transformation
The people who contact me for coaching are typically dwell on and are submerged by their story of poverty, unhappiness, lack, not where they want to be.
But many people are not where they want to be. That’s not the story.
The real story is a framework for transformation
For example, the Maryland sanitation worker who got into Harvard isn’t the story.
When I shared Rahan Staton’s story as a framework for transformation a group coaching call, my clients yawned listlessly. I could feel their drowsy boredom.
It seems they were worn out from overexposure and viewed this story as stale, clichéd.
We often hear about a story and shrug it off, yeah, yeah, blah, blah blah.
But wait, there’s a dimension here that’s not obvious.
When you shift your gaze away from your dilemma and look beyond the veneer, you see a unique blend of energy, grit, and stick-to-itiveness. You find the part of the story that’s worth telling.
It hits you. The real story is what you do about not being where you want to be.
I don’t mean the banal new job or ‘the top ten things the best people do before breakfast.’ I mean a better you, real transformation.
Most people recognize transformation, but they don’t understand it. Not many of us transform our lives. We stay in the same reactive mode allowing the tides to push and pull — life happens to us.
Rahan’s story is transcendent because he transformed his life facing a logjam of debilitating conditions while swimming upstream against the tide, in cold, murky waters.
Trauma affects trajectory
When Rehan was eight, his mother abandoned the family. I know a bit about this. I lost my father suddenly when I was young.
Child development is best nurtured in a constructive environment.
Developmental trauma puts children at a foundational disadvantage. They likely will not have developed the capacity to constructively respond to frustrations, disappointments, negativity, or the unfairness of life.
Destructive obstacles stacked up like the Berlin Wall
Rehan faced conditions under which most of us would have quit, melted down, or collapsed.
Having only one parent who was forced to work all the time, brought loneliness.
Poverty meant times of hunger, inconsistent electricity at home, no health insurance.
Perhaps the most personally debilitating obstacle is when no one believes in you. High School teachers couldn’t see Rehan beyond his status. School was an unhappy, unsupportive place with negative connotations.
“The other sanitation workers were the only people in my life who uplifted me and told me I could be somebody.” — Rehan Staton
While earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland Rehan spent mornings as a sanitation worker. When there was no time to clean up before class, he endured raised eyebrows, judgments, and the downward-looking glares of his peers.
A framework for transformation
Imagine the internal fortitude and emotional fitness it takes to stop talking about the terrible hand we were dealt and focus singularly with staunch determination on progress.
There is no one formula for transformation that would meet the individual needs of everyone.
But there are three prominent patterns, characteristics, or generalities that, when adapted to individual circumstances, will serve as a field guide, a framework for transformation.
1. You grow up quickly and see changing your life situation isn’t a good idea, it’s essential.
Alone at a crossroad, you suddenly understand the stark and painful truth.
It’s not your fault that you are over-washed with difficulties, but it is your responsibility to see that you don’t become submerged by them.
Without hesitation, you turn on a light and begin shouldering the burden of improvement. Having matured, you adopt Jordan Peterson’s advice, “respond to the challenge instead of bracing for catastrophe.”
2. Your world view changes from reactive to creative.
You recognize that due to your childhood or personal history, you may be at risk or at least have some catching up to do.
You can’t afford to harbor anger, rage, resentment, or deceit. Each tiny step you take to be better than you were must be additive. You are critically dependent on the compound interest law of self-improvement.
The clock is ticking, and the only anxiety you feel now is you must grow with every encounter.
This intuitive drive points you to view life as the ultimate creative act.
Out of every encounter, you are compelled to create, develop, and continually raise the bar.
- When rejected, you create indifference
- If judged and labeled you create compassion
- When looked down upon with accusing eyes you develop the eyes of an advocate
3. You recognize that transformation requires learning that entails more than training, skill, or competency. In The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge calls it Personal Mastery.
It’s not more information
It’s not about acquiring more information but continually expanding the ability to produce the results you want in life.
It’s a lifelong upward journey applying a growth mindset.
You believe you can get better. The effort shows definitive progress, and that encourages more energy and higher levels of expertise.
Like improving while learning to ride a bike, you adjust your effort to ever-increasing proficiency on the path to Personal Mastery.
A word of caution. The word ‘mastery’ may imply dominance over others or your environment, but that view is short-sighted.
A master artist like Van Gogh doesn’t dominate skies or landscapes. Sensing the subject’s message, he conveys its essence outward on to the canvas.
Mastery flows out of a masterful person
The only dominating that comes out of a Personal Mastery journey is self-dominance.
Those with high levels of Personal Mastery are acutely sensitive to and aware of their need to learn, their blind spots and areas of growth.
“He who conquers his own soul is greater than he who taketh a city.” — Eisenhower: Soldier and President by Stephen E. Ambrose
It got better
After a long freeze, the sun began to rise. Rehan was finally recognized based on merit, not on status. He was voted president of a few school organizations and selected as a commencement speaker.
When the acceptance letter came from Harvard, Rehan’s brother Reggie said, “I felt at that moment, my brother made every sacrifice worth it. He did what he said he was going to do and that was get into a top law school.”
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Francis of Assisi
We all face forms of poverty, unhappiness and lack. That’s not the story.
The real story is fascinating and transcendent.
It demonstrates how we maneuver through the labyrinth of difficulties, traverse the chasm and come out on the other side.
Not just changed as an endpoint but change as a viewpoint — bringing transformation to the larger world.
Here’s a free link to read this story on my Medium publication
© Brian Braudis 2020, All rights reserved
Categorized in: Personal Mastery